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Land and water temperatures cause drought. As overall temperatures increase more water evaporates and severe weather conditions increase. … Soil moisture levels also contribute to drought. When soil moisture is depleted there is less evaporation of water to create clouds.

As a result, the climatological community has defined four types of drought:

  1. Meteorological drought
  2. Hydrological drought
  3. Agricultural drought
  4. Socioeconomic drought.

Meteorological drought happens when dry weather patterns dominate an area.

Related – Survival: How To Find Water

So, what is drought?

Drought is a continuous period of dry weather, when an area gets less than its normal amount of rain, over months or even years. Crops and other plants need water to grow, and animals need it to live. … A drought is a natural event, caused by other weather events like El Niño and high-pressure systems.

During our boiling, broiling, blistering summer of 2012, water was a topic of conversation wherever we went. Creeks and ponds dried up (some never recovered) and the water table dropped, forcing a few neighbors to have their well pumps lowered or to even have deeper wells drilled.barrel-281x520Many folks shared memories of rain barrels, cisterns, hand pumps and drawing water with a well bucket as a child, usually on grandpa and grandma’s farm. Some said they’d never want to rely again on those old-time methods of getting water. But, at least they knew how it was done.

Related – How to Purify Water with Charcoal

It seems we have lost much practical knowledge in the last 50 or so years because we thought we’d never need it again. Now we are scrambling to relearn those simple know-hows.

A tattered, 4-inch thick, 1909 book I happily secured for $8 in a thrift store reveals, among umpteen-thousand other every-day skills, how to make homemade water filters. The instructions in “Household Discoveries and Mrs. Curtis’s Cookbook” are quite basic as everyone had a rain barrel back then and presumably knew how to filter rainwater. Now, 104 years later, I am thankful the authors had the foresight to preserve their knowledge for us, and pointed out that rainwater collected in barrels from a roof is a necessity in some locations, but also is best for laundry and “often more wholesome for drinking purposes than hard water.”

The “wholesome” observation applies to plants, too. I noticed during our 6-week dry spell (not a drop of rain) that I was only able to keep my vegetables alive with the garden hose – until our well, too, began sucking air. The pitiful potato, tomato and bean plants actually seemed petrified, like faded plastic decorations. Then, after a 2-hour rain shower, the plants miraculously leapt to life – vibrant, green and THRIVING. I did, too.

100-year-old instructions

For gardening, rainwater is, naturally, best unfiltered. But, for household use, the vintage book says the following instructions yield a cheap and easy way to make a filter just as good as a patent filter costing 10 times as much:

  • Take a new vinegar barrel or an oak tub that has never been used, either a full cask or half size.
  • Stand it on end raised on brick or stone from the ground.
  • Insert a faucet near the bottom.
  • Make a tight false bottom 3 or 4 inches from the bottom of the cask.
  • Perforate this with small gimlet holes, and cover it with a piece of clean white canvas.
  • Place on this false bottom a layer of clean pebbles 3 or 4 inches in thickness;
  • Next, a layer of clean washed sand and gravel
  • Then coarsely granulated charcoal about the size of small peas. Charcoal made from hard maple is the best.
  • After putting in a half bushel or so, pound it down firmly.
  • Then put in more until the tub is filled within 1 foot of the top.
  • Add a 3-inch layer of pebbles; and throw over the top a piece of canvas as a strainer.
  • This canvas strainer can be removed and washed occasionally and the cask can be dumped out, pebbles cleansed and charcoal renewed every spring and fall, or once a year may be sufficient.

Related – How to Build an Automatic Watering Tube for Your Chickens

“This filter may be set in the cellar and used only for drinking water. Or it may be used in time of drought for filtering stagnant water, which would otherwise be unpalatable, for the use of stock. This also makes a good cider filter for the purpose of making vinegar. The cider should first be passed through cheese cloth to remove all coarser particles.

“Or a small cheap filter may be made from a flower pot. A fine sponge may be inserted in the hole and the pot filled about as directed for the above filter. It may be placed in the top of a jar, which will receive the filtered water.”


On a different note, here’s some other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

The Lost Ways (The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us)
Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)
Backyard Liberty (Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns…)
Alive After the Fall (Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need)
The Lost ways II (4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis)
The Patriot Privacy Kit (Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps)

Now, 104 years later, I am thankful the authors had the foresight to preserve their knowledge for us.

A ghillie suit is something I have been meaning to buy forever. When it comes to camouflage for hunting or sneaking up on people, there isn’t much better if you are using this the right way, but I never pulled the trigger so to speak on any of the pre-made varieties I have come across. I was watching Doomsday Preppers last night and one of the small nuggets of usefulness I was able to pull out of last nights show was how to make a ghillie suit yourself.

The steps below are fairly easy and we even found a video that shows you everything you need. If you don’t want to do this yourself though and still prefer to buy a ghillie suit already assembled, you can do that instead and get into the woods faster. Either way, a ghillie suit is a great addition to your prepping supplies if staying hidden is important.

 

Commercial two-dimensional camouflage is great for blending into a variety of backgrounds, but it does nothing to offset your most game-spooking signature: your silhouette. Veteran hiders—military snipers, undercover surveillants, and hard-core hunters among them—rely on 3-D camouflage, entire suits made of billowy material that blurs their outline and allows them to disappear in plain sight. These suits are derived from those created by early Scottish game keepers, called ghillies. Make your own in one day with an old jacket, burlap, netting, dental floss, sewing needles, and glue.

Materials you will need:

  1. Used set of Camoflauge BDU’s
  2. Jute or burlap strips
  3. Netting
  4. Shoe Goo or Zip Ties

Step 1 – Add the Netting

The perfect base is a used BDU uniform jacket, available at military surplus stores. Buy a roll of replacement fishing net and cut it into strips at least two squares wide. Using dental floss, sew these strips down the sleeves and the front of the jacket, leaving 6 to 8 inches between strips. Then seal the stitches with shoe glue.

Add the netting

Step 2 – Ready the Burlap

A traditional ghillie suit is covered by strands of burlap. You can get material from bulk coffee bags, but any burlap bag or roll of netting will work. You need between 4 and 8 pounds of material for each suit.

 

If you can’t find burlap, buy braided jute twine in natural colors and separate each braid into individual fibers.

Ready the Burlap

Step 3 – Separate the Strands

Unraveling the burlap or jute material into individual strands is the most time-­consuming part of making the suit. Cut strips of burlap and then unravel the cross-linked fibers and separate them into strands of equal length. The longer strands will go on the sleeves and the front of the suit. Shorter strands will overlap down the back.

