Saturday, April 26, 2008

Building a three month supply of food: stocking your pantry

Check out this article from yahoo finance. An interesting take on this whole food shortage thing. It asserts that stockpiling food is actually a good financial investment, because the prices of food are going up faster than our money market accounts. Which isn't the point, of course. Interesting, though.

While the cannery is closed, we have been encouraged to work on building up our three month supply of food. Food prices are still going up. Get it now and save $$$$!

Where can you start? What can you buy? This is all about you. What I buy, your family might not eat! Make a list of meals you normally eat. Which of them have a basis of frozen or shelf-stable foods? Some ideas: Pastas and sauce or ingredients for sauce, chili (canned or homemade from dried beans) and cornbread (from a mix or grind your own corn), Rice and chicken with frozen veggies. There may be items you can't store for three months. Ask yourself if you could still eat the meal without those items (sour cream, fresh veggies) if  there was an emergency where fresh food wasn't available. If the answer is yes, store it! 

I don't like eating the same thing every week, or even every two weeks. So when I make my plan to store food for 3 months, I plan foods that will last at least a year. I plan 6 each of 14 dinners, but we eat those meals over the course of a year. You might want to plan to eat your meals every night. In this case, your foods need only last 3 months. In my family, we need to go to In-n-Out and order pizza occasionally. Don't judge me. I may be the Food Storage Lady, but I like my burgers with the pink spread.

I also store basic pantry items in three month quantities. I don't store white flour in my long term storage, because it goes bad and smells like metal cans if that's where you stored it. I buy a big bag of flour from Costco and store it in a big food grade bin in my pantry. When it starts to smell not-so-fresh, I dump it and buy another. There's no use using the best sugar cookie recipe in the world if you are using nasty flour. That's what I always say. Okay, not always. But sometimes. Most spices, cereals, canned goods will last three months easily. Usually much longer.

I store oatmeal and pancake mix and syrup, and cold cereals for breakfast. We don't eat this every day, but we could if we needed. The kids like them.

The problem is how to remember to replace what you have used. I determine a number of units, 1 unit higher than I actually need, and replace the unit when 1 is empty. For instance: I store 8 jars of peanut butter, because I need 7. Before I throw out the empty  PB container, I write it on my list for the store. I always have nearly 7 full jars on the shelf.

You can shop grocery sales (there is a link to sister savings over there. She collects grocery ad info every week, and posts the best deals online, free. I did Couponsense (costs about $10 a month plus cost of newspapers) for about a year, and I really stocked up on shelf items. It did take a lot of time. I went to three stores a week, got three newspapers for coupons,  and spent about 10 hours a week on it. There are other programs that are less involved. Now I mostly buy in bulk at Costco. It isn't the cheapest way at all, but I like it. There isn't one right way to do this. There are cheaper and more expensive ways to do it, easier and harder ways to do it, tastier and not-so-tasty ways to do it, but no one right way. 

What it requires (that many people don't want to invest) is time and thought. 

Why not start now? The items you need are only getting more expensive. If you are eating food you purchased 6 months ago, you are saving money! The wheat I put in buckets in 2004 is worth 3 times what I paid for it. Not that it matters. Wheat is still not so expensive most of us can't afford it. Trust me, when you fill your house with food, you will be repayed easily in peace of mind. Not to mention the blessings that come from obedience to this temporal law. 

Did you know that we are supposed to be our own welfare program? In case of catastrophe (personal to worldwide), we should be prepared with food to eat, water to drink, and money in the bank. The greatest strength of the Church welfare program is what we, the members, have stored in our closets.

What sorts of meals do you store in your three months' supply? Leave me your ideas and recipes.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mesa Home Storage Center (temporary) Closing and policy changes

Um. Ignore all the stuff I said before about how to get food from the Mesa Home Storage Center. Salt Lake City (Church Headquarters) has changed the policy on how we will can our products at the Home Storage Center. Intrigued? Yes, I thought so. Read on!

If you haven't already heard, the Mesa Home Storage Center is closed for refurbishment until the end of June. That means our Stake Canning Days will resume in July. When it re-opens, there will be some significant changes.

Here is the new procedure:

We still place our orders through our ward specialists (that's me) one month in advance. So orders for July canning will be due the last Sunday in June.

We no longer pay for our orders through the Ward! You will need to come to the Cannery on Canning day (every 4th Thursday morning at 8 am), where we can our own orders and pay for the food ourselves. If the individual who placed the order isn't there, the order will be cancelled. Personal Checks or Money orders are accepted, but not cash.

We will be canning only a few items per month. Here is the schedule so far:

July – milk, regular oats, macaroni and carrots
August – potato flakes, fruit drink, sugar, black beans and rice
September – white beans, refried beans, cocoa, flour and onions

The Home Storage Center is still currently open for bulk sales (bags of food), pre-packaged sales, and checking out canners will go on as normal.

Everything else- the Storehouse, Cannery, LDS employment, and LDS Family Services are NOT effected by the Home Storage remodeling. They are all open for business.

I also heard there will be prepackaged long term products available for purchase. These will be sold in cases of 6 cans: Hard red winter wheat, white rice, pinto beans and quick oats.

So there it is. It seems confusing, but it really isn't. Watch to see if what you need is being canned, then sign up. Then, show up on canning day and bring your check book. That's it!

Do you have any questions?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Need plastic buckets?

This is where I got mine.