Monday, November 12, 2012

10 Simple Food Storage Tips For Singles and College Students

Most singles or college students are overwhelmed with the concept of food storage because they aren't sure what to store, they don't have the space to store it, and are afraid of the expense. It does't have to be overwhelming if you buy food storage a little at a time along with your grocery shopping. Abandon the mentality that food storage is only wheat, rice and beans in commercial-sized cans. There are so many ways to make food storage easy for you. Here are some suggestions:
  1. Quickly Put Together a 72-hour Kit - Even though this falls under the category of disaster preparedness, you may need an emergency kit. It's what you'll grab if you have to evacuate your home and head to a shelter, or shelter at home. Tell your relatives you would love for them to help you build one for Christmas. It won't last very long, so you also want a 3-month supply of food. 
  2. Gather a 3-Month Supply of Everyday Foods - If you live in a small condo, an apartment or with 5 other roommates, then start with a 1-month supply. Obviously you won't be able to store a year's supply of food in #10 commercial-sized cans. Consider shelf-stable foods in the sizes you normally cook with. This supply will help you during disasters and between jobs. Soup, canned fruits, tuna fish, fruits and vegetables, a bag of rice, boxed cereal, kidney beans, etc. all store well. The gathering may take time, but you can do it one extra can at a time. 
  3. Make A List Of What You Have - Eliminate fresh foods from your mind. Yikes! Did I say that? Most of us are fresh-is-best eaters. However, those fresh foods won't be available after a disaster. You have to have shelf-stable foods in your home. Remember how long it took people to get help after Hurricane Sandy? Remember what happened to their local stores during the power outages? That is what it could be like for you after a major disaster. Look in your cupboards and find canned, boxed and packaged foods you already use. See, you do have them! These will become the basics of emergency food storage. Most of us already have a 3-month supply of food and don't even know it. Make a list of what you've normally buy.
  4. Create Disaster Menus - Now expand that list into simple menus. An easy meal could be a can of soup and crackers, breakfast cereal and a can of peaches. It may not be what you eat like now, but most of theses foods are foods you can survive on. For ideas, see Disaster Menus for 7 days or check out my College Food Storage list.
  5. Buy 1 For You, and 1 For Your Shelf - Make this your new motto. When you go shopping for a can of tomatoes, buy two. Or a bag of rice, buy two. Soon you will have food storage on your shelf.
  6. Old Mother Hubbard? - You don't want to have bare cupboards like hers. It's okay to leave food on your shelves. Move away from the mentality that you must eat that last box of cereal before you buy another one. Open one box, but leave one uneaten box on the shelf. Then shop again so you have two again. Leaving food on your shelves is not like leaving food on your plate. It's a good thing!
  7. Shop Smart and Buy on Sale - Learn what a good sale is by comparing prices. Most singles are bright college students or college graduates. You can do it! Remember that list from idea #3? Now record the prices of those items next time you go to the store. It may be a longer shopping trip, but you've created your first price log. There are apps for this, but sometimes paper and pencil is quicker. Watch for sales by looking at grocery ads online each week. The front page is a good place to look. Come up with your own limits on the most you will pay for something. My father-in-law never pays more than $1 per pound for fresh fruits and vegetables. I think he's on to something.
  8. One Week Each Month . . . Don't Eat Out - Singles tend to eat out more often than non-singles. Take homemade lunches to work or school, and use the money saved to put in your food storage fund. And remember; your favorite restaurant or cafe will be closed after a disaster, perhaps for months. Those campus vending machines will empty in one day. Yikes! Those snacky foods will be gone.
  9. Use My Monthly Food Storage Lists - I've prepared these lists to help you gather something new each week based on monthly categories. If you don't like an item on my 12 Monthly Lists, stock up on something else. Almond butter could be exchanged for peanut butter. Brown rice could be exchanged for white rice. Even though brown rice doesn't have a long shelf life, you normally use it so you will buy it again. It's okay to stock up on a supply of it in your 3-month supply.
  10. Pray For Guidance and Inspiration - We live in "difficult and turbulent times." It is no longer if you will need it. It's when you will need it. God does listen. Pray for guidance. Ideas and inspiration will come. I know this, because I've practiced it. 
Best wishes on your new adventure!


Listen to Barbara Salsbury - Author of "Preparedness Principles" on the Mormon Channel. She will encourage and motivate you!


  1. Your #2 tip is exactly how I started storing as a single. It would have be stupid to buy a 10# container of food - once opened, I'd've never been able to use it all before going bad. Even when buying in bulk, I'd buy just enough to fit in quart sized baggies, which I'd put into quart sized glass jars. Easier to store and use up.

    Singles should never think that because they don't have a spouse or children that storing is a waste of time. I'm glad I started doing this as a single, because now that I'm married, I'm already in the groove and it was so much easier to explain it all to my new spouse.

  2. Thank you for some great tips. I live in the uk & don't understand about the different sized tins/cans.

    I especially like the idea of buy 1 for you & 1 for the cupboard. I'm on a low income at the moment & can't afford to spend too much on food storage. (£2.00/$4.00 at the moment)

    One tip I have is that altho it's great to buy things on offer, if we find something that we want/need we shouldn't feel guilty about still buying it - otherwise we could end up not buying anything!

    Finally, I especially appreciate the last tip. Food storage for singles is quite different to one for a family & I know that Heavenly Father will guide us in our storage efforts.

    I hope you do some more tips again soon:)

    Cheerio from the UK.

    1. Also, is it ok to mainly work on a 3 month supply rather than a one year supply?

      I mainly ask this because, as I mentioned, I'm on a low income & can't afford much for food storage, so am working on a 3 month one.

      I thought I was doing really well & have been buying a few items - or just 1 - on a certain item of food - but then last week I spoke to my friend who has a complete one year supply & I feel really discouraged.

      She said I should be working on a years supply, not a 3 month one & to check that the dates on the tins etc are a year.

      I tried to explain about the 1 week/3 month supply ideas in the booklet that the church put out in 2007 but she didn't want to know.

      I know this is opposition in all things but I really feel like giving up after her negative comments.

      Please let me know that I'm doing something right in my food storage, even if it is "only" 3 months!

    2. Hi Julie,

      I am working on a post just for you! Hang in there!

  3. These are some great tips! I especially like #6. I got into a habit in college of eating everything in my cupboards before going shopping again. I think that rotating food out could be an easy way of starting some "food storage" without getting too crazy with planning and everything. Great practical tips, thank you so much for this post!

  4. I love the idea of buying one for you and one for your shelf! That should be my new mantra for when I go shopping from now on! There have been times when I told myself I was buying something for food storage, but within days of bringing it home from the store, I have used it for one thing or another! If I could just get in the habit of buying double, I would have a much more effective food storage!


Thanks for your comments and suggestions!