Friday, October 19, 2012

how to create a food storage supply


After sharing why I believe it is of great benefit to have a food storage supply in your home, I want to share with you how I created my supply, how to make sure you have the right items in your storage and how to store all that food in your home. Now before I start, remember that what works for me might not work for you, that I am in no way saying this is something you need to do in your home and I am just sharing what I do because so many people have asked me questions about it. I am no food storage professional. I am simply a mum of many cherubs who tries to store a reasonable amount of food to help us be self reliant and to have a backup incase of emergency. I am also not writing this blog post about how to organise your pantry or preaching about what products I believe you should have in your home. That is your personal choice. I am also not trying to promote any brand or type of food. I simply buy what I see on special and if you have a problem with the type of food we eat and use, please keep it to yourself. So now that I have that out of the way, let's begin!

How I first started my food storage supply:
When I first looked at creating a 3 month food storage supply, Matt and I were newly married and both studying at University. Finances were not good and the thought of spending all our spare cash on canned items of food was not a happy thought. Practical but not happy! So we decided to start small. Every time we did our food shopping we purchased a couple of cans or items to add to our food storage supply. We really just started out with 2 cans of food. Often this did not add up to be too much of an extra expense and we were able to afford it. 

When we got home we placed them in a place different to our normal pantry so there was less temptation to use them and we knew that we had to try to stretch everything out to not use them. There needed to be a sacrifice involved with starting the storage to make it work. With one can or item at a time we were slowly able to build it up until we had enough to sustain ourselves. 

When our food storage was small we kept it in empty nappy boxes {we had plenty of those!}, spare boxes and large plastic containers stored in any weird place we could find around our home. We have stored it under beds, in the linen cupboard, in our wardrobe and in our kitchen. I think people believe you have to have this beautiful looking dedicated pantry to have a food storage supply. When you are starting out, simply store it any where you can!

As more children came to our home we simply kept up our routine of putting away a few items every time we went shopping and over time we were able to maintain a 3 month food storage supply. Over the years I also became better at keeping an organised home and was able to find more and more room to store food. This has led me to where I am today. At a place where having a food storage supply is more of a priority than many other things in our home. If you are like me, I often need a visual picture to motivate me to do something, so I thought I would start out by showing you how I keep my 3 month food storage supply. 

My food storage supply now:
Just like most people I know, I have a normal kitchen. I don't have a walk in pantry to enjoy and only have one main food cupboard in my kitchen. I keep this stocked with food that we normally eat in a high rotation. I keep cereal, cooking supplies, cans of food and other items that we use every day here. I am not going to show you a picture of what that looks like. What I am going to show you is extra to what you might have in your home. So these pictures are of food that we have as a bonus, an extra supply to draw from in time of need.

One of the first places I store food is in my dining room in this buffet. I use glass jars I picked up at Woolworths and at one of those cheap $2 stores to give me this look. In these glass jars I keep items that we use on a high rotation as well as in my kitchen cupboard but I keep them here so that I can store them more in a bulk supply. Some examples of the items I store here are: flour, sugar, coconut, pasta, rice, banana chips, nuts, bean mixes, wheat, bread crumbs and popcorn.



I also store food in a spare cupboard in our rumpus room. Well, I say spare because I made it spare to keep food in. I cleaned out a whole bunch of toys and junk to make this space more practical. It is not a large space but I find it works well for storing cans and jars. In this cupboard I keep an extra storage of tins such as: diced tomatoes, baked beans, spaghetti, peaches, tuna, corn, kidney beans, peas and carrots, tomato paste and beetroot. If I run out of an item in my kitchen cupboard I can restock it from here and then easily see what is running low and needs to be replaced when I next go do the shopping.


The last main place I store food is in a cupboard on the other side of my dining room. You can see what my whole dining room looks like HERE. I have one normal looking cupboard that I use to store extra food in. Since cutting out a lot of sugar from our diet my cupboard looks very different than it used to! In this cupboard I store extra cereal, oats, soup mixes, vegemite, pasta, honey, rice, long life milk, vinegar, flour, coconut, oil, noodles, tortilla wraps, crackers and dried fruit.


