I was glad to see the many comments and receive the many emails I waded through yesterday from so many of you. It shows me that many of my readers are on the same page—we are concerned about the painful economy, uncertain where our financial future is headed, and ready to do something about it.
Each day as I write on this topic I am going to link the related posts at the bottom so that anyone new can just join right in and catch up without having to scroll and find the other posts in the series.
If you were with usÂ yesterday, I chatted with you about how to get started, how to determine how much of different items were needed for each family member, and what were the best things to start with. Now it may seem like a strange time to address the traps people fall into with food storage before we really get down into the nitty gritty of what, how much and when to purchase it, but I am a strong believer in avoiding mistakes if at all possible…so this comes next.
Food storage comes with its own little set of rules that it is best to follow. It can change the way you think, completely, about how to cook, how to shop, and how to structure a meal or meal plan for the week. It gives you confidence that if something disastrous were to happen, that you could at least feed everyone,Â but it is also important to know what you have,Â
and use it up.
The very first most common mistake people make with food storageÂ or having more on hand than the average person in their pantry,Â is putting all the new things at the front, shoving the old things to the back, and slowly having the food in back go bad before they ever get to it.Â One of the age old rules of having a good stocked pantry is use up the oldest stuff first, and put all the new stuff at the back. If you have ever worked in a grocery store, you know that this is something people get paid to do–break out the new stuff, move the old stuff forward, and keep the stock fresh and rotated. So, even though it is sometimes one of the most mundane chores of having a well-stocked pantry, it is also one of the most rewarding as you are paying yourself to be a good steward of an investment in your future or the future of your family.
In my house we mark the top of each can with a date of when it was acquired, and all our homemade jars are of course dated and labeled. I have shown this same system to my Handy Hubby (who, let;s face it, gets it since he works in a grocery store) and my oldest, who has gotten much better at it over the years. I have a permanent marker tied right to one of the shelves in our pantry with Â a long string, and it is ready to go when we purchase or bring in new items.
The second most common mistake people make when building up a food storage pantry is just randomly buying to have things on hand, but not ever planning how they will be used, or if the family will ever eat it.Â For example, many people will go to a large box store, like Sam’s or Costco, and purchase cases of fruits or veggies. It is so common for them to grab “one of everything”, and a year later, still have a case of something no one like sitting on their shelf waiting to be used. Or for folks to “hit the sales” and purchase something that is not a normal purchase, just because it is cheap, and it slowly moves to the back and sits waiting to be discovered. That is why, in my very first series ((Making Do Without Missing A Thing)) I told my readers to determine what their family liked, make a meal plan, and store those foods. If something happened you may get tired of eating mac and cheese, but I promise you, when you start out, you will be confident that your family will be perfectly happy to start out eating it. 🙂 So store what you eat, and don’t take chances on food you DON’T eat. Better to save that money and spend it on something that will get used.
Finally, the third most common mistake people make when creating a food storage is not having a balance of foods.Â While if you are just starting out, and followed my advice yesterday about getting some basics on hand first (like rice, beans, wheat, corn, etc), then you are fine for the moment, I want to challenge so many of you that are a little further down the road to keep good track of what you have and make sure you have a good balance. Ten cans of potatoes and four cans of green beans is going to make for some seriously boring meals if you are stuck at home with no way to get out (although you will still be alive when the roads get cleared or whatever). I keep a sheet in my basement that has items marked on it. I used the same food categories that were on the Food Calculator from yesterday, and put the items beneath each category. It then goes onto a clipboard that hangs right next to my permanent marker, attached to the shelf. Easy to find, easy to see in a glance what we need, and super easy to see if the balance of our food pantry gets off. You want to have a good balance of grains, fruits and veggies, proteins (think PB and Beans or something similar). We personally also have canned meat and fish there as well, so all the bases are covered.
Tomorrow we are going to be talking about making a plan and working a plan with food storage, giving you some tips on where to start, and show you two ways you can move gradually into it, or a supercharged build-it-as-fast-as-you-can food storage plan that I have guided other readers to in the past.
As I stated yesterday, sooner or later, the can is going to stop being small enough to kick down the road, and it just makes a heck of a lot of sense to rely as much on yourself as you can in the future. Watching what happened this past weekend and how scared some folks were when their only help from EBT cards was shut off by a glitch in the system, showed me that I need to do the best I can in sharing this information with people and encourage them to stock up. As a kid whose father left, leaving a mom with three children to feed, and who walked a mile in those shoes, I can remember my mother always ALWAYS had canned food on hand after that. We never went hungry again.
I would encourage you to start now, and avoid that ever happening to you or those you love.
See you tomorrow, and have a wonderful Friday…
Many Blessings to you and yours,