This week's guest post is by Angie. She was asked to talk in her ward about food storage and how they've done it. When I asked Angie for permission to share her post, she was very kind and willing. (Thanks for sharing Angie! You are INSPIRING!)
I have been asked to talk in our ward about food storage and how we've done it. So this is long, but here's my rough draft:(Source: Angie)
Preparedness with Little Space or Money
Set goals and make decisions: We decided in August that we were going to start taking food storage seriously. We made a goal to have a certain amount of money set aside each month. Our budget was already tight, so we weren't exactly sure where this money would come from. I also made lists of what we needed and what we had. We prayed sincerely and consistently for our Father in Heaven to help us. We saved all the money we could and when we started to falter, the Lord stepped in and blessed us. He made it possible for us to be in the position we are. Our food storage is still a work in progress, but at least it's progressing!
"Replace feelings of fear with an act of faith."
Three-Month Supply: The church suggests starting with a 3-month supply of the foods you usually eat. The easiest way to start accumulating is to simply buy two or three instead of one item when you're at the store, especially when it's on sale. Every spring and fall, there are Case Lot Sales. We saved up our money in between these times, so that when things are on sale we have the cash to buy in bulk and end up saving money.
Finding a place to put food storage, even a three-month supply can be very difficult. In our small 1200 square foot condo, we had to be creative. I decided to just get the food and bring it home, and I would find a place for it. And it works. Under beds are a great place to store things. Our canned goods are under the boys beds in their room, this is nice because it also prevents them from putting toys under the bed when they're supposed to be putting them away. Under our own bed we have #10 cans of wheat and oats. The large buckets would be more difficult to fit in our home, so most of our long-term storage is in the #10 cans.
We have also rearranged our closets a bit, even moving some things out of the closet to shelves or dressers, so we can fit buckets or boxes in the closets. I know people who have cleaned out their linen closet, keeping towels in the bathroom and sheets in the bedroom, so they can store food on the shelves in their closet.
We rotate our three-month supply when we buy new food, by moving old food into pantry, and the new food under the bed. We use the old food, but if we replace it every 6 months to a year, it will never go bad.
Drinking Water We definitely do not have space for a big blue barrel of water in our condo. So we had to be a little creative again. We have space for a few cases of bottled water and some old juice bottles filled with water that we can use for washing, not drinking. Then we go a filtered water pitcher, with extra filters. This is not ideal and if we had space we would choose to store more water, but this is a way for us to hopefully clean whatever water we can get hold of if we have the need.
Financial Reserve Pray. A lot. And act on faith. We decided to keep an emergency account with one thousand dollars. We have used this to cover unexpected car or medical expenses, when our check-book just can't cover it. Then we put in a little each month until it's back up to 1000.
In August we felt we couldn't just rely on miracles to pay for our storage, so we all have extra little jobs to make it possible. I believe the Lord rewards us for our effort. The kids and I have a paper route. It's very small and only makes about $10/month, but it's a way for the kids to help out. They aren't slaves though, they get to keep any tips for themselves and we also agreed to let them help us decide which storage foods to buy with the paper route money. So, we have chocolate milk, popcorn and dried strawberries, all earned by them. Nick also delivers pizza one night a week, which is just a few hours of time, but a couple hundred dollars will buy a lot of wheat!!!
Longer-Term Supply Speaking of wheat...one of the best things I can do for my family's food storage is to learn how to use it. I know how to bake bread and though I don't do it all the time, at least I know that if the need arises I can do that. My family will be eating soft yummy bread, rolls and pancakes instead of a month or two of me baking bread that has the consistency of a rock, while I figure out how to cook and my family is hungry and relying on me. Other important cooking skills are home-canning and using dried beans and wheat.
Being in a condo, we don't have much of a garden. So, the past two years, I have helped my sister plant and take care of her garden, in return for half the produce. The winter months have been so hard because the price of produce seems so outrageous compared to simply picking what I want. Fruit trees and a garden are a great source of food! The cost of planting is so minimal compared with the harvest. And if you grow more than you eat, there are always others to share with.
The church cannery makes food storage simple, delicious and as inexpensive as possible. They are always completely organized and usually offer the best price. Everything is packaged in a safe way and you can count on that food lasting you for years without going bad. In September, we were able to obtain large amounts of food for a cheaper price somewhere else, so we borrowed a canning machine, which is free, and canned the food for less than what it would have cost at the cannery.
72 hour kits Each person in our family has a backpack with typical 72-hour kit items and an old ice cream bucket with food. Because I have a tendency to fill them and then forget about them for a few years, we decided to check them twice a year at conference time. I pull them out a few days early and determine which foods will be expire or need to be replaced. Then the kids get to snack on the juice boxes, crackers and granola bars during General Conference.
I have also printed and attached a paper to each bucket and backpack. It has the person's picture, name and emergency contact information. So the kids know which bucket is theirs and also, so that if we are ever separated in an emergency, they have the information with them to help them find us.
So you can see how, with little space and even less money, we have been able to prepare our family for what may lie ahead. It didn't happen overnight, but with consistent effort and faith in the Lord, it is possible and it will bring immeasurable comfort and peace to our home.