Separate the strands

Step 4 – Tie in the Burlap

Now you’re ready to tie the strands of burlap or jute into the netting. Take 10 to 15 strands and fold the bunch in half, then push the loop under each vertical square of netting. Draw the hanging ends of the bunch through the loop and pull tight. Start at the bottom and work upward, ensuring that each row overlaps the one beneath it.

Tie In the burlap

There are also a ton of videos on YouTube about how to make a ghillie suit and this one is pretty basic, but shows the steps nicely and you get to enjoy a rocking song to go with it.


Other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us

Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation

Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns

Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need

4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis

Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps

A ghillie suit is something I have been meaning to buy forever. When it comes to camouflage for hunting or sneaking up on people, there isn’t much better if you

When it comes to self-sufficiency, replacing the grocery store seems to be the biggest hurdle for most preppers. Gardens are most commonly thought of because we as humans collectively seem to think, ‘how hard can it be’ to dig a hole and put a seed in it? Regardless of how prevalent gardening and farming are and have been in our culture, most people do not have a garden or expect maintaining one will be quick and easy.

The rude awakening comes the first year when the summer months cause weeds to grow like evil vines choking out everything that in the spring was nice and tidy. Bugs begin to eat all our tender vegetables and the idea of eating one more zucchini makes you sick. The first year of gardening can make you think that there is no way these tomatoes are worth all that effort. For us, if you consider the cost of time, materials and effort that went into our first garden I know the vegetables were about $10 a piece and many lessons were learned.

Having a garden that is growing and producing fresh food that your family eats is a tremendous benefit, but what about protein? Aquaponics is another growing hobby, but the initial setup can seem daunting and still requires an alternate power source. Sure, it would be nice if we all had a working farm with livestock but that simply isn’t going to happen. For one thing, most people don’t have the land or money but more importantly experience, to keep a farm going. There are ways that preppers can provide all the meat you would need to live on in a smaller and easier package. Enter the humble rabbit.

The interest in raising rabbits for meat is growing as preppers are constantly trying to find ways to feed their families in the event the local supermarket is out of commission. Once you have considered the prospect of having your own source of food, the question turns to how to raise rabbits and that is what I hope to discuss today. Raising rabbits gives you the benefit of fresh meat, but it is also healthier and devoid of the chemicals and hormones found in most grocery store meat. While you are feeding your family, they are also getting healthy food that has been raised by you so you know exactly what has been put into the food that makes it to your families table.

A lot of people know that rabbits are prolific breeders, but exactly how many rabbits would you need to feed your family? A single female has on average about 8 babies or kits per litter and rabbits have a gestational period of 28-31 days so it is feasible for your rabbit to have one litter per month but more likely a little less. If you start with three rabbits (2 females and one male) you could have well over a hundred rabbits in the first year.

Of course you would be eating these rabbits so the population would need to be controlled to support your family, but it is easy to produce enough meat so that your family could survive on a relatively small number of rabbits. You would just need to figure out how much meat you would want to produce and adjust your breeding accordingly. This gives you the ability to raise more meat though so it could be used to feed other people or barter.

rabbitcage

Building a rabbit cage is simple.

What type of rabbits are the best

There are three breeds most commonly used as meat stock: the Californian, New Zealand, and Florida White. The American Chinchilla, Satin, Silver Fox, and Champagne d’Argent are also great choices. It is best to speak to a local provider as each breed has their own advantages. For breeders in your local area, you can check out RabbitBreeders.us who has a searchable rabbit breeder’s directory.

What do Rabbits eat?

There is commercial rabbit food, but primarily they need hay. You should have a hay rack in your rabbit cage and make sure it is full of hay. Some recommend using Alfalfa, which you can easily grow yourself right in your home. Making sure your hay is cut into manageable lengths will help the rabbits out as well as keeping their cage clean. Rabbits can also eat vegetable scraps and lawn trimmings but make sure you are watching what they eat to remove anything they turn up their noses at. Carrots are always a favorite, but monitor their intake of too many green vegetables as it can cause them to get bloat or diarrhea.

How do you make a rabbit cage?

There are many ways to prepare a home for your rabbits from buying new manufactured rabbit cages online or used rabbit cages for sale at yard sales, in the local paper or on Craigslist. The more industrious can also find free plans to build your own rabbit hutch all over the web. The basics of any rabbit cage should give them shelter from the heat, protection from predators and enough room to move around. You also want something easy to clean because everything that goes in the front of the rabbit has to come out the back. A close wire mesh floor will allow the manure to drop on through and not be trampled under their feet.

How do you kill a rabbit?

For most people I assume the act of having to kill and butcher your own meat is the biggest psychological hurdle to raising your own food. Some even have a complete disconnect with the fact that all the animals we eat have to be butchered and killed before they can make it to those shiny packages in the store. It is one thing to pluck a tomato off the vine, but quite another to chase a chicken down that you have been raising for eggs and wring its neck, let alone plucking it and the butchering process.

Are rabbits a food source you would consider for your home?


Other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us

Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation

Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns

Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need

4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis

Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps

When it comes to self-sufficiency, replacing the grocery store seems to be the biggest hurdle for most preppers. Gardens are most commonly thought of because we as humans collectively seem

When disaster strikes, will you be ready? Will you be organized, calm, and ready to adapt to whatever the situation brings? Sometimes we have some warning, and sometimes things happen out of the blue. There is one simple secret that will allow you to sail through nearly any crisis. It doesn’t cost a lot of money or take up an entire roomful of storage space: acceptance.

You can’t take the actions that could save your life until you have accepted the fact that something bad enough has happened that those actions need to be taken.

The more time you spend denying that this  – whatever “this” is – could ever happen to you, happen in your hometown, or occur at all, the less time you have to take definitive action. In fact, your willingness to accept that disaster could strike before it ever does puts you even further ahead, because you’ll be ready for immediate action without wasting valuable time wrapping your brain around it.

I’m not the only person who thinks that acceptance is important. Selco wrote that when the SHTF in Bosnia, most people missed the fact that it was all going down until it was too late to take steps to protect themselves.

You may miss the signs. I did.

I have seen all the signs above, and I failed to run. I ended up right in the middle of SHTF.

It is not only important to see and recognize signs. It is important to believe that it can actually happen. Because after I saw all the signs, I just said to myself, “Oh, it cannot happen here. Somebody somehow is gonna solve everything.”

It is very hard to trust in something that you did not experience before. Only now do I believe that a lot of horrible things are possible. (source)

He wrote in another article that because he didn’t accept how bad things were getting, he did not loot as much as he should have when society broke down. He didn’t accept the fact that new rules were in play.

