We are accustomed to the bounty in the grocery store where it is quite rare for them to be "out" of something. We have what-looks-on-the-surface like a fool-proof system of food supply and delivery. But do we? Do you realise that the average grocery store has three days of food on hand and without re-supply the shelves would be bare in three days? With the introduction of the Just-In-Time delivery systems they no longer have back rooms filled with extra supplies. A big snow storm in the immediate area or a hurricane coming up the coast can empty store shelves as people stock up on necessary supplies at the last minute. There have been many documented instances when this system has let us down already. It is only a matter of time before it happens again.
My personal goal is have at least 6 months of food storage. That may seem like a lofty goal when you've never given it much thought before. We've found that our food storage has allowed us to buy in quantity on sale and save us money. It has also been there over the years when the month was longer than the money or we had unexpected guests. It became a necessity when there were 7 of us living at home just to keep the food budget under control. It is also peace-of-mind to know you don't have to run to the grocery store for something essential because you already have 2 or 3 of them stored away.
I began by looking at our most common meals - we really are creatures of habit so the foods we eat are similar in the seasons. In the winter for example we frequently eat the following:
SUPPERS for winter months
1. Beans and rice (or riced cauliflower) with Jerusalem artichokes, onions, kale
2. Chicken soup and biscuits, celery, onion, green pepper, rice pasta, kale
3. Tacos or burritos with lentil "meat", sour cream, cheese, salsa and salad
4. Sub sandwiches with sliced meat, cheese, lettuce, onions, dressing, mayo
5. Meatball stew with potatoes, frozen beans, onions, carrots, arrowroot powder
6. Pasta and sauce with mixed dehydrated veggies and salad
7. Shepherds Pie, potatoes, frozen veggies, lentils or hamburger (use JA's for potatoes and/or part cauliflower & lamb)
8. Tortilla Strata, tortillas, sour cream, cheese, eggs
9. Vegetable Soup with rice, cabbage, celery, kale
10. Beef or lamb burgers, salad, homemade fries
11. Salad and beans, nuts & seeds mix, fruit, apple cider vinegar, olive oil
12. Lasagna vegetarian, spinach, cottage cheese, cheese, onions, garlic (organic yogurt)
13. Frittata, egg, onion, cheese, green pepper, garlic, frozen veggies
14. Chili, veggies, beans, tomatoes, sauce with biscuits
15. Homemade pizza, sliced meat, sauce, cheese, green peppers
16. Roasted potatoes, chicken, broccoli, vegetables
17. Pizza Rice Casserole, lamb burger, sauce, cheese
After making a list like this it was easy to see which specific foods we needed to store. Using the information to make a price book (posted above) gave me the information I needed to know when an item is a great deal (relatively speaking:) ) Then when I shopped I started buying 2 or 3 of several items. By getting one or 2 extra of each item I soon had enough food stored to make a month worth of suppers. I repeated the process for lunch and breakfast giving some consideration to the fact that oatmeal was a much cheaper breakfast food than boxed cereal and it was easier to store in bulk.
I store boxes and cans on shelves and dried grains, beans etc. in large glass jars or in vaccumed sealed mason jars. This makes it easy to find and use.
Maybe I was born in the wrong century but it seems to make a lot of sense to me. We buy car insurance and house insurance and hope we'll never really need to use it. This is food insurance.
How about you? How long would your pantry last?