Many people haven’t started an emergency food storage plan because they don’t think they can afford it. If there is an emergency or natural disaster, this is something they will most likely regret. Here list of ways to start stockpile food for your family that won’t break the bank.
Five tips for an affordable food storage plan:
1. Decide What Your Family Eats
Even in an emergency, you want to make sure that the foods you store are things your family will enjoy eating. Start with a list of meals you can make without an oven. Meals that can be reasonably be made on a stovetop, camp stove or grill are okay. These may include things like spaghetti, pasta salads, tuna salad, etc. Use your imagination and keep adding to the list every time you think of something else. Each time you go grocery shopping, add things to your grocery list that goes in those meals.
Items like noodles, canned sauces and canned meats are ideal. Freeze-dried meats are also ideal for creating your family’s favorites in a pinch.
2. Decide How Much You Will Need
This depends on the stockpile you plan to create. Many people try to store enough food to will last 3-6 months. Others plan for one year. You never know what type of emergency you may encounter, which is why we believe your best value is in buying food that will last for an extended period of time. Canned and boxed food from the grocery store rarely last for more than 3-years, dehydrated foods generally last 7-10 years, and freeze-dried foods last up to 25-years.
3. Can Foods Yourself
While this can be a big task, you can do it a little at time. You can also make it a family time event that everyone helps with on a regular basis. Buy large supplies of grains, such as rice and corn. Then, dry pack them or store them in barrels that are food-safe. Wet pack canning is great for storing things like fresh tomatoes and other fruits or vegetables for long periods of time.
Also, buy dried goods that will come in handy, such as dry milk. If your space is limited, get creative. Barrels can be stored in closets and used to store things on. Boxes of dry milk can be easily stored under beds or couches.
4. First In, First Out
Be sure to follow this rule to make sure your stored food has the longest shelf-life possible. Use a permanent marker to mark the purchase dates on your canned goods, and other stored foods. Always use the oldest foods in your storage first. Remember to rotate the food as you add new food to the stockpile. Store the new food in the back, bringing the older food closer to the front. Some people have gone to the extent of creating a computer spreadsheet that lists cans/boxes, servings, and expiration dates. By using simple sorting features, you’ll always know what needs to be used next. Additionally, this will give you a realistic idea of how much food you have on hand. If you are going to go with the spreadsheet method, make sure to be diligent in updating it, or it will quickly become outdated and useless.
5. Store It Safely
Make sure the food is stored in a clean, sun-free, dry space. This will help prolong shelf-life. Also, if your space is limited, be creative. Add a storage space at the tip-top of the closet. Use the space under your sofa or bed. What about that space on top of the cabinets, or on the side of the refrigerator? If you look hard enough, you’ll find that there’s space somewhere, especially when you consider the fact that an emergency food storage plan could save your family.
Contributed by Justin Taylor, a Food Insurance™