You’ve read about it and you’ve thought about but just can’t seem to get started storing food because you’re not comfortable with exactly what to do. The questions of what to buy first and how much of it is always in at the back of your mind because you certainly don’t want to waste a dime on foolish uninformed choices! The following is my method for getting started with your food preparedness.
It is especially important for your own morale, that you keep your preparedness foods and menus very simple, like out of a can and into a fry pan or in a single pot heating it with a propane camping stove! Living through a disaster with no utilities, a five course meal is out of the question.
There’s just two rules for food storage:
- Rule #1, Keep it very simple with minimal varieties! (You can always make it complicated later, just get some food on the shelf ASAP)
- Rule #2, Store only what you've already eaten or tested and know how to prepare.
Initially you are going to store food for the short term. We’ve all heard about short term and long term storage plans but what are they and how long is each and generally what kind of food is stored in each? Here’s what works for me:
Link to short term, mid-term and long term storage definitions:
Short Term Storage:
- Up to 2 years shelf-life.
- Virtually all foods in your supermarket fit this 2 year time frame.
- This is the food that's in your everyday pantry, just more of it.
- It is can, pouched, bagged or boxed foods including your home canned food.
- The source for this food is your everyday supermarket.
- There should not be any foods in Short Term Storage that requires freezing or needs refrigeration because you cannot ever count on having dependable grid electricity in troubled times.
- For Short Term storage there's no need for buying kit buckets of food, MRE's or other specialty survival foods.
- All can or home canned foods needs to be protected from freezing.
Before you start menu planning, let’s start with what do you plan on cooking with? Remember the grid utilities are probably down, you have no operating kitchen appliances that you normally cook with and possibly no running water. How do you cook your food and at night have light to see what you’re doing?
Do You Have Camping Gear?
If not, then it’s time to get it out or buy some basic camping gear such as a propane camp stove and a propane lantern and a dozen propane 1lb cylinders to start with. I prefer propane because it’s safer (can’t spill) than the liquid fuel type lanterns and stoves. If you must have coffee then buy a percolator type coffee pot that can be used on the camp stove or campfire. Other than those items the rest of your kitchen gear will work just fine.
Organized and Dedicated Storage:
This step is very important. You need a place to store, organize and easily inventory your preparedness foods and gear. Like myself, you probably don’t have a place to store an extra months worth of food, water, propane, etc.
The best storage method I found, recommend and use is a wire shelving unit dedicated to your preparedness items. I suggest a wire shelving unit as they are strong and can handle the weight of all the can foods placed in them. You will also need several 5 gallon fresh water plastic cans for cooking and drinking. If the shelving unit will not fit in a utility room or bedroom and ends up in a common place where friends and neighbors can easily see it, hang a curtain around it to keep the contents from being seen by people who should not know you have a food stash.
Now for Your Menu Planning Using Supermarket Foods:
First, before you buy any food you need to create a meal/menu plan and an inventory for just 7 days. This can be a simple hand written inventory and menu that is also used as a shopping list. An inventory is critical to make food storage work. It will eliminate unnecessary purchases or running out of key ingredients for a planned meal which can mean a skipped meal and you going hungry. Remember, there may be no stores open so you can’t run out and pick something up. If you don’t have it in stock, you go hungry!
Why just a 7 day meal plan?
Well, it’s simple and easy to do because it’s only 21 meals to plan and some snacks. A 7 day plan will get a few weeks food in storage quickly without taxing your patience trying to figure out what to eat, just focus on the 7 days. Once you have the first 7 days of food items on the shelves you start on the second week which I keep the same as the first week. Remember, keep it simple or it will become frustrating and you may quit!
After 2 weeks of shopping for food to put in stock, you’ll be more aware of the many, many foods available that are canned, boxed or pouched and will have a better feel for what you can make from the supermarket shelves. At that time if you wish your menu can become more complicated.
Your new Preparedness Food Stock:
It’s also your personal convenience store. If for a dinner or lunch you need some soup or canned ham that’s not in your everyday pantry, just take it from the stock. HOWEVER, here’s where the inventory is important. Have a clip-board with the inventory on it. Hang it on the shelving unit. As you remove an item from stock, change the quantity on the inventory sheet, now when you go shopping take the list with you and buy the replacement items.
When Do You Stop Short Term Prepping?
I feel that 4 continuous weeks of food in storage should get you through most all disasters except Asteroid strikes, EMP and War on our countries soil. After 4 weeks of can and pouched food on the shelf you can start adding/storing Mid-Term and Long Term foods along with your short term food. Just be sure you grow all your storage smartly and in balance. You don’t want to have enough flour to make 300 loaves of bread and only one package of yeast!
Wire Shelving I Use:
Measures 18x48x72, purchased at Sam’s Club for $95.00
Link to Shelves: