Let's start at the very beginning with food storage. Many of you become overwhelmed with food storage because you want to eat the whole elephant. However, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. So start small, be smart and pace yourself
If my family started all over again, this is what I would do:
- WATER: Begin with stocking up on a 14 day supply of drinking water. You can add more later.
- 72-HOUR-KIT: Also, put together a 72-hour kit for each member of the family, and a binder or small safe to store emergency documents in case you need to evacuate.
- START AN EMERGENCY FUND by putting aside a little money each week. It doesn't have to be large. Try $2.00 per person or some other amount you could afford.
- GATHER a 3-Month Supply of Shelf-Stable Foods You Eat - create some menus of shelf-stable foods you can incorporate into your diet. This supply will help you if you were unemployed, had a longer-than-72-hour-disaster, etc. A portion of your supply could include a 2-week to 1-month supply of easy to prepare foods you can heat up easily without electricity. But these foods could also be items you regularly cook with. Don't get hung up on perfection. I know I talk about menus, but in a disaster I would eat a can of soup and some crackers for a meal. However, if my husband were unemployed we would eat lots of cold cereal and cook more from scratch, but still be able to buy milk.
- MAKE AN INVENTORY of what you have on hand. Perhaps count a portion of your stock pile every week like I do. You shop every week at the grocery store anyway, so you probably look at your food storage or other supplies regularly. Decide how much of each item to store. I want 30 boxes of cereal and you might want 6 because you live in a one-bedroom apartment. That's great! We are each keeping food storage. If you can't figure out how much, use the 3-month Food Storage Plan as a starting place. Or my monthly shopping lists on the right sidebar of my blog. You will be amazed at what you can do, and already have. As you put aside food in your 3-month supply, don't eat it all up in three months. Buy 1 can to eat now, and put aside 2 cans for later. Move items that won't fit in your kitchen to another cupboard or closet or basement. Eventually you will build a supply. It's like taking a few steps forward and one step back. You are still moving forward!
- GATHER LONG-TERM FOODS (20 to 30 year shelf life) - After you've done all the things above, work on this supply. Once or twice a year buy and can/bucket these items in bulk. I don't recommend buying them all at once because then they will have the same shelf life. Buy smart. Buy what you can afford and don't go into debt. There are many companies that want you to buy this kind of food all at once. Be careful. Learn to use these foods in your regular diet so it won't be a shock to your system when you do use them. Maybe start with 6 cans of the long-term staples. For some of you, these foods would be what-you-would-eat-if-you-had-nothing-else-to-eat. For us, we would be familiar with most of them because we use them regularly. Just so you know, we are a semi-homemade food storage family. Not a 100% only food storage family. We still eat fresh and frozen foods, but also canned and packaged foods so that our items get used or rotated.
- SEE IT, AND EAT IT: Keep a small supply of each food item in your kitchen, and store a larger supply in your basement, under beds, or in a closet, but not in the garage. The garage is a great place to store paper goods and possibly sugar, but not canned foods as the fluctuating temperatures will shorten the shelf life of your foods. So be careful. Ask someone in the food industry where they would store food.
Remember, one bite at a time.