Cassie Larsen submitted this article.
The importance of a 3 month food supply and getting started
When most people think of preparedness they think about their emergency/ bug out bags and 72 hour kits. When I think of preparedness I think about my 3 month food supply and long term food supply too. Your 3 month food supply is easier and quicker to get then the long term food supply or ultimate goal of a year of food. I suggest you start with your 3 month supply then move up to the long term food storage foods.
What is a 3 month food supply? It is a supply of foods you eat on a daily basis, foods that are part of your normal diet. It is not the long term foods like wheat, oats and beans in number 10 cans. It’s can goods, pasta, cereal, and grains. You should try to convert some of the fresh items you use into canned or frozen items, so they will store longer.
There are many reasons to have a 3 month supply of food. If you or your significant other lose your job, an unexpected expense, unexpected guests, a shorter than expected pay check, bad weather, sickness or just a busy week. Now with any of those situations it is nice to have extra food in the cupboard and freezer.
Getting started with your supply:
Option number 1: You can buy an extra couple of items each week at the store. Say you need a can of chicken noodle soup instead of buying one can you buy two cans. Once you have used that one can you add it to the grocery list to buy another two cans. As time goes on you will slowly add up to a 3 month supply of food.
Option number 2: You can shop the ads and coupons and stock up when items go on sale. If cereal is on sale you buy 4+ boxes instead of one, or buy as much as your budget allows. This option helps you to get your food supply quickly while still staying on a budget. An important thing to keep in mind while doing this option is to not buy extra items that are not on sale. Once you watch the ads you will realize everything goes on sale in a rotation. Say this week its pasta, next week it will be cereal and in another four weeks it will start again.
Option number 3: Keep a list of meals you eat for two weeks and all the ingredients needed for those meals. Then add extra items from your meal list to your grocery list each week so you always have the ingredients needed to make those meals.
I like to do all 3 options, that way I have complete meals plus extra filler foods too.
Date and Rotate Supply:
One thing that is really important to remember when having a 3 month supply of food is to rotate thru your food. You wouldn’t want all your money to be thrown away because the food expired. To rotate thru your foods, I suggest you write the month and year of when you bought the item on the top of the item. I write the date on top of all non perishable items; including my freezer, cleaning and toiletry items. When you write the month and year on top of the package you are able to see quickly what package to take out and use next. If you have eight cans of cream of chicken soup, you want to use the can you bought in May 2012 (5-12) not the can you bought in October 2012 (10-12). This method alleviates the need to worry about the expiration date. It also helps you to quickly see that you don’t need to buy any more of a particular item. For example: Since the two packages of rice you bought in January 2012 (1-12) still haven’t been opened there is no reason to buy rice.
Use your freezer:
The freezer is a great way to add storage room for your 3 month food supply. You can freeze milk, cheese, bread, pizza dough, tortillas, yogurt, butter, some cut up vegetables and fruits, as well as your normal frozen foods and meat. The freezer in your fridge, chest freezers and stand up freezers all work the same just work with what you have room for. If you don’t have the option of an extra freezer there are many can meat varieties that you can substitute in most meals.
Don’t forget extra supplies:
Toiletry items are another thing that you want to have a 3 month supply of. It’s the same process for getting your body items, cleaning items, food and drink items. Don’t forget Ammo! The quickest way to add to your toiletry items on a budget is to use coupons and watch the sales. If you are not brand specific you have even more opportunities to add to your supply. Most toiletry and cleaning products do not expire, but I recommend that you rotate thru your toiletry items.
Part of my 3 month food supply. If I had a bigger pantry I would have more:
At the top of the pantry you can see the dates on some of the cereal boxes.
Get creative with where you store your food if you don’t have a big pantry. I have extra toiletry items and drinks in my laundry room closet. I have long term food storage in boxes under the bed. This isn’t anything new for me. Growing up I couldn’t put anything under my bed because there was so much long term food under my bed.
Get excited about food storage and get buying extra food! It’s always better to be prepared so when an emergency comes you will be able to take care of yourself and help others. I love knowing that I have extra food in my house. It brings peace, security and self reliance when you are prepared to take care of yourself and your family.
Even if you don’t think you need a bug out bag, 72 hour kit, or need to prepare for an emergency situation, you will always need food and water. A 3 month food supply is a good in home, easy and inexpensive option for your preparedness.
Do remember that frozen food is only non perishable as long as the freezer stays cold. A popped breaker or someone leaving the door ajar could cost hundreds.
I put a buzzer on our garage fridge so if the door is left ajar it will beep incessantly.
Best to have a plan for fridges and freezers if the power goes out, too. They will stay cold for quite a while if you don’t open them, but eventually they will thaw out.
Another tip on freezer management, either chest freezer or the normal freezer on your fridge: don’t allow too much empty air space in it, not for any length of time. Keep some water bottles around and just toss them in if there is some loose space.
Dead air in a freezer makes the compressor work harder (more $$ on electricity) and allows the temp inside the freezer to float a little more (i.e. less consistent). This goes double for every time you open the freezer and all the cold air whooshes out and the warm air whooshes in.
Additionally, in the event that you lose power, a full freezer will stay cold much, much longer than an empty freezer.
Also, if you go camping or picnicking or whatever, now you have frozen water bottles that you can toss in the cooler. They will keep your stuff cold without making a mess when they melt. And if you get hot and thirsty, you have ice cold drinking water handy.
The gallon water jugs (get the #1 plastic ones, not the milk jug style) make nice big ice blocks and the 16 oz bottles make nice small ice blocks.