Thursday, March 6, 2014

10 Mistakes I've Made With Food Storage

Some of you think I know everything about food storage. Maybe I know more than some of you, but I definitely don't know everything. I'm really good at gathering, but I have a B- in cooking skills. I will give myself an A+ for effort though. Over the years that I've been gathering food storage I've made some big mistakes, and I want to share them with you so you don't make the same mistakes.

10 Mistakes I've Made With Food Storage
  1. Storing someone else's idea of what I should store in our food storage. Big mistake! We don't eat what someone else does. I tried that and ended up with so much ketchup that I've been tossing it in the trash. Even though I share a list of ideas of what I store, your kids may not like it. I've also looked at the big lists food storage companies figure out for you for a year's supply, but that isn't exactly how we live each day. So, store what YOU eat, not what I eat or someone else eats.
  2. Believing I could create a vegetable garden like the farmer down the street. Hello! What was I thinking? I'm a mini gardener. For that matter, a micro-mini gardener. Reality has set in. My garden will always be small. Though I do want to try growing some indoor tomato plants.
  3. Believing I will someday be an amazing canner like my Relief Society president. Her skills are amazing, but they took her years to perfect. I do better at shopping for food rather than canning it. I think my skills are fantastic just in another way. And I think it is acceptable to the Lord.
  4. Storing food my family will not eat, and I won't ever eat. Yes, those cans of carrots and pork and beans just sit and sit on the shelf. I thought the yams would be a good idea too, but no, no, no.
  5. Spending money on "instant" food storage that my family doesn't eat. Now I know some my readers sell "instant" food storage and some of you eat it. And if it works for you, great. It just isn't the way I cook every day. I try to store what we normally eat so our bodies are accustomed to it. I don't want to force my family to eat food they don't want to in an emergency either. I'm a softie.
  6. Storing food in the garage where the heat ruins its shelf life. Okay. I actually haven't done this, because I learned early on that the garage has fluctuating temperatures that foods do not like. Read this post about what happens to wheat when it's improperly stored. So, I store every food item inside my house in cool, dark, dry places.
  7. Not taking regular food storage inventories and then buying something I already have. This is one thing I still have a hard time with. I try to check my supplies before I shop. But if someone else puts the case of peanut butter away in a different location, I can't be blamed for buying another case of peanut butter. :-) Inventory taking is important. We do it with our refrigerated food, and we need to do it with our shelf-stable food.
  8. Storing wheat in buckets I can't lift. I know some of you like those big buckets, but I'm not a fan. I'm very impatient when I want to get to food in our storage room. If I can't lift it, I don't buy it. I do have a few buckets for storing bags of brown sugar or sugar. I just put a Gamma lid on the bucket for easy access and keep those buckets on a lower shelf.
  9. Putting oxygen absorber packets in #10 cans of sugar. Huge mistake we made years ago. It made the granulated sugar turn into a rock! I don't know if that always happens, but it did in our case.
  10. Buying too much of one item; then discovering it has gone past its shelf life because we can't eat it fast enough. I made this mistake several times. I did it with peanut butter. I did it with oil. I did it was canned carrots and ketchup and salad dressing. It is so much better to buy a little bit here and a little bit there rather than a bunch of food all at once. This helps vary the shelf lives. Patience and self-control are important qualities.
There is hope and wisdom in this statement from the First Presidency (leaders) of my church. It keeps me balanced. I underlined a few phrases for emphasis:
      “Our Heavenly Father created this beautiful earth, with all its abundance, for our benefit and use. His purpose is to provide for our needs as we walk in faith and obedience. He has lovingly commanded us to ‘prepare every needful thing’ (see D&C 109:8) so that, should adversity come, we may care for ourselves and our neighbors and support bishops as they care for others. We encourage members worldwide to prepare for adversity in life by having a basic supply of food and water and some money in savings. We ask that you be wise as you store food and water and build your savings. Do not go to extremes; it is not prudent, for example, to go into debt to establish your food storage all at once. With careful planning, you can, over time, establish a home storage supply and a financial reserve.” All Is Safely Gathered In
This doesn't mean I have to be perfect. But I should be prepared and be wise. I hope these ideas help some of you. Don't beat yourself up for your mistakes. Just keep on keeping on!


  1. What a great post! I've made a few of those mistakes myself, but I'm learning!

  2. I do keep a regular inventory on a beautifully designed spreadsheet...but then I NEVER put a copy in my purse. Then I stumble upon an ah-mazing sale - and end up overbuying because I didn't have my inventory to consult.

    I'd also like to get better at storing items to make *complete meals* with. What good does 20 jars of spaghetti sauce do you if you fail to stock pasta, too? I have 2 bins full of peanut butter, but wouldn't it be nice to stock some jelly, too? I have 5 packs of single serving cold cereal but no shelf stable milk. I'm a good one for that kind of inefficiency.

    1. Thanks for making me feel better, Jill. :-)

  3. Jill - while I agree that may pantry wouldn't be complete without jelly, pasta, and powdered milk, your situation is perfect for thinking outside the box. We eat peanut butter and jelly, pasta and tomato sauce, and cereal and milk all the time... but I always overbuy peanut butter and I end up using tons of it in cookies. Sometimes regular peanut butter cookies, but we also love raggedy robins (oatmeal/chocolate/peanut butter) - at Christmas time I made a couple kinds of Christmas cookies with peanut butter and worked perfect. Peanut butter mixed with corn syrup, sugar, and rice krispies (or other plain cereal) makes great bars. It's a way to use the peanut butter and the cereal without any jelly or milk! Tomato sauce comes in handy for dishes like chicken parmesan. We eat what's on hand in a combination that works for us, and sometimes that gets pretty non-traditional... we eat canned pineapple as a side dish at dinner at least once a week because it's one of the few ways I can get my husband to eat fruit, it's always on hand, it it's ready instantly.

    1. Oh we certainly do that! I'm not LDS so I don't stock from the perspective of being ready to help others so much as from the perspective of if we were hit with a major disaster and my pantry was all that could sustain us (no fresh meat, no fresh produce, no access to stores in other words). In that sense, having complete meals just from pantry goods makes sense. (Not that I WOULDN'T use my pantry for charitable reasons, of course!).

  4. Thank you for this post, it's brill.

    I totally agree with the first one. I'm a really fussy eater & don't like a lot of things that others like, such as anything spicy. (curry etc. It's really popular in the UK)

    We don't really canning here. Is it something that is quite popular in the US?

    Are instant meals something you add water/milk to? Or are they the food storage meals that the army etc have/sell?

    Something I learnt about storing water for myself is to store smaller bottles. Last week I buy a large bottle & it had to be used after 3 days of opening.

    I know in an emergency I could've used it for washing etc but I wouldn't really like to risk drinking it.

    A quick question about food storage: Is it better to buy something (such as cereal) once a week or just buy 1 item (or several items) of the same thing once a month? I know you mainly concentrate on monthly items but I'd love to know how others approach it too.

    By the way, I'm trying hard to not let that friend discourage me in food storage this year:)

    1. Sorry about my spelling mistakes/the wrong words.

    2. I agree on the water, Julie. Instant meals are something you add water to. Cereal has a 9 to 12 month shelf life. I just keep extra in the cupboard all the time. It's the normal stuff I buy. I stock up about every 3 months because we don't eat a lot of it anymore. :-)


Thanks for your comments and suggestions!