Invest in Flexibility: Disaster Preparations and Long Term Food Storage

Invest in Flexibility: Disaster Preparations and Long Term Food Storage

Do you ever feel like the world is spinning out of control and there's nothing that you can do to stop it? Well, a lot of people feel this way these days. In fact, many are so worried about being unprepared for what they see as inevitable catastrophes (think earthquakes, riots, wars) that they're stockpiling food and supplies in their homes or rented storage units. The thing is...preparing for emergencies and disasters doesn't have to be expensive or time-consuming. You just need some basic knowledge about how to prepare your own flexible disaster plan tailored specifically to your needs and budget!

I'm going to take you through some of my favorite techniques for getting the most bang out of your buck, and show you how a little preparation goes such a long way. In this post I'll be talking about food storage--what it is, why you need it (regardless of whether or not "the big one" hits California.

Let's start by talking about the flexibility of your plan. That means stocking up on dehydrated and freeze-dried foods, which can last a lot longer than canned goods or fresh produce. It also has the added benefit of being lightweight and easy to store in small spaces--the perfect choice for apartment living!

Next, let's talk about your budget. This is where you get to be as creative and crafty as you want! I'll show you some of my favorite money-saving strategies so that even on a tight budget, disaster planning can still feel like an investment instead of extravagance or deprivation .

In this post we're going to touch on two important topics: what food storage is, and why you need it.

I'll start with a definition of food storage--essentially, it's stockpiling enough canned goods or packaged items that will last for at least one year after the event (like an earthquake). It doesn't have to be expensive! You just need to do a little research, think about what your family needs and wants to eat now as well as in the event of a disaster, and then stock up on foods that will provide some variety. I'll also talk about why it's important--even if you don't live on the West Coast but are worried about earthquakes (or tornadoes or hurricanes...) being prepared can give you peace of mind.

It doesn't have to be expensive or time-consuming, just some basic knowledge about how to prepare your own flexible disaster plan tailored specifically to your needs and budget! I'm going to take you through my favorite techniques for getting the most bang out of your buck--and show you that a little preparation goes a long way.

The first type of food to store is what you eat everyday. Freezer and pantry food is the easiest to obtain because it’s the food you already buy at your grocery store. The average household has about 3 days worth of meals. However, it is fairly easy to increase this to two weeks or more, by simply buying a little extra each trip to the grocery store. Make sure to always rotate the food, so the oldest foods are used first. This helps ensure the food on hand is always the freshest.

Once you have obtained about two weeks of your everyday foods, the next step is to start working on your long-term food storage. There are several types of food suitable for long-term storage, and you should consider using all of them in your plan, depending on what your overall goal is. Each type has advantages and disadvantages, and you’ll probably find a mix of them will suit your preparedness needs best.

Bulk foods are items you use when cooking regularly to create meals, like wheat, flour, rice, beans, salt, sugar, honey. For storage, bulk foods can also include individually freeze-dried and dehydrated items, such as fruitsvegetables and meats. Most of these foods, when stored properly, can last a very long time, making them a good option for preparedness plans.

 Remember, to have recipes on hand to use these items and store any of the additional seasonings or ingredients to do so. For example: 50 lbs. of wheat flour won’t help much unless you have other ingredients to make something with it, such as yeast to bread. Bulk foods can be purchased in larger quantities, saving you money, but you typically need to properly repackage them for long-term storage.

 One of the more convenient foods to store are the pre-packaged meals consisting of freeze-dried and dehydrated components. These meals typically only need to be reconstituted, either by adding hot water to the pouch or adding the food to pot of boiling water. Though not as inexpensive as bulk foods, they offer a high level of convenience coupled with a nice selection of meals. All the work has been done for you to create tasty meals, rather then having to put together ingredients yourself. These meals are relatively lightweight, making them easier to take with you during an evacuation (and also easier to use under less-than-ideal conditions). 

Even though these storage foods have a very long shelf life, as much as 15-25 years, they will still need to be replaced eventually. Much like your pantry food, in order to prevent wasting money, you should eat your food storage before reaching expiration dates. The best way to rotate out stored foods is to incorporate them in your everyday cooking. This not only utilizes the investment you made years ago, but has the additional benefit of getting your family used to eating storage food, which is often different from the foods your family eats everyday.

 As you can see, food storage is an important aspect in any preparedness planning. Factoring this into your own Personal Threat Analysis, you can visualize how the different options might work better in your “highly likely” events to occur whether you shelter in place or need to evacuate to a safer location. Having a variety allows for a flexible plan, tailored to your family’s dietary needs and preparedness goals.

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