I posted this in Sunday’s comments, but let’s try it as a guest post (with a few edits).
I think I’ve shared before, but if not, here’s how I approached food storage.
Some needed background: I started prepping for a specific event– Y2K causing social disruption or an excuse for terror attacks. Since I lived in CA, those preps morphed into my “earthquake kit”, then after a move to the Gulf Coast, it became my “hurricane kit.” My focus was on a regional disaster of limited duration, and local effect (aid could come from outside the region but would be delayed in arriving.) As such I had NO bulk long term storage of staples. Ebola and RBT’s prompting, as well as the deteriorating world political and economic climate convinced me I needed to up my food storage significantly. This is when I added “significant and prolonged economic downturn” and “global collapse” to my prepping scenarios.
Back to food. In all my preps I strive for ‘defense in depth’ and redundancy. Food is no different. I think of my food storage in tiers.
First is my pantry. This is the food in the kitchen. Stuff we eat every day, and cooking supplies. Fresh vegetables and meat in the fridge, fresh fruit, and some canned sides and seasonings. Before the kids, we ate mostly home cooked meals, made from primary ingredients. We eat more prepared foods, and convenience foods now, and fewer ‘made from scratch’ meals. That’s changed what’s in the cabinets a bit, as there are more quick pastas and other quick side dishes but it’s mostly stuff we eat regularly and often.
Second tier is my “store”. This is the area just inside my garage (steps from my kitchen by going out the back door) where I keep a “store” for items we use up on a regular basis. They are on shelves and can easily be seen and grabbed to take into the kitchen and restock the pantry. My freezer and second fridge are here. The shelves hold 3-6 months usage of stuff like condiments, peanut butter and jelly, snacks for the kids’ lunches, ziplok bags, some cleaning stuff. It’s meant to be the first place to go when something in the kitchen that we use all the time runs out, instead of running to the store. It also has some things we don’t use as often but like to keep close by like rice cups, crock pot sauces, peanut oil, bottled drinks and juice boxes, etc. The fridge holds eggs, milk, cream, beer, wine, soda, cheese in many forms, and fresh meat if it won’t fit in the kitchen or is waiting for me to repack and freeze it. The small freezer in the fridge holds microwaveable meals, bread, pizza, mostly convenience foods. The modestly sized chest freezer holds meat mainly, much of it bought in bulk then repacked and vac sealed. Sometimes there is bread, usually some Costco heat and eat convenience food, and a couple gallons of frozen liquid eggs. The majority is bulk protein.
The third tier, and area, is some relatively recent shelving. It holds my backups for the “store” area, bulk cleaners, my serious canned goods, sauces, seasonings, oils, etc. I consider this my longer term area as it has stuff we don’t normally eat much of (canned veg, meat, and beans) but will be needed if we get to that point. I do pull from this area directly when I make something with pouch meat, canned ham, or I need a quick side dish that’s not on the shelf in the “store” area. Ideally everything in this area has a 2 year or longer shelf life. I have some of it organized on cardboard flats in 30day groupings. One flat has 30 cans of meat. One has 30 cans of veg or starch. The two flats together are minimal meals for our family for 30 days. I can see at a glance how many days I can get with just those 30 day flats. I’ve also got my Mountain House freeze dried meals in this area. I have them in boxes of so many people for so many days. Ie, each box has breakfast, lunch, snack, drink flavors, and dinner for x people for x days. I can grab the boxes if we have to leave in a hurry and know I’ve just got to add water and heat. They are light and compact.
When groceries come home they go into the pantry if fresh, or into the third tier if long term. The third refreshes the second, and the second refreshes the pantry and kitchen. There is some rotation by doing it this way, just less than perfect because some of the items never get used in normal life.
The last tier is bulk staples. These are not something I use or access ever. I just put them in buckets or bins, and hope I never get that hungry. Flour, rice (couple varieties), salt, sugar, oil, powered milk, and some coffee in big tins. If things really go south, I expect this to extend the other tiers of stored food, and/or to provide charity or assistance if prudent. If I buy some long term storage freeze-drieds, this is where they will go.
Finally, the TV coverage of the tornadoes in OK a year or so ago convinced me of the need to have backups OFFSITE. So I have a lot more bulk, cans, water, fuel, stoves, pots and pans, and other supplies stored elsewhere. That was a bit of a ‘panic buy’ and is far less organized. I expect a bunch of spoilage in that offsite storage, although I’m trying to rotate some of it home. Like I said before, I expect spoilage and waste in my long term storage food. We just don’t eat those things in our everyday lives, and my storage conditions are less than ideal. I can live with it. Can’t live without it 🙂
So that’s how I do it. The system has evolved over time, and worked well through several regional disasters. The addition of longer term and bulk was very easy to integrate, as I just tacked it on to the back end. I’ve still got a way to go, but I feel pretty good about where I am at the moment, and can focus on other things. It should be clear, but if it’s not, almost all of it was incremental. With the exception of the couple of months when I added a bunch of cans and bulk to every Costco trip in my ‘panic buy’, I built what I have by simply buying a bit extra with every shopping trip, especially looking for bargains and buying what was on sale at the time.
I’m looking forward to the comments, and seeing how this whole thing looks 🙂