17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Freakin' Food Storage

The past year since we moved from NYC has found us concentrating on some things that just didn't/couldn't happen there. Like bike riding, visiting family, hanging out in the backyard, and (key ominous music) food storage and emergency preparedness. It was much easier back there to just ignore most of the Mormon preparedness stuff because there just wasn't the space to store...um...anything. My kitchen cupboards could barely fit a weeks worth of food. Thinking about storing a year's worth of food was just downright funny.

In California, we have a garage (whoo-hoo!) so our "no space" excuse is completely gone. And the budget is not quite so tight either. I figured it was time for us to delve into the wide world of Emergency Preparedness. I actually got excited at the prospects of finally getting "prepared". I did online research and I collected all sorts of info from the ward "preparedness" specialist (definitely didn't have one of those in Queens). But in the end, all the info had me feeling very overwhelmed and frozen with fear. Which way is the "right" way to store water? Do I use a food rotating method or just fill my garage with stacks of new #10 cans every 10 years? Do I really need a wheat grinder? And don't even get me started on all the emergency "gear" questions.

I decided to stick the whole subject on the back burnder for a while. Sewing projects have proven to be much more fun than the gloom and doom of emergency preparedness. But then Heather O had to go bring up her great Mormoness which is now proven by the wheat storage in her garage and the shiny new wheat grinder on her kitchen counter.

The anxiety is back and it's fierce. I want to be prepared. It seems like my biggest roadblock is not being able to figure out exactly what I need to be prepared for. Armageddon? The loss of a job? A California earthquake? A terrorist attack? Will we need to flee on foot? Will we have electricity? Will our home be a pile of rubble? Will there be chaos in the streets? Will I need a gun? Will I need to help my family survive for a few days? weeks? months? years? If the world is falling apart around me, will I really feel like grinding wheat or making homemade bread?

There seems like no possible way to adequately prepare for such a vast array of catastrophes. So what do you do? Just stockpile the wheat and pray that
obedience will make up for the rest?


  • When we lived in CA, I felt pretty strongly about starting with a 72-hour-kit. Since it is an earthquake area, that brought us a lot of peace of mind, and covers if you ever need to leave.

    As for more permanent food storage, I personally would recommend going to the Provident Living website, and use their calculator. You can decide how many months you want to start with, and that can give you an idea of what you might need in terms of basics to survive. You can start with one month if that would help you not be overwhelmed. (The dry pack canneries also have a one-month kit you can purchase when you work there. Not a bad option, either.)

    We may never be able to imagine all the different problems that could arise, but if we start with the basics, I think we can have comfort in that obedience...and if we all are so obedient, we could also help each other if there was ever an emergency! :)
    posted by Blogger M&M at 3/21/2007 11:44:00 PM  

  • Thanks for the reminder - it's time to rotate the food and clothes (and diaper sizes) in my family's emergency bags. Basically, those (clothes, fun activities and simple food in a bag) are about all I do have right now. Well, that and the fact that I do try to make sure we don't go to bare cupboards before I restock, so we'll always have a couple days worth of food.
    posted by Blogger Lucy at 3/22/2007 05:31:00 AM  

  • I have 50 dollars cash in my jewelry box and about 13 gallons of bottled water....oh and hope and a prayer.

    I need help too.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 3/22/2007 06:13:00 AM  

  • I live in Manhattan and storage is a huge issue. We have 72-hour kits and I rotate the food and water out every six months. I just do it every conference weekend...it's an easy way to remember.

    As for real food storage, I will just wait until we have a garage too! (Although there was a family in our ward that had wheat barrels holding their beds up instead of bed frames.)
    posted by Blogger Suzanne at 3/22/2007 06:40:00 AM  

  • I definitely second the idea about starting with 72 hour kits.

    Then let me suggest this: start by buying a years' worth of the non-perishable items you regularly use. So if you buy a jar of peanut butter every week, buy 52 of them.

    (The reason I think that is a good next step is that it is stuff you will actually use and it doesn't add anything to your budget--just shifts your spending around. Of course, if you can buy it on sale, it might actually help your budget.)
    posted by Blogger Julie M. Smith at 3/22/2007 07:59:00 AM  

  • Carrie - Thanks for this post. I'm looking forward to seeing what advice people have for you. We have 72 hr. kits and a first aid kit. We also have a file box that has all of our most important papers in it, if we have to grab it in case of emergency. I always have huge jugs of water (but definitely not a years worth). We also have a 72 hr. kit in each of our cars. My problem is that we were on a kick about this stuff a while back and the kits are probably not up to date (baby's growing, etc.). I like the idea of changing food out on conference weekends. That would be a good reminder, and good family activity. Oh - and whenever I go shopping I always buy three or fours cans/jars of food for food storage. This way I'm not going out and buying 52 jars of whatever at once (that overwhelms me).
    posted by Blogger Beth at 3/22/2007 09:10:00 AM  

  • When you go grocery shopping write down what you buy. Do this every time for a month or two (however long it takes you to go through items in your pantry). Figure out how much of each you go through in a month - multiply by 12 and create your list. Then start working on purchasing that list over a set period of time (say a year), by dividing it up.