I also have other places around my home where I store water, extra cleaning supplies, medical supplies and emergency supplies. I have a vegetable garden to help out as well and I will do a blog post about that in the future. But today, I just want to focus on what I do for food storage. So now that I have shared with you how I organise my food storage supply and you have a picture of what it looks like for our family for three months, let me help you get started if you are interested.

Starting your food storage:
*One of the best ways to work out what food to store in your supply is to write out a list of what food your family actually eats. There is no use storing food that your family will not eat. It is a waste of money and space in your home. Also you want to be able to rotate your storage by using the items. You don't want it to just sit there for years doing nothing.

*Write out a list of the meals you cook and what ingredients you normally use. You don't have to have all of those ingredients in your food supply but it would be an excellent idea to have most of the main ones. 

*Once you start writing out your list of food items you will be able to see that with the meals you cook you will have several items you use a lot more than others. There are the items you want to focus on buying in bulk. For example, I use a lot of diced tomatoes, tuna, flour and pasta sauce so I have more of those items in my storage.

*When you have worked out what items you use regularly as a family it is a great idea to also think about what basic food items you would need if you had to cook from scratch. Think about what would you do if you had no electricity or shops to purchase food items from. Items such as flour, grains, beans, long life milk, pasta, water, sugar, yeast, salt etc. are a great start to add to your supply.

*Once you have worked out what items you want to add to your food storage, then decide how much of that item you think you will need as a family for 3 months. Write out a list of how much you think you need to aim for. Don't feel like you need to reach this target right away. Any extra food you have in storage is a bonus to you as a family!

*Once you have an idea of what items or products would be good to have in your food storage keep an eye out for them on special in the shops. If practical and you are able, buy them in bulk to save money and to help build your supply faster.

*Think about variety with your food storage. No one likes to eat the same food all the time. Feel free to add treats to your food storage as well. If you were ever in a difficult situation and needed to rely on your storage, a few special treats would totally boost your spirits and bring some short term happiness to the family. 

*When starting out with your storage think about mixing things up. Don't spend all of your money on say buying 10Kg of wheat and that is all you can afford and have in your storage. Start off by buying items from a variety of food groups to keep it mixed up. 

*If possible, think about allocating a certain percentage of your food budget to food storage. Even an extra $5 or $10 a week or fortnight will make a huge difference and you will be surprised how quickly you can grow your food storage supply.

How to store food storage in your home:

*If you are just starting out and want to start small, see if you can find a spare shelf, box or any corner of your home to store some food in. It does not have to look lovely, food storage is mainly practical not beautiful, and keep that area as your designated food storage spot.

*If you already have a small supply of food storage look at organising it in a way so you can clearly see what storage you have. Look around for more storage space in your home and see if you can find a place to extend it a little further. Clean out a cupboard, purchase some extra shelves at a second hand shop or on ebay {book shelves are great!}, pick up some boxes or find some clean large plastic containers to store food in. 

*It is also important to consider what food you can store for a short time and what food can store for a longer time. For example: wheat can store for years and years but yeast not so long as it has a used by date to consider. You can store the items that keep for a longer time together in one place and the items that last for a shorter time in another place so you can keep track of the rotation that needs to take place.

*Consider the temperature of the room you are storing food in. It is best to store food in a place that has a cooler temperature and is dark in nature. For example, in a cupboard is much better than sitting out in a plastic container outside in the sun. Just use common sense in what you think will affect what food you are storing. 

*It is worth spending money on good quality containers if you can. Know that there are insects, moisture and other nasty little bugs and creatures who will love to get into your food storage. It is a sad day when you have put a lot of money and work into creating food storage only to have to throw it out because of these issues. Try to keep your food in a way that will protect it the best way you can. These days you can purchase sealing packs to keep your food in and I always put my rice and flour in the freezer for 2 weeks to kill any bugs. 

Links and lists to help you:

{I had a hard time finding any Australian links so if you have written about this topic feel free to leave them in the comments section below}

Now there are many other parts of food storage that I could share with you, such as how important to include your pets in planning your storage, how to rotate your storage, how to involve children etc. but today I just wanted to give you an idea of what my food storage looks like, how I started organising it and to hopefully motivate you to start your own small storage supply. I never thought when I started my blog I would be showing people what food I keep in my house but here I am doing it! Hope you found it helpful and thanks for the encouragement. N xx