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7 Tips to Stockpiling Emergency Food

Emergency FoodYou live in the real world and have to deal with daily problems, issues, and emergencies. You probably don’t have the time or mental energy to worry about future catastrophes or doomsday scenarios.

That’s fine - but what about more common disasters, like hurricanes, snowstorms, or severe floods? These could knock power and other services out for days or weeks, and you can’t count on running to the store beforehand to get what you might need. And what if a region-wide or nationwide pandemic strikes and you’re confined to your home? Or if the electrical grid fails at a fundamental level over a wide area? These events can strike with little or no warning.

That’s why it’s wise to be somewhat prepared for a substantial calamity. One of the easiest and most basic ways to prepare is to stockpile food to have on hand in case you’re unable to shop for awhile.

Here are  some of the best food items to stockpile? Here is a partial list:

A. bottled water (or tap water in bottles)

B. Rice

C. Beans

D. Pasta

E. Dried fruits

F. Canned meats

G. Canned fruits or vegetables

H. Canned soups

I. Peanut butter

J. Whole wheat crackers

K. Nuts and trail mix

L. Cereal, or meal replacement bars

M.  Powdered drink mixes,powdered milk

N. Multivitamins

Here are some suggestions on starting your own food stockpile:

1. Make space. Dedicate some shelving in your pantry or basement specifically for your stockpile. Wherever it is, make sure it is cool and dry; spaces that are too hot or cold may degrade your food quality.

2. Don’t bust your budget. While planning ahead is important, don’t do so at the expenses of your day-to-day spending. Just build your stockpile up a little more each time you go to the grocery or warehouse store.

3. Decide on size. Federal agencies recommend that you keep at least three weeks of food on hand for emergencies. Use that as a starting point; then, if you wish, build your stockpile up even more. Here’s a food storage calculator to help you in that effort.

4. Look for deals. There’s no reason you have to spend a lot of money on your stockpile. Look for coupons, specials, or buy-one-get-one-free deals. And don’t be afraid to buy off-brand items if your family isn’t brand loyal.

5. Buy in bulk. There’s nothing wrong with buying five-, 10-, or 20-pound bags of staples. Or big-box store pallets of other foods. You’ll generally save money, and you’ll go a long way toward starting your stockpile.

6. Set a rotation schedule. Make sure you check expiration dates periodically. This can be aided by writing the expiration date on each food item in black marker. Once or twice a year, consume soon-to-be-outdated food items and replenish them.

7. Don’t forget your kids. Emergency or not, children may not want to eat certain foods if they don’t like them. So keep your kids’ preferences in mind when shopping. And consider different recipes to change how you serve the same staples.

Don’t think of food stockpiling as emergency preparedness. If you view it as a semiannual preventive measure like changing your smoke detector batteries, you can more effectively manage your stockpile while maintaining the peace of mind that you are remaining prepared for almost any type of disaster.

Chris Martin is a freelance writer who writes about topics ranging from how to remove articles from Google to when to switch auto insurance companies to what business software works best.

Food Stockpiling Can Actually Free Up Some of Your Budget!

Emergency FoodOn a recent episode of “Extreme Couponing” on TLC, there was an interesting observation. Each of the buyers was deservedly proud to pay NO money - or less than $25.00 - for hundreds of dollars-worth of groceries. It was quite a spectacle.

But the common thread: sugary juice-type drinks. The viewer was left to wonder: Does anyone really need 627 green, blue, or red drinks in their pantry? But the other observations reveals savvy choices, and hundreds - yes, hundreds - of dollars worth of savings in one big, organized trip to the grocery store.

Read on to find out why this practice is worth the effort.

There IS something to be said about stockpiling.

There’s a system to it; it’s not difficult, and you can zip right by the sugary drinks to accomplish the mission. This could be a fun challenge. Put on the tunes, get a few Sunday papers, pull out the weekly flyers, and start clippin’.

Now’s the time to figure out this game.

The key to attaining a great stockpile is to team up the coupons with the weekly flyers. If you get a great deal on five items each week, you’ll be stocked over just a couple of months. Think paper towels, toiletries, peanut butter, canned goods, non-perishables, laundry detergent, etc.

If your favorite detergent is on sale one week, and you have the coupons to team up with the weekly special? Those dollars add up - and they add up fast. Get used to buying things ten at a time. Once you see what you’re saving, this will become your new norm, and you’ll kick yourself for not doing it sooner.

