Problem: Too Much, Too Fast
Many people get overwhelmed by the thought of accumulating the recommended amount of food storage. But don't confuse the goal with the first step. A one-year supply of food storage is not something that can be thrown together in one day. If you do it all at once, your wallet and your determination will both call it quits.
Solution: A one-year supply is something that needs to be worked on a little bit at a time. Start by purchasing a few extra cans of soup or jars of spaghetti sauce at the grocery store each week. Then, try purchasing a week's supply of food and gradually build your reserves from there.
Misconception: Food Storage Belongs in Storage
The majority of families who store food neglect to do anything else with it. It just remains in storage until it rots. They think that, once it is all put together, it will just sit there and be ready when that big emergency comes. If you want to have food storage that you can put together once and not worry about again for twenty-five years, store freeze-dried foods that have a twenty-five year shelf life. However, storing extra supplies of everyday foods are important, too.
Crystal Godfrey says, "People don't realize that emergencies happen every day. We run out of milk, forget to bring cookies to something, etc." Food storage is not a someday-useful space eater; it will prepare you for both the big and the small emergencies that come daily.
Problem: What Food to Buy
One of the big mistakes people make in their food storage is buying a full year's supply of one product at a time. For example, to start off, you might buy a one-year supply of ingredients for wheat bread.
Solution: "People get very tired of eating the same thing meal after meal for extended periods of time. Instead, they should buy a little of many different things so that there is more of a balance," says Donnie Saba. "If you don't know how or you don't like to cook, I recommend you go with freeze-dried food storage because it is the easiest to prepare - just add water!" Mill Harvest food storage has some delicious freeze-dried options, such as beef teriyaki, lasagna, and chicken a la king.
Misconception: I'll Have to Learn New Recipes to Use the Storage
When people imagine cooking with food storage, they think of cooking a meal of oatmeal and powdered milk. Very tasty. But don't be fooled into this notion! Preparing your own food storage is a great opportunity to make sure that if an emergency does come, your family won't have to adjust to a new diet on top of all the other stresses.
Prepare your food storage according to what you like to eat. If your family loves vegetables, buy vegetables that can be stored, and then incorporate those into your daily meals. If they love meat, you can buy dried meats that can be cut up and used in your meals. You don't have to learn any new recipes; just plan your food storage around the family favorites.
Misconception: It Never Tastes Good
Maybe you had powdered milk everyday as a kid and are forever tainted against food storage. But food storage meals have come a long way, and there are countless ways to spice up a meal cooked from food storage supplies. One way to do this is to keep your storage stocked with herbs and spices to give flavor to your meals. This way, your food will taste fresh and savory. "It is also a good idea to have some sort of candy, or ingredients to make your family's favorite dessert," Saba adds. A real catastrophe will be difficult to bear, and some goodies will help lighten the mood.
Misconception: All I Need Is Food
Don't forget about the most essential part of your meal - water! Humans have been known to survive weeks without food, but the body can only survive three to five days without water.
Be sure to consider water storage as you prepare your food storage. Water can be stored in thoroughly cleaned water bottles or in large blue water barrels. Make sure to store at least four quarts of water for each person, per day, through the full year. Replace water every six months.
Problem: Food Storage is Too Expensive
It's true that if you go out today and purchase a full year's worth of food for your whole family, it will be very expensive. But beginning an emergency supply of food doesn't have to be.
Solution: Find ways to earn your food storage. Saba says that his company will help you by giving you some food storage in exchange for hosting one of their Emergency Parties. (Visit bettertobeready.com to find out how you can host a party for your neighborhood and get free food storage products.)
Misconception: It Will Go Bad Before I Ever Need It
Your food storage won't do you much good if it is spoiled by the time you need it. What a waste, right? "It doesn't have to be," Godfrey says. She recommends that you cook with supplies from your food storage every day, and when you go grocery shopping, replace it. That way you are not spending very much extra money (buying food storage is like buying other groceries), and your storage will be good year-round, for years to come.
One system that could help you keep your food storage fresh is one that rotates your canned foods for you, so that you don't have to keep track of which cans are oldest. Using a system like this will help you use your food, and keep it fresh.
Problem: What if the Food Storage Doesn't Survive a Catastrophe?
This is a scary possibility that can dissuade you from trying to put together food storage. Why put in so much time and energy if it's just going to get lost in a flood or house fire?
Solution: Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone said, "Now what about those who would plunder and break in and take that which we have stored for our families' needs? Don't give this one more idle thought. Do you suppose [God] would abandon those who have kept His commandments?" ("Food Storage," Ensign, May 1976, 116). Don't fear for your food storage. Find relief in the knowledge that even through economic difficulties and natural disasters, your family will know where their next meal is coming from.
Misconception: I'll Start Once I Understand It All
Being the type of people to search out knowledge, we may have the desire to become experts at our food storage before we start. But don't forget that practice makes perfect. You probably will not become a food storage expert until you begin your system through trial and error.
Get out there and get the experience. That is how you will find out what works best for your family's storage needs. Stocking food storage is an ongoing process as you figure out what works, and you won't know what products will work best for your family's diet until you try them.
If you'd like to contact our experts with questions, e-mail Donnie Saba at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Crystal Godfrey at email@example.com.
Some extra help . . .
Beating the Food Storage Blues
Two of the greatest reasons that food storage is intimidating are (1) cost, and (2) deciding what to buy. One way to avoid these stresses is to use the food storage calculator from Shelf Reliance, which helps you build your food storage piece by piece and figure out how much you need of each item. You can tailor it to your family's tastes and needs - it can even calculate how many calories each person in the family will require. Then, once you figure out what you want in your food storage, you can set up a "pay as you go" plan based on your budget. You decide how much you want to pay monthly, and Shelf Reliance will send you that amount of food storage. If you have a windfall and want to pay it all off, they offer that option; likewise, if financial emergency strikes, you can put the plan on hold. By using a system like this, you can prepare your supply and avoid overspending in the name of food storage. Visit shelfreliance.com for more information.