Food Storage Intro
Food for thought (no pun intended):
You can survive for about 3 weeks without food.
You can survive for about 3 days without water.
You can survive for about 3 hours without shelter (i.e. extreme cold).
You can survive about 3 minutes without oxygen.
The idea with food/water storage, and emergency prep in general, is that it is never really finished (until you need it). You are constantly adding to, rotating, and restocking it. And in this case, something is better than nothing. So you might as well start now so you have at least something for that “rainy day”. Remember, it was not raining when Noah started building the Ark. As a matter of fact, it was probably nice and sunny, and I'm sure his friends all made fun of him, which is probably why he only took animals with him. Who knows? So if your plan is to wait for the big one to hit before you stock up at the store, then you've waited too long. A year from now you may be wishing you had started today.
There are 3 basic components of food and water storage:
Short Term Food Storage- This is your three-month food supply and is comprised of what you are already using every day. Doing this is as simple as buying a little extra each time you are at the store. For example, if you need one, buy two. As you use something, replace it with two. Little by little, start building a small supply. Work to have a month's food on hand. Then continue to grow it to two and ultimately three. Rotate these items regularly to avoid spoilage. I use the FIFO method, which is, First In, First Out. You should also have a short-term supply of medications, hygiene items, cash, and any other necessities for your family (and I think three months worth in this case is also a great start).
Long Term Food Storage- This is your year supply. Long term food storage is a little more intimidating than short term food storage. The hardest part of any food storage is getting started. Much of your long term food storage is going to have a very long shelf life (from a couple years all the way past 30 years in some cases). When stored properly and in a cool, dry place, wheat, rice, pasta, oats, beans, and potatoes can all last 30 years or longer. We will help you out with this in our week by week food storage program. Just follow our modules, and if we recommend something that you don't normally use, then sub it out with something you will use.
Two Week Water Storage- Store drinking water for circumstances in which the water supply may be polluted or disrupted. According to the Red Cross and Civil defense, you need to store a minimum of 14 gallons per person for a 2-week period (this is 1 gallon per person per day of drinking water). But, this is a bare minimum. In addition drinking water, you will need water for cleaning and sanitation purposes. And we'll cover all of this. But for now, consider this a starting point, and once accomplished, keep building on this.
Three Food Storage Methods:
Storing long-term “staple” foods: This is what our 52-week food storage program is all about. This method stores items that have longer shelf lives (20-30 years), but require preparation and cooking. These items are often packaged in #10 cans and 5 gallon buckets. This will most likely constitute the bulk of your long-term (one year) food storage. This method works well if you know how to cook with your food storage. If you don’t know how to cook with your food storage, then 400 lbs of wheat won’t do you a whole lot of good. So as part of this program, we encourage you to take some time to learn how to cook with your food storage. Remember, all the food storage in the world means nothing if your kids won’t eat it. There are several good books on ‘cooking with food storage’ out there and I will also include some recipes as we go that work well with this food storage program.
Storing extra food you already use: In addition to the above program, make sure you have an abundant supply of the items you commonly use that are simple to prepare, such as mac-‘n-cheese, dried or canned fruits, vegetables, and soups, pastas, Raman’s, pancake mix, whatever your favorites are. The point of these items is they are simple and quick to prepare. These expire much sooner than your long-term storage supply, but the point here is to rotate through them and replenish them before they expire. These items are all a part of your short-term (3 month) food storage.
Here's a tip on building up your 3-month supply: Write down 6 breakfasts, 6 lunches, and 6 dinners that your family likes (this variety is probably only slightly less than what the average American already eats). Figure out how much you'd need to make each meal 15 times, then buy enough for that. For example, depending on your family size, pancakes may be just a couple bags of pancake mix and a container or two of syrup. Likewise, oatmeal may be just a bag or two of oats, a bag of brown sugar, some salt, maybe a container of cinnamon, etc. For sandwiches, throw a few loaves of bread in the freezer and keep a couple extra containers of peanut butter and honey on hand (a costco container of honey will last my family a lot more than 15 lunches). Work on this a little at a time (and as your budget allows), and before you know it, you will have a 3 month (6 x 15 = 90) short term food supply (covering breakfasts, lunches, and dinners) that your family will actually eat. Then, just replace it as you use it to keep this 3 month supply up. Of course when times are good, you'll be eating a much wider variety, only tapping into these items occasionally, but if times get hard, you know you'll be covered for at least 3 months.
Storing freeze-dried or dehydrated meals: Consider storing freeze-dried or dehydrated meals. These meals are usually packaged in Mylar packaging or #10 cans and can have a storage life of 20-25 years. These meals only require water, are simple to prepare, and taste surprisingly good. They are a great supplement to your existing long-term storage supply and are very portable, making them a great addition to your 72-hour kit. They are also a very convenient item to have on those backpacking or camping trips. These meals can supplement your short-term as well as your long-term food supply.
This 52-week food storage plan is based on the storage needs for 1 adult and covers the LDS Church’s minimum recommendations for a year supply. If used solely for 1 year, it will keep you nourished, but probably leave you hungry, or in my case, “hangry”. So I strongly suggest you supplement this food storage program with the above mentioned methods. For families, make your own adjustments for the number of people you are preparing for this year. As a general rule, a child (age 6 and under) requires roughly half the food storage that an adult requires. Building a year supply of food for an entire family can be quite overwhelming if you are doing it all in one year. Consider repeating this plan for several years until you meet your family’s storage needs. It is important to remember that you should not go to extremes when establishing your food storage. For example, it is not wise to go into debt to establish your food storage all at once. Develop it gradually so that it will not become a financial burden. And the most important part is to "Store what you eat and eat what you store." If we recommend something that your family doesn't like, then don't store it, but store something else in its place.