Be Prepared: Food Storage Ideas

(Can’t you just see the Hyena’s on The Lion King marching when you read/sing that title,
or I guess, a bunch of crazy 11 year old scouts at a matchbox car race…)

I feel like continuing the conversation on food storage, since I had such a plethora of comments.

Many of you had great ideas, and I feel like it is important to be thinking about these things.  I like how each of you had different thoughts as to what needed to be prepared. You are all working in different ways, it just shows that there is not one way to do it.

Also, it illustrates how we are guided with the needs of our own family. If saving a little bit of cash is weighing on your mind, that is exactly what you should do.  Or, if you are worrying about not having enough food set aside, that is where you should dive in.

Also, I wanted to point out that if you are a member of the LDS church, that the guidelines have changed.  They no longer specify a set time for long term food storage, or in other words there is not longer a “year supply” rule.  Check out the new guidelines on the link above.

Food storage ideas when short on cash remodelaholic

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Food Storage Ideas!

I am not an expert in all thing food storage I have SO much to learn.  But I have learned some things, so here is my top ten:

1.  Start TODAY!
If you can’t afford to buy anything for food storage, save money or even store water, then start inventorying.  Watch your cooking habits and see what items you need and use most often.  The next time you set a budget for your shopping, buy one extra can of those items most used.

If you feel you are stuck and can’t do anything.  Say you have some issues with debt and paying that off, I would sit back and reevaluate your habits.  This is a topic all in itself.  But let me say this.  If you are in debt, and can’t afford to do more then you are doing, make a commitment to yourself and your future that you will NOT spend more than you have today.

Again, reevaluate the habits of your spending and see if you can cut out a few convenience items (that cost more money) and save a few dollars here and there it can make the difference that you need.  I took a class in college called Family Finance taught by Alena Johnson.  Her are her thoughts on how to save money when you don’t think you can:

  • The “step-down principle”—a financial management technique developed by Alena Johnson of Utah State University. Although we all should have budgets, too many budgets fail because people try to totally cut out the things they enjoy and end up feeling deprived and resentful. The step-down principle is a way to make do, not do without. Let’s say you want to see a movie. In stepwise order you can:
  1.  Go to the theater
  2.  Rent from the video store
  3.  Rent on a mid-week bargain night from the grocery store
  4.  Borrow from the library or swap movies with friends
  • You don’t have to cut out movies. You can still have them but at less cost. Keep on doing this and you’ll have money to put toward credit card debt or a three-month emergency savings fund
  • When it comes to meals using the same step down principle she said:
  1. You can go out to eat pancakes at Ihop.
  2. You can buy frozen pancakes from the freezer section at the store.
  3. Buy Bisquick to make pancakes.
  4. Make them from scratch.

She explained that in order to succeed with your budget you shouldn’t skip steps.  If you are used to eating out every night, you are not going to be cooking from scratch the next day.  Do it in steps.  This example can be used throughout your spending habits.

2.  Start gardening
(in the appropriate season!) You will be surprised at the learning curve in gardening. And, each state you live in has new challenges, bugs and seasonal changes that will help or hinder you.  Leaning now, will help you later.

You should keep in mind what your family eats. As you plant think 1.what will be eaten fresh, 2.what will be canned.

3. Store what you use!
I have been setting up my 3 month supply menu.  This is harder than it seems.  I have found in the past if I store what my mom buys, food will go bad and be wasted.  If I buy what my friends think is important to store, food will go bad and be thrown away.  This is where inventorying and watching what you cook makes the biggest difference.

4.  Keep track of what you store.
This is harder with the day to day things but absolutely essential for long term.  I have created a document in WordPerfect that I update all the time.  I write the date of updates I make in the top corner too, so I know if it is up to date.  This is my long term check list(below)  I would recommend making one of your own.  (I deleted my numbers, but as you can see there is room to grow if I purchase something not listed)

food storage doc

Download the Checklist here.  (click on the link then right click on the image to save)