Please understand that when I talk about acceptance, I’m not telling you to just sit there and accept your fate. I’m advising you to avoid your brain’s way to protect itself through denial because that will slow you down.

We watched denial at work firsthand during the King Fire.

A few years back, we hovered on the edge of evacuation for 12 days due to the King Fire, a forest fire that nearly reached 100,000 acres. We got up on a sunny Saturday morning,  never realizing that would be the day an angry man would punctuate a domestic dispute by setting fire to a tree in the other person’s yard. Certainly, no one expected that one act of anger to set off a fire that would exceed the size of the city of Atlanta.

However, he did set that fire, and it came as close as 2 miles to our home over the almost-two-weeks that we watched with bated breath.

During the fire, I joined a number of local groups online so that I could get the most up-to-the-minute information, and during this time, I took lots of notes of my observations. The thing that was very clear is that those who were at least somewhat prepared handled the situation far better than those who simply couldn’t accept that this threat was actually happening to them.

As someone who has studied preparedness for many years, I witnessed firsthand the classic exemplar of human behavior during a disaster. Tess Pennington, the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, wrote an article called The Anatomy of a Breakdown. In the article, she pointed out that in the event of a disaster, society devolves in a predictable pattern with four distinct phases. Her observations were accurate during our experience. As we watched the events unfold, some people changed dramatically.

What helps you to be calm during a crisis?

The difference between the people who crumbled, becoming easily offended, snarling, and hysterical, and the people who were generous, calm, and effective? Their levels of preparedness, both mental and physical. Because they were prepared, they had already

Think about any stressful situation that has ever happened to you. Once you accepted the fact that it had happened you were able to set a course of action. Once you had definitive steps to take, you probably felt much calmer. You took control of the things you could, and you executed your plan. Only by taking that first step – accepting that this mishap had indeed occurred – could you take the next two.

1.) Accept

2.) Plan

3.) Act

No matter what situation you find yourself in, these steps will nearly always see you through. (Here’s an article about that process.)

Here’s how it all went down.

During our own experience, here are the things I witnessed. They could apply to any type of disaster, natural or otherwise. Notice how acceptance plays a starring role in many of them.

Bug out bags are absolutely the first prep you should make. If you’re just getting started, do this one thing. You can do it without spending a penny, by just gathering up things that you already own. You may not have a top-of-the-line, ready-for-the-apocalypse bag like this one, but you’ll still be far ahead of most people. When we first learned of the fire and realized that evacuating might become necessary, I had only two things to do. I had to get documents from the safe (the documents, by the way, were already housed in a plastic folder, so I only had to grab that one thing) and pull the pet carriers out of the shed. In less than 5 minutes, we were ready to roll. Had it been necessary, we could have left with only the photocopies of the documents, because those always remain in our bug-out bags. Having your bug-out bag ready means that you have accepted in advance that disaster could strike.

Any time one disaster strikes, several more are sure to follow. This is highly probable.  Some people in the fire zone not only stayed on the edge of evacuation for nearly two weeks, but they also lost power due to the fire. This greatly reduced their ability to get news and information, which is vital in a disaster situation. It leads to even more worry and stress, and while you’re dealing with the potential of your home burning down, you’re also living through a power outage lasting several days. Getting prepared for a two-week power outage is absolutely vital and can see you through most regional disasters. Also, when it finally began to rain, although it helped to quench the flames, firefighters were suddenly threatened by flash floods. These were made worse because the areas no longer had the same natural obstructions to deter the flow of water.

Unprepared people panic.  Some people panicked initially. When we got the first evacuation alert (a notice that evacuation was highly likely within the next 24 hours), a woman who lived down the street was wailing and sobbing as her husband tried to pack up their vehicle. She was rendered absolutely useless by fear. Meanwhile, my 13-year-old was fulfilling her list while I fulfilled mine and we quickly made an orderly stack of important belongings, then turned on a movie to beat the stress. Had our area actually been forced to evacuate, those who panicked would have either been the last to leave, or they would have forgotten important things as they left in a disorganized rush. It’s important to decide ahead of time who packs what, and for each person to have a list. Sit down well before disaster strikes and make an evacuation plan with your family.

Get organized.  All the lists in the world won’t help you pack quickly if you don’t know where things are. One change we’re making is that all of the items we deemed precious enough to pack and take with us will now be stored in one area so that we won’t have to look for them when seconds count. Another friend ran into the issue of dirty clothes: he actually had to evacuate with hampers of unwashed laundry. Having your home tidy and organized (and your laundry washed and put away) will help your packing go smoothly in the event of a sudden evacuation.

You can’t be prepared for everything.  Disaster situations are always fluid and they don’t go by a script. It’s vital to be adaptable to the changing situation.

Keep your vehicle full of fuel.  If you have to evacuate, lots of other people will be hitting the road too. When you’re stuck in traffic, you don’t want to be worried about your fuel gauge dropping to the empty mark, leaving you stranded in a dangerous situation.

The criminals come out, like cockroaches. Within 24 hours of the first evacuations, we learned that the local scumbags had looted some of the homes that had been left unattended. Within 48 hours, we learned that the scourge had reached the outlying areas, with these people breaking into cars that had been loaded up with the things that families had determined to be most important to them. Of course, if you’ve evacuated, there’s nothing you can do about what’s happening to your home. But before evacuation, or in the event of civil unrest, it’s vital to be prepared to defend your family and belongings. In these situations, the first responders are busy, and that’s what criminals rely on. You should consider yourself to be completely on your own, and be ready for trouble. Keep in mind that during the civil unrest in Ferguson recently, the only businesses that didn’t get looted were the ones at which the owners stood armed and ready to defend their property.

The longer the stress lasts, the worse some people behave. As continued stress is applied, the true nature of a person becomes evident. People who formerly seemed like perfectly nice individuals were on the local message forums saying terrible things to one another. They were verbally attacking others for imagined slights and taking offense at things that would normally never ruffle feathers. Some folks were launching tirades against the very people who were performing the greatest service: the admins of the webpages who worked round the clock to keep us informed. If it was this bad in a potential emergency, can you imagine how bad things will get in a truly devastating long-term scenario?

