I have always tended to have an eye towards preparedness, especially when it comes to food. I like to know what is in those cupboards and how I can use those items to make a nutritious and well-received (read: actually something my children will eat) dinner at times when I cannot get to the store. Listen, stuff happens in life….sometimes the bank account is a little low, sometimes you are blocked in by a blizzard, or sometimes you have the flu so bad that the thought of going out to get food is enough to make you lie down and cry. For me, those are really the moments that food prepping is all about.
When you think of food prepping, you may think of the doomsday preppers who load down their houses with bags of rice and flour. You may look at that, as I have, and think “Well, yeah, that’s great but…..”. Those are people spending quite a lot of money on food to store, and that is just not realistic for most of us. The reality? You can food prep in a way that serves you NOW. Yes, it is good and sound advice to have enough available to feed your family if there is a disaster…and you WILL get there. But, that’s not a great place for most people to start. Start where it makes sense and have a food plan going forward. One thing that will happen is that you will save both time and money now…and you will no longer run to the store for last minute foods or swing through for unhealthy fast food in a panic to just get them fed.
Start by considering what you family actually eats. You may be one of the lucky ones with a family who will eat anything you cook (and for that I will forever be jealous of you). Or, you may be like me, with some pickiness in your tribe that you need to work hard to overcome or work around. Either way, start by making a good basic list of the foods your family actually eats. What items do you find yourself reaching for again and again in order to make a dinner at home? Write all those items on a list…you will need this list later.
Now, take a moment to look for problem areas on your list. Do you need to increase any nutritional areas? Would you like to use more protein or get your children to eat more fruits and veggies? Run to Pinterest and look for some great ideas that you believe your family would eat with some new nutritional goals in mind. Make them soon and determine whether they could be added to your emergency food list. I have a notebook where I store this basic info so I know where to turn in the case that I am just out of ideas, which happens on a fairly regular basis.
Spend some time looking at sales ads and marking extra items that are on sale. As you sit down each week to plan your meals, it is the perfect time to have the sale ads out and around you. (Don’t know how to meal plan? Check out how to get started HERE.) Are there non-perishable items on sale that you could add to a stockpile of emergency foods? If something your family eats is a good price, buy one or two extras to store. Since you know they are items you use, they will not go to waste. Here is where it is OK to pick up that extra 5 pound bag of rice without looking like you are stockpiling for the apocalypse. If your family eats it regularly, it makes perfect sense to stock up.
Find a place to store the extras. You will want to find a place in your home where you can easily store any extras. This needs to be a place that you have regular access to, without too much trouble. You will use your extra supplies regularly because you are only purchasing what your family already eats. I can easily store a lot of extras in my cupboards and pantry, but also have an extra shelf in my garage for the really large extras (like the huge jars of pickles my kids are obsessed with). Find a spot that works for you. Ideally, this spot should have no problems with large temperature variations and absolutely no issues with rodents or pests.
Each week, pick up a few items. It makes absolutely NO sense to go broke trying to create a food store for emergencies. Don’t create a financial emergency in the name of preparedness. Just pick up a few items each week to add…and do not panic about it. As I have said before, panic is NOT your friend.
Keep an eye on your storage. As you get more food stores, keep an eye on those items. Rotate items so the older are in the front for earlier use. Use the items. Don’t treat your food storage like it is sacred. Use it up! Make notes of items you are using quickly so you can restock that area.
Start thinking about perishable foods. Each winter, we also stock our freezer with meat from good sources. If you have the freezer space, this can be something to consider as well. It is a fairly large investment, but lasts our family for about a year. Start thinking towards a goal of having what you need, keeping quality in mind always, for your family every day. Be aware that freezer storage can easily become compromised if you lose power for any length of time, so this would not be considered great for emergency prepping, but is helpful for general preparedness for every day events, like that blizzard or flu. Honestly, for me, just knowing where the meat came from that I feed my family is worth the initial investment to stock that freezer.
Try new things when the opportunity presents itself. If you see a great deal, or an amazing idea, don’t be afraid to try new things. If your family loves it, then you can add it to your list of things to stock up. Do not start stocking up before you have tried the product and made sure it will get eaten. You don’t want to leave things sitting on your shelves for years.
Remember to treat your food stock as a rotating and useable storage. You are starting this to make your life easier, not to display jars and cans for years to come. Use your items, make them a part of your life, and restock things that you really love. Once you get used to having a little extra on hand, you will learn to love it. And, by default, you will become better prepared for life’s little and big emergencies.