When you are ready to work on long term food storage, you should make a specific goal for yourself. If you want that to be a year great. If you want 9 months (plus your other 3 month equals a year) that works too. Or you could do it a month at a time.  Whatever works for you is good.  But it is important to have a goal to work toward.  Smaller steps help you to feel accomplished, not overwhelmed.  Remember to keep track of what you have.
5.  Recipes!
Start collecting food storage recipes.  So you can learn to use what you have.  You will not be saving money if things go to waste. 
6. Preparedness Binder 
Many  of us are google junkies, am I right?  If we have a question, we google.  This is great if the power is not out!  OR the phone and cable lines aren’t down, but what if there is an emergency and one or both of these problems exists?  My solution is, my preparedness binder.  This is a relatively free project too (meaning something you can do today!)!  Get a 3 ring binder and start collecting info, from relief society meetings, classes, from the Internet, friends and family.
For example I have a booklet that explains how to store and cool food without a fridge.  Or how to build a solar oven out of tin foil and a card board box.  I also keep my recipes and tracking sheets in this binder.

7. Shop Around!
From what I have found, the LDS cannery is your best and cheapest resource by far!  Always go there first!  I would recommend buying all basic items through them.  And really if you start with those basic items you can buy the other stuff later.  The stuff that they carry mostly lasts up to and sometimes beyond 30 years! (if stored properly)

Personally I like to store my foods in #10 cans. I do this for several reasons.  They are all a uniform size and shape which makes it easier to store.  Also, because I can open one can and use that up in a reasonable amount of time 6 lbs of wheat is easier to use quickly than 30lbs.

There are other good resources out there. I am totally jealous of the Utahans with food storage in Walmart?  (wanna hear something funny, I just brought home 5 cans of food storage items in my luggage from Utah because the price was so cheap! yes I am that strange.)

8.  Think of all your needs. 
Not just food but soap, laundry detergent, toilet paper, shampoo and conditioner. There are homemade recipes for these items, it is good to google now and print for your binder!!

9.  Make ahead meals. 
This is a great idea that I have totally latched on to lately.  It is not fun to cook everyday!  More than that, I don’t have time everyday.  When I make a casserole like lasagna, I will double the recipe and freeze the other half of it, or make two small casserole dishes.  I bake pizza roll-ups and freeze individually for quick lunches etc. (collect these recipes that freeze well)

This is also a good way to save yourself from extra calories by eating out- and money!

10. Ask your friends.
There are lots of people with different skills, ask them to help you and teach you.  Get their recipes, go over to their house and can with them anything to broaden your knowledge.

Good luck!
11. BONUS- have fun. 
It feels so good to check off some stresses in our lives!  Any more ideas you all have let me know!

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Cassity Kmetzsch started Remodelaholic after graduating from Utah State University with a degree in Interior Design. Remodelaholic is the place to share her love for knocking out walls, and building everything back up again to not only add function but beauty to her home. Together with her husband Justin, they have remodeled 6 homes and are working on a seventh. She is a mother of four amazing girls. Making a house a home is her favorite hobby.

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  1. >Love this post! Seriously, I'm going to link to it via amysueiloveyou. If that's okay?

    Thanks for taking the time to share all this info.

    And yes, now I will be singing Be Prepared. 🙂

  2. >awesome post! i really need to get going, seriously! especially on the info booklet you suggested. what a great idea!

  3. >No you're not crazy on bringing back food storage in your luggage. 🙂 My friend did the exact same thing on a trip to Utah last month. I was just drooling at all of the food storage items they had at Walmart when I was there in August. We'll just have to do our best for where we live!

  4. >Awesome post! On another subject though, Andrew and I really want you and Justin to come over. We think you guys are great, and now that we have a big enough place for entertaining, we'd like to do that:) Also, we'd welcome any ideas/experiences that you guys have for our new house…you guys always do way awesome things for not a lot of money…so…when's good for you?

  5. >p.s. – to answer your questions, we live here, but we're planning on getting the rest of our furniture (couch and dressers) tomorrow. We've moved and cleaned everything except for a few of the larger items. It's so nice to have space again. 659 square feet was tiny!

  6. Can you store food in a garage or is that too hot? I live in the deep south. Cold really isn’t an issue. Where can I find metal shelves for food cans? Like the one in the picture.

    1. Hi Dru! Storing in the garage can be tricky — it depends on the food type and how it is preserved and sealed. And the metal shelves are from a company called Shelf Reliance. Thanks!

  7. Love this post and couldn’t agree more! So many people think food storage is something big… which it is… but it’s so many small steps to get you to be prepared! Thanks for breaking it down for others to learn!