But then…some people are wonderful. Alternatively, sometimes you see the very best of human nature. The generosity of many of my neighbors cannot be overstated. They housed livestock, pets, and families full of strangers during the evacuation. People showed up at the shelter with food and comfort items for those who had been evacuated. Firemen who came from near and far to fight the blaze were constantly being treated to meals at local restaurants, as other diners surreptitiously paid their tabs. Watching the kindness and gratitude helped to restore some of my faith in human nature, after seeing the squabbling and crime. It was interesting to me that the people who gave the most generously were the ones who were the most prepared. These folks were calm and could focus on other things besides “Oh my gosh, I don’t know what to do!” We definitely learned who the people were that we wanted to surround ourselves with when the S really HTF.

Take steps now to be one of those calm people later.

Today, I want you to think about disasters. It’s certainly not a pleasant thought, but considering these things now – when there’s no fire bearing down on you, no hurricane heading your way, no chemical spill poisoning your water, no pandemic in the next town over – allows you to think more clearly and make a definitive plan of action. Instead of hoping it never happens to you and fearing that the actions you take will make it happen, accept that at some point, something bad will strike. And you’ll be ready.

So…

  • Check your bug out bags.
  • Organize your most precious belongings.
  • Discuss your plans with your family so that everyone knows what to expect.
  • Understand the most likely disasters in your area and know what to do if they strike.
  • Learn more about the nature of the people around you and expect all that you know to change in the blink of an eye.

When – and it’s always “when” not “if” – disaster knocks at your door, be prepared to respond immediately. Learn about what to expect from others in order to keep your family safe and on-plan. Human nature isn’t as much of a variable when you can predict their behavior.

But most of all, accept the fact that bad things can happen. Don’t wallow in denial and waste precious time that could be spent surviving.

When disaster strikes, will you be ready? Will you be organized, calm, and ready to adapt to whatever the situation brings? Sometimes we have some warning, and sometimes things happen out of

Preparing for an uncertain future means many things to many different people.

To some it’s about storing bottled water and other essential items, while to others it’s about learning how to make a shelter and fire. Some people believe it’s mostly about securing their finances against market fluctuations, while others feel it’s about defending themselves and their property.

Regardless of what first comes to mind when you consider this important issue, we’re all going to have to eat after a disaster strikes. None of us will be able to survive the coming crisis without the vitamins and minerals that come from food. And that food must be packaged and stored properly if it’s going to remain nutritious for many years.

Of course, there are other factors involved in stockpiling survival food for the future. We’ll eat anything if we have to, but good-tasting food will make the situation much better, as will a significant amount of variety. The food also needs to be nourishing because a crisis will produce stress and we’ll need all the nutrients we can get to deal with that. With the electrical grid likely to be knocked out for a while following a disaster, the food we store should also be simple to prepare.

And despite how good our food tastes, how much variety we incorporate into our stockpile, how nutritious it is and how easy it is to prepare, it needs to be packaged and stored in a manner that will ensure its longevity. None of us knows how long it will be until a major emergency occurs, and none of us has any idea how long that emergency will last.

Let’s take a look at several long-term food storage components, starting with the most common mistakes people make when they begin their stockpiling process.

10 FOOD STORAGE ERRORS TO AVOID

Do you know who the biggest believers in the importance of storing food and water for emergencies are? It’s probably the victims of disasters that have occurred in this country over the past 15 years or so, including Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, tornadoes in Oklahoma, Alabama and elsewhere, and snowstorms in the Great Lakes regions.

gettyimages-452124739-1Few people would disagree that it’s a good idea to store emergency food and water, but the folks who are most convinced are the ones who wish they had been prepared for the tragedies they experienced. Many of them are now ready to face the next crisis because they realize from first-hand experience how crucial it is to be prepared.

What some people are not quite as sure about, however, are the best types of food to stockpile, as well as the strategies for storing it in a manner that will maximize its usage once it comes time to access it. There are many mistakes made in this area, and the downside is significant. A lot of hard work can go to waste because just when emergency food is needed most, people can discover that their stored food has gone bad.

There are a number of examples regarding how this can happen. Someone could have huge amounts of grains stored, for instance, but quickly learn that too much of a good thing is not really that good. Balance and variety are essential, and not merely for your digestive system. They are also a psychological help to you and your family, especially if the emergency situation lasts for days, weeks or months.

Another very important factor is the type of containers in which you store food. If there is exposure to air and moisture, it can ruin your food storage tactics. In addition, where you keep those containers is crucial because high temperatures and light can negatively influence vitamins, proteins and fats.

Other factors include your food’s nutritional quality and how frequently you rotate it. You also want to make certain that the majority of food you store does not require refrigeration because a power outage would spoil those foods quickly. Finally, keeping some food at multiple locations is important, because your home could be destroyed in a disaster, or you might not be able to get back to it right away.

Here are 10 common food storage mistakes:

1. Ignoring the importance of nutrition in stored food. This happens more frequently than one might think. Sometimes we’re so concerned about the volume of food we store that we forget about vitamin and mineral content.

2. Using sacks or other containers that are not airtight. This is wrong for a variety of reasons. Air and moisture will greatly decrease the shelf life of stored food. In addition, containers that are not airtight increase the chances that insects or critters might get into your food.

3. Failing to keep food containers in a dry, cool place. Moisture and heat are two of the worst enemies of stored food. The storage temperature for most food should be between 40 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Failing to keep food containers out of the light. You definitely want to head to the
dark side when it comes to storing food. Light can deplete the vitamin content of food.

5. Storing too many items that need refrigeration. As mentioned, it’s very likely a crisis will include the loss of power, which means your refrigerated items will spoil quickly without a generator.

6. Failing to include enough variety. After a couple of days of eating the exact same thing, you and your family are going to want something different.

7. Failing to include at least a small percentage of “comfort” foods. In addition to satisfying your sweet tooth, comfort foods will give you and your family a big psychological lift in a crisis.

8. Failing to check expiration dates and rotate stored foods. In each container, organize food by expiration date. When an item’s expiration date is approaching, eat that food – or donate it to a shelter – and replace it with newer food.

9. Failing to keep your stockpile discreet. Advertising to others that you have a stash of survival food could make you vulnerable when a crisis hits. Keep your preparations on the down low.

10. Storing all the food in one location. This is the classic case of putting all your eggs in one basket. If your home is destroyed in a disaster, you’ll be glad you kept food and water at a secondary location.

gettyimages-151910897-1

Some folks believe that freeze-drying is the way to go with long-term food storage. While it’s effective, it’s also very expensive and strips the food of some of its vital nutrients.

Another common technique in the food storage industry is the cheaper “rapid dehydration” method that sucks all the water out quickly. But it can also pull out flavor and nutrients. Low-heat dehydration is a proven technique that keeps flavor and nutrition locked in, and that food will last just as long as freeze-drying without costing an arm and a leg.

