“OK,” you say to yourself, “I’m ready to get serious about storing some food. I wonder what I need?”
We’ve all been at this stage at one point or another. Once we’ve come to the realization that we need to have more than a couple of days’ worth of food in the pantry the question automatically turns to figuring out just exactly what we need to have.
The first place we typically turn to is one of the many online food storage calculators. That’s certainly what I did. I also found that many of the calculators utilize the quantities suggested by the LDS church, an organization that strongly emphasizes food storage. Every calculator I’ve ever seen asks the same questions: How many adults? How many children? How long of a time do you want to store for? All important questions.
For me I decided that since my children were going to continue growing that I would just count them as an adult and not worry about the extra food I might have. Having extra is just fine with me. How long I wanted my storage to last is a critical question that you’ll need to carefully consider. The answer will depend on many things such as how much room you have to store food, your available budget, and whether you move homes regularly. I decided I wanted a year’s worth.
As I did my research I came across the stockupfood.com web site. It intrigued me because it provided an electronic method for helping me to stay organized. I liked that because I’m a big believer in using technology to be efficient. No matter how many benefits a tool might provide, if it’s unwieldy to use then it’s not much help to me. The ability to revise and update what was suggested are what first caused me to investigate further.
When I provided my answers to the initial setup questions I was given a suggested list of quantities of what I should have. As I reviewed it I had some serious reactions, the first of which was, “I need 450 pounds of wheat???!!!” followed soon after by, “Cornmeal? What the heck is cornmeal?” Perhaps you had a similar reaction. As I continued to mull things over I started asking myself other questions like, “I wonder what someone with gluten issues is going to do with all that wheat?” and I clearly remember asking, “Two gallons of vinegar? That’s going to take a lot of fish and chips to use that up!” And speaking of chips…the list seemed to be missing potatoes! And beef! And cauliflower, one of my favorite vegetables. In fact, the list had items that I don’t think I had ever eaten before such as lentils and lima beans and the aforementioned cornmeal.
As I continued to learn I realized that the initial list was simply basic items. In a worst case scenario I could use these items to live as long as I had some increased knowledge about to utilize many of the items. Additionally I’d better know whether I even liked to eat these things. Not to mention that I’d need a way to grind the wheat!
It’s a common misconception that in a disaster or other serious event, we’ll all just simply like anything that’s put before us. We might eat it if we have to but there is a better way. And that is to adapt the suggested list with items that we like. In other words, we should be storing what we’ll actually eat as this will provide emotional comfort in times of stress in addition to just meeting our nutritional needs. People with allergies would, of course, have to adapt if there were items they couldn’t consume.
Providing the list of basic items, along with a way to record additions and usage, is something that stockupfood.com provides as a free service. Adapting the list is available via an upgraded account for just $3 per month and once you reach and maintain a year’s supply there’s no further cost so there’s an incentive to reaching a goal of one year’s worth of storage.
Let’s look at some of the customization and personalization you can do. To do so we’ll look at my own dashboard:
You can see that the Grains list looks different from the initial suggestion. The screen itself also looks different from the basic account. At the top right is a Create new food category icon and underneath each group is a Create new food type icon. It’s the latter icon that I’ve made use of in the Grains category. I happen to love tacos and while the basic list does provide the ingredients needed to make taco shells, I decided that I wanted to have this item stored specifically and listed as its own item. Doing so is exceptionally easy. Just click on the Create new food type icon.
A new window opens asking you to provide the name of the food along with what unit of measurement you want to use. In the final field you enter how much of the chosen unit of measure your household would typically use in a month. For me, my family has tacos at least once per month and we use a box of shells each time. I chose box as the unit of measure and entered 1 for how many I use each month.
The site uses the information you initially provided for your length of time storage goal and adds the appropriate amount to the category. Since my food storage goal is 12 months my dashboard shows 12 boxes as being what I need for a year. Since I watch my weekly flyers and take advantage of sales as they come along, the site allows me to add more items than what my need is. This is why my inventory shows 14 boxes. A calculation of all items is done and each category displays what your percentage complete is.
In addition to adding items to the category you can also add new categories at any time. That’s where the Create new food category icon is used. Clicking that allows you to create any food category that you desire.
On my dashboard you can see that I’ve added three new categories: Condiments, Vegetables and Fruits. These are items that I want to have in my storage and which I wish to track individually. My favorite condiment of all time is Worcestershire sauce so that item was immediately added to the category list first, following the steps described above.
Having the ability to add food items and food categories allows me to highly personalize my storage needs. I can eliminate items that I know I simply won’t eat, reduce or increase quantities according to my family’s preferences and feel confident knowing that I’m storing what I like to eat.
How have you personalized your list? Share your thoughts in the comments section.