Family Resilience Essentials – Food Storage

This is Part 2 of a series discussing a few simple things each of us can do to increase our family’s chance of surviving, and more importantly thriving, during hard times… no matter how minor or serious those times may be.

In our last installment we talked about the importance of having a little extra water on hand.  This time we’re talking food.

I don’t know about you, but I like to eat.  I will eat at least a couple times today.  I ate yesterday.  I hope to eat tomorrow.  If for some reason we couldn’t make it to Kroger, or if we just want to take a little strain off our food budget every now and then, I’m thankful we’ve planned ahead with these easy and relatively inexpensive steps .

Food Storage in Three Easy Steps

Before we get into the thick of it… and just as a reminder, deciding to take care of your loved ones by keeping spare food, water, and some supplies socked away for emergencies doesn’t mean you’re a crazy person and your family should be the featured idiots on the next over-hyped reality TV show.

Sure a major Hurricane Katrina type event can happen and throw things into chaos for a few weeks almost anywhere and anytime, but thankfully that is unlikely for most of us.  More probable is a snow storm or heat wave knocking out the power for awhile, which usually leads to a panicked emptying of the local grocery store. More probable than a civilization-ending EMP attack is one of the bread winners in your family losing their job.  More probable than the Ebola Zombie Apocalypse is your decision to move to a new Gentlemanly Homestead outside town and thus needing to float two mortgages for a few months until the old one sells. 

For all of these possibilities, ranging from Smaller Inconveniences to Mad Max’s Thunderdome, it is a great idea to have a little extra set aside.

Just in case.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I find it ridiculous that most people have thirty days of dog food in their basement and only a couple days of people food in their pantry.  And they think that’s OK.  Our grandparents would not be pleased.

What are our basic physical needs again? (After skipping a pretty important one we can’t do too much about – Oxygen.)

  1. Water
  2. Food
  3. Security
  4. Energy
  5. Shelter

So let’s talk food.

Step 1

Store what you eat.  Eat what you store.

Pantry

Carefully track the groceries your family uses on a regular basis.  Then the next time you’re pushing a wobbly cart with a squirming toddler in the seat to replace what you’ve gobbled in the last week… instead of buying one box of pasta or can of chili, buy two.  When grubby little hands reach for the Mac N Cheese, grab an extra.  This is an easy and inexpensive way to put something aside for a rainy day a little at a time and before you know it, you’ll have a nice little store built up in your pantry.

Food2

In addition to the peace of mind in knowing you have food on hand, just in case… there are other benefits to storing what you eat and eating what you store.  You can now wait to buy when items are on sale.  Maybe spaghetti sauce is on your shopping list, but they just increased the price of your favorite kind.  If a few extra jars are sitting at home, you can wait for a future sale and shop on your terms and not the store’s.  Additionally, ever had one of those evenings where you’re running home late, are dead tired, your beautiful kiddos (and maybe your spouse) are screaming for dinner NOW NOW NOW and the last thing you want to do is stop off at the store?  Well, now you can head to your pantry instead.

Step 2

Storage Foods.  All those bags of quinoa and cans of soup can not sit on the shelf indefinitely.  Even with rotating out the older goods, it’s difficult to use everything you’re Storing to Eat if you follow the recommended expiration dates.  That’s when it’s time to introduce yourself to a few other long term storage options, starting with our good friend the MRE (Meal Ready to Eat).

MRE

MREs may not be the finest cuisine you’ve ever had, and you probably don’t want to drag it out along with a tripod for an artistic photo shoot atop the backyard wood pile… but they are complete meals and some are really quite tasty.  They will be fine for five years, and if kept in a cool place, probably even longer.  They’re great for throwing in a backpack or trunk for that weekend camping trip and require no outside energy (stove, fire) for preparation.  A case or two doesn’t take up much space and makes a lot of sense as another tier of food storage.

MRE2

Next, you want to stock up on some pouches of freeze dried foods.  These will easily keep for seven years minimum and so long as you have the means to boil a little water you’ll be dining on some absolutely delicious meals.

MountainHouse

This is also the step where Joanna and I got a little more serious about learning to can what we grow in our vegetable garden and can’t use right away.  Add canning supplies and a dehydrator and you’ll be able to do a lot yourself here in Step 2.  This includes some very easy work with food grade five gallon buckets, some mylar bags, oxygen absorbers, and tons of pasta, wheat, beans, and other staples.  Just make sure you know how to cook with what you’re storing if you’re putting that away for a rainy day.

Step 3

Long Term Storage Foods.  Freeze dried foods are again your friend and there are offerings that last as long as thirty years sitting on a shelf!  These can be a little pricey, but in addition to the security of knowing your family has a lot of easy meals available, it’s interesting to think of how much food prices have increased over the past few years.  You may be paying about the same for a box of cereal, but have you noticed the box got smaller?  Hmmm.

