Food Storage Freak-out

Every so often I completely panic about food storage.

The process usually goes something like this:

  1. See a news segment on a disaster somewhere.
  2. Wonder if my family is prepared for that or any disaster.
  3. Panic.
  4. Get serious about food storage for about a week, or until I forget about the news segment or get way too overwhelmed reading about something called a sun oven.
  5. Repeat in 6-12 months.

I’ve been on step 4 for about a week now, but I’m determined not to repeat my vicious cycle yet again.

I even surprised myself this time because during my panic mode (see step 3), I was convinced I had no rhyme or reason to my food storage and that we would all end up eating raw cans of pinto beans and Oreo cookies to survive.

But I found a spreadsheet I had made during my last big food storage rally almost two years ago. This spreadsheet is from Food Storage Made Easy (find it here), and it helps itemize each meal you might cook during a disaster. I didn’t even remember doing this because I was in a pre-baby nesting frenzy that included preparations for an Armageddon-style disaster.

So this week I’ve been finding new shelf-stable recipes and taking another inventory of what we have, what we need and what expired three years ago.

In the midst of all this canned-food hoopla, my husband told me something he learned about food storage: It’s more spiritual than physical.

Sure, the canned goods and recipes are important. You may actually eat those pinto beans at some point and be grateful you have them. But being prepared is really a spiritual process. It ensures that if there is a disaster, you don’t have to fear. You don’t have to panic. And you don’t have to possibly compromise your morals to obtain food for your family in a dire emergency.

I liked his perspective on food storage, and it made me realize that every little step helps. I may not know how to grind wheat or have a lifetime supply of military MREs, but I am making progress so that one day I will see that disaster reel on the news and think, “Yea, I got this.”

Any tips (or recipes) for building up a practical food storage? How have you built your storage, or used it?


  1. Fiery Darts

    While there is some value in doing so, I think that Latter-day Saints do themselves a great disservice by preparing their food storages for an apocalypse. First of all, if some distaster occurred that knocked society back into the Stone Age for 12 months, the usability of your cans of pinto beans will be a big problem, but hardly your biggest one. Getting access to clean water would be a much greater problem, and on par with that would be finding a way to heat your food.

    Ask yourself this: how often do people have to rely on their food storage? The answer is that they do it all the time, but it’s not some physical global calamity that causes them to dig deep into their shelves of canned food. It’s personal financial calamities that food storage invariably saves us from.

    So, rather than asking ourselves if we can manage to eat fifty pounds of rice after the world ends, we should be asking ourselves if we would be able to live off the rice if we couldn’t afford groceries this year. As soon as you can reconcile the dream of a food storage that will sustain you off the grid with the reality of an investment against your poverty, you’ll have something that will not only be useful, but will be easy for you to acquire and maintain. (After all, if you’re willing to eat it when you’re unemployed, then you can cycle through it when you have an income as well.)

  2. Cat

    We just store what we use normally. It doesn’t do any good to store pinto beans when you don’t normally eat them anyway. It also helps to be able to cycle through stuff if it’s stuff you use normally. We also include stuff we grow in our food storage. So the fruit trees and the garden count too. There’s only so much dehydrated food one can eat. To be able to get some fresh stuff helps too. I’ve even helped some of my nonLDS friends to start their food storage. It just makes sense to be prepared for the time when either you don’t have money to buy food with or there isn’t any food to buy.

  3. shawnm750

    Fiery Darts is correct. While your food storage COULD support you during a disaster, odds are some (or all) of it maybe damaged or useless depending on the disaster. Anyone with food storage in their basement during Hurricane Katrina learned that lesson. 72-hour kits are our lifeline during emergencies, but food storage is something that’s meant to be used regularly. Sure, parts of it are meant to last a long time and keep in the absence of electricity and other utilities. But I too know several people who have either survived off of their food storage, or at least used it to save money during recent periods of financial difficulty. I think that’s what the real principle is behind food storage.

    • Erin Stewart

      Great point. I have a friend who had to use her food storage to feed her family when her husband was laid off. She felt bad about using up her storage just in case an emergency happened, but then she realized, “Wait, this IS the emergency.”

  4. Danny Chipman

    I try to remember not to run faster than I have strength. I do buy the #10 cans of dehydrated foods from time to time, but more often I just shop sales (with coupons to really cut cost) and buy a few more of a product than I need. I have a year’s supply of several items already, and I’ve been at it for just about a year, without going out of my modest grocery budget.

    I like the garden suggestion, too. Also take advantage of sales for things like charcoal, gas or other fuels, and other items that will be equally crucial in a natural or financial emergency. Also try to include some kind of savings. Wish I could be working more on that last one–first I need to get rid of all my DEBT.

  5. Brennan Newfield

    Interesting story! Most people overlook the “taste” factor in buying emergency food. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’d get pretty damn sick of eating powdered eggs, pinto beans, and plain rice for (possibly) months at a time! Anyone starting their own emergency food storage system should check out this article about which foods to buy, what amounts, how to store them, etc. It will help you avoid a lot of common pitfalls in food storage:

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