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By Kellene Bishop

Rotating Can Shelves photo c/o The Sassy Saver

Rotating Can Shelves photo c/o The Sassy Saver

Last weekend I was speaking with a very excited man who is a relatively new acquaintance of mine. He claimed that he had finally broken down and bought a years supply of food for his family and even purchased those “nifty” little shelves to hold all of his cans. He was so excited, he just had to show me. So he took me to his storage room along with his pleased wife and with the flare of a Broadway emcee, displayed his years’ supply of food storage. As I stood there thinking of him and his wife and their 5 children, I was dumbfounded. I thought for sure that I was missing something. I looked around the small room to see where else he may be pointing. But nope. He had a small set of rotating can shelves full of cans of foods. The problem was, by my somewhat flawed math estimates, I could only see about 200 cans of food. It doesn’t take a math genius to figure out that one can per person PER day would only amount to about 28 days of ONE meal per day. I frankly didn’t know how to kindly break it to him. So I did what I do best. I was blunt. *grin* I told him that I was so happy that he started his food storage and asked him how it made him feel. He said it was a GREAT feeling. I asked if he felt like he could handle a little bit more of that feeling. He said, “Sure!” So I proceeded to point out that what he had wasn’t even enough to feed one adult for a month, let alone his family for a year. Feeling a bit dejected he moved our conversation out of the basement and into the family room that was attached to the kitchen. From there I could see remaining cans of tomatoes, corn, and beans they had used to create an aromatic taco soup.

Taco Soup photo c/o His Daughter

Taco Soup photo c/o His Daughter

I asked him, “How many people did you feed with this batch of soup tonight?”
He said, “All of us, but we all had seconds.”
“Why did you all have seconds?”
“Because we were hungry and it tasted good.
I asked him how many cans he used to create dinner.
“Nine, plus some spices and a pound of ground beef.” 
“Do you feel overly stuffed from your meal?”
“No.”
“Do you feel content from your meal?”
“Yes.”
“Don’t you think that in a time in which you’re stressed with a chaotic environment that feeling content will be important to your family?”
“(Sigh) Yes.”
(You would have thought that I’d taken away Winnie-the-Pooh’s honey pot.)

During this conversation, some of the kids volunteered that after dinner they’d gotten into some snacks because they “still wanted some more to eat.” The wife sheepishly admitted that she had to have some Dove chocolate to “take the edge off of the day.” (I had to empathize with her on that one, for sure!)

Ok, so the point? I have been shown a person’s food storage on many occasions. The majority of those who believe they have enough food do not even have 3 months’ supply, let alone a year.

First of all, understand that food is a lot like cash in your wallet. It sure does seem to go quickly. Secondly, don’t underestimate the amount of food your family will need to feel healthy, calm, and content. Food indeed will be a way to “ground” your family in some sort of normalcy when all heck breaks loose.

As you accumulate and organize your meals, keep in mind generous servings, not minimal. Be realistic. I once had a gal tell me that she could feed her whole family on one box of mac-n-cheese. When I asked if she had ever put such a theory to the test, she replied no, that usually each teenager wants their own box. 

Beef Stroganoff photo c/o Creating Post-it Notes

Beef Stroganoff photo c/o Creating Post-it Notes

When I take an accounting of our food storage, I have a lot of my records by the serving, not the pound or ounce. Also, I store the recipes and ingredients for entire meals in 4-gallon square buckets. (These are invaluable in my home as they stack higher, take up less room, etc.) For example, let’s say I’m planning on serving Beef Stroganoff. Inside a 4-gallon square bucket I have the cans of cream of mushroom soup, cans of beef chunks, bags of pasta, seasonings, cans of veggies for the side dishes, and a bottle of applesauce to finish the meal off. That way when my husband asks me “what’s for dinner?” (tonight or in the future) I can simply go downstairs, look at the rows of buckets and pick a meal knowing that I already have everything I need for it right in there, along with the recipe. This makes life a lot less stressful NOW and in the event of a future food shortage scenario. I’m telling you, there’s a great deal of peace when you can look and see these meals neatly stacked and labeled in your food storage. Each bucket represents at least one meal based on how I have the bucket labeled. Sometimes I can fit a couple of meals in each bucket depending on the number of ingredients.

So the moral of this story is to take an actual accounting of the numbers of servings you have in your food storage, use what you store regularly, and try to store your food in clusters of meals that you know your family already loves. Be generous in your estimation of serving sizes and account for the entire meal as opposed to just a single dish.

4-gallon-bucket(By the way, a great place to find 4-gallon buckets is Five Star Preparedness. They have used 4-gallon square buckets that take up less space than the round ones. They also enable me to stack them much higher securely than the others. Since they are only 4 gallons, they don’t present as much of a physical challenge to me as do the 5-gallon ones. The 4-gallon buckets are $2 each and come with a lid. I love that I can buy a new lid with a hinged, stay-open feature and rubber gasket seal for only $2 (less than what they sell for at Wal-Mart) and use the new lids once I’m getting into them regularly. You can reach Five Star Preparedness at 801-734-9596)

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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