Make It FunHey, make it fun. They did!

It really does become a game of strategy, and the challenge of it can be downright fun. You really can get stuff for free, and over just a couple of months, you’ll watch your weekly and monthly grocery bill decrease quite substantially.

So what do you do with the extra cash?

That’s the great part. Be thoughtful about that decision, though; in the end, you don’t want to look back at all of your hard efforts and think you’ve wasted your time. Indeed, this is time consuming, but the payback is fantastic.

So, do you buy shoes, plan a vacation, or put your efforts back into attaining good, fresh foods for your family? The savvy folks say to put the savings right into the store’s important and often more expensive proteins and fresh produce.

canned peasIs there anything worse than canned peas? Take your savings and buy fresh!

If you follow their lead, pick in-season produce and meats that are on sale. You and your family deserve that. Your added savings from stockpiling can go right into the farmer’s market trip or the best, freshest section of the store.

If you’re really serious about changing and cutting your monthly expenses, it’s also a great idea to to start working with a budgeting tool. It’s so important to see, in concrete numbers and figures, what’s coming in, what’s going out, and on what the money is being spent. Yes, it’s all about tracking.

It’s the same premise for those who lose weight and keep it off; odds are very high that if they have journaled their calories or food, the weight will not come back. Makes sense, doesn’t it? This is no different. When you quite literally see how the quick stops for coffee or gum at the convenience store add up to over $100 per month, you might adjust that pattern. And we all know that feeling of walking into a grocery store “for milk” and then coming out with 10 or 20 other products.

Now’s a perfect time for change.

Based on the weekly specials, get that list going - and stick to it. Use willpower, and don’t negotiate with yourself. Then watch the savings add up!

Valerie J. Wilson loves a good bargain! She is also a freelance writer for many individuals, companies, and organizations.

Emergency Foods That Will Last a Lifetime

Emergency FoodNo matter what your reason for stockpiling food, that stockpile is of no use if the food spoils before you consume it. There are plenty of ways to help avoid spoilage - rotating the foods in and out, making sure it’s stored properly, and so on - but you can also focus on storing foods that have ultra-long shelf lives.

Foods that Will Last Forever

Salt, baking powder, and granulated sugar have no known shelf life when stored in their original containers. By “no known shelf life,” this means the food will last indefinitely; there’s no evidence of spoilage when handled properly.

Although you might not think salt, sugar, and baking powder have much use in a food stockpile, these are three staples in scratch cooking and baking, so they might be of more use than you think.

Honey seems to last indefinitely, too; even if it crystallizes, you can reheat and use it normally. Microorganisms tend to stay away because of its low water content.

Foods that Will Last 30-Plus Years

As long as they’re stored in cans, foil pouches, or buckets, wheat and rice will last for 30 or more years. White rice is super cheap, a good source of calories, and it can be used in so many ways - as rice porridge for breakfast, as an addition to soups, ground up as an alternative to wheat flour, or just on its own as a meal-stretcher.

Dried beans are another meal-stretcher that can last for 30 or more years, particularly pinto beans. However, the beans stored in food-grade bags last for just a year.

White rice will last for 30 or more years when stored properlyWhite rice will last for 30 or more years when stored properly

Foods that Will Last 15 to 30 Years

It might not be a lifetime, but 15 to 30 years can still give you a pretty good time barrier when it comes to a stockpile. Foods such as powdered milk, instant potatoes, dried apples, and pasta can last 15 to 30 years if stored in a can or foil pouch with an oxygen absorber.

Proper Storage

The quickest way to destroy your stockpile is to store it improperly. For maximum shelf life, keep your food in a consistently cool place that’s below room temperature. Room temperature or higher can lead proteins in the food to deteriorate and eventually spoil. That sugar that’s good for 30 years? Its shelf life can be reduced by up to a decade if it gets too hot in your storage area. Skip the garage or attic in favor of a basement or pantry, which are both less likely to heat up.

Additionally, consider your containers. Food that’s being stored for a significant period of time must be stored in food-grade containers to ensure no chemicals leaching into the food. Look for a “#2″ by the recycle symbol or the acronym “HDPE” at the bottom to indicate food-grade. The containers should be air-tight and spill-proof as well.

With a little bit of preparation, you can be ready for anything that comes your way - at least, when it comes to eating well.

Kelsey Castle is a freelance writer and editor who focuses on home and real estate topics such as Texas real estate. She has a degree in journalism from a Big 10 university.