Guest Author - Terrie Lynn Bittner
Each time we hear of a weather emergency, we read of intense food shortages. While most of us think of food storage as something we do for the Last Days, in reality, most of us will use our food storages first for ordinary hard times—getting snowed in, unemployment, serious illness that prevents a parent from shopping, or other challenges that face most families sooner or later.
There may be a time when you haven’t the money to purchase food. An unemployment check goes much further when food is removed from the budget. Even an unexpected expense, such as a broken refrigerator, a large medical bill or an expensive car repair can be “paid for” by eating from your storage for a while. During illness or chaos, it helps to be able to stay home and eat from your storage.
When building this type of food storage, keep in mind several principles:
1. When times are hard, you’re usually very busy. Typically, one way we save money is to cook from scratch. If you don’t find this relaxing, you’ll find the additional burden of learning to make all your food from scratch, and the additional tasks added to an already impossible schedule, more than you can bear. Store convenience foods along with the basic stores of flour, sugar and other staples.
2. When times are hard, everyone is under stress. Stock comfort foods, but also try to stock just what you normally eat. There is something reassuring during times of trial and poverty about being able to eat good meals that are essentially what you’ve always eaten. When the food is good, everyone finds it easier to believe you’re not in danger.
3. If you don’t stock what you eat, you won’t get around to rotating it. Stock what you eat…and then eat what you stock. Shop from your food storage, and save the grocery shopping for stocking up.
You don’t need thousands of dollars to start your food storage. When we can, I like to restart after a move (when we give away most of our storage) with a special budget (about triple one week’s worth of shopping.) I use it on the very basics. That starts me off so I can build up other things. After that, I buy about twenty dollars extra each week, or less if I need to. Even if you only buy five extra cans of something each week, spending just a few dollars at a time, the food will gradually build up. Just remember not to say, “Oh, we have plenty of green beans. I won’t buy more.” Each week, buy what you normally buy and a few extras besides.
Enlist your children in helping you figure out where to stash the food. Creativity is allowed, but keep a record of where things are, or you’ll never remember that the canned pears are under the bed and the peaches are in the closet with the Christmas supplies. As you purchase food, date it and take the extra time to stash the new food to the back.
Try to build to a point where you only shop monthly except for a weekly trip for perishables and special items. You’ll save money when you can do that, because nearly every trip to the store results in at least a few impulse buys and uses gas as well.
Watch for sales and then buy the maximum number of items allowed on that sale item. Sometimes, if there isn’t a limit, you can tell the manager you’d like to buy several cases at the sale price, but don’t want to wipe out her supplies. Ask if you can order the item in bulk at the sale price. (The worst she can do is say no, politely, so don’t be nervous.)
Remember that it might be frustrating to build a food storage a few items at a time, but if it’s carefully planned and you keep it up, you’ll eventually have a solid food storage. Even a few month’s worth of food will make all the difference.