As mentioned in the first part of this portion of the Survival Question discussion, there are a number of ways that your food storage can be all wrong. To cover most of them, I’ve come up with a list of seven strategies. Feel free to add your own, or tweak them. I list them here in no particular order:
- Store the things you would normally eat. (Or, at any rate, the things to *make* the things you would normally eat.) As mentioned in part one, it is probably not the best idea to change up your habits during a survival scenario. It also makes no sense to store things you wouldn’t normally eat; you quite probably don’t like them. (If you don’t like lima beans, why on earth would you keep 25 pounds of them around?) Exactly what you store will likely depend on how long you think it’ll have to keep. For example, I’d advise against storing loaves of bread for more than a few days (a few weeks, in the freezer), since they have a fairly short shelf-life. Storing flour is somewhat better; storing wheat is better, yet. (And don’t forget the salt, sugar, and yeast. And the grain mill…)
- Store things properly. Even though you may have the “right” things, you want to make sure to store them in the way that will maximize their shelf-lives. Generally, for longest-term storage, that means cool and dry, plus appropriate packaging. The variety of ways to store things can fill an entire post, or series of posts; it probably will do so, at some later date. There is abundant information out there; it would pay to research it.
- Store a variety of things. While dining on steak and potatoes every night might sound marvelous, even I quickly begin yearning for something “green and leafy.” Variety is, as they say, the spice of life; this can’t be emphasized enough, when it comes to food. Having the same thing, day in and day out, becomes a psychological drain; it can actually become difficult to motivate yourself to eat enough calories. As a rule of thumb, I recommend being able to come up with a different dinner each day of the week. Another reason for the variety, and one more thing to think about: are you getting all of the nutrition you need from your food? A stock of good multi-vitamins might not be a bad idea for a supplement.
- Use your stored food (rotate the inventory). This is probably one of the biggest issues I have with most “food storage” plans. Even the Mormons/LDS, who have a great program in place to amass a food stockpile, don’t address this one well. The best way to ensure your food stock is still within its use-by date is to continually use and replenish it. My family’s food storage is–wait for it–the pantry. We pull cans from it on a near daily basis, and replace them with our normal grocery shopping. This is also a good way to evaluate #1, above: if there’s a stack of things in the pantry that simply isn’t getting used after a few months, we re-think why we have that stuff to begin with… And remember: first-in, first-out. Put the new stuff in back, and eat your way down to it.
- Store the makings of comfort foods. Let’s face it, just about any sort of survival situation is going to be psychologically stressful. You may be well-grounded enough (or deep enough in “emergency mode”) to go through a day or three without issues, but there’s going to come a point–probably towards dinner time, about a week or so into things–when you just want something warm and filling, so you can go curl up under a blanket somewhere and feel (at least momentarily) secure. This is where the comfort food comes in. Whatever it may be–mac-n-cheese, or beef stew, or whatever–have the fixings for some of it on hand. Your mental health will thank you later.
- Store the makings of “quick-energy” and “quick-prep” foods. There will likely be times when you won’t have the time to cook something. Or when you need an energy boost, and you need it now. (Or, you’re looking ahead and planning for those times that you will need one.) It would probably be good to have a few things around for that purpose. Something as simple as trail mix, or gorp. Something you don’t need to heat up, or to cool down. Pre-prepped “snack food” type things, that you can just grab and go. Need a quick something to eat between waves of zombies trying to overrun the compound? There you are.
- It’s probably better to have a little of everything than a lot of one item. So, you know how much you’ll need for a year. You only have some of the money to get it. I advise getting a little of everything on the list, or as best you can. If the unthinkable happens, and the world ends before you’re fully stocked, the variety (there’s that word again!) will probably serve you better than having 100 pounds of wheat, 50 tins of spam, and some salt licks. (Those are better than nothing, granted, but you won’t survive long on them.)
And now, back to the original question: how much food do I need? Well, given all of the above, my suggestion is to get “a little extra” on your next shopping trip–say, enough for two or three extra days. Wash, rinse, repeat, and after a couple of months, you will have at least a couple of weeks worth of food–and before you know it, you’re set!
This topic could go on an don an don forever; again, there is a lot of information out there. Read! Learn! And most importantly, use that new knowledge…
In a future post, I’ll try to remember to plumb my wife’s brain for tips on meal planning, which is another great food prep/storage/use tool…