For over sixty years Church members have been urged to build up their year supply of food storage, but not all families are the same. A family with ten children will obviously have different food storage needs than an elderly widow living alone. That’s why it is so important for families of all sizes to plan their food storage according to their needs.
Fitting It All In
The first step in planning your food storage is making room for it. If you only have two kids, it’s doubtful that you’re living in a six-bedroom home. Your space is probably more limited, especially if you’re living in an apartment or smaller home. If you’re serious about gathering your food storage (as you should be) it’s time to learn to utilize all of your space.
Here are some ideas to help you take advantage of every little inch:
1. Raise your beds: There’s tons of potential storage space under beds. Put your bed on cinder blocks or food barrels and stack some of your food supplies under your bed. Make or buy a longer bed skirt to keep your food storage out of sight.
2. Use your suitcases: You know those old suitcases in the hall closet? Why not fill them with food storage? Better yet, find a box that will fit in your suitcase. Fill the box with food and then place it inside. This way, when you need to pack for a trip the box can easily be removed.
3. Use the closet floor: The racks in most closets are tall enough to hang long dresses and coats, but chances are most of your clothes don’t need all that space. Move all your longer dresses and coats to one side of the closet and your shirts or skirts to the other side. This will leave plenty of space on the floor for stacking goods.
4. Mount shelves: If you have a laundry room or other utility room, consider mounting shelves on the available wall space and storing food there. But be careful; some foods don’t respond well to the heat that can be produced from a laundry unit. Consider using this space for nonfood items like candles, toilet paper, and batteries.
5. Can the coffee table: Replace your coffee table with a flat-topped chest or trunk and store some of your food storage inside—out of site, but easy to access.
6.Maximize freezer space: Place the amount of hamburger your family uses for one meal in a zipper bag, push all the air out of the bag, then roll it flat with a rolling pin, and zip up the bag. This creates stackable packages of meat that leave more room in the freezer.
Getting What Your Family Needs
One of the most difficult parts of buying your food storage is figuring out all the things your family needs. Probably the first thing that should be on you list is water. Think about how many gallons of water you use in a day. Even if you don’t drink a lot of water, you use water every time you wash your hands, flush the toilet, brush your teeth, or wash the dishes. An average person uses over seventy-five gallons of water every day.
In a smaller home you may not be able to store much, but you should still have a water reserve. A simple formula to follow is to store one gallon of drinking water per person per day and one-half to one gallon of non-drinking water per person per day. For example, a family of four should have water storage of six to eight gallons of water per day. Your water storage should include about two weeks worth of water for your entire family.
The best way to store your water is in plastic containers that are specifically designed for water storage. Five-gallon bottles for water coolers and two-liter soda bottles can also be used to store water as long as they are replaced every few years. The worst bottle to store water in is a plastic milk jug. Milk containers are biodegradable and will break within a year.
Now that you have your water, the next tricky part is figuring out what food and how much of it to buy. Get a notebook and write down everything your family eats for an entire month. This not only includes all the groceries you buy that month, but also any food that you had in your kitchen that your family ate during the month. For example, you probably don’t buy baking powder every month, but you might have used a few tablespoons this month. Write that down. If your family opened up a jar of peanut butter and used some, write it down. Once you have the list, multiply it by twelve. This should be the approximate amount of food your family eats in a year.
Once you have your list, highlight the things on the list that you probably won’t be able to get in case of an emergency, this might include thing like fresh eggs or lettuce. Some of these items might be replaced with other items that can be stored longer like powdered eggs or canned fruits and vegetables.
Your food storage should also always include only a one-year supply of oil that should be rotated frequently. Oil or products with oil in them, like salad dressing or crackers, can easily go rancid. It’s important that you know the shelf life of all the food in your food storage, especially with a smaller family. Because a smaller family consumes less, food storage has a greater chance of going bad.
Many smaller families may also have a limited cash reserve. The last thing you might think you can afford is a food storage supply, but don’t assume you need to purchase the entire year’s supply at once. Start small. When something your family likes goes on sale, buy a little more of it. Just getting a few extra cans of food each time you go to the grocery store will quickly build your food supply.
Instead of throwing out fruit when it is about to go bad, can it or make jam out of it. Learn to invest in large, bulk items that you know your family will eat like ground beef. When you bring it home, divide it into the portions your family eats and freeze them. You could also consider investing in a counter top vacuum sealer to keep these frozen foods fresher longer.
The real secret with food storage is rotation, rotation, rotation. When your family runs out of peanut butter, buy a new jar but replace the finished jar with what’s been sitting in your food storage. You’re spending the same amount of money, but you’re still maintaining your food supply. Look up simple recipes that can be used with the items in your food supply. Buy these items regularly, but use the ingredients that are in your food storage. It will take a little getting used to, but once you’ve got it down, you’ll find you’re spending the same amount on groceries and still maintaining a healthy food storage for your family.
Now there’s no excuse. No matter the size or needs of your family, there’s always a way to gather your food storage. No more procrastination; the time to start is now. Your family will be blessed by your efforts. And remember: “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear.”