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Money Matters: How to build up home food storage without breaking the bank

By Amy Osmond Cook - Special to the Daily Herald | Mar 26, 2022


When it comes to food storage, take stock in the freezer, pantry or food storage room before adding more items. A good rule of thumb is, first in, first out. Be sure to store foods appropriately. Pests love bags of cereal, flour and grains, so take precautions to store in airtight containers.

Remember when COVID first hit? When you couldn’t buy bottled water or toilet paper anywhere? With the pandemic, the subsequent financial crisis and world conflicts, not to mention that massive earthquake for which Utah is overdue, there are plenty of reasons to make sure your family has enough home food storage to last at least a week, but ideally a year. 

Helpful calculators like this one at http://familysurvivalplanning.com will tell you that a young family of four needs almost 1,000 pounds of grain to last them a year. When you don’t have any food storage to begin with, that sounds like it would be prohibitively expensive. But it doesn’t have to be! Follow a simple 12-week plan, make it a habit and be sure you have proper storage supplies. Being prepared is important, so these three steps can help you get priceless peace of mind without breaking the bank. 

Follow this 12-week stockpile plan for $5 a week

Following this weekly plan from Little House Livingis an inexpensive, no-stress way to start a food storage stockpile. The idea is to buy as much as you can for just $5. At the end of three months, you’ll have a lot of the basics covered.

  • Week 1 – Rice
  • Week 2 – Beans
  • Week 3 – Sugar
  • Week 4 – Salt
  • Week 5 – Baking soda
  • Week 6 – Milk powder
  • Week 7 – Dried onion
  • Week 8 – Dried garlic
  • Week 9 – Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Week 10 – Baking powder or yeast
  • Week 11 – Whole grain
  • Week 12 – A food storage item your family will eat

If you want to continue the rest of the year, continue the same pattern with items like water, cans of soup, macaroni and cheese, multivitamins, aspirin, canned fruit and vegetables, shortening and honey, then, rotate from there. Be sure to use these ingredients on a routine basis, as some of them don’t have a long shelf life!

Make it part of your regular shopping trip

Building food storage doesn’t have to be a chore. Try to make it a habit so that you don’t even have to think about it! This includes fresh food, too. Here are a few ideas from Heather Levin at http://moneycrashers.com:

  • Buy a few extra cans of food each time you go to the store.
  • Stock up at discount grocery stores.
  • Purchase produce that’s in season.
  • Buy extra of your favorite foods when they go on sale.
  • Use grocery shopping apps Ibotta or Fetch Rewards.

Get proper supplies to ensure long-lasting storage

Once you’ve purchased your food, it’s important to make sure it is stored properly so that it lasts!

“If packaged and stored properly, bulk dry foods can last as long as freeze-dried foods,” says Creek Stewart, author of  “The Disaster-Ready Home.”

“One of the big advantages is that bulk dry goods are very inexpensive in comparison. In fact, just a few hundred dollars’ worth of bulk beans, lentils and rice can feed a family for several months.”

Supplies to gather include 5-gallon buckets with gamma seal lids (available at your local hardware store), a rubber mallet to seal the lids, a bucket wrench, mylar bags and oxygen absorbers. These supplies are ideal for repacking dry goods so that you can get your money’s worth out of them. 

When your food storage consists of a few cans of carrots and a pallet of water bottles, it can be overwhelming to contemplate how much you would actually need to feed your family in case of an emergency. But it doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to be expensive! Follow a simple 12-week plan, make a habit of adding to your food storage and be sure you have proper storage supplies. And if you are struggling financially, programs like Provo-based Community Action Services and Foodbank can help you get on your feet. Being prepared will give you peace of mind, and that’s priceless.


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