Two main advantages to dehydrating food are that it can stay fresher longer and can be stored and transported more easily. Water in food can carry bacteria, which will make that food go bad sooner, and it also weighs down that food.

If you are a do-it-yourselfer, dehydrating food would be a great way to prepare it for your stockpile. It will be more compact and easier to store as you keep it at home, and it will be lighter and more easily packed if you need to bug out. And anytime you want a quick and nutritious meal prior to a crisis situation, all you have to do is rehydrate it and eat it without having to bother looking for an expiration date.

Figure on dehydrated meat lasting only about two months, but many dehydrated fruits and vegetables will be good for a year or so. If you dehydrate herbs, they can probably last for several years.

In order to dehydrate some of your food, you can either use an oven set at a low temperature or invest in a modern, electronic dehydrator. That way, you can make food with an expiration of one month last about 12 months. You don’t want to go much beyond a year in most cases because at that point, even though the water has been removed, it’s likely the nutrients will start breaking down.

Regardless, storage is the key. Once you’ve dehydrated various foods, place them in airtight, plastic containers such as Mylar bags. You may think you’ve squeezed all of the oxygen out of a bag, but there is probably a small amount left, so use an oxygen absorber.

As far as rehydrating that food is concerned, all you have to do in most cases is place it in boiling water and stir, providing a little time for it to thicken.

THE IMPORTANCE OF TASTE

Yes, we will eat anything if we’re starving, but consuming foods that don’t taste good to us is a real challenge. Just when we need that food the most, tasteless food could be tough to swallow – literally and figuratively.

Make sure that the food you put into long-term storage includes top-quality ingredients. Think of the recipes that have proven to be your family’s favorites through the years, and focus on them.

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF NUTRITION

Everybody knows it’s important to eat food that’s good for you. Well, that’s going to become even more important after the stuff hits the fan. Being able to perform at peak capacity under pressure will be essential when we’re dealing with a crisis, and eating healthy food will go a long toward accomplishing that goal.

Be certain that your survival food is jam-packed with nutritional value, preferably food that takes 100 percent non-GMO fruits and vegetables as
its starting point and ideally food that is grown, harvested and made from scratch here in America.
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THE IMPORTANCE OF VARIETY

Have you ever noticed that many foods taste great if you haven’t had them for a while, but not quite as good if you ate them recently and definitely not as good if you ate them yesterday? Our taste buds – not to mention our minds – react differently to foods based on how long it’s been since we’ve eaten them.

Variety in survival food is extremely important… for taste, for nutritional value and for the psychological effect. Make sure you stockpile a nice variety of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, not to mention snacks and desserts. These foods might include oatmeal, powdered milk, soups, stews, rice, pastas, potatoes, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.

THE IMPORTANCE OF PACKAGING

Another key factor to consider with long-term food storage is packaging. There’s not much point in stockpiling survival food if your food isn’t going to survive. It needs to stay good for a long time.

It’s vital to keep air and moisture out and to have a durable package that can take a few bumps over the years without bursting. The best way to ensure that result is to use space-age Mylar packaging that gets placed inside airtight containers, so look for sealed Mylar pouches with less than 2 percent oxygen content.

Mylar is what NASA uses in spacesuits to protect astronauts from solar-thermal radiation. So, you know your food will be protected against all the elements Mother Nature could throw at it. This barrier against air, moisture and light – the three things that will destroy food over time – is possible even with re-sealable pouches.

THE IMPORTANCE OF SIMPLICITY

Now, none of that time-consuming packaging process makes any sense if it doesn’t contain great-tasting, nutritious food capable of lasting a long time and that is simple for you to prepare. A majority of your stockpiled survival food should require only boiling water, simmering and serving.

WHAT ABOUT CANNED FOOD?

Some survival websites will tell you that canned food is very good for long-term storage, while others will tell you it’s not. Although it can have some drawbacks – weight and portability, for example – canned food is probably better than many people think… especially if you’re hunkered down and don’t have to lug it around.

While you would not want to live exclusively on canned foods, they have their place, especially when one is on a tight budget. Many folks are living paycheck to paycheck during these rough economic times. They barely have enough money to feed themselves and their families, let alone stock up on foods that can sometimes be expensive.

As a more economical option for part of your emergency food supply, put together a stockpile of canned foods. Many of the same foods that people eat on a regular basis are available in canned form, including vegetables, soups, meats, fish, stews, beans, pasta and many more. Canned foods can be nutritious and rich in protein, which people will need for keeping up their strength when they’re dealing with a crisis.

Of course, there is the issue of shelf life when it comes to canned food. Cans also take up a lot of space, and they are heavy. If you have to grab your emergency food supply quickly and head out the door, cans are not your ideal choice. In addition, epoxy resins containing Bisphenol A (BPA) are frequently used as coatings on the insides of cans, which has raised some health concerns. And while it’s extremely rare, some people have contracted botulism from canned food.

But below are seven reasons why you might want to consider having at least some canned food in your survival stash:

1. Price. When you purchase items in bulk, you can save up to 75 percent by acquiring most canned foods rather than freeze-dried or dehydrated foods. Even if you’re not able to buy in bulk, you will still save money with canned foods.

2. Long Lasting. Many canned foods have a shelf life of between one and several years. You should still rotate your supply occasionally and eat the food if the expiration date is getting close, but there’s peace of mind knowing that most canned foods last a long time.

3. Variety. People will eat the same thing over and over again if they’re hungry enough, but everyone appreciates having choices. You can acquire a wide variety of canned foods that should keep pretty much everybody in the family happy for a while.

4. Calories. The last thing you should be worrying about in a survival situation is weight watching. So what if some canned foods are high in calories? Focus on what will be important in that situation, not on how you’re thinking right now. You’re going to need those extra calories when you’re in survival mode.

5. Water. There’s very little water in freeze-dried and dehydrated foods (although there is usually a small amount), but most canned foods contain the water that will make preparation easier. Yes, that also makes them heavier, but that shouldn’t matter if you’re able to stay put to ride out a crisis situation.

6. Familiarity. Most families normally eat foods such as chicken, beef, ham, fish, vegetables, stews, beans and pasta, all of which are available in canned form, plus many more. In a time of crisis, familiarity will go a long way to “normalizing” what you and your fellow family members are going through.

7. Safe Storage. Bugs and rodents can sometimes infiltrate boxes and bags, but seldom do they break through a can.

MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

Regardless what kind of food you stockpile and how you store it, do whatever you can to keep survival food (and other essentials) in more than one location. Those who have gathered large amounts of bottled water, canned food, toiletries and a host of can openers, flashlights, batteries, radios, blankets, clothing, first-aid kits and weapons need to keep a portion of those items in multiple locations.