    Our supply, not yet a year, has no wheat (I wouldn't know how to use it). But we do have lots of canned beans, rice, pasta, tomatoes etc. Stuff we actually use.

    Also, be careful about storing stuff in the garage. Even in temperate CA it can get hot - which dramatically lessens shelf life.
    posted by Anonymous ola senor at 3/22/2007 09:33:00 AM  

  • I too have been feeling the burden of emergency preparedness. I like the idea of starting with 72 hour kits for the family. But, do you keep them in your car, by the door, in the garage, under the bed or one in each location? This past month I decided to start with not a wheat grinder, but a water purifier. My favorite outdoor store, Recreation Outlet, had a great one on sale that can turn anything but radioactive liquid into water (they also make one that can purify radioactive materials too). I also purchased stuff that I could use not only in an emergency but while camping. Things like: a mini-folding ax and shovel; a little saw that can cut wood, rock and bone; lanterns; batteries; portable radio; heat blankets; a stove and pans; glow sticks; first aid kit; heater with fuel; energey bars and dried complete meals, etc. I felt more prepared for an emergency and excited to use my new stuff while camping!

    Another thing to consider while preparing for an emergency-protection. A guy in our ward is from New Orleans and shared with us his story of suriving Katrina. He swears he never would have made it through those six days before help arrived, had it not been for his handgun. He never actually fired it, but it kept his family safe from unwanted predators.
    posted by Blogger Krista at 3/22/2007 10:22:00 AM  

  • start by buying a years' worth of the non-perishable items you regularly use.

    I personally wouldn't go for a year with everything, because that can get expensive or at least overwhelming (Beth's idea is a good one, too). I am one who likes to have a good month or two of the stuff I use regularly on top of the typical food storage staples.

    As to not buying wheat etc. because we don't know yet how to use it, my own personal opinion is that we don't have to necessarily know how to use everything that is suggested we store to go ahead and store it. How much would end up being a group effort in the case of an emergency? Would we really keep all we have or would it all go to the bishop or stake anyway to help our stakes and/or neighborhoods at large? Are we only preparing for ourselves or perhaps for those around us as well? If it's the latter (which I tend to think is a possibility (totally personal opinion there, though)) then I think it matters less if we actually know how to use it, because others will and can help us and others benefit from it if we all got in a situation of need.

    (Part of why I think this way is because our stake has taken inventory of what everyone has, so they know that we have a year's supply. It makes me think that there may be more than just individual needs being considered in this counsel.)
    posted by Blogger M&M at 3/22/2007 11:42:00 AM  

  • I've had the nagging feeling for oh so long now and finally got me and my family set with a month of food storage. It's hard to figure out what "be prepared" means...there is no way any family can be prepared for everything and anything. So I decided to do the best I could and leave the rest to hope and prayer and faith.
    My dh and I (and my son too) went to Welfare Square in SLC and purchased the One Month kit. We packaged all of it ourselves and did extra for a little service project too! We also purchased some potato pearls, onions, chocolate pudding and hot chocolate mix to make it a little more exciting. It doesn't take up too much room but we have it stashed in our unfinished basement. The employees at WS were very helpful - telling us to buy things that we would actually eat and knew how to use. I know how to add water to oatmeal and pasta - I don't know how to grind wheat and make bread. So we base our one month kit on things we like to eat and things we could make.
    We have a 72 hour kit in the car and two in the house.
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 3/22/2007 11:43:00 AM  

  • In my NYC days, we put our bed up on risers and stored canned goods (both #10 cannery cans and store-bought) under the bed, along with water and... well anything else that needed to be stored! (photos, off-season clothing, the toolbox... you name it)

    NOW, I have the space, so I no longer have any excuse, and yet I still haven't gotten on top of my food storage OR 72 hour kits for that matter. I do keep my pantry well-stocked, I'm confident we could last for a month on what I have in there, but anything over that would be a real problem.

    I recently helped organize a 72 hour kit project for our relief society, where we broke up all the supplies needed for the kit over a 15-wk period, with a mini-list for each week. The goal was to help spread the expense out over time. Many sisters found it helpful... and i did in theory, if only I had followed it! ;-) I'd be happy to send the file to anyone who's interested in it, just email the tales address (talesfromthecrib at gmail dot com) and I'll send it out.

    One thing that came up in discussing 72 hour kits is to realize that you might not all be in one place when an emergency strikes - you or your husband may be at work for example. This underscored for us how important it is that you be familiar with how things in the kit work, that you can't rely on your spouse to be the one who runs the camping stove, etc. Also, it may influence what you decide to pack where - for example, one of my friends decided to repack her kit so that her husband's items (food and clothing specifically) would stay in his kit in his car, and the rest of the kit would be at the house with her and the kids. Just something to keep in mind.

