Food should be another big consideration when you think about preparedness.
Now for the purpose of this post I'm not talking about going out and spending thousands on freeze dried food or hundreds on MRE's that you can put in your bunker for 20 years. More about how small changes in shopping and storage habits can make a big difference to the amount of food you have in case of an emergency.
With the bad storms this past winter hopefully everyone saw how fragile our supply system is and how long it can take until the shops are fully stocked back up. Small things happening can have big impacts, not to mention our country's love of panic buying, but many things could easily upset supply. Things like a long term power outage, fuels shortage, strikes and a couple inches of snow all affect how well shops are stocked, they can clear in just a day or two if people panic.
So for this post, I'm going to talk about storing just 7 days worth of extra food. I know this is a small amount to most established preppers and probably most that read this blog, but it's a good place to start and an amount that's achievable on a very small budget.
What I've put below is in no way a complete list. What you and your family eat, as well as how large the portions are make all the difference to what you should store. My family is still quite young so portion sizes are quite small (although the boy ate 7 slices of pizza the other day). I'm also assuming you have seasonings, stock cubes and spices in stock, as well as things like golden syrup and other sauces.
Pasta, Rice, oats and flour are great thing to have stored up. They make great comfort food and fill you up a for a long time. Most have a great shelf life as well, the pasta and the noodles have until 2020 (two years) the rice will store for much longer. The oats if they are repackaged will store for a long time as well.
The 1kg of oats will provide breakfast for my family of five for far longer than a week, can be added to dishes to thicken them out or made into flapjack. A 1kg packet of rice would also feed us for multiple meals and we tend to use 500g of pasta per meal (we eat a lot of pasta).
I buy bread flour in bulk. I'd plan to keep at least 500g per day so a loaf of bread that would feed the five of us could be made. A tin of bakers yeast would be another useful addition here if you bake a lot, the tins have a good shelf life, flat breads can be made if not and if eaten when hot are lovely. Self raising and plain flour can be used for bread making but are better suited to filling cakes or scones.
I should also add that we normally keep lots of potatoes as well, although this time of year the storage ones have started the grow so we tend to harvest what we we need out of the garden until the farms around here harvest their big crops so I have no pictures to hand! We tend to buy 25kg at a time as it works out so much cheaper that way (around £5) and they store for months away from the summer.
Having some oil in stock is essential for cooking, it also means you can make some dairy free cakes should you need to. An extra 1 litre costs very little.
Tinned goods are great to add to a meal, there are so many possibilities.
A few jars of pesto means some easy meals as well as being able to add some extra flavour to home baked bread.
Chickpeas make hommous as a spread or a dip, or go great in with peaches and tomatoes to make what we call "Three tin curry". Sweet corn, mushrooms and beans make a great addition to any meal (although tinned mushrooms are tasteless really they tend to look nice!), my kids would eat a tin of sweetcorn a day given the chance.
As for baked beans we just love them! On toast is possibly the most English of comfort foods!
I'm not the biggest tinned meat fan but it can serve a purpose and is handy when you've run out of other options. We do love tinned fish though and I'll happily eat sardines anytime! Tuna is great added to pasta or in sandwiches with sweetcorn. The rest of the time we'd probably eat vegetarian meals as tinned meat options are limited in the UK. there's always Spam I guess...
Some sugar and rasins/sultanas make breakfasts a bit more tasty. The raisins also work as a great snack (they're called "yeah yeahs" here as when my eldest was a baby it's what she called them) and the sugar means you can bake cakes should you want to.
My children drink so much milk I've decided there's no way I could deal with it, so they'd have to be on limited rations (they drink 24 pints a week on average). We do keep plenty of rice or soya milk in stock as it's what I use (I can't drink milk or cream) and this has a long shelf life and can be used in cooking or on overnight oats. As for other dairy we're really lacking here, powdered milk won't be drunk by the kids and you can't easily buy canned butter or cheese. The best bet for a seven day supply would to buy a week in advance each week.
I do also keep evaporate milk and condensed milk int he house as well which can be used in baking or as a substituent if needed.
With three young kids my house is full of snacks and treats to keep them happy. Having something like jelly in the cupboard is a great way to put a smile on their face if you're snowed in or can't buy your regular shopping for whatever reason.
Dried fruit is something we don't tend to buy as we have a dehydrator but we would certainly buy it if we didn't. Again it's a great snack and is really healthy. It also takes up very little space and stores for a long time.
A few notes though!
Make sure you store what you already eat and what you like. This sounds obvious but I've seen this mistake more than once. Make sure you're storing food that you actually eat. It's pointless storing 25kg of dried beans if you don't have them in your regular diet, the results could be "explosive"!
Storing what you like is even more important when you have young children, there would be nothing worse than having to use your stored food and finding the children won't eat it or that you're having to choke it down each meal time.
Rotation - The key to storing off the shelf store cupboard food as a preparedness item is rotation. If you're eating it on a regular basis like the above point recommends then it shouldn't be much of a problem. The main thing is not to shove it all in a box under the bed or in the garage and forget about it.
|My can rotator also doubles as a door to a cupboard - no space is no excuse!|
So in total for our one weeks worth of basic "emergency" store cupboard food for our young family of five I'd estimate:
1kg of oats - £1.20
3.5kg of bread flour - £3.50
1.5kg of plain flour - £0.45
1.5kg self raising flour - £0.75
2kg of assorted pasta - £1.85
Two packs of noodles - £0.90
3kg of potatoes - £1.00
Vegetable oil - £0.95
5 tins of tomatoes - £1.75
2 tins of chickpeas - £0.70
2 tins of peas - £0.45
2 tins of sweetcorn - £0.40
2 tins of sliced mushroom - £0.45
2 jars of pesto - £1.30
3 tins of baked beans - £1.05
2 tins of tuna - £2.24
3 tins of sardines - £0.95
2 tins of corned beef - £2.50
1 tin of "steak" - £1.35
1kg of sugar - £0.45
1 packet of rasins £1.30
2 tins of pineapple - £1.30
2 tins of peaches - £0.90
1 tin of fruit - 0.45
Dried fruit - £3
5 x Soya or UHT - £5
2 packs of jelly - £0.90
Total - £37.04
So for far less than the cost of meal out you can have a weeks worth of food ready for when you need it. I know this list won't be to everyone's liking but it should keep you full and happy for a week. You won't hit your "5 a day" either but you wouldn't be hungry. For slightly more money I'd add evaporated milk and lots more tinned fruit and veg (and maybe some chocolate!!!).
Potatoes are on the list although they're not technically a store cupboard item. We eat them so much and buy in bulk so its not very often that they're not in the house!
What would you add to this list. Do you know anyone that doesn't store any extra food?
Next in the series will be "Prepping On A Budget - Cooking"