A home is a great place to stockpile food, and that’s where many people keep their largest supplies because that’s where they and their families are most likely to be when the stuff hits the fan. And even if they’re not home at that exact moment, they will probably be in a position to return there shortly.

Homes are not only where most people keep the majority of their emergency supplies, but also where they’ve spent time and money to secure their belongings. If a breakdown in society occurs following a disaster, they want to be as prepared as possible to protect their families and possessions.

But what if their homes are destroyed or severely damaged by whatever crisis occurs? If that’s the only place where we have our emergency goods including food stockpiled – and we either can’t get to them or they’ve been destroyed by the disaster – we will have wasted a huge amount of time and money preparing for the exact scenario in which we find ourselves.

It is absolutely essential that you keep supplies in multiple locations. If you have a year’s supply of goods at home, keep six months’ worth in at least one other place. If you have six months’ worth of goods at home, store at least three months’ worth at a secondary location.

Now the question becomes, exactly where should your second and perhaps third locations be? There are several important factors to consider. For one, these other locations need to be close enough to get to, yet far enough away that they’re unlikely to be affected by the same disaster that just did a number on your home.

Just as important, these locations have to offer the same features that your home does – a cool, dry place where food and water won’t be negatively affected by sunlight, moisture and extreme temperatures.

Of course, it’s up to you to decide where those second and possibly third locations will be, but among the possibilities are a storage unit that you can rent, a root cellar or storage bunker on your property but away from your house, inside a separate building that you own in town, within a building that a trusted friend owns, or buried in a remote area where only you would think to look.

Finally, as all good preppers know, don’t advertise the fact that you have stockpiled food and water in your home and at other locations. People
will remember that, and you could have some unwelcome visitors following a disaster.

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INCLUDE COMFORT FOODS IN YOUR SUPPLY

The word “comfort” sure is comforting, isn’t it? When you think of that word, you might imagine lying in a hammock on a warm summer day, or relaxing on a porch with a beverage on a pleasant evening, or sitting by the fireplace with a cup of coffee when it’s cold outside.

Yes, it’s important to keep your body healthy by eating nutritious food that will provide you with the energy you need. That will be especially true during a crisis when you might be on the move and when your stress level will be higher.

But giving your family members and yourself an emotional lift once in a while with some foods you and they love will do wonders for everyone’s state of mind. And you can’t underestimate the value of keeping attitudes upbeat at a time when depression could easily set in.

So, what is meant by comfort foods? Anything that goes down easy, tastes great, is easy to prepare and reminds you of a time when things were better. Are most of them “healthy” and “natural?” Probably not, although some are. Some are probably high in calories and carbohydrates, and some include a little too much sugar.

But if a vast majority of the foods you are consuming are nutritious, you can afford to eat a snack once in a while that may be better for your attitude than it is for your cholesterol level.

If you asked 15 different people to list their top 15 comfort foods, you’d probably get 15 different lists. But there would certainly be some overlap. Here’s one list that comes to mind.

Hard candies. Some people’s favorites are caramel and butterscotch, but you might prefer cherry, root beer, butter rum or other flavors.

Chocolate pudding. This might be the universal kid-favorite comfort food, but adults love it, too.

Popcorn. You don’t have to be watching a movie to enjoy it, but it’s difficult to watch a movie without it.

Pizza. Are you kidding? Few people don’t like pizza, despite the great debate about which is better – thin crust or deep dish.

Mac and cheese. Another item that few kids will turn down. Many children love it when mom adds hot dog slices to their mac and cheese plate.

Candy bars. Yes, there’s too much sugar. But you don’t have to live off of them. But once in a while, a Three Musketeers, Snickers or Milky Way really hits the spot.

Peanut butter. Most people use this as a spread, but have you ever put a spoonful in your mouth and just savored it?

Hot chocolate. There should be a federal law requiring parents to serve this when their kids come in from playing in the snow.

Honey-coated banana chips. Those who’ve never tried them before rave about them after finally tasting them.

Freeze-dried yogurt bites. Ditto.

Granola bars. These are almost too healthy to count as comfort foods, but they’re included because they taste great and are so easy to open and pop in your mouth.

Trail mix. Dried fruits and nuts are tasty, and many enjoy the kind of trail mix that cheats by including M&Ms and chocolate chips.

Coffee or tea. For some folks, coffee is not a comfort food; it’s an absolute necessity. For others, it could be a pleasant reminder of more normal times.

Hostess Twinkies and Cupcakes. A nutritionist just rolled over in her grave, but as long as you don’t fill an entire bug-out bag with them, you’re probably OK.

WHAT ABOUT PET FOOD STORAGE?

Regardless of whether a disaster causes us and our families to hunker down or bug out, our pets are going to stay with us and receive as much care as we are capable of providing them. These furry creatures are part of the family and are treated that way.

Now, you might keep much of your family’s emergency food supply in space-age Mylar bags, which is a great idea because you may want that food to last a very long time. But most of your animals are probably not going to live another 25 years, crisis or no.

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THE BAGS ARE LOADED

There’s good news for you. The bags in which your pets’ dry food are sold are perfectly capable of keeping that food fresh for a couple of years. The only thing to be concerned about here is making sure there are no rips or tears in the bags before you purchase them.

But just because you don’t need to remove your pets’ food from those bags and place it in Mylar bags doesn’t mean you can just toss the bags into the crawlspace and forget about them.

Give a mouse or another rodent access to a bag made of paper and he won’t need long to scratch his way in. Unless your goal is to keep mice happy and healthy following a crisis, this is not the way to go.

USE AIRTIGHT CONTAINERS

You need to pack your pets’ dry food bags in airtight plastic containers then place those containers in a cool, dark place, away from sunlight. And once you open a bag, the oxidation process will start, so make sure to use all of its contents within six months at the most.

Also, you need to rotate this pet food periodically. If the expiration dates on the bags are difficult to read, write the date that you placed it in storage on the bag with a black Sharpie. Then use the oldest food each time, assuming it has not expired.

One note to consider here. If you feed your pets “natural” dry food, you may be giving them something that is healthier for them than “regular” pet food. But due to its lack of preservatives, natural pet food will not last as long.

CONSIDER CANS

Many people prefer dry pet food to canned food, but canned food does have the advantage of lasting longer… sometimes up to five years. The storage principle is the same here. Keep it in a cool, dry place. Although cans are much more difficult to infiltrate than bags, you should still keep them in an airtight container.