    We did the 72 hour kit project as a "training" for our upcoming food storage project. Clearly I failed the training miserably, but I'm determined to get my act in gear and participate more this next time around!
    posted by Blogger marian at 3/22/2007 12:50:00 PM  

  • I second Julie's idea of buying a year's supply of nonperishables you currently use. That is how I am starting my storage. Each week when I shop I choose one item (often it's on sale) and estimate how much I will use in a year, and buy that much of that item. The first week I did this, I bought about 60 boxes of macaroni and cheese. Now I have chili, pasta, spagetti sauce, soups, peanut butter, cake mixes, and several other things. I figure we probably have about three months worth of food stored so far.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 3/22/2007 05:28:00 PM  

  • Thanks for all the input. 72 hour kits are very important. I put one together for the family back during the trauma days right after 9/11 when our plan was to rollerblade/razor scooter out of the city with the baby in the bjorn if something terrible happened. Now it is terribly outdated but my lingering trauma from 9/11 won't let me open it to restock.

    But when it comes to 72 hour kits, I have seen so many kinds. Big duffle bags full of stuff and "good food"- I guess meant to be carried in a car. Or small backpacks with bare necesscities and a little food (enough to survive, not "eat well" ) that seem far more portable if you have to move on foot. Don't know what to do.

    m&m - I did check out provident living a while back. I even just found the printout for the family. I only did 3 months. But all the food on there is stuff we don't really eat. I kind of like the idea of storing what we normally use like Julie mentioned. The main problem there is that we eat a lot of fresh food. Not a lot of canned, or jarred. So even though I have now stocked up on the few canned things we do use, our shelves still look pretty bare. I'm going to keep working on it though.

    Krista - I don't want to own a gun. I can't/don't want to imagine having to threaten people to protect my family. I guess I am not good at playing the "what if" game which is sort of what you have to do to get prepared.

    Marian - please send me that file about building a 72 hour kit. I think my ward did something similar, but I wasn't paying attention back then.

    I think what I am figuring out is that "being prepared" is a lifelong task, not something that can be taken care of in a week, a month or even a year. I want to check it off my list, but it's just not one of those kinds of tasks.

    And kudos to all of you who were creative and made furniture out of your food storage!
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 3/22/2007 08:37:00 PM  

  • The main problem there is that we eat a lot of fresh food.

    I never find canned fruits and veggies as satisfying, so I like to stock up on frozen veggies and fruits, and also freeze-dried. Obviously not the same as fresh, but adds some variety and possibility if we are ever stuck at home for a month or so.

    Emergency Essentials has some nice freeze dried stuff. Not cheap, but it is something that can last for a number of uses, so on sale, it's not too bad. I just made smoothies the other nite with mangoes and they were yummy!
    posted by Blogger M&M at 3/22/2007 10:17:00 PM  

  • We eat mostly fresh too, but in case of an emergency I don't know how much I will care if my peas are canned.

    I think emergency preparedness is overwhelming b/c bottom line is that it is a lot of work. Tips are great, but in the end I think it will just take me a lot of work to get it all together.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 3/23/2007 06:54:00 PM  

  • I realize that I would eat canned food in an emergency, but it will be harder for my food storage to be on constant rotation like I would hope it could be. I either need to change eating habits (which I would rather not do) or just face the fact that every so often, I will need to replace my storage foods.

    And Beth, I think you are exactly correct, whatever way you slice it, it's just a whole lot of work.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 3/23/2007 06:57:00 PM  

  • Hey Carrie, if there is an emergency, you just need to get to Bakersfield. I got mom and dad's old food storage when they moved. I'm guessing its about 25-30 years old. Should be real good. I'm figuring that if we're starving it won't matter if it tastes good. A friend said they (whoever "they" are) found wheat stored in the pyramids that was thousands of years old and it was still "good". So i'm thinking I'm O.K. If it kills us ... we were probably going to die anyway.
    posted by Anonymous Kathi at 3/24/2007 09:33:00 AM  

  • My emergency plan: Keep in shape so I can sprint to the nearby Safeway before mass confusion ensues. Just kidding...thanks for these tips. I just bought a hand-cranked radio and flashlight, I always keep a lot of extra water around and the pantry full....but there are a lot of important "details" I am neglecting. Thanks for the push!
    posted by Blogger Jen at 3/25/2007 06:42:00 AM  

  • My in-laws are VERY into food storage currently and sent us the book called "Preparedness Principles". It is an excellent resource for someone like me that has no idea where to start. It gives many options for preparing and storing food and how to rotate it into your pantry. I have always heard to store 400 pounds of grain per person and thought that I would never need that much, but when I read Why "they" tell you that amount, it makes total sense and also makes me want to RUN to the cannery to buy it all. As for the handgun debate, my DH and I have decided that we will keep guns and plenty of ammo in our food storage. If my kids were starving and I wasn't prepared, you bet I would try to steal food from someone that was. I guess that will be our way of ensuring our safety.
    posted by Anonymous Angie at 4/03/2007 11:32:00 PM  

  • M&M and I have started a new food storage group blog. Come check us out! Ask questions, leave comments, or become a writer! http://mormonfoodstorage.blogspot.com
    posted by Blogger Sara R at 9/02/2008 04:28:00 PM  

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