Tuesday, November 18, 2008

3 months worth of food or stockpiling - updated with pics

A couple of years ago, I started getting interested in living a more self-reliant, provident life. Up until that time, I had never had any extra food or other supplies around our home. I never thought that we had the money, or more importantly, the space to store extra items. I have a small, compared to most American homes, kitchen, with a small pantry. I used the pantry to store dog food, larger pots, light bulbs, etc. Things that needed a home, and I decided that the small pantry was a good place to store them. But I decided that if I was going to live a more self-reliant life, that I probably needed to be able to live for longer than a couple of days off the food that was in my house.

A view of my kitchen from the back door.
Pantry door is behind the back door.

View of the pantry door - to the left of the dishwasher.

So I cleared out the pantry and found a new home for all of the things. Next I cleaned out a linen closet that I wasn't really using. And I started storing food, or as people tend to refer to it these days, I started stockpiling. My first goal was a week's worth of food, and then a month, and finally 3 months. I've seen people a lot of people who build their stockpile with coupons and spending very little money. I didn't do that. I'm not saying it is a bad way to build your stockpile - I just knew that it wouldn't work for us. Part of the idea to moving to a more self-reliant, provident life also meant eating more natural, simpler food, and many of the coupon items were for ready-made boxed food, food we didn't eat, or for name brands that I could get cheaper when buying the store brand.

So what I did was make a list of the vegetables that we eat on a regular basis (corn, peas, beans, and carrots), the fruits we eat on a regular basis (applesauce, pineapples, tomatoes - diced and sauce, and peaches), meat/protein that I could buy canned (chicken, tuna, beans), pasta (we like elbow, egg noodles, spaghetti, and penne), cereal (we eat oatmeal) and other things that I would need to build meals (brown rice, chicken and beef broth) condiments & sweeteners & sandwich stuff (ketchup, maple syrup, honey, peanut butter, jam) baking supplies (flour - wheat and white, cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa, chocolate chips, yeast, vinegar, molasses) spices (minced onions, basil, oregano, garlic powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and Worcestershire sauce.) and paper items (toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags.) For vegetables and fruits, I buy about 2/3 canned and 1/3 frozen.

Then I went to Aldi's to price out the items, and to Kroger to price anything that I couldn't find at Aldi's. I tend to buy almost everything for our stockpile at Aldi's, and then do my weekly shopping at Kroger and just a few items that I couldn't find at Aldi's. Weekly, I buy milk, eggs, and yogurt, some of my produce (I limit it to two types of vegetables and two types of fruit), and some meat if it is on sale, and generally chicken and ground turkey. I buy my organic produce at a natural food store.

Then I made a list of each item and how many I needed to have a three month supply (or a week supply of dairy and produce) and then a bunch of sheets that had the same items listed but a blank quantity. Then I can just look at the shelves and decide how many of each item I need to re-stock and write it in the blank spot. Then I take the sheet with me shopping so that I know how much to buy (I can also then, if I really want, figure out exactly how much I'll be spending on food this month. I did do this the first couple of months, but now I can pretty much tell how much it is going to be.)

I use the pantry upstairs to hold a couple weeks of canned food and the linen closet for the rest. I store the paper products in the garage, and the frozen vegetables/frozen fruit and baking supplies in the freezer. I also keep a month worth of meat in the freezer (8 pounds of ground meat, 8 pounds of chicken breasts, 8 whole chickens, 8 turkey breasts.)

The pantry closet - almost all of the contents are pictured here

This is the linen closet - about 2/3 of the contents are shown here.
There are two shelves not shown in this picture. This closet is narrower but the shelves are closer together and more shelves available, so I can get more in it than in the pantry.

I have another large closet (10 feet deep x 8 feet tall x 5 feet wide) in the basement that is currently holding our seasonal decorations and out of season clothes. In the next year, I plan on finding new homes for those items and putting shelves up allow one wall, and storing wheat, pasta, honey, and water. I'd also like to store the dehydrator, canning supplies and a hand grinder down there, as well as anything that I end up canning.

Of course, as always, this is just what is working for us, and you may come up with a totally different system that works better for you.

But if you think can't do it, really, you can. I had thought about it for years and always had reasons why I couldn't do it. And then one day, I decided to try. I started small, and then gradually built it up. I also concentrated on just the essential items for our family. My family wouldn't enjoy eating tuna fish every day for three months, but we would eat it once a week. I didn't get an endless variety of things either, just our favorites.

And although I do try and keep it stocked, there are times that it isn't kept completely stocked because we need grocery $$ to fix the car or get someone new shoes or whatever. (Right now, I only have a two week supply of corn and carrots. I had let the supply run down a little bit and it cost a little more than usual to replinish it, and I only had a certain amount that I could spend to build it back up. However, I should be able to get them restocked too next week.) It helps us to be able to accommodate those little bumps that appear out of nowhere in the budget, and I don't have to worry about not having enough money to feed everyone that month. It also helps me to be able to realistically budget our food money since I know how much each can/bag, etc. costs and how many I need to fill in.

Tomorrow, I'll add pictures of my pantry and my "food closet" (which is what the kids call it LOL). And in a day or two, I'll try to add a copy of my food lists. And in another post soon, I'll talk about my monthly menus. This is an intregal part, for me, to having a three month supply. It doesn't do me any good to have all this food around if I don't have a logical plan of how and when I'm going to use it.


The Lee's said...

Are you tired of me stalking your blog? I truly do love it! It is so motivating to me!! Keep it up!

AndieF said...

Hee-hee! No, I don't mind that you are stalking me. At least I know at least one other person is reading it besides me! I mean, my goal is really to just record what we are doing, and maybe eventually put the ideas together for a book, but if someone else gets ideas or gets motivated, hey, that's great too!

AFarCryFromNormal said...

We think so much alike it is funny............you think we're related? You just have way more energy than I! Can you pass some of that on?! I am so happy to start organizing my food storage area and doing some more "stockpiling" too. I really feel strongly about this given our economic sitution as a nation and even just little ole us. We need to simplify and be prepared! I appreciate your blog! No pressure but KEEP IT UP so I can copy you like I have been for MANY years! :-) Like I said it is funny how we get on similar roads in life. This is definantly one of my passions now and hope that it continues and become second nature. I want to pass this on to my children as well to help them in MANY ways!