Thursday, October 27, 2011

Food Storage Planning Gets Easy

My poor little corner of the internet is so neglected! I'm still on my own with the kids, so I get approximately 2 hours to myself each day, but that happens at the end of the day after they're all in bed. And after spending yet another full day solo parenting and homeschooling 3 kids, you know what I want to do? Mindlessly click through the humor section of pinterest while eating cotton candy flavored ice cream, that's what.

I have A LOT of blog post ideas saved in my drafts folder and I'm thinking I might participate in NaBloPoMo this year, so keep an eye out for a lot more posts in the near future.

For now though, FOOD STORAGE! Did you forget my obsession with food storage? I haven't written about it in a while, but it is an obsession. A pantry full of food makes me feel more safe and secure. I know that's partly an illusion, but I control what I can, and I can control food.

101 in 1001 goal #43 is to mindfully accumulate 4 months of food storage and then goal #44 is to live off of food storage for one month. The tricky part is that word mindfully. I don't want to just buy a bunch of whatever and find out I can't make palatable meals out of it. I've had this goal on my mind since the beginning of summer when I knew we'd be moving back and it was going to be feasible to store up a lot of food again. But I got swamped in the details of planning out the food storage. I tried to just keep track of how much of every item I used over a month, but I'd lose track and we'd eat out and it wasn't very accurate at all.

Then I happened to visit Food Storage Made Easy one day. They have added a fabulous tool since the last time I was there. Under the helpful tools section there are now calculators to help you plan out what you need in your food storage and how much of everything you should have.

I used the 3 month calculator. You put in 30 breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks, then you fill in how much of each ingredient you need to make each meal. I won't lie, it's time consuming. I worked on mine in bits and pieces for over a month, looking up recipes and being sure I had it accurate. The spreadsheet totals how much of each ingredient you need to cover the whole month, then multiplies it by 3. There is a column to input how much you already have on hand and it calculates how much you need to buy. To help keep things straight, I put in all my meal ideas, then as I filled in the ingredients needed, I put an asterisk next to the meal name so I could easily see I had finished filling in that column. That was very helpful because there were some things I had on the sheet that are freezer meals. For example, I have pizza on the spreadsheet twice, but in reality, I would make one recipe of frozen pizza (my recipe makes 2 pizzas), so I entered the ingredients one time, but put asterisks next to both pizza titles.

A few notes: for this to really work as longer term storage, you want to stick to less perishable foods. I tried to use shelf stable and frozen foods, and really limit things like fresh milk. There is a bit of cheese in my plan, but vacuum packed cheese stays good for a really long time. Some of the baked items are easy to make ahead of time and freeze (things like cookie and biscuit dough can be made when ingredients are on hand and frozen for later use). I also added drinks to my plan so I could just enter things like apple juice once instead of with multiple meals.

While the spreadsheet plans for 3 months, I think my plan would probably cover more like 4 months. I did that on purpose because I like to err on the side of caution. I didn't count on leftovers or produce from the garden, but chances are good we'll have plenty of both.

Here's a quick peek at part of my spread sheet. I still need to fill in what we have on hand. Once I know what I need, I plan to buy those things over time by adding a few items to the grocery cart on each shopping trip. This will give me time to take advantage of sales and also stock up without breaking my budget. I'm hoping to have my 4 months of food storage built up by the end of the year and make January my "no grocery shopping" month. I figure the end of the year is a good time to do this because there are usually sales on things like turkey and eggs, butter, flour and sugar as everyone ramps up for holiday baking.

Now the only thing I need to do is account for Secora's food, which is tricky since I don't know what she'll be eating next week, much less next month!

2 comments:

Richard Hoffpauir said...

Thanks for the link to http://foodstoragemadeeasy.net/

In addition to food storage, are you planning to accumulate other things useful for cooking (especially if electricity and tap water are in short supply)? For example: aluminum foil, paper towels, sterno or charcoal, water filters...

The Hills said...

Sorry, you got stuck in my spam filter somehow! Yes, I've accounted for non-food things too! There is a page on their spreadsheet to keep track of that as well.

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