The answers to these questions will matter one day when you are hungry for a spaghetti dinner but you only have pasta sauce. If you buy a case of spaghetti sauce you will need to store pasta and maybe grated Parmesan cheese and a vegetable, or fruit, to round out the meal. Every time you purchase a food item, make sure you are storing all the other items that round out that meal.
I don't like to have food in my pantry that will only partly make dinner. I like to have all the ingredients on hand to make a complete meal. I have found a system that works to have complete meals in my storage. I started out by writing down all the dinners that my family enjoys, then I listed every ingredient needed to make those meals. Now I have created a shopping list, and I know exactly what to buy, and have on hand in my pantry at all times. The list is what works in my food storage plan....I always know what ingredients I need to have in my storage. This also works for building my 3-month supply of food. I have 5 weeks worth of dinners planned, and if I multiply each item by 3 I then have enough for 3 months worth of meals. It keeps my meal plan organized in a way that I'll have all the ingredients on hand to make many different meals, without having to go to the store for last minute items. (click here to see my recipe binder)
|My ingredient list that becomes my shopping list.|
- I have 5 weeks worth of different dinners planned out with side dishes.
- I wrote every ingredient on a piece of paper to make each meal, including the side dishes.
- The ingredient list now becomes my shopping list.
- Multiplied by 3 (to equal 3 months worth) and I now have enough food to make a meal every night for 3 months!
- I know how many cans of chicken broth I need to make those meals and also how many cases to buy at the case lot sales.
- COMPLETE MEALS! I am now storing all the ingredients to make complete meals. Including the side dishes, which include muffins, quick breads, veggies, and fruits.
It doesn't matter how many meals you have planned out. I just happened to have 5 weeks worth of recipes that we really like to eat. Start with one week's worth of meals it that is easier for you. Multiply your 7 meals by 13 to have 3 months of food storage. There are roughly 13 weeks in 3 months, so if your plan only has 7 different meals in it you'll multiply by 13. Then begin shopping for those ingredients.
What If I Want To Eat Fresh Produce....
While we all love to have fresh produce as our first choice when cooking, you'll need to think of a back-up if those fresh items become unavailable. For longer-term storage of fresh produce, think of dehydrated, freeze-dried, or canned items to fill in for fresh ingredients. Give freeze-dried foods a taste. There aren't many that I wouldn't eat. Fresh dairy is also an area that we don't want to be without. Freeze-dried cheese, powdered butter, canned butter, and powdered milk are also an important item to have in your storage.
Back to complete meals....
Once you have your ingredients in your storage you can make many meals with them. But even with careful planning like my example above there may be times that you''ll have to know how to cook something you would normally buy at the store.
Let's take a look at a breakfast example:
If you make pancakes, french toast, or waffles, do you have the ingredients to make syrup? Or have freeze-dried or bottled fruit as a topping? Do you know how to make the bread to have the french toast? Do you have all the ingredients to make bread?
Meals need to be broken down this way. Yes, you may have bread in the freezer as part of your 3-month storage, but if you were in a situation where the grocery store wasn't an option anymore, you'll need to know how to make bread. Think of all the items that you buy at the grocery store. Do you know how to make a homemade version of them? Go through your menu plan and see if there are items that you buy that could also be made at home. Even if you plan on buying them as your 3-month supply, there may be a time when that isn't an option anymore. Here are a few of the things that I know how to make at home instead of buying at the store.
- granola bars
- dry ranch dressing mix
- fruit snacks
- yogurt and cottage cheese