I’ve had folks e-mail and post on the forum, asking questions about the specifics of my food storage. I’d like to take a chance to answer those questions before the next installment of the Real Food Storage series comes out on Monday morning and my radio interview on Thursday night with The 21st Century Homekeeper.
These questions came up because we actually LIVED on our food storage while my husband was unemployed for 11 months. We had one year of food stored and when he found a new job, we had two weeks of food left. So my year’s worth of storage made for 11.5 months of food, it would have gone longer had our garden not drowned that summer. So I’d say we hit our mark pretty well.
What did you originally store?
If you take a look at our food storage worksheet, we stored all of these beans and grains (minus the gluten-containing ones) listed. Instead of storing eggs, we had fresh eggs from our chickens. We had the meat (minus fresh seafood) and the kids and I used the non-dairy we had stored. I didn’t store a few things on this list, like ketchup, steak sauce, tartar sauce, dry yeast. I just added those to the list for people who aren’t quite to making everything on their own from scratch. I also had some personal care, herbs and supplements stored.
Did you find there was something that was way understocked when you actually began using it all the time?
We had recently purchase a side of beef when the lay-off occurred, so we were stocked up on the beef. I did have to buy some chicken from the grocery store towards the last couple of months as I found I was understocked on that.
Toilet paper. My kids went through way more than I anticipated, despite some use of family cloth to supplement. Shampoo, too, since the kids wasted a good amount. When I realized what was going on, I put the current shampoo bottle by my desk and they had to come get their shampoo from me, poured into a little metal condiment cup, before each bath. That fixed the problem.
I didn’t have enough lard and tallow and I knew when the lay-off occurred that I didn’t. I was still working on finding a decent source. I used coconut oil where I could, and purchased some pastured tallow as I was able to for frying. I avoided frying when I didn’t have the money for the tallow. And we re-used the tallow for frying until it was starting to smell foody. So we got 3-4 uses out of each batch.
I also found that I was drastically understocked on coconut milk. When I realized we were using it too fast, I went to using water in place of milk in baked goods and that helped, but I still ran out. When I estimated our needs, I did so in summer, and I found that we used a lot more of the coconut milk in winter for drinking since we were keeping the house at 60 degrees during the day.
I had too much rice in proportion to the other grains I had. I have since re-worked my master plan to have more sorghum and buckwheat and less rice.
I needed more powdered sugar. I underestimated what it would take to make a birthday cake for each child. I had only stored 2 pounds of it total. We do two cakes a year, one for each child, and we do a cake of their choice. They always want decorated cakes.
What did you find was essential to have? What were you glad to have (variety of grains? dehydrated veges?)
Variety in our stores saved us. Having that variety really kept the kids from noticing that we weren’t going to the store as normal and we weren’t eating the same meals over and over again. A variety of grains and stored veggies were a huge help. Having a variety of garden seeds let us add some fresh variety without trouble.
What did you not really use very much, or is there something that you just didn’t find terribly convenient so you ended up at the end of your food storage with a lot of it just because you’d never gotten around to it?
Pasta. I had way too much pasta left. In fact, we eat so little pasta that going forward I will only store about 10 pounds of it a year for our family of four.
Mixes. I had purchased a few mixes to have on hand for busy times. I had a couple of cake mixes, a brownie mix and a muffin mix that got thrown away because they went bad before I got around to them.
I had more ground turkey that I needed because we had the side of beef. Once I realized it was getting lopsided, I worked to correct it but we still had some turkey left towards the end. That was ok, we went ahead and used it up before it went bad once he had gotten a new job.
As far as convenience goes, we eat what we store and store what we eat, so I’m set up under normal circumstances to mill my own grains and the like. So it was already routine and it wasn’t anything new.
I switched to using rapadura for my kombucha and water kefir that year, so I wound up with leftover white sugar I didn’t need. I gave it away to a family who would use it.
Is there anything you’ll do differently when you build it back up again?
Yes. Organization. If you don’t have it organized and you can’t find what you know that you have, it’s going to go bad before you can dig it out again. Since then, we’ve invested in some heavy duty shelving on which to organize. This is especially true for the home-canned goods, since they are so heavy.
I didn’t correctly estimate some of the comfort foods needed and I under-estimated our holiday items. My mom bought a Christmas ham since we had Christmas together. I only had one turkey in the freezer. So I changed my planning to include more comfort food and two whole turkeys instead of one.
What did you supplement with (if anything)?
We did buy some fresh produce since our garden didn’t do well thanks to a drought followed by flooding. We bought fruit because our fruit trees are still too young to produce much. My son loves bananas, so we continued to buy a few each week. We continued to buy raw milk for my husband since he isn’t allergic.
My mother bought the kids a few treats here and there and we had some people give us foods that were safe for our allergies. We avoided going on food stamps or other assistance. I figured it would be best left to people who needed it, and we’d go on it once we ran out of our stores.
If this were going to be a long-term collapse, how would you do things differently (or extra things you’d store).
I’d store more personal care and increase the total amount of food, because in a collapse situation you’d be doing more manual labor. I’d also prepare to cook in the summer without electricity, either because it wouldn’t be available or it would be too expensive to use. I have winter cooking covered because we heat with a wood stove.
Do you have questions you would like to ask? Use the ‘contact us’ button in the red tool bar below and we’ll answer it in a future Q&A!
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