If you haven’t discovered the online LDS Food Storage Calculator, you might want to check it out here. Plug in the number of people in your family, and you’ll find out how much dried milk, oats, brown sugar, and other staples you’ll need for a one year supply.
If you haven’t worked with this calculator yet, go do it now, and then come right back here. I’ll be waiting.
Well, what did you think? I’ll bet you got some pretty serious numbers, didn’t you? Let’s be honest. You’re probably thinking, “What the heck am I going to do with 600 pounds of wheat, 100 pounds of cornmeal, and 20 pounds of split peas??” If you’re like me, you just grab a loaf of bread at the store when you need it and rely on various convenience foods on a weekly basis.
The reason stocking up on staples is so important is because they are the building blocks of hundreds of other foods. A handful of dried beans, along with some broth and a few veggies makes a mighty fine and filling soup. With flour, lard, some baking powder and salt, and a rolling pin, you have tortillas. The trick is knowing how to use the staples you’re storing, and then begin rotating them in with the food your family normally eats.
By the way, if the figures from the calculator seem overwhelming and/or expensive, set a smaller food storage goal of three months. Just divide the totals by four. It will be easier to find places to store that amount of food, easier to rotate, and then you can build on what you have.
Here are a few tips that I have found helpful.
- If there’s an item your family absolutely hates, don’t buy it. Instead, substitute something similar or just buy more of a more familiar ingredient.
- If a family member is allergic to any of the food items, adjust totals accordingly. An emergency situation where you’re hunkered down with 800 pounds of wheat is not the time to discover that someone in the family is allergic to gluten. So plan around food allergies now, while time is on your side.
- Begin incorporating recipes that contain these basic ingredients. There’s no sense in stocking up on large bags of dried pinto beans, hoping your family will fall in love with them in a dire emergency, if they’re not a part of your current diet. That’s not the way it works, and if you’ve ever dealt with picky eaters, you know that!
- Take one basic staple, black beans, for example, that your family usually doesn’t eat. Can you sneak a few of them in a bean dish you already make? If you make homemade refried beans, try using half black beans and half pinto. If you can slip one of these unfamiliar staples into a familiar dish, your family will become accustomed to the flavor and texture, and possibly discover a new favorite!
- The food calculator and many other food storage lists leave out herbs and seasonings, but I think these may be one of the most important elements in your pantry. With a little dried oregano, basil, and garlic, you have an Italian rice dish. Change it up a little with a can of chopped tomatoes, cumin, and chili powder, and it’s Mexican rice. Herbs can be dehydrated and frozen for long-term storage.
Now, the secret of food storage pros is to have recipes that utilize these ingredients and begin incorporating them into your family’s meals.
The Food Storage Calculator is just a starting point. With some planning, experimenting, and a few sneaky strategies so your family becomes accustomed to something new on the menu, you really can put all that wheat, rice, and all those beans to good use!
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