This is a much more complex subject because everyone eats different food and will approach food preps in a different way. At the heart of the matter is the ability to survive an extended outage in the supply of food from supermarkets. Philosophically, the approach that I took was deciding upon how many days I wished to survive and then build a plan from that.
A good target for anyone is to have one year of food storage. This is a good, round number, perhaps a little arbitrary. A year would provide enough time for the world to sort out a major issue as well as provide a stock of food to give to my less-prepared neighbors. Unfortunately, the required space is just not available for this. I have set a more realistic target of 90 days and even that might not be possible in the amount of room my wife would be willing to support.
Fundamentally, the issue is about calories. 90 days of calories at 2000 calories per day per person equates to 360,00 calories. The only way I have found to determine progress towards this goal is to track in a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet also serves to track the location and “best by” or expiration dates. Expiration dates are a huge part of a long-term plan. You must rotate or refresh stock or the food will spoil and become worthless. A spreadsheet is an excellent tool to prevent worthless food from accumulating and also track the total number of calories available.
Another issue that one has to confront is conventional wisdom. If you read prepper forums or listen to podcasts, the popular phrase is “store what you eat, eat what you store”. In principle, I agree with this approach, but have modified it to suit my situation. After a year of dividing food stocks into three different categories, I must say that it is working quite well for me. That is, the things that I eat on a regular basis, I store and rotate. The things that store well, that I don’t eat on a regular basis, I have stored in packages with shelf lives in excess of two years. This is supplimented with mylar bags full of grains and O2 absorbers.
For example, I eat canned or foil bags of tuna on a regular basis so it is easy to rotate my stock. I have cans of beans, soups, vegetables, salmon, chicken, ect with shelf life beyond two years. I don’t eat a lot of pasta and beans so have used mylar bags and oxygen absorbers to put these products into long-term storage. The final piece of the plan involves commercial supplies with long shelf lives and/or quick preparation. Early on, I made the “mistake” of panicking and purchasing Mainstay rations. I would never eat such a thing except in an emergency, but those have a place in food stores. They last a long time, are compact and mobile. I have, thus, put a brick in my get home bag.
Another subject surrounding food is how to store it. Another mistake I made was buying several large, 50 gallon totes. I bought those after hurricane Katrina and Rita struck the gulf coast and filled with food. Unfortunately, once they are full, they were too heavy to lift. Duh! So, my new storage system are smaller totes that would fit under the bed. You can put a single layer of cans and the like into these totes and still move them around. I would estimate my totes weigh 40 lbs each. They are also clear so that I can see what is inside. I currently have six totes with four being under “my” side of the bed and two more into the garage. I can definitely clean out more places in the garage and put several more totes.
I purchased these containers for my mylar bags of beans, rice and pasta. To be frank, I would not recommend them. Sure they stack, but the opening was barely big enough to squeeze 1 gallon mylar bags full of beans. They were also expensive. If I had the courage, I would have just filled them with rice and/or beans and threw a bunch of O2 absorbers. The lids would have probably stayed sealed, but I just felt I needed that extra level of production for the long-term stores. Additionally, imagine opening the entire container just to get a couple of cups out. That would just be a waste. So, I packaged in mylar and put into the containers. A very expensive experiment and one I would not recommend. Use 5 gallon buckets, mylar bags and O2 absorbers and be done with it.
So, how far have I gotten? I have successfully stored 207,000 calories or almost 51 days for my wife and me. That is 57% of the plan. In the interest of time, I have decided that I will start purchasing commercial, long-term stores. I have recently purchases some MRE’s from Emergency Essentials. I figure these will take a place in my GHB as well as the family’s Bug Out Bags. My order will add 14 more days of stores for each of us giving me 65 days of food.
I am concerned that I don’t have some issues figured out:
1) Do I have a good mix of good mix of breakfast, lunch and dinner food?
2) Do I have a nutricious mix of foods (vegetables, fruit along with protein, fat and carbs)?
3) If the shit really hits the fan and the natural gas pipeline goes down, will I be able to cook the dried beans and rice? I have some canisters and a camping stove. I also purchased a solar oven, but the oven clearly does not work on cloudy or rainy days.
4) What if the emergency lasts longer than 90 days? For this reason, I have started a garden so that I can at least grow some food. With such a small urban lot, that would not be much comfort. As a backup plan, I would like to have an idea how to approach an emergency garden. That is, how would I transform more of my property into a garden should it become necessary. Hmmm…that sounds like the subject of a future post. 😉
I hope this has given you some insight into a personalized food storage plan, at least one that is working for a urbanite with limited space.
Please give me your comments and questions.