Saturday, April 24, 2010

Step-by-Step 3 Month Food Storage Plan

There are a lot of options out there for figuring out how to get your supply of food storage.
This is one that I come across often, and the method I am currently using myself.

The basic idea is to pick recipes that your family eats regularly,
calculate how often you want to eat each meal per month,
and then figure out how much of each item you will need to accomplish your goal (in this case 3 months).

I like the idea of doing this, because it encourages you to purchase items that you regularly eat, as well as ensures that you will always have a meal plan.
This is also a good way to take inventory of items that you already have.

Step 1: Gather favorite family recipes that you cook often.

Remember that you want enough recipes to last you 3 months.  If you are comfortable eating the same meal twice a month, you will only need 15 recipes (for each meal).

Don't know what to choose?  Use this printable monthly meal plan (found here).

Just start writing down what your family eats each day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Don't forget to include drinks, snacks and desserts!

(Or, to make it easier, just start with one meal at a time; dinner)

Continue doing that for 1-3 months and you'll know EXACTLY what your family eats, and how often.
Some items are going to be easier to track with tally marks; ie: instead of counting how many hot dogs your kids ate for lunch, just keep a tally every time you go through a package.  This works for lots of items that you continually use throughout the week: cheese, juice, crackers, bread, cereal, etc. 

Step 2: Categorize recipes into groups: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, treat, etc.

Step 3: Using these recipe cards, write down each recipe that you've included in your menu plan. 
(You can use one recipe card just for items like snacks and drinks, listing as many as will fit.)

The title of the recipe goes in the box at the top. The two smaller boxes on top are for
1) the amount of times you want to eat that recipe per month.
2) If it is a breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, drink, treat, etc.

List the ingredients needed.
To the side, under amount, list what the recipe calls for (1 can, 2 tsp., etc.).
Then, take the amount and times it by the number of times you are going to make that recipe each month.
Take that number and times it by 3 (for three months).

Here is an example of what it should look like:

Step 4: After each recipe is complete, it is time to start filling in your inventory sheet. (found here).

Use a pencil, so you can continually update it as you go.
Start by adding each ingredient, one recipe at a time (you can try and categorize them by putting all the spices, canned goods, etc. next to each other, but it doesn't matter).

Step 5: As you add new recipes, update the 'AMOUNT NEEDED' column for each ingredient.
Step 6: Now that you know how much you need, you can use the conversion charts I posted last week (found here and here) to help you figure out what that really amounts to
(ie: how many lbs. of rice do you need to get 30 cups?)

Step 7:  Take an inventory of what you already have, and record it in the next column.
Subtract the amount that you already have from how many you need, and you'll know how much you need to buy.
Then you can calculate the cost for each item.
This will give you a good idea of how much money everything will cost.  You can then set a weekly/monthly budget to help achieve your goal.

Step 8: Reality Check
There are going to be a lot of things on your list that don't store well; be it fresh produce, things that expire quickly (like bread), or things that require refrigeration/freezing and you simply don't have the resources.
You are now going to have to decide what you want to do about these items.

I view it as having two options: replacements, or cash.
1) Replacements:
Nowadays nearly everything on your list can be replaced with bottled, canned, frozen, powdered, dried/dehydrated foods, or by having a garden.
Obviously you will have to decide what works best for you, but try to start with the crucial things that you use daily: milk, eggs, ingredients to make your own bread, etc.

2) Cash Reserve:
If fresh is the only way for you, calculate how much it is going to cost to buy everything that way.
Having cash on hand to buy groceries can be just as beneficial as having a replacement for those items at home.  Just remember to consider it 'food storage'.

Personally, I'd plan on having both.
Cash is great, but in a real financial emergency, seeing that you already have some food at home might persuade you to use that money for other obligations.
Also, other emergencies might make going to the store unavailable.

Step 9: Once you have purchased all of the necessary food, print 3 monthly menu plan's.
Fill it in using the meals/recipes.

**This step might be considered overkill, but it would be really useful for your family if something happened to you.

Put the menu plans, along with the recipe cards you made in step 3 in an envelope or sheet protector.
You might also want to include a list of where food items are located (unless obvious).
Put all of this information in your pantry or food storage room.

In a real emergency, having all of this information readily available would be a huge stress relief, especially if it was your family facing it without you.

Step 10: Remember to continually update your inventory, so you don't buy too much of one item, and not enough of another.
(Don't take inventory every day, or you'll drive yourself crazy... try doing it once a month).

As you continue to get more comfortable with storing/rotating through your food, you can use this method to expand your supply month by month, adding new recipes as you go for better variety.
You could easily continue building until you have a years supply, or even more.

And there you have it!
Here are all of the links again, so you can get started...

monthly menu plan

recipe cards

 Inventory Sheet

Cups to lbs. Conversion List

Bulk to Storage Container Conversion List

Now go build your food storage!
I would love to hear about your process, or any questions / helpful hints you've discovered along the way...


Heather said...

I just saw this post today and I guess I have to be part of a group to access the links above? I requested to join, I'm just hoping it doesn't take too long to get access because it looks very helpful!

Heather said...

I'm still having a hard time accessing the links. Any suggestions?

Michelle said...

Yeah, sorry about having to join a group... It is the only way I know of to get everyone access to my files. You should be good to go now. Let me know if you have any problems, I can always just email them to you.

Michelle said...

Sorry Heather! I'm still having trouble figuring the whole thing out. If you send an email to myfamilyprepared@gmail, I'll send you the documents.

MissDough said...

I am having trouble accessing your attachments. They look very helpful! can you send me an e mail address?

MissDough said...

I am also having trouble downloading your files? Can you send me an email address? This looks so very helpful :)

tcalex said...

Is anyone able to access the links. all I get is an error on all of them. please let me know how to do it or what I am doing incorrectly. I am trying to get the family sorted and organized. the forms would be a great help if I can print them. please let me know how to bring them up. thank you for this site and for the help, tyvm

Michelle said...

I am so sorry the links are not working! If you email me at myfamilyprepared@gmail I will email you all of the links.