FREEZE-DRIED OPTION

Another option is freeze-dried pet food. Assuming nearly all of the moisture has been removed, it should stay good for a number of years. But the plastic packages it normally comes in are not meant for long-term storage, so transfer the food to Mylar bags and then store them in airtight containers. Toss an oxygen absorber into the container while you’re at it.

HOMEMADE NEEDS HOMEWORK

For you DIYers who make your own pet food, you’re probably doing your pets a favor by feeding them a diet that does not contain additives and preservatives. But as with store-bought “natural” dog food, you really need to do your homework before canning that food in order to figure out how long it will stay good.

CONCLUSION

Whether you build your own food stockpile or purchase a ready-made solution, the bottom line is you actually have to do it, not just talk about it. And when you do, make sure it’s stored in a manner that will ensure its value and longevity. Then and only then can you rest easy, knowing you’ve done what you could to prepare for whatever comes your way.

Preparing for an uncertain future means many things to many different people. To some it’s about storing bottled water and other essential items, while to others it’s about learning how to

Yesterday I began a new series called, Back to Basics. People every day can simply look at events happening anywhere in the world and understand how taking some simple steps to ensure you can handle minor emergencies, isn’t crazy. Prepping to a certain level makes sense for everyone, regardless of where you live.

This series was designed to go back to the basics of prepping, obviously. Today I wanted to share tips for how to stockpile food for emergencies that anyone can use. I will focus on preppers who are just starting out, but I think some ideas in the topics below could be useful to anyone looking to ensure their family has food and does not go hungry. This article will also have dozens of links to other content on the subject for additional reading.

 

I believe there are 5 main components to survival that everyone needs to consider. They are simply Water, Food, Shelter, Security and Hygiene. Yesterday we talked about the need for water and how you can easily store water for emergencies that render your traditional methods of obtaining water impossible. Water is more important to life than food or at least you can live longer without food than you can water, but they are both important.

Why do you need to stockpile food for emergencies?

If you are new to prepping, you may have something that triggered your awareness of the subject. Preppers have many reasons for doing what they do and no two preppers are alike. Some are preparing for the end of the world, but most see situations in our daily lives that give a perfect reason to stock up supplies. You have only to look at the recent winter storm that affected large swaths of the Eastern Seaboard to have a perfect example of why you don’t want to be left without a means to feed your family.

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Greeks are finding food, medicine and fuel in short supply.

It seems almost cliché at this point, but invariably it always happens when a winter storm is forecast. Everyone rushes out to the store and certain food supplies are wiped out. Images of empty shelves are shown on practically every newscast and eventually prepper websites. Food shortages during simple storms are common if not expected. We don’t really even blink anymore because we are so used to this practice of waiting until the last-minute and then hitting the local grocery store on the way home from work to grab some basic necessities or comfort food.

Related – Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need

If you can’t live for more than 3 days without going to the store, it’s time to reevaluate your family’s readiness. The statistic we hear most of the time is that the average home has only 3 days’ worth of food in it. If this is true, where would you be on day three if you had not been able to make it to the grocery store before the storm? What if instead of a snow storm, a virus outbreak had occurred and everyone was told to stay indoors to prevent infection? Each of us should have more food on hand that our families and friends will eat than is absolutely necessary to prevent surprises from leaving you hungry.

How much food do you need to store?

In the example above I used a virus outbreak as the condition that would prevent you from getting to the store. There are others though and weather could certainly be one of them. Some storms where I live have left roads impassable for upwards of a week. Could we walk to the store? Sure, but what if the stores having already been cleared of just about all of the food were closed? What if power outages prevented them from conducting any transactions? These are things you should consider.

Prepping is not something I ever consider you can accomplish. By that I mean, you are never going to be fully prepared. You may be much better prepared than some or all of the people around you, but you will never be 100% self-sufficient. Prepping should be done incrementally even if you have more money than you know what to do with because as you start to stock up food you learn lessons.

Related – The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us

A good rule of thumb for me is to start small when you are beginning to stockpile food for emergencies. You don’t need a year of freeze-dried foods to start with. Try just having a week or two of extra groceries that your family already eats. This is accomplished without any exotic storage needs usually or 5 gallon buckets of grains you have to figure out how to prepare.

Premium Fresh MREs Meal with Heaters

My wife purchases the groceries and I started out by giving her extra money to simply buy more food. I did this in the beginning because she is a much better shopper than I am and will always save more money than me. This worked great because she was easily able to fill our pantry and had plenty of meals planned to last us well over 30 days. Sure, at the end of that 30 days of food we would be getting into more exotic cans of mushrooms and soups that are better left as part of a recipe as opposed to your entire meal, but we wouldn’t starve.

What are the best types of food to stockpile?

Once we had a month worth of food and water stored up, I started looking at other options. I think each person should have a layered approach to food storage. This gives you flexibility and more importantly variety that as you go out to 6 months or 1 year or 2 will be important. My own personal goal is 2 years’ worth of food stockpiled for my family but that isn’t made up of only food from our grocery store. That can certainly be done though with a very good rotation plan.

Related – 4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis

Food storage should ideally cover the following:

Short Term Food Storage – The best and simplest foods are like I said above, what your family eats every day. One thing to consider is that the bulk of this food should be non-perishable in case you lose power. Canned foods are great as well as pastas, drink mixes and staples. These usually last at least a year.

Medium Term Food Storage – For the 5 – 10 year range MRE’s are a great option although they are heavier and their convenience comes at a higher price. I have several boxes of these and I like MRE’s because they are self-contained and don’t really need any water. Freeze dried camping foods like Mountain House are another great option to just add hot water to. Rice and beans make great additions to this category because you don’t really have to do anything crazy to store them as long as they are kept cool and dry.

Long Term Food Storage – When you start to look at foods that will keep for many years you get into stored grains like Hard Red Winter Wheat that you store in sealed 5 gallon buckets. Freeze dried food from any one of many suppliers out there keep for 20 years usually and are individually wrapped Mylar packets. They require water to re-hydrate but the taste can be surprisingly good. Make sure you have seasonings though….

Renewable Food Storage – This is when you have to get your inner farmer working. Renewable foods are an intensive garden, small livestock like chickens or rabbits and the occasional wild game caught either through hunting or snares. In the worst disasters, your food will run out so having a plan for that ahead of time will help you prepare.

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For a well-rounded plan, growing your own food will give you the most flexibility.

How do you plan for your food eventually running out?

