I am a Mormon and us Mormons have a “thing” for being prepared for emergencies. Whether it be a natural disaster, job loss or family crisis, we don’t want to be left high and dry. So our Mormon leaders talk to us a lot about being ready for anything. Storing food is one of the things they like to talk about. Up until recent years, we were advised to have a full year’s worth of food stored. And yes, that sounds overwhelming to me as much as it does to you. Thankfully in the last few years, they have changed to saying that a 3 month store is plenty. THAT is much more doable.
Mormon or not, having a decent supply of food on hand is smart. Besides the whole emergency preparedness thing, it’s nice to never run out of anything. Truly, I only ever have to call my neighbors for the occasional stick of butter or egg. Having a back supply of all my pantry items makes certain that I can cook just about anything I want whenever I want.
I will brag. I have a great food storage supply. It has taken me a long time to establish, but I think I finally have the hang of it and I have some helpful advise that will get you started on your supply. Let’s go through this step by step.
Have a decent place to store all your food. I don’t have great storage in my kitchen, so I had a friend make me two cabinets to put in my garage. We call them "The Twins". Each one is 6 feet tall, 4 feet wide and 2 feet deep and doors that close shut. They have very sturdy shelves that can hold a lot of weight. If you don’t have anywhere to store your supply, you will lose all motivation to establish it. So find some ample storage space.
Make a big list of what food your family eats. What shelf-stable items are always on your grocery list? What is on your meal rotation a lot? Take a minute and write it all down. Every family is going to be different. You might have chickpeas on your list while we don’t. You will find a lot of lists around the internet and Pinterest of what to put in your food storage, but if you don’t know what to do with hard wheat, don’t buy it. But do buy a crap load of black beans and salsa if you guys love those. Below is my list. This will hopefully get your brain thinking.
Now comes the hoarding part. No, you aren’t going to drop a few bennies on all of it. You are going to build your supply slowly. Tape your list to the inside of your kitchen cabinet and each time you make your grocery list, add a few things that are on your food storage list. Like instead of getting one bottle of red wine vinegar, get 3. And let’s say as you are grocery shopping, you notice that cocoa powder is on sale. Buy a few. Your husband or wife calls and says they are dropping by the store on their way home? Have them pick up a bottle of vegetable oil. Going to Costco? Add a case of tomato sauce to your list. You are going to build your supply slow. You don’t have to spend a lot of money if you can’t. Just little by little. You are thinking “How much of each thing should I buy?” I would start with aiming for 16 of your canned items, 4 of your bottled items and 4 of your bagged items. And two big 25 pound bags of sugar and flour. You might find you don’t need as much of one thing, but more of another. Just do what works for you.
Keep it organized. Take the time to stack everything neatly, like your own little grocery store. If you just toss everything in there, you won’t be able to keep track of what you need.
Now it’s all about maintenance. So when you are making caramel popcorn and use the last bit of corn syrup, pull another bottle out of your food storage pantry and then write corn syrup on your grocery list. Ideally, you have at least 3 bottles of it that you are rotating out. Don’t deplete your supply. Keep rotating out and maintaining your hard work.
Have any questions? Let’s discuss them.
Here is my food storage list. Like I said, your list might look different from mine. But use mine and add to or remove from. Do what your family actually eats.
FOOD STORAGE LIST
Canned Vegetables and Fruit:
Diced green chiles
Sauces and Jarred Vegetables:
Roasted red peppers
Sweetened condensed milk
Red wine vinegar
Apple cider vinegar
Pastas and Grains:
Long-grain white rice
Flours and Sugars:
Active dry yeast
Vital wheat gluten
Fats and Oils:
Soups, Noodles and Premade Food:
Macaroni and cheese
Red beans and rice mix
Canned chicken noodle soup
Chicken buillon cubes