Begin Building a 3 Month Supply of Food and Water
Because grocery stores don’t “make” food.
After building your Go bag, the next action step involves creating a three month emergency reserve of food and water supplies.
For some, stocking up on food and water may sound a bit alarmist. If that describes you, I would urge you to reconsider. We live in very uncertain times. All it would take is one major hiccup in the national food supply chain to create mass hysteria and hoarding. In addition, relatively few Americans today produce any of their own food.
While I am a strong advocate of organic farming and community supported agriculture, I realize it is not realistic for every American to begin growing their own food. Therefore, if you are not currently self-sufficient when it comes to your food and water supplies, it is imperative that you begin building an emergency reserve.
We are not talking Y2K stuff here…
Instead, your food and water supplies will be a long-term strategy that you will adopt in order to stave off any unforeseen disasters.
The way that my wife and I created our food and water reserve was quite simple. We began by making a list of foods that we enjoyed eating that had long shelf lives (i.e. canned vegetables, beans, rice, etc.) Instead of just buying enough for the week, we began to purchase extras each time we went to the store. After we reached our goal of three months of reserves, we used a rotation system to ensure that the last in was the last out.
Notice that we do not buy freeze dried foods or other types of foods that we do not already enjoy and consume. Instead, we simply bought more of the foods that we already eat on a regular basis that had long shelf lives. This seems much more practical to us and made creating our food reserves much easier.
Seven Guidelines to Building a Long-Term Food Storage
Many Americans resist the idea of creating a food supply for a number of reasons. Some of the common questions that arise concerning this topic include: “How do I start my food storage?” or “What kinds of food should I store?” Others may wonder “Since I don’t cook, how do I prepare all these food items like rice, wheat and beans?” or “How do I plan a food budget for all this?” and “How do I rotate my food so it all doesn’t spoil?”
Below are seven crucial guidelines to building a long-term food supply that will hopefully answer the above questions and more.
1. Create a Meal Menu System. The Meal Menu System was a vital first step in starting our own family’s food supply. Our very first step in creating a Meal Menu System was for our entire family to hammer out a list of nutritionally balanced dishes that we all liked to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. After coming up with a complete list of common meals that we all decided we could live with, we then decided how many times a week we would eat each dish. Our next step was to then break each recipe into their component ingredients, followed by the quantity of each ingredient used. It was through this kind of detailed planning that we were able to purchase and store our one year food supply. Finally, keep a written inventory of the foods that you are buying for your food storage. This will allow you to track what you have on hand against what you still need to buy.
2. Learn How To Cook Food Off-The-Grid. The second principle in creating your food storage is to take time to learn how to cook food off of the grid. What does “off-the-grid” mean? Cooking off the grid is a reference to cooking without any electricity or public utilities of any kind. When planning the meals for your Menu Meal System, you will want to envision cooking both with and without electricity.
3. Refer to the USDA’s Food Pyramid Guidelines. As you develop your Meal Menu System, it is wise to refer to the five groups of the USDA’s Food Pyramid. If you are currently on a healthy diet, you might want to skip this section. But if you’re not, like most of us, you might think about using the food group guidelines to improve your diet.
4. Know Your Food’s Shelf Life. The next step in successfully creating a food storage is to know the shelf life of each of the foods that you wish to store. Of course, when it comes to nutrition, fresh food is almost always best. Fresh foods, especially the organic variety, purchased from the outer perimeter of your supermarkets are always the most nutritious. But, because they spoil quickly, they will never become the mainstay of your long term food storage. For this reason, we are compelled to compromise and turn to processed foods for the long term.
5. Research The Food Preparedness Marketplace. Of all the commercial food companies that we looked at, none of them impressed us as much as Shelf Reliance based out of Linden, Utah. They have a broader approach to food preparedness and a wide assortment of food in all the Food Pyramid groups. The company assumes that many people don’t know the first thing about the “how and whys” of food storage. On their website www.ShelfReliance.com, they offer important educational information on all things preparedness.
6. Always Use the First In, First Out (FIFO) Food Rotation System. As you purchase your emergency food supply, you will want to develop a system which allows you to know which of your food products need to be eaten based upon when they were bought. Therefore, you will need to develop your own system of food rotation. Whatever system you choose, the principle of First In, First Out is critical. Those of you who have ever been in the food and hospitality industry may know this principle as FIFO.
7. Eat What You Store…And Store What You Eat. Our final guideline is simple: Eat what you store and store what you eat. What is the purpose of storing if you never plan to eat it? And if the food is not good enough to eat now, why would you want to eat it later in the case of an emergency? So take your Meal Menu System seriously and begin buying items that you currently eat in bulk. Do not let your stored food just sit there waiting for an emergency to happen – consume it. You want your food to be consumed and replenished with new stock. This will ensure that your food supply remains up-to-date.
Creating a three month water reserve is obviously a bit more tricky. This is especially true if you do not have a lot of space and live in tight quarters. The ultimate solution would be to dig a fresh water well on your own land. But not everyone can do that. Our solution was simple: a heavy duty portable water filter. The one that we settled on the Katadyn Pocket Water Microfilter. (You can read our brief review here.)
This handy water filter is used by numerous military men around the world and can pump 13,000 gallons of fresh water before needing a new replacement filter. While this filter is somewhat pricey, it can convert virtually any water source (except ocean water) into fresh potable drinking water instantly. The only caveat for relying upon a portable water filter is that you must have access to a body of water nearby.
Of course, if you prefer the option of actually having a reserve of stored water, check this out. This 260 gallon water storage tank is the equivalent of five 55 gallon barrels of fresh water, and it only requires seven square feet of space. This would be my second option if I didn’t have a Katadyn water filter.
Before proceeding to the next step, be sure that you:
|– Build your 3 month food reserves by stocking up on foods that you already consume that have long shelf lives.||– Decide upon either in-home water storage or a portable water filter.|
When you completed this step, you are now ready to advance to the next step of Level One which is to begin a systematic savings plan.