You may have decided that you want to start working on your food storage, but you have no idea where to start or how to pay for it. I'm here to share my thoughts about buying food storage and the best kinds of food to store.
I'm not an expert in the field, but I have been buying food storage for 15 years. Over that period of time I have figured out a few things that have helped me to buy and use food storage for my ever changing family. I hope my trial and error experiences will help others to avoid some of my mistakes.
Let's try to address some of the most common questions people have when they get started with food storage.
Food Storage Questions and Answers
What Should I Buy?
There are so many products that are marketed as specific food storage food and they usually come in enormous quantities with fancy packaging. My first piece of advice is to (initially) walk past those fancy food storage displays and look in your pantry instead. It took me a long time to figure this out, but it's really the basis for how I approach food storage.
I only buy food storage items that we use on a continual basis. There are a lot of reasons for why I choose to buy food storage this way, but for start I'll just say that 1) Ideally food storage should be rotated continuously so that it is actually used and it doesn't go bad (meaning that you don't waste your hard earned money!) and 2) IF you get to a point where you are living off of your food storage, you want to make sure that you are familiar with all the items that you will be using and know that your family will eat it.
I grew up in a household where my dad would buy the huge buckets and 50 lb bags of random beans, grains, and I am not even sure what else. We hauled them around with us every time we moved, but we NEVER used them! Some of those items did have a shelf life of 25-30 years, but they were never used and eventually all that food storage had to be tossed out.
So I determined that I was going to start my food storage by buying extra items that we were already eating on a regular basis. When I do buy items in bulk (like flour, oats, and sugar) I make sure to rotate through them so that my food storage is continuously being used.
I would also suggest that you try to buy food that covers all the food groups. There are a few items that I buy from the dedicated food storage companies because they provide products for perishable items that have been converted to having a long shelf life. For instance, I have bought dehydrated butter and cheese because though I do store them in my freezer, I want to be prepared with those basics if I don't have power.
Tap into your creativity and think about ways that you can buy items that would meet all of you and your families dietary needs if you only had access to your food storage.
How Can I Afford Food Storage?
Another important question that many people have is how they will fit food storage into the budget.
When I was newly married we lived on a really tight budget. There wasn't a lot of wiggle room to buy the big case lot sales and we really didn't have a lot of space to store it.
I learned how to start buying the items we were using, all the time, in bulk when they were at the lowest price. At the beginning, that meant that sometimes I would buy two of an item instead of one if they were on sale. As time went on I was able to figure out the times of year that items would be the lowest and I would stock up on the items to get me through until the next time they went on sale.
Using that strategy allows for you to buy frequently used groceries at the very best price possible. It also doesn't require hours of strategizing and couponing in order to get a good deal.
Along with buying multiples of items when they are on sale, you can try to set aside a small portion of your grocery budget to keep handy for times when there are seasonal sales for certain items or case lot sales. Honestly, I don't buy a lot of my food storage through the case lot sales. In my own family, there are a lot of things that we just didn't go through fast enough so I stopped buying them-even if they were a really good deal.
What Should I Do With My Food Storage?
The simple answer here is USE IT! As I said before, I think it's a really good idea to know how to cook the foods that you are storing and to get your family comfortable with eating the foods that you are storing in large quantities. There are many different circumstances that may lead you to use a lot of your food storage up. It's kindest for everyone to make sure that they know what to expect as well as how their bodies will respond to it. As anyone who has drastically changed their diet knows, our bodies usually have an extreme reaction when we change our diets extremely. It's not advisable to do this during a time of crisis or distress.
So, once you have made an inventory of the foods that you eat, make sure that you know different ways to prepare those foods. Try making recipes that use multiple items in your pantry.
Rotate through your food often. If you find that there are certain foods that you aren't going through very quickly, stop buying them for your food storage.
What Other Tools Are Helpful?
I try to keep a few tools on hand that will help in the event that I have to use my food storage in a natural disaster. I keep a hand held can opener store with my food. I also have a tool that helps me to open my oatmeal bucket. I keep a little camp stove handy with propane and matches stored together as well.
These are just a few basic things that you can consider when you are starting out. Of course, there is a lot more that you can do to continue to build your food storage and to prepare yourself for many different kinds of disasters.
I hope this basic guide helps to ease you into the idea of starting now and starting small with realistic steps that will start you down the path to being prepared, no matter what comes your way.
If you have questions, comments or ideas for what to do with food storage, please share them below.
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