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Ready or Not #11: The Practical Storer

I like eating. I have found that most people do. I have also noticed that most people tend to eat several times a day – three main meals and snacks every now and then. I have also made the observation that people like to eat food that tastes good and looks good. That is why I am a big believer in being a Practical food storer. I store lots of the food that my family likes. Instead of shopping at the store every day, like my Danish family, I come home and shop in my basement.

A few years back my bishop asked for volunteers to live off their food storage for a week as a preparedness experiment. When he made that announcement my kids snickered and said to me, “Yeah mom, let’s see if we can live without going to the store for a WHOLE WEEK!” and then they chuckled some more.

At that time, I would only go shopping once a month. I would buy the gallons of milk that I would need and place all but three in the freezer and then as I would use one up, I would take another one out of the freezer to start thawing. I bought eggs in large sized crates, baked my own bread, and would only buy things in cases or bags.

We decided as a family to accept the challenge, but we decided to try for two weeks. Granted, not much of a challenge, but if we did run out of something I wanted to know why. During those two weeks we feasted on Salmon, ate homemade Key Lime Pie, and enjoyed homemade chicken noodle soup. We did run out of cold cereal because we always ran out of cold cereal (I’m not a really a big cold cereal fan and so it is not high on my priority list).

Basically, we did really well and wanted for nothing, but as some of our neighbors and I discussed the experience that the bishop had asked us to try, I felt really bad because some of them had to break down and go to the store. They found that they just couldn’t go without going to the store to supplement what they had on hand – and they had only tried to go one week without shopping.

You might think that being a Practical food storer would be expensive because you buy in bulk, but actually just the opposite is true – it is less expensive. I started a “$10.00 Will Do It Club” in my church to show people that if they would just spend $10.00 on a case or sale item instead of buying a pizza or fast food each time they went shopping, they would be shocked and surprised at how fast their food storage would start to grow.

At first, they didn’t believe that $10.00 would really make that much of a difference, but I soon changed their mind. Every week I would choose items on sale that would equal $10.00 or less and go buy it for them and deliver it to their houses (yes, they paid for it), and people’s storage started to grow.

The fun thing about it is that you can wait until a good sale comes on and buy then and get even more for your money! One time I bought 100lbs. of chicken for only $19.00 (in 1996). You say, “Yeah, right”, but really, I did. An incredible sale came on for only .19¢ a pound and so I took advantage of it. The next week when it was back up to .79¢ a pound I had saved $60.00 AND I had chicken that I froze and bottled, and it lasted my family for a very long time.

Food storage, if approached correctly and rotated as part of your daily eating experience will be the most economical, healthy, and tasty way to save money and stay healthy and happy. Your food storage shouldn’t just be used during the hard times, but during all times, good and bad. You question how much you need of something to last a year? Don’t worry, you will figure it out over time. Buy two cases and see how long it lasts and then buy more the next time you see a good sale. If two cases of “whatever” lasts you six months, then buy four cases and see if it lasts for a year. I write on my sacks or boxes the date, cost and how much I bought (e.g., 1 of 4, 2 of 4, etc.) That way I get to know how much I need without making my inventory system too complicated.

Work out what works best for you. It isn’t as complicated as you want to make it. Believe me.

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