Honeyville

Storing away these #10 cans might just turn out to be a pretty safe investment for many reasons.

MountainHouseCan

Of course, throughout these steps we’ve only been talking about storage. Another way to keep a little extra food on the table when the grocery isn’t an option or the budget is being pinched is to grow your own.  If you’ve never dug your hands in the dirt, you’d be really surprised how much you can harvest with a little hard work and a little luck.  Our goal is to someday use our gardens and small livestock to provide as much of our food as possible.  That’s an incredibly tall order.  So until we get there, Joanna and I sleep a little more soundly each night knowing that if a mini crisis occurs to pinch the budget… or the Walking Dead start roaming our neighborhood… our kids’ tummies will still be full.

Canning

 – Mike

Question of the Day: If your grocery store closed up shop tomorrow, how many meals do you have in your house right now?

Posted in Emergency Preparedness Tagged with: , , , ,
9 comments on “Family Resilience Essentials – Food Storage
  1. Vickie says:

    Wow – this post is close to my heart! I have been researching ways to preserve food and have been canning like crazy. My husband and I will be living in a travel trailer for the next two years while we build our house, and it has a very small refrigerator freezer. So, I figured if I can most of my meats, I can leave room in the freezer for frozen vegetables and other necessities – like ice cream! 🙂 So, right now my thought isn’t toward the next zombie apocalypse (though I hear it’s just around the corner), I am thinking long term food storage that doesn’t take refrigeration! Thanks, Mike!
    Vickie recently posted…Canned Beef in Wine SauceMy Profile

    • Mike says:

      I’ll be sure to head over and read all about your great House Building Adventure as it unfolds. Very exciting!

  2. Janet Garman says:

    I really like the way you explained this in easy steps. thanks
    Janet Garman recently posted…Goat Care and MaintainanceMy Profile

  3. Good point that once you’ve built up your stores, you can wait until things are on sale to replenish. I hadn’t thought about it that way, but it’s true.

    Sales also have me buying more of our regular food stuffs even if we don’t immediately need them. Before we started down this journey of stocking the pantry we would’ve said something like, ‘We’re not falling for that sale trap and buying a bunch of stuff we don’t need!’
    Amy@TenthAcreFarm recently posted…How to make Healing Calendula OilMy Profile

    • Mike says:

      You crazy, caching, tin foil wearing hoarder! You’re nuts for buying on sale! 😉

  4. This is a very thorough and informative series. When I was laid off two years ago, I was so relieved to have plenty of food stored so we didn’t have to worry about groceries for a while. You never know what can happen. It is smart to be prepared.Thank you for sharing at Green Thumb Thursday!
    Rachel @ Grow a Good Life recently posted…Celebrating Harvest Monday: August 25, 2014My Profile

  5. Gia says:

    I think this is a great post. One thing I would mention is that dry goods (i.e., pasta, flour, rice) being stored long-term need to be taken out of the boxes and bags they’re purchased in and moved to airtight containers. This prevent pests like weevils from sneaking into your closet and ruining all of the dry goods you’d like to store. You can label your containers with the name of the item and expiration dates to keep your food organized.

  6. Hello Mike

    Nice post with valuable information to help us become more prepared and confident in emergencies, and more self reliant in your everyday life. There is nothing that brings more peace of mind and security than being prepared with food and supplies that will sustain your family in times of need. I love food storage (or at least I think I do) No actually, I do! My husband and I have spent the past 6 years gathering food storage. The goal has been to gather enough food to create a one year food storage supply. The past few years, I’ve been experimenting and trying to figure out how to create meals out of my food storage.

    In November of 2015, my husband was laid off from his job. Although he was able to obtain another job, we took a significant pay cut. We now make less than 1/3 of what we made before. All of the sudden our food storage has equated to our survival! We have survived mostly on food storage and I’m so thankful to have it.

    Best of luck to you and your family.
    Isabelle Clover recently posted…Health and beauty benefits of tomatoesMy Profile

  7. Mark says:

    Hi Mike,

    I completely agree with the store what you eat – eat what you store mentality.

    I just wish I could stretch out my budget to MRE’s and freeze dried food as they sure do make the process of building up your long term storage much easier.
    Mark recently posted…10 Long Shelf Life FoodsMy Profile

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We are located in the Dayton, OH area. Our goal for this space is an informative companion to our primary passions - the Workshops we facilitate on various topics and the Private Consultation given to clients as Homestead and Regenerative Agriculture Design Consultants.

A few years ago, our young family moved out of the cul-de-sac where society says we're supposed to live, and onto five acres outside town. If you stick around on the blog, you'll see our successes and failures in real time as we start from scratch and transform our land. Read a lot more about us Here.

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