I have a mix of the food storage options above. We eat on our grocery store items every day, but I also have MRE’s and a pretty large amount of freeze-dried foods stored. We also have the grains I mentioned and the all-important grain mill to grind them into flour. Several hundred pounds of rice and beans round out the equation.

Stockpiling food is only the start. We have a garden and small flock of chickens. The stored food is just to get us through the worst of the disaster. Hopefully before our food runs out whatever disaster has happened will be mitigated and life will have returned to some sense of normality. If not, we have a huge leg up that will allow us to further harvest our garden to put away food like the pioneers had to do. It is an approach that gives us some sense of security and prepares us to come out on the other side still alive.

What is your plan to stockpile food for emergencies?


On a different note, here’s some other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

The Lost Ways (The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us)
Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)
Backyard Liberty (Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns…)
Alive After the Fall (Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need)
The Lost ways II (4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis)
The Patriot Privacy Kit (Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps)

If you can’t live for more than 3 days without going to the store, it’s time to reevaluate your family’s readiness. The statistic we hear most of the time is

The other week I stopped and stared at my pantry. Looking in on all of the cans of food, bags of rice, beans and jugs of water gives me a sense of accomplishment and a certain satisfaction in all of our prepping efforts to date. For some reason I got it into my head to arrange things because the pantry had gotten a little disorganized over time. I started by pulling every item out of the pantry and staging them in the kitchen. There were bottles all over the place of dressing –  cans of beans and tomatoes took over the kitchen table and pasta galore spilled onto the kitchen counters.

The first sign of trouble was when I grabbed some condiments from the top shelf and noticed I had mayonnaise that was 2 years past its expiration. I started going further and this was the same case with pickles and some soups, even canned fruit. Now I was worried because it was obvious my brilliant solution to all of my family’s food problems had failed miserably. The next order of business was to grab one of my kids and have them check every label on every product. This scored me a lot of points I have to say…

Hard to believe isn’t it?

Next I went back into the pantry to grab some of the larger items. We have large 50 pound bags of rice that I got from Costco for a ridiculously cheap price. I grabbed one of the bags off the top shelf to lift it up and noticed the bottom was a funny color. Actually, it looked like mold and the bag was stiff. When I pulled it down I discovered that yes, the bag was moldy. Someone, maybe I placed a one gallon jug of water on the top shelf and at some point it had leaked. The jug of water was empty and 50 pounds of rice was ruined. I don’t know how this happened, but it was a little depressing.

The first step is to admit you have a problem

Here I was, mid-way through a Saturday afternoon, my house was in chaos due to all of my food storage being distributed around the rooms and I was finding more and more food that was out of date or inedible in some fashion. Initially I was ticked off that I had let this happen. I started thinking about what all could have gone wrong with food and how foolish I would have felt if we had some crisis and I went to grab the food that was supposed to feed my family and it was all rotten. Visions of my family staring at me with angry expressions on their sunken faces started to appear. Not good.

So after I had all of the food out and verified what was really expired I realized that it wasn’t too bad. It was a good idea to do this though because I wouldn’t have found that rice probably until it was too late. What really stunk is that my super awesome system for rotating groceries was not working and again, that was my fault for assuming this was being used.

Why weren’t we rotating our food the right way? Well, it comes down to a few main reasons. The first reason is that our pantry shelves didn’t really have any rhyme or reason to how food was stored. We have a decent amount of pantry space but cans of beans were mixed in with cans of fruit and for some reason we had jars and jars of jelly that nobody was eating. When groceries got put away, there was no predetermined place or order for them to go in so they went where ever was easiest. This usually meant they all got loaded onto and taken off of one shelf. Another aspect of this is that we weren’t using the time tested FIFO system (First In First Out) so food wasn’t getting rotated like it should. Fortunately for us, this didn’t get too far out of control, but we did have to throw away some jars of food.

There were two other contributing factors to our food use and one was the way my wife shopped. She is excellent at clipping coupons and always has her coupon book out when she goes shopping. The problem was that she would buy whatever she had coupons for and didn’t take into account whether or not we needed it. For example, we had a ton of jelly like I said because they were buy one get one free so she stocked up. All of that jelly kept sitting in the pantry and items we do use, but didn’t get the same coupon attention were lacking.

Also, we eat most of our meals from fresh ingredients and my wife cooks from scratch a lot. This in combination with my daughter’s gluten intolerance caused the biggest stockpile of food we had (pasta and canned tomato sauces) to be virtually ignored for many months. What used to be a staple was forgotten and was at risk for going bad.

Starting at the beginning

It makes sense to watch the expiration dates.

Now that I had all of my food out of the pantry, I was able to sort it into groups. This is just as fun as it sounds. I put the food back into the pantry in a specific order. The item order itself doesn’t matter so much as the fact it is in order. I started clockwise in our pantry and put canned meat, then beans, soups, fruit, coffee, tomatoes, sauces, mixes and then baking items like flour, sugar and other sundries. Pasta went into the kitchen and placed in one spot and the hard to reach containers of condiments were placed back down on eye level so they could be used. Freeze dried food went in storage containers under the bed. Water was stored on the floor to prevent anything bad from happening to the rice again. I know that I would have been fine if I just stored all of the rice in 5 gallon buckets, but I haven’t gotten around to that yet and we do eat off of our rice weekly.

So I had the semblance of a system now and I started filling it in with the cans according to expiration date. The cans that were the closest to expiration went at the front of one row and it wrapped around to two or three rows if needed. The newest cans were on the left and the oldest were on the right. I didn’t throw everything out that had expired because I know you can go past the dates on most things. I wasn’t going to give Mayo a chance though… Now not only do we have a simple way of pulling the oldest food item, but we can easily place new cans in a spot that will ensure rotation.

When we go grocery shopping now, my wife can easily see what we have left and fill that up. We are also trying to cook more according to what we have and purchase what we ate, as opposed to what we want, to eat to keep the pantry stocked.

This exercise taught me a few other lessons that weekend; actually it was a weird weekend because I spent both days doing similar things. It was almost like I was a nesting bird and it was a weird compulsion that came over me. I don’t normally spend my weekends reorganizing anything but it was good that I did. This also manifested itself into a good ammo inventory but I’ll write about that on another day. Now we have a better system for storing and rotating food and a different strategy for filling our pantry. That type of understanding is extremely beneficial and ensures that you aren’t just buying a ton of supplies and shoving them in a dark corner. You instead are building a stocked larder that will be ready for you when you need it.

When we go grocery shopping now, my wife can easily see what we have left and fill that up. We are also trying to cook more according to what we