How I Do Food Storage: The Theory, Part 1

Monday, January 16, 2012
I can't tell you how many times I have started this post over the last two years...and then never finished. It's kind of a mammoth one to tackle, and hard to break into smaller more readable chunks that can be separated out into individual posts. But I'll try. Hang with me folks!

There are many difference approaches to food storage, and NONE of them are any more right or wrong than any other, EXCEPT ONE - NOT DOING ANYTHING! ;)

Before I was asked to serve as the food storage specialist in my previous LDS congregation, my husband and I had talked about food storage a little, and we even had maybe a dozen #10 cans of various items, but we really didn't have much of a plan. Back then, the LDS Church website (ProvidentLiving.org) had a page with a calculator where you could go and insert the number of people in your family, and it would tell you all of the long-term stuff you should store and how much of each to last approximately one year.

That was great and all, but I would look at the printout and think, "Awesome, I can go buy this stuff, but then what in the world do I DO with it?!? How do I split it up into meals? How do I ration it to make sure it lasts me and my family for one year, and more importantly, what exactly do I make with it???" There wasn't a comprehensive plan that I could follow, showing me what to fix for each meal and how much to use and recipes and all, and so it was more than a little daunting and overwhelming, which led me to the one food storage/emergency preparedness sin - not doing anything at all!

As I have researched and read more about food storage and preparedness, my ideas about food storage have evolved. What I have found works best for me is this method:

STORE WHAT YOU USE, AND USE WHAT YOU STORE

For me, that simply means that my food storage is basically just a bigger extension of my kitchen pantry. The same stuff that is upstairs in the day-to-day pantry is also down in food storage, just in larger quantities.

This method has worked for me because it means I am familiar with all the stuff in my food storage, I know how to prepare it, I have recipes that use it that I regularly prepare, and I don't need a comprehensive "plan" for how to ration it all out because I'm familiar enough with what is down there to know how we rotate it, and the stuff just fits into our regular everyday meals.

Now, this method is a little more labor-intensive than some of the other options. It means that I spend more time in the kitchen making meals from scratch (not necessarily a bad thing for your health, just time consuming some days) and I've had to learn a few new skills (like how to make bread, but I've been trying to do that since I was 6, so not necessarily a bad thing there either). This method allows me to rotate my food storage because we're actively and constantly using it. But that also means that I have to be more aware of keeping track of inventory (which is our current area of focus). This is what I have found works for ME and my family - it may not be for everyone, and that is TOTALLY okay!

There are other "methods" to food storage as well, and many fabulous options to meet your needs.

Here are a few:

- buy the long-term stuff (the grains, powdered milk, dry beans, etc.) and just store it until needed. Most of the long-term items have a 30yr shelf life, so this is perfectly acceptable.

- come up with a set plan of meals, multiply it out for a year's worth, then calculate how much you'll need for all those meals, buy it, and either store it, or occasionally rotate some of it. Usually you'll use regular meals that your family already enjoys, like spaghetti, casseroles, etc.

- buy some of the pre-assembled "raw ingredient" kits from food storage companies (like Shelf Reliance), and then either rotate the ingredients into your everyday cooking or just simply store until needed.

- buy some of the pre-assembled "full meal" kits from food storage companies (like Daily Bread), and simply store until needed. These are cans or kits of ready-to-go meals usually only needing to be reconstituted with hot water. Not much prep involved. Sorta like gourmet MREs.

- do a blend of any or all of the above.

Really, truly, the BEST food storage method is WHICHEVER method or combination of methods that works best for YOU!!!

Stay tuned and I'll go into more details on the various methods, and then we'll start exploring the specific stuff that I store and give you some ideas of what exactly I do with it.

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