Food Storage Mistakes
1: The Food Storage Mentality:
If you care anything at all about being prepared for whatever life throws at you then the best thing you can do is completely eliminate the term “food storage” from your vocabulary. We’re humans; not squirrels. Mentally we recognize that there’s something inherently wrong with the notion of spending money on something that we’re only go to store away in a dark corner of the attic only to forget it, while our investment decays. It’s not an interest-bearing savings account after all. Food is perishable even under the best of circumstances thanks to dishonest manufacturers and hungry vermin. As such, the money you spend on food for tomorrow should never be built around a “buy and forget it” mentality. Yes, we absolutely should be concerned about the shelf-life of our food investments—but not so that we can ignore them for the period of time, rather we can know how they will fit in our rotation plans.
2. Food Rotation:
What? You don’t have a rotation plan? Well, it’s simple. You put the new perishable items that you bring home at the back of your shelves and rotate the older items to the front so that you use them first. Front, back, side to side. It doesn’t matter so long as you end up using that which is older first. That way you maximize your spending ability and never waste the effort, time, or money that you put into acquiring it in the first place. Yes, you’ve heard it a hundred times, no doubt, but it’s true. Buy what you eat and eat what you buy.
Having food on your shelves doesn’t provide you with a future full of security. It only serves the purpose of giving you sufficient time after a crisis—time that you need in order to wait for the weather, water, and work you’ll need to put forth so that you can properly produce your own food. Yeah, such an assignment is an overwhelming thought to city slickers like myself who aren’t pros at gardening. So I might need a little more “time” to get things right. But a person who never reconciles their Food Preparedness with the reality of them having to produce their own food to survive is betting it all on a poker hand with nothing but a pair of 2’s.
The ability to produce more food means that you’ve got to learn about animal husbandry, ranching/homesteading, and animal care, as well as purchasing and using heirloom seeds that will continue to provide you with seeds forever and ever so long as you garden. I’ve done a LOT of comparisons of seed companies and I’ve got to tell you that time after time I find Baker’s Creek Heirlooms to be the BEST quality and BEST retail pricing consistently.
4: Inventory Evaluation:
Numbers and lists from other people that you trust may be a good place to start when it comes to having “enough”, but ultimately you need to use your experiences from feeding yourself and your family and friends under the worst of circumstances. What I mean by that is it’s a big mistake to naively PLAN on only having 2 meals a day, because the fact of the matter is, you’re more likely to want AND NEED more than you’re presently accustomed to eating now as a result of the additional energy you may have to expend in order to cook, clean, play, and just plain function.
Additionally, pay no attention to the “serving sizes” on those cans and boxes. You’ve fed your family before. You know darn well that the 11 year old will consume an entire can of mandarin oranges after school now, so don’t kid yourself into thinking that that one can will feed him for three servings of mandarin oranges later. Ignore that the recipe says “feeds 6-8”. 6-8 what? Anorexic models, fussy 4 year olds, or growing teenage boys? As you inventory what you’ve got, be sure that you’re keeping it real. Inventory systems based on servings is a great idea but the servings need to be real for YOUR family.
In order to know how many servings my fabulous Chicken Poppyseed Casserole will feed in your family, you must do more than just have the items on hand for it. Investing in any kind of “Someday” foods (meaning “we can eat these someday if we had to”) will only cause you stress and unpleasant surprises at the very worst times. Make sure that you are familiar not only with the dishes that you plan to enjoy for your targeted period of time (a year is HIGHLY recommended) but your also confident in their preparation and success with your family members.
Seriously, you do NOT want to use your kids as guinea pigs when they are already freaked out with whatever events have led up to you making 2 meals a day, everyday suddenly, right? If you’ve ever tried to help someone out in their own kitchen you know how frustrating it can be, and in fact, downright stressful. Even having help in my kitchen can be stressful to me. In the midst of a crisis, I do NOT plan to make things worse by making the food I feed my loved ones stressful. But the most sure way to do it is to “plan” on preparing and serving new foods made with the same tools that you would have to use in the event of a long-term power outage.
If you’ve ever had a horrible time trying to get the fussy 2 year old to eat their veggies, imagine multiplying that by every other member of your family that you anticipate feeding. Food is a very emotional connection for even the most disciplined of us all. You have the ability to plan on it being a positive emotional reinforcement now as you prepare. Oh, and speaking of experience, make sure that you’re not the only one who has experience preparing them. If I’ve got to learn how to shoot and defend myself, then HE sure as heck needs to learn how to make a handful of meals. After all, what would happen if I was sick and PF Changs is buried under 20 feet of rubble after an earthquake? Then what would he do, eh?
Confidence goes a LONG way in creating peace in stressful circumstances. So stock up on it now with plenty of practice in using your alternative cooking tools so you have ample experience in making delicious meals now that you KNOW your family will love later.
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