How to Know If You Have Enough

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I am frequently told that folks are storing food and water, etc., but aren’t sure whether or not they have enough.  Ironically, over 100 families who believe they were ready to survive off of their food and water storage for one year, were recently evaluated.  Only 5 of them indeed had enough for one year.  Knowing, really knowing whether you have enough can be a tough call since we’re so accustomed to living moment to moment in between runs to the grocery store.  

The danger in thinking you have enough, when in fact you do not, is the false sense of security that eventually crashes head on with a harsh reality that could have otherwise been avoided.  On the other hand, the other extreme may come into play—spending more money than necessary because you’re not aware that you actually do have enough.  To avoid either of these situations, I have two solutions for you.

1)     Use for your more broad food items such as wheat, rice, beans, sugar, etc.  There’s a food calculator there (click here to be redirected) and you can customize what you need to store of these types of items for however long you’re focused on storing supplies for your family.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (a.k.a. the Mormons) is very focused on emergency preparedness, and you’ll find a wealth of information at this non-profit site, fully available and incredibly helpful, regardless of your religious beliefs.

provident-living-logoFor example, if you have a family of 4, the food calculator will tell you that you need 1200 total pounds of wheat, rice, corn, and other grains for a twelve month supply and that you need 240 pounds of dry beans and other legumes for the same time period.  You can customize the time frame as well.


2)     Instead of counting pounds, ounces, etc, of your stored goods, tally your serving sizes of foods that you have in storage.  Do so based on YOUR serving sizes, not those listed on the container or packaging.  This is important so that you are able to rely on the serving sizes that you are already accustomed to, and not any faulty “industry standard.”  For example, when my husband and I cook up a package of Mac N Cheese (for those times when I’m definitely NOT in the mood to cook) then I know that one package feeds both of us.  This way I know one box of Mac N Cheese is two servings of starch.

del-monte-peachesCreate a spread sheet based on protein, fruits, vegetables, starches, and beverages.  This approach is a very simply way to ensure that you have “enough” for your family.  As another example, a jar of Del Monte peaches gives my husband and I three servings of fruits and a can of green beans gives us two servings of vegetables.  One can of beef chunks gives me two servings of protein.  When I look at my spreadsheet, I can see that I have X number of protein, starch, veggie, and fruit servings for the year.  This approach allows me to see how many full meals I have as well and this goes a long ways to set my mind at ease.  It gives me some peace of mind knowing that I’m being conservative because if I were to use the protein, veggie, and starch servings in a soup or casserole recipe, I’m able to stretch it that much further.

After calculating the serving sizes I have on hand, I then focus on accumulating the peripheral supplies such as spices, honey, vanilla, lemon juice, drink flavorings, sauces, and so on which will add some “color” to my staples.

I keep the spreadsheet available on my computer and as I buy more supplies, I add them to the spreadsheet.  As I take supplies out, I deduct them as well.  While this may seem tedious to some, it’s a lot better than needing to do a whole new inventory.  This also helps me from over-buying.  I tend to get fixated on a particular worry or panic that I won’t have enough honey or salt, etc.  Instead of spending money needlessly, I’m able to look at my list and clearly see what I have on hand, thereby eliminating overspending.  I’m always at peace with what I have.

Give these two methods a try in concert with one another, and keep plugging away at being prepared.  I assure you, you will not regret it.

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I've enjoyed this site so far:

It only covers the basics, like I have to enter olive oil in as vegetable oil, and grains only covers Wheat, Flour, Cornmeal, Oats, Rice, and Pasta, but it still gives me a good idea of how close I am to my goal (times can be changed too). No place to enter canned meats or TVP either, so it's not the most thorough, but a lot easier than some of the spreadsheets I've downloaded, and it's free.

It only handles 3 units (quarts, gallons, cans - the evap milk size). However I like that I can set it to 3 months, come close to meeting that amount, then change the months' goal to see which categories need the most attention (cooking essentials doesn't change much, but dairy, legumes and grains need more.

Thanks for the input, Survival Guy!

I looked at the calculators that the Survival guy suggested, and they were good, but most of the calculators out there seem to deal with the basic survival necessities.

I found this great website that has some Food Storage Worksheets that you fill out (there are six total) and from the beginning (figuring out your menus) to the end (what you have on hand and what you need to buy), it goes through and helps you to calculate, down to the 1/4 teaspoon, what your family would need to store in order to continue eating how you want to.

You choose your recipes, what your family likes, and with a little effort on your part, the calculators tell you what you REALLY need, and not just what you guess you need.

Check it out. The instructions are really easy to follow and I haven't seen anything else out there like it. In a lot of ways it helps you to actually do what you have written about in your blog. I'm loving it and I am much more confident about what I have stored these days.

This site also has the regular calculator that everyone has, but I wouldn't even bother - just go to the good stuff, the Food Storage Worksheets.

Very funny. Actually he WILL eat French Cut green beans. For some dumb reason he is convinced those taste differently. go figure...

AWESOME! Thanks so much Chelsea!!!

Kellene, we both know that a can of green beans would be 2 servings for you, because your husband won't eat them. :)


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