I have written about storing food before, but today is going to be a different look on the same topic. I was requested by Stephen of TN to do something on a tight budget, so I thought that I would go through many different aspects of survival with the dollar signs in mind. You can also contact me if you would like to suggest a topic. This is part 3 of the Low Cost Survival Checklist series, and I am going to discuss storing food for the possibility of a disaster or food shortage.
This isn’t going to teach you how to have a bunker with 10 years of food stockpiled. This is designed to get everyone to a basic level of preparedness with minimal inconvenience. Food storage should be made easy for the beginner, so I have some tips to get you more prepared than 95% of people out there.
Before I get into the topic, let me remind you to go to my National Preparedness Month post and share it on facebook and twitter for chances to win cool survival gear! Remember, I have been pushing others to share the social media posts that I have made, so I can track all the shares, so if you share directly from the site, or in your own share or tweet, please send me the URL, so I can ensure that I get the correct count, or you can tag my facebook or twitter pages and then I will see it.
Food is extremely important. Before almost all of the things on our prepping list, I think food should be thought of. The only thing needed more than food, or at least as much, is water.
We are going to do our food preps in stages. We will think in terms of a month, then two, and then three. We will start on one month now:
I want you to do something. I want you to BUY something… a 50 cent notebook. You will place the notebook on your counter, or hang it on your pantry or refrigerator. I just want it to be completely visible when you pull a snack from the fridge or pantry, when you are cooking, and when you are putting up food from shopping.
When we pull food from the pantry, we will write it down so we can keep a running log of the items that we eat. So as you approach 2 or 3 weeks, or better yet, a month you will have a log big enough to work off of. You will see how many times you eat a food per week, which by using a running average can figure out how much you would go through in a month, six months or a year. So if you had a can of Cambell’s Chunky Stew in a week, then you estimate that you go through it 4 times a month, 24 times in six months, or 48-52 times a year (48 from 12 months x 4 weeks in a month, 52 from the actual numbers of weeks in a year). So you will store 48 cans of Cambell’s Chunky Stew in your pantry, or some other storage location you have chosen. If you found that you only used a can in a month, then you will store 12 cans. Basically you are working up to one years worth of NON-parishable items, so we don’t really store fresh fruit.
If the non-parishable only lasts 6 months, then you can only save the number of items that will get you to 6 months. So we end up with alot of food (6 months – 2 years worth) that is shelf-stable that we actually already eat. After all is said and done, we should have a month’s worth of food, even though it will get repetitive. This is better than bulk rice that you never eat.
We achieve the purchase of all of these foods (this is the low cost way) by the copy-canning method. Copy canning is simply put this way: As you go to the grocery store because you needed to buy a can of chili, you just buy two or three cans of chili. Over time of just adding a can here or there, you eventually will reach your stockpile number. Once you have reached your number, you are now in a position to save money! You get to wait until the store has a sale on those items because you have a large buffer in your use. If you get just a couple cans low, it’s no big deal, but you can easily make it up on the next sale. So you are making a strategic plan in both sustainability and personal economics.
Now that we have a month down, we can work on two months. In two months this is where you will begin to purchase the fillers. You will purchase certain amounts of rice, beans, pasta, etc. My real recommendation on the beans, is don’t do the dried beans for two month preps. Use canned beans for the ease of cooking and the lower amount of energy required to “cook” it. With pasta, I recommend thinking of some great non-parishables that would go well with it, like jars of spaghetti sauce and pesto sauce. You will just think about how much of the pasta, beans and rice needed for the time being, and when you mix it with the first months preps, you have a fairly versitile 2 month supply.
Month three? This is where I like to go ahead and spend a little money to get the best stuff. Go ahead and get the THRIVE freeze dried foods, or the Mountain House, or other brands. These are perfect ways to keep the fruits, veggies, and dairy products that you have not stored yet. You can go back to the notebook, and look at all the items that you didn’t purchase before because it was too parishable. The companies that make the freeze-dried foods also make individual ready-to-cook meals that last a long time also. You just have to add water, which you have already stored or are storing now because you read yesterday’s blog post! The freeze dried food can last for 15 years unopened, or 18 months after opened. The prepared meals usually last a year to 18 months. You can use these foods to make meals in a jar, canned meals, or jarred meals.
Once you get your three months down, you need to step back, and assess the notebook that you have been writing in during all of this prepping and see how close it is to what you have on your shelves. If there are some foods you are lacking, just start going through the steps again.
Eventually, and probably soon after, you will begin to store even more food, which will bring in the dried beans and stuff that I wanted you to hold of on earlier. But that is beyond the scope of today’s post. After you get to three months you will be ready for most disasters that can hit, anything short of nuclear winter, meteor, black hole, or some other huge scenario that isn’t incredibly likely.
By the way, Stephen, if you are enjoying this series so far, feel free to share my blog with the rest of your friends, families, and co-workers. If you look back at older posts by using the search function, you can find posts that are all about how we are not all tin-foil hat conspiracy theorists trying to overthrow the powers that be. I try to make down-to-earth, relavant, and immediately useful content that everyone can enjoy.
As I write tips for your adventures and hear about cool gear, I will let you know all about it!