One of the principles of sustainable living is to improve your self-reliance. If you want to save money, as well as improve your ability to handle financial setbacks, one of the things you can do is build home food storage. I’m not talking about stockpiling junk food and Gatorade, a la extreme couponing. I’m talking about building a viable home food storage system that can help you prepare for the future, and improve your self-reliance.
How Home Food Storage Can Help You
We have home food storage at my house. We probably have enough food storage to last us four or five months (we are working up to a year’s worth, though). If something happens and we suffer a financial setback, we don’t have to worry as much about where we will get the money for food. We will be able to keep up with mortgage payments and pay our bills, and we can dip into our food storage as needed to alleviate some of the need to go shopping.
Additionally, food storage is a great way to prepare for natural disasters. If you are prevented from going to the store, or you are in a situation where a natural disaster has made it impractical for you to head to the store, your food storage can provide you with nutrition. We also like to keep a portion of our food storage accessible so that we can grab it quickly, just in case we have to evacuate unexpectedly.
Your home food storage system can help you prepare for emergencies, reduce your exposure to food prices inflation, and prepare your finances for a setback.
Tips for Creating Home Food Storage
You don’t have to build your home food storage all at once. Indeed, it should be a gradual attempt so as not to place financial burden on you. Here are some tips to help you systematically build your food storage:
- Start with the staples: Start out with the staples of your home’s food sources. Buy these things a little at a time. Purchase an extra bag of flour next time you go to the store. Buy three extra cans of beans, or two or three extra packages of frozen veggies. Gradually build, using the staples of your family’s meals. Make a list of what you want in your food storage, and buy something different each week.
- Store your food properly: Understand the proper conditions for storing your food. Try to keep it out of regular sunlight. Keep it the pantry, or in a cool, dry room in your home. We keep some of our food storage in the pantry upstairs, in the crawl space under the house, and in the freezer.
- Buy foods you will actually eat: Our food storage includes the makings of chili, pasta and sauce, frozen and dehydrated fruits and vegetables, and shelf-stable boxes of milk, among staples like flour, sugar, rice, and oats. These are all things we would actually eat. It’s important to make sure your food storage consists mainly of foods you are used to.
- Rotate the items in your food storage: Pay attention to expiration dates. You will need to rotate the items in your food storage. Part of the reason you should buy things your family will eat is so that you can prepare meals from your food storage. When you use an item near its expiration, you can replace it during your next trip to the store.
It’s also worth noting that you can freeze or bottle your own produce. I recently bottled applesauce made from the fruit of our apple tree, and added it to our foods storage. It’s also possible to bottle tomatoes, and freeze corn, peas, and beans.
With the right planning, you can create a home food storage that prepares you for the future — and is largely sustainable.
23 thoughts on “Building Your Home Food Storage”
We have a pantry which we use for dry goods like beans, rice, lentils, nuts, etc. We also have two freezers which we use to store veggies and fruits from our garden and pre-cooked meals. It works really well. We always have food in our house and are ready for any situation. We balance this with eating things up fast enough so they stay fresh.
This is something we’ve been working on but I have trouble keeping up with it. I just can’t seem to keep the right things in stock and other things seem to expire. I don’t know why I have such trouble with this when everyone else seems to have no problems.. :) We are currently working on clearing out another cupboard to expand our pantry so I think the extra room will help a bit.
Side note- what kind of maintenance do you do on your apple tree to get good apples from it? Our house came with an apple tree and originally we thought it was a crab apple tree because the apples were so small but the next year we realized that it was a regular apple tree and I ate one and it was good. They are still on the small side but the pests quite like them and they all seem to have holes etc. in them by the time they are ready to eat. What do you do to prevent this? I would love to make applesauce this year but my husband and parents all said that it would not be worth the work…
I am a great admirer of store-cupboards (this is what we call them here in the UK). We built one last year – in both senses; built the shelving and stocked it up. It works really well. But I have a friend who could survive on hers for six months and over – this is what I call prepared.
Hi Marianne: The key to effective storage is rotation. Make sure you rotate through your food storage, planning meals that can help you use it. Then you replace items as they are used. Once you get a system in place, it’s usually easier. You can periodically check which items are close to expiring, and then plan a week’s worth of meals to use them.
Sadly, I have no idea what to do to help your apple tree produce. We planted ours in soil that we added, and then mulched. We have a drip system, and the tree gets good sunlight. So far, natural methods of pest control have worked well. It took three years for it to produce, but when it did produce, it was amazing. Applesauce is hard to make, though, without a food strainer and sauce maker. It’s worth the cost, though.
*sigh* this post makes me long for a pantry I don’t have to share with two other roomies in a cramped urban apartment. I cannot wait to settle down with some roots to have enough room for “scratch” items and thus adorable jars to keep it in. :) Loved the post!
We finally put shelves in a storage room and found some place to store food. It’s great – when there are sales on for things like oatmeal, spaghetti sauce, or almond milk, we stock up!
You can put up (can, bottle) more than applesauce at home. :) Because I don’t want to be reliant on electricity more than necessary, we don’t use the freezer a lot. With a pressure canner, you can put up meat and vegetables, even almost ready-to-eat soup and stew (you need to thicken it or add grains after opening)
I also find that dried fruits and vegetables are incredibly useful, since they take up so little space.
We’re a bit different in our approach to food storage. We look for really good sales and then buy a LOT. At first, it was one thing at a time. For example, when a local grocery store had flour at half price, we bought 10 10-kg bags (had to get special permission from the manager since they had a 6 item limit! LOL) That flour lasted during a time when flour prices have been outrageous. By the same token, we spent $100 on white sugar *just* before the prices skyrocketed. It was a big chunk of cash at the time, but every time I use my $0.50/kg sugar and know that it’s $1.50/kg at the stores, I can hear the money going ka-ching into our bank account.
The other thing we do is buy “seconds” from a farmer we know – those are the “not-so-perfect” fruits and vegetables that they can’t sell to the market. Most shoppers are fussy and want only perfect stuff. So instead of $20/bushel for perfect tomatoes, I can get funny looking ones for $5/bushel – they still taste the same in sauce and ketchup!
Oh, and we live four people (two adults, two kids) in an 800 square foot apartment, and we have food storage – it IS possible even in a small space.
This year is the first year I will be able to actively participate in food storage, and that is mostly due to the deep freezer that my fiancée inherited. For the first time we will be able to pick veggies and berries while in season, and freeze them! I still can’t do the dry storage though due to a lack of cupboard space.
We have a pantry for dry goods. We also have cold storage area in our basement for more storage. We tend to buy fresh fruits every few days, and those get eaten up pretty fast – never go to waste.
Will include this article in my Weekend Reading roundup for sure.
Cheers Miranda and SPF.
Food Storage is an important part of any family’s preparedness strategy. So many people assume anyone who stores food is a fanatic, but it’s really just a good common sense thing to do…just in case!
We stock pile cans on a regular basis. Usually canned tomato products and beans because we are big fans of homemade chili and pasta sauce. The nice thing about canned goods is that they stack easily and are simple to store without dominating the pantry.
I love having a fully stocked freezer and pantry. This year we had two very tight months, and we were able to reduce our grocery spending simply by eating the food we already had stockpiled.
We buy cheap and keep a small stockpile of these sorts of things. I love my pantry. It’s not huge, but it’s stuffed! And my chest freezer is great for meat deals, too.
My goal isn’t to build up a huge stockpile but to buy when prices are good. It works well for us!
Very interesting read, I’m making my own food storage for the first time this year, so the tips will definitely come in handy!