Food Storage & Meal Planning Tips

Easy steps to build up your food storage and to save money at the grocery store.


WATER

Obtain at least a two week supply of water for each member of your family. Have water in all sorts of containers. An inexpensive idea is to put water in emptied, clear, plastic 2 liter pop bottles. Small water bottles are convenient incase you need to take them and go. Fifty gallon drums are good for drinking water and/or cleaning water. It is essential to have enough water—a person can only survive a few days without water. There are many great links on the Internet for information and safety tips for storing water. You need at least one gallon of water per person per day.

72 HOUR KITS

Put together a 72 hour kit of water, food, clothing and essentials for each person in your family. Make it portable in case you need to leave your home in a disaster. Tips: Buy 72 hr. backpacks at the D.I. for really inexpensive, get backpacks with handles and wheels for the children to carry themselves, put children’s 72 hr. backpacks under their beds for quick access, and put together a small car emergency kit. Put water and some basic essentials in a backpack in your car incase an emergency happens, and you (and your children) need to walk to somewhere safe. Items that might be important include water, snack food (granola bars, suck on candy, dried fruit or jerky etc.), a flashlight, poncho/umbrella, and a sweater or jacket in case of cold weather.

LIST OF FAVORITE RECIPES

Make a list of the food items your family eats most often. (i.e.- macaroni & cheese, chili, tuna (mayo), peanut butter & jam, pasta & spaghetti sauce, etc.) Start building your food storage around those items. Start by getting a three month supply of these commonly eaten foods. One thing to remember is to buy all the components of each meal you eat on a regular basis. For example, oatmeal for breakfast wouldn’t be good without brown sugar, raisins, cinnamon & milk (powdered milk). Keep in mind that in a disaster, you won’t be able to run to the store to buy the “extras” for meals. You will need all items on hand to put together meals for your family. Once you have created a supply of these items, you can begin accumulating more long term food items. These items include grains, legumes, sugar, vegetables, fruit, salt, oil and powdered milk (among many others).

HOW TO STORE YOUR FOOD

The main concern is keeping insects and rodents out of your food. There are a few ways to store paper packaged food items. The first is to dry pack items at the cannery. Another is to put food items in plastic containers (Rubbermaid totes, empty plastic buckets, large plastic garbage cans etc). Anything will work as long as it can be shut out from surrounding bugs and damp air. Keep food in a cool place—like a cold storage room under the porch.

KEEP TRACK AND ROTATE YOUR FOOD ITEMS

Use the Html->link('worksheet provided','/downloads'); ?>, or your own system, to keep track of how much of each item you have, and to properly rotate your food. Tip: When you buy the food, put the month and date you purchased it on the container with a permanent marker. This way, you will know which items to use first. Put the newer food on the back of the shelf and move the older items forward. Keep a running total of each item so that at any moment you can look at your food storage sheet and see what you are running low on. Creating a shelving system makes storing food easier to organize and rotate. This can be done inexpensively with cheap metal shelves, store bought food storage racks, or homemade wood shelves. You will feel so good when you begin to see your own “store” growing in the basement.

STOCK UP WHEN ITEMS YOU USE ARE ON SALE

It may seem like you are spending a lot of money at once, but you will actually save money in the long run. If you buy a year supply of items, you will not need to run to the store and buy it when it’s not on sale. Think BIG—for example, a year supply of sugar for one adult is 100 lbs., times that by 3-4 people in your family & that’s 300/400 lbs. of sugar. Even if you don’t use it all in one year, don’t worry---sugar will last 30 + years. That’s why it is so important to buy items when they are at their cheapest price. Watch the ads and compare prices. Doing this will save time and money!

PREPARE AND PLAN

Try to determine which natural disasters could possibly happen to your family. Ask yourself what you would do in each individual circumstance. For example, if there was a major earthquake would you be ready? Would you have a way to cook your food, keep you warm, do you have candles, flashlights, batteries, etc., do you have gasoline stored if you have a generator?, how would you keep the food in your fridge/freezer cool, how will you get in contact with family members?, who will pick up children from school/preschool, do you have a ‘check point place’ for family members to meet? Come up with a plan for your family. Help everyone know what to expect and what to do in case of an emergency.


Here are some easy ways to make meal planning fun and cost
effective, while getting your year supply at the same time.

MENU PLANNING

Decide how many times a week (on average) you cook a home cooked meal. Take into consideration how many times you go out to eat, or make quick frozen meals (i.e. frozen pizza, burritos, etc.) This number might change week to week, but it will give you an idea of how many meals you will be making in a two week period.

GET OUT THE COOK BOOKS

Make a list of each of the meals you cook for your family. Add to this list any new recipes you want to start incorporating into your families dinner menu. Be creative and try new things. Don’t get stuck in a rut of cooking the same meals every night. You will reference this meal list when choosing which meals you want to cook in the next two weeks.

PLAN MEALS FOR A TWO-WEEK PERIOD

This will save you time and money from not having to make impulse shopping trips to the grocery stores. Produce will last about two weeks, so I've found this time frame works best and can typically save the most amount of money.

PLAN YOUR MEALS AROUND WHAT IS ON SALE

Stock up on meat when it goes on sale! When meat goes on sale, stock your freezer so that you don’t have to buy meat at full price. Meat is the most expensive part of your meals. For example if chicken, steak and shrimp are on sale one week, then make Chicken Enchiladas, Thai Steak Burritos, Chicken & Steak Fajitas and Jumbalaya pasta. When you buy the meat on sale, you are cutting down on your months grocery bill. Also, watch for which stores have the best produce prices and shop there. Fresh produce can be expensive, so watch for sales and come up with meals that correlate with what is on sale. Create a list of the meals you are going to cook in the next week or two week period.

IT'S TIME TO SHOP

Never go to the store without a shopping list. You will spend more money, and it will take longer, if you don’t know exactly what you need. Watch the ads carefully. Buying items when they are on sale, and buying multiples, will keep your pantry stocked and cut down on trips to the store. As your pantry becomes stocked, it will not only start your food storage, but it will save you from buying items when they are not on sale.

DOUBLE YOUR RECIPES

Choose meals ocassionaly that you can double the recipe and save half for a later date (as a freezer meal). It doesn’t take much longer to cook double the amount, but it saves you a lot of time on a busy day, when you don’t have time to cook. This saves on money as well! When you are cooking a meal that is based around items on sale, and you double that recipe, you are feeding your family TWO times with inexpensive ingredients. Label your freezer meals clearly so you know what items are in your freezer.

If you have any questions you can check out other pages on our website, visit our blog, or contact us us for more information on food storage, emergency preparedness and grocery tips.


BECOME A MEMBER OF DEALS TO MEALS TODAY

Join Deals to Meals and let us do ALL of the work for you! We help you obtain your own "store" of food, stock up your pantry, save you money on your grocery bill, teach you how to make home cooked meals that are based around items on sale, cook from your food storage—all while saving you TIME & MONEY!

Go to the FREE DOWNLOADS page to get helpful sheets to organize & keep track of your food storage.