My husband and I are not preppers. We don’t prescribe to that way of life or the belief systems that are usually associated with it. (Let’s be honest here – I don’t know a lot of Jewish preppers.) That being said, we still believe in food storage. Along with the regular, off-the-shelf items we keep, we have a three(ish) month supply of meat in our freezers. We also keep six-month supply of emergency food from The Ready Store. Half of that is kept here at home, while the other half is in our travel trailer. Additionally, we keep a fair amount of emergency supplies in both places.
Why do we do this, even if we don’t prescribe to the prepper lifestyle?
Well, a few reasons, really.
- No matter where you are in life, it can change on a dime. In an instant, food insecurity becomes a big issue.
- We live between one and ten miles from six major naval installations, including one that is a storage facility for the Pacific Fleet’s nuclear weapons cache. (Fun fact: we nearly put an offer on a house directly across the road from the warhead bunkers. It was a beautiful, adorable house, but at the end of the day, I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of warheads basically pointed at me, so we moved along). With our proximity to these installations comes threats that my husband is far more concerned about and focused on than I am, but in the spirit of marital compromise, we have food and emergency storage for that reason, as well.
- We live in earthquake country (and volcano and tsunami country). ‘Nuff said.
- Simplicity of life. If I have a pantry full of items, I don’t have to go to the store. If I can avoid going to the store, my stress levels will stay down, and I will be a happier person. Sure, I still have to go for fresh vegetables and other things, but by planning ahead, I can time those trips out, avoid the crowds, avoid irritation, keep my blood pressure down, and generally be a better human being.
Everything I have learned about food storage has come from LDS websites, literature, and friends who are church members. No one does food storage better than the LDS. One of my closest friends was raised LDS and to this day, I still have the memory of walking into the laundry room next to her basement bedroom and discovering that it was actually this cavernous room with shelves and shelves full of canned goods. I had no idea what I was seeing, but it made an impression on 12-year-old me. She carefully explained to me why the food was there and why they practiced food storage. My family didn’t live that way – it would never even have occurred to us to live that way – but it definitely imprinted on me. My friend, her husband, and their children left the LDS church a few years ago, but she maintains her food storage cache in her wonderfully spacious house in Utah. (She has her own cavernous room to keep it in now!) She taught me the phrase, “shop from your pantry” and it’s one I’ve taken to heart. Shopping from my pantry reflects #4 above.
What do I do with all this food? Well, I have dozens of cookbooks and, if I’m stumped with what to do, I take my iPad to my pantry, survey my ingredients, and search online to find recipes that use the ingredients I have and that also seem like they will taste good. Last night, I made a delicious Shepherd’s Pie just from pantry and freezer items.
My personal rules for food storage are as follows:
- Buy as much in bulk as possible. We have a grocery store here in the PNW called Winco with an incredible bulk food section. I get a lot of what I need there, and then build up.
- If the package/can/bag is open, it’s inside our kitchen pantry. If it’s unopened, it goes in our workshop food storage pantry.
- Shop in twos and fours. I always buy more than I need then if my budget allows for it, and then I put the excess in the pantry.
- I shop the Dollar Tree grocery section for basic staples. It’s a great place to get sandwich/freezer bags, toiletries, etc.
- I don’t buy what we don’t eat. I discovered years ago that canned potatoes are horrifying and disgusting, so I never buy those now. I used to buy things JUST so that I had them in the pantry, but if we’re going to skip over them every time, we’ve wasted money.
- I keep a running list of what I run out of on my device so that I’m not guessing when I’m in the store.
- I have a master list of the staples. Then I can check them off and add things to my list when I’m getting low.
- We plan ahead. We talk about our food likes/dislikes ahead of shopping so that we don’t end up with stuff we will never use. It’s always good to go into a busy grocery store with a game plan.
- I take my husband with me to the store. While I’m far more efficient on my own, if he has a say in what’s in our cart, we won’t argue later when I try to fix a meal he doesn’t want.
- Stay organized! This is the key to successful food storage. What’s the point of buying it if I’m never going to find it again once it’s in my pantry? I spent two hours in the workshop last night re-organizing once we got home from our pantry haul.
So that’s my take on food storage. Happy shopping!