I am frequently told that folks are storing food and water, etc., but aren’t sure whether or not they have enough. Ironically, over 100 families who believe they were ready to survive off of their food and water storage for one year, were recently evaluated. Only 5 of them indeed had enough for one year. Knowing, really knowing whether you have enough can be a tough call since we’re so accustomed to living moment to moment in between runs to the grocery store.
The danger in thinking you have enough, when in fact you do not, is the false sense of security that eventually crashes head on with a harsh reality that could have otherwise been avoided. On the other hand, the other extreme may come into play—spending more money than necessary because you’re not aware that you actually do have enough. To avoid either of these situations, I have two solutions for you.
1) Use ProvidentLiving.org for your more broad food items such as wheat, rice, beans, sugar, etc. There’s a food calculator there (click here to be redirected) and you can customize what you need to store of these types of items for however long you’re focused on storing supplies for your family. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (a.k.a. the Mormons) is very focused on emergency preparedness, and you’ll find a wealth of information at this non-profit site, fully available and incredibly helpful, regardless of your religious beliefs.
For example, if you have a family of 4, the food calculator will tell you that you need 1200 total pounds of wheat, rice, corn, and other grains for a twelve month supply and that you need 240 pounds of dry beans and other legumes for the same time period. You can customize the time frame as well.
2) Instead of counting pounds, ounces, etc, of your stored goods, tally your serving sizes of foods that you have in storage. Do so based on YOUR serving sizes, not those listed on the container or packaging. This is important so that you are able to rely on the serving sizes that you are already accustomed to, and not any faulty “industry standard.” For example, when my husband and I cook up a package of Mac N Cheese (for those times when I’m definitely NOT in the mood to cook) then I know that one package feeds both of us. This way I know one box of Mac N Cheese is two servings of starch.
Create a spread sheet based on protein, fruits, vegetables, starches, and beverages. This approach is a very simply way to ensure that you have “enough” for your family. As another example, a jar of Del Monte peaches gives my husband and I three servings of fruits and a can of green beans gives us two servings of vegetables. One can of beef chunks gives me two servings of protein. When I look at my spreadsheet, I can see that I have X number of protein, starch, veggie, and fruit servings for the year. This approach allows me to see how many full meals I have as well and this goes a long ways to set my mind at ease. It gives me some peace of mind knowing that I’m being conservative because if I were to use the protein, veggie, and starch servings in a soup or casserole recipe, I’m able to stretch it that much further.
After calculating the serving sizes I have on hand, I then focus on accumulating the peripheral supplies such as spices, honey, vanilla, lemon juice, drink flavorings, sauces, and so on which will add some “color” to my staples.
I keep the spreadsheet available on my computer and as I buy more supplies, I add them to the spreadsheet. As I take supplies out, I deduct them as well. While this may seem tedious to some, it’s a lot better than needing to do a whole new inventory. This also helps me from over-buying. I tend to get fixated on a particular worry or panic that I won’t have enough honey or salt, etc. Instead of spending money needlessly, I’m able to look at my list and clearly see what I have on hand, thereby eliminating overspending. I’m always at peace with what I have.
Give these two methods a try in concert with one another, and keep plugging away at being prepared. I assure you, you will not regret it.
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