THE WISE COUNSELIt is suggested that you store a 3 month supply of food that is part of your normal daily diet! Yes! You can store some chocolate! (I just had to get that in there!) This needs to be food that you are used to eating in your normal everyday cooking. This list will be different for every household!
See My Food Storage Story: The Experience That Woke Me Up! for some motivation!
See Food Storage: Where Do I Begin? WATER!! for a smart place to start!
HOW DO I OBTAIN IT?There are many ways to build up a 3 month supply of groceries! This will depend on your budget, how and where you shop, and how much thought and effort you put into it. The good news is, it's quite simple to do, and you can do it a little at a time and build up a nice supply in a relatively short amount of time.
*Use coupons! You do not have to be an extreme couponer to get a few good deals! Once I clipped some cereal coupons and got 8 boxes of cereal for 25 cents each! I was so excited! I've even gone on eBay and purchased a group of 20 coupons for $1, and I went shopping and got 20 cans of chicken at a great deal because the store had a sale and I could double the coupons there. I'm sure you know someone who loves to coupon, and you can ask them for some pointers!
*Watch the sales at your favorite grocery store(s) where you normally shop. Many of them will run Buy One Get One Free sales, or they will have great sales on canned goods or other products. Buy a few extra cans of what is on sale and store it away. At first you will have an interesting stash of food...a bunch of canned tuna, several jars of spaghetti sauce, and a variety of canned soup. But once you go through the sales at your store that first year, you will have a nice variety of food, and the best part is, you got it all on sale!!
*Set aside some grocery money just for your food storage! I knew a lady who told me she did not have any extra money in her budget to buy food storage. I asked her if she ever went through a fast food drive thru during the week. Of course she said yes. I asked her to skip just one of those trips through the drive thru and allocate $5 a week to her food storage budget. I told her to spend it on items that she usually would purchase that were on sale at her grocery store. She took my challenge, and within a few months, she had a cabinet full of food that was separate from her normal pantry. She built a 3 month supply of food with just $5 a week!!! If you want to do it, you will find a way!
I once heard a man talk about saving money, and he said that he LOVED french fries! He calculated that he spent about $8.25 a week just going through the drive thru 3 times to eat a large order of french fries! And that did not include if he got a drink or a burger to go with it! He decided to cut out fast food french fries for his budget (and his health!) Just by doing that one thing, he saved $429 a year! Imagine how much food storage you could buy with that! (And how much weight you could lose!)
*Just go buy it! If your budget allows it, or you have some bonus money you can spend (wishful thinking!), just make your list and go shopping! I know people who do this and it brings them a lot of peace of mind and they don't have to think about it so much. Then they just work on replenishing their supply as they use it. Recently, I went to Aldi (a great place to buy good food at good prices) and bought $250 of canned goods. It filled my shelves back up to the way I like them and definitely brought me peace of mind. It blew my grocery budget for the next few weeks, but I made adjustments and it worked out just fine!
WHAT IS A 3 MONTH SUPPLY?The answer to this question will be different for every household! But you are pretty smart and I know you will figure it out!
*Here's how I did it that week when I had my traumatic experience. I sat down with a piece of paper and wrote down 7 breakfasts and 7 dinners that we liked. I listed everything I needed for each meal. I kept it simple because we were newlyweds and did not have much money. I did not even think about lunch yet, because it was a little overwhelming. I figured I would start with breakfast and dinner. (An excel Spreadsheet would have made this a lot easier back then!)
- Example: Chicken Alfredo Dinner: 1 jar of Alfredo sauce, 1 lb box of noodles, I can of chicken, 1 can of corn
Once I had a week's worth of breakfasts and dinners figured out, I multiplied everything by 4 so I could now have a one month supply of meals with ingredients figured out. That's how I started. It's very simple, but a great way to begin. Then you can multiply that one month by 3 to get your 3 month supply, but I think you will want more variety than that!
I would highly recommend making 2 or 3 weeks worth of meals that you like and figuring out all the ingredients. Then just rotate the weeks to make up a 3 month supply of meals. The variety will be nice. Remember that 3 months is actually a little more than 12 weeks and that totals up to about 90 days! So that means 90 breakfasts and 90 dinners. So if you have 2 weeks of meals figured out, you would have to repeat them approximately 6 times to fill 3 months. If you have 3 weeks of meals figured out, you would have to repeat them about 4 times. Don't sweat the little details and numbers. Just do it however it makes the most sense to you!
*Bag it! I have a friend who is working her way up to having 90 bagged dinner meals on hand. She takes a plastic bag (like a gift bag about 8' x 10" x 5") and fills it with all the ingredients to make a meal. She includes water bottles with enough water for the recipe, and has zip lock bags with the proper amount of spices, rice, noodles, or whatever the recipe calls for. The recipe is attached in a CD sleeve on the outside of the bag, or you could laminated it, punch a hole in it and tie it to the bag. When she makes that meal, she then replenishes the ingredients, and reuses the meal bag, zip lock bags and even the water bottles. (If you have treated "city water" you can refill the water bottles and not have to do anything else to it. Do not do this with well water though.) This is a fun idea because it is very easy, and my husband and kids could happily make the meals if laid out like that. I think I will make up some of these bags! I could see having everything needed for Taco Soup in a bag, and even using some of my freeze dried corn, dehydrated onions, freeze dried ground beef or chicken, and tomato juice I canned from my garden. Hmmm...my mind is racing with ideas. Now I just need to find a shelf to line up some bags. Even if I had 15 bags made and kept them replenished, that would make it easier on my teenagers to help cook meals. Woo Hoo!
There is a book out there called It's In The Bag: A New Approach to Food Storage by Michelle Snow that gives details of this plan and lots of recipes. Brilliant! You can buy it on Amazon.
*It's part of your year supply! This 3 month supply of groceries that you are storing can be counted toward your year supply. And it will naturally include some of basic foods that you should be storing for your year supply. See my article about WHAT SHOULD I STORE?. Surely you will have cooking oil, salt, rice, oatmeal, beans, sugar, etc. in your 3 month supply of groceries.
In my mind, I see the 3 month supply of groceries as convenience foods that you are accustomed to eating and making regularly. It's such wise counsel! If you all of a sudden hit a crisis and are under a lot of stress, it's not going to be the best time to open up a bucket of wheat and try to use it and eat it for the first time, especially if you don't even have a grinder! (I've been doing this for many years, and I have to admit that I love freshly ground wheat flour and I use it almost every day! I will be blogging all about wheat soon and give you some fabulous recipes, and you'll see how easy it is to use and delicious too!)
Just look where you are financially, in your skill level of cooking, and how much you already have stored (or not), and do what is best for your situation and what makes logical sense. I'm a little bit opposed to the weekly lists people send out of things to buy each week to build your storage. If it says "5 lbs of split green peas" or "7 cans of Spam or Vienna sausages" and you hate them, what good will that do you? You could make bean bags out of them or feed them to the dog!! Or if it says "4 jars of spaghetti sauce" for this week, but canned chicken and canned vegetables are on sale this week, it makes more sense to buy what is on sale! I'm not trying to be picky, and I think those lists are great for giving you ideas, but I'm just trying to make the point to do it YOUR way and do what makes sense for your family!
Hugs and Blessings to you and Happy Storing! You can do this!