How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. And how do you store a year's worth of food and supplies? For some of us the easiest way is by planning one week at a time. It's hard for me to wrap my head around what I need to store for short-term, mid-term and long-term use. I am by no means an expert, but I try to use common sense in getting food storage saved for my family.
Here are some terms that I'll use to describe what I store:
Perishable foods are anything that does not have a shelf life outside of the refrigerator or freezer and must be used up immediately in case of power outage. This includes frozen veggies and fruit, uncured meat, chicken stock, and anything else you usually keep in your freezer or fridge. Especially ice cream!
Short-term food storage is what I consider foods that are fairly perishable, including everything in the freezer that can be stored after thawing and that does not need to be cooked right away. If it has a shelf life over a few weeks and can be stored "short-term", then I would put it in this category. This would include flours, pasta and grains that aren't packaged in light/bug/rodent/oxygen free packaging. Short-term storage are things that you use in your everyday cooking, keep accessible, and rotate through quickly but can be stored in it's regular packaging for several months to a year.
Mid-term food storage is anything that will last 1-4 years stored, and can include some short-term food storage items as long as they are re-packaged to lengthen their storage life. In our storage this includes pasta, rice, flour, sugar, dehydrated fruits and vegetables, canned and bottled foods, and most spices and dried herbs. And chocolate chips. We can't forget a little bit of chocolate! A mid-term food storage can have quite a bit of variety as long as you think and plan ahead.
Long-term food storage for me is anything that will last longer than 5 years and still retain most of it's nutrients and flavor. In a survival situation you need calories to stay alive, and stored food provides those calories! Research indicates that dry foods (moisture removed) are ideal for longer-term storage since they do not need to be rotated very frequently.
There are a lot of food storage websites with a lot of great information online, but sometimes they just confuse me more. One of the simplest ways of planning food storage and meals to serve was to break your menu down by month, and then make a list of what you need from that. Then you can multiply it by twelve to figure out what you need for the year (or 3 months, 6 months, etc.)
A weekly shelf-stable menu can be easily made using a spreadsheet on the computer or just a piece of paper, pencil, and ruler. Here is a good weekly menu printable from The Project Girl that includes a grocery list, so you can write down your meals and jot down the ingredients all on the same page. Makes for easy grocery shopping!
This is a simple menu for a week using short-term and mid-term storage, and not using any dehydrated foods, fresh dairy and meat, just shelf-stable food that is readily available in most homes and grocery stores. Keep in mind, this menu is utilizing easy to prepare, shelf-stable ingredients and isn't about gourmet meals. If there is an emergency, natural disaster, run on stores or banks, or you are in a shelter-in-place situation, etc, you're not going to want to spend a lot of time cooking.
Simple menu items can be duplicated in a week. We've done it before, and the family does get tired of eating the same things, but they will be full!
- Oatmeal, sugar, milk
- Pancakes, syrup
- Waffles, syrup
- Cinnamon Toast
- Rice Pudding: rice, milk, sugar
- Tuna sandwich: bread, mayo, relish and Canned Peaches
- Bean and rice burritos and salsa: pintos, rice, flour, baking powder, oil
- Peanut Butter sandwich: peanut butter, jam, bread and Fruit Cocktail
- Macaroni and cheese with tomatoes and pork and beans
- Spaghetti with canned sauce and parmesan cheese
- Spanish Rice and Beans: canned tomatoes with chilis and dried onion
- Potato buds with white gravy and canned green beans
- Chicken a la King made with biscuits (biscuit mix) and canned chicken and veggies
- Chili and tortillas
What a tasty menu, right? LOL
Here is what my list of ingredients for that week would look like if I made pasta and chili twice, tuna sandwiches and burritos twice, and oatmeal and rice pudding twice. Some of these, like the 4lbs of sugar, the jar of mayonnaise, the bottle of oil, and maybe even the powdered milk will last the whole month. Again, as you can see, we're not really going for optimal nutrition here, just solid calories with some protein and complex carbohydrates.
Baking and dried goods
5 lb. bag flour for tortillas and bread
1 box baking mix for pancakes, waffles, biscuits; prepared with powdered milk but no eggs
1 box cornbread mix
2 lb. bag rice
2 lbs. pinto beans
2 lbs. pasta
1 box oatmeal
4 lb. bag sugar
1 small box powdered milk
Canned or Jarred goods
1 bottle canola oil
1 bottle syrup
1 bottle syrup
1 jar peanut butter
1 jar jam
2 cans pasta sauce
1 small parmesan cheese
4 cans tuna
1 jar mayonnaise
2 medium cans chili
2 cans chicken
2 cans mixed veggies
2 cans green beans
1 jar or can of peaches
2 cans tomatoes
1 can fruit cocktail
2 boxes macaroni and cheese
1 can pork and beans
Other ingredients used:
This is quite a list, but shopping your home, then shopping sales and getting a few things each shopping trip and SETTING THEM ASIDE, not adding them into your everyday pantry stores, a week's supply is right around the corner. Or, if you are able to, make this one shopping trip. I estimate that this menu would feed 4 and cost about $50.00-$60.00. Not bad for a week's worth of food!
My GOAL is to always have some greens and other veggies growing, even if they are sprouts, so I can supplement any canned or dried foods with fresh.
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