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Last year I moved to a new state because I was finally able to gain full time employment.  (For five years I looked in our last metro we lived in, and while I found many part time jobs, no full time ones.)

As part of the move, we had to use up our savings and then some.  To make up that money we nearly stopped spending money on food.  This freed up almost $300 a month for three months as we got ready.

We had stored up close to 90 days of food to help us out in bad times, and to save money in good times.

In the last five months we have been storing food and finally reached 30 days of food.

We did this with out increasing our food budget by more than $10 a month.

More details for those who are interested after the squiggle.

Thank you for reading, I hope this is informative and useful.  If you have any ideas to share, please share them.

Also, Please, I do understand that no everyone has an extra $10 a month. And I understand that not everyone has places to store additional food.  This is not a posting demanding that everyone do this. I do feel that everyone would be better off if the did, but I understand it may not be possible.

First off, why store food?

Years ago, I met a survivalist at a permaculture training course.  He just did not fit the image or type of person you would expect to see at a pro-sustainable environment growing session.  He explained his interest because "I've never had to shoot anyone, I'm likely to never have to.  But I eat three times a day for all my life and will need to."

Everyone is going to need to eat every day!  If survivalist would really think about it, they would not bother with guns and bunkers and armored trucks. They would be setting up food forests, polyculture gardens, and food storage.

Since I am going to need to eat every day, what can disrupt that which is very likely?  Job loss, injury, winter storm, floods, drought, civil disturbance, wild fire, etc.  Not "end of the world as we know it" stuff, but "hard times that may only be effecting me or my family" stuff.

Having lost income for two and half months due to a sprained ankle, having food saved up let us not rack up debt on the credit card or that winter storm that blocked off roads for three days with all the stores in walking distance out of food. Add in my feeling that as the "man of the house" I have a duty to provide for my family to my best ability.

How to store food with out being stupid about it?

Way back in last century, 1999, there was a thing called Y2K.  Survivalist and what can only be described as "fear-mongers" hyped up the emending doom and pushed the idea of filling up your home with MRE's. This was so you could feed your family for a year.

Now i've lived off MRE's for over a month, and on MRE's for 1 meal a day for several months.  Please trust me when I say, they suck. (not because they are bad, but you get burned out on it.)  The other thing is that your kids don't eat MRE's every week.

These suckers, I mean people who got marketed to, dropped thousands of dollars on these pallets of MRE's they would never eat.

I don't have that kind of money, and hate to waste money.  I want food my family eats now, and don't want to spend more than one hour of pay a month on it.

This is where "Copy Canning" comes in.

What is Copy Canning?

This method of building a food storage is very simple and low cost. It works like this: When you go shopping, buy an extra can of something you normally buy.

That is it.

Here is an example: Your normal weekly shopping has you picking up a can of pea's.  Each week you get a can of pea's.  Maybe you add them to meals to stretch them out, or add some color to your meals. Either way you use one can a week.  This week you go shopping and pick up TWO cans.  Now, when you get home, you have not just one week of pea's, you have two weeks of pea's on hand.

If you have a bad week, you don't have to worry about not having an item you use each week on hand.  You have the start of a food storage system.

Ok, you have done this for one week, then you do it again. You had two cans of pea's, used one then buy two more.  Now you have three weeks of pea's in your cubord, and plan on using one.  After a point, for us it was our first goal of 30 days, we set the point of four can's on hand each week.  At that point we stopped buying two cans, and just replaced what we used.  We picked another item to get.

Actually we picked four things to get each week.  This allowed us to stay in our budget for food, and rebuild our food storage. The first week we lucked out, and found what is called "opportunity buys".  After you get some storage, you can coast some and hold off replacing an item you use till the stores have a sale.  We had set aside $4 a week extra for food storage and one of the stores we shopped at was having a 4/$1 sale on some items we use.  Instead of getting 2 cans of an item, we got the whole month's for much less than we planed.

With the opportunity buys we have successfully built up 30 days worth of food. (rice, beans, pasta, canned veggies, canned fruit, canned meat)  And it is all things we use now for food.  This is on top of what we grow in the garden or buy fresh. Milk is bought each week, but we do have two boxes of powdered milk we use for cooking.  The kids won't be going "but I hate that stuff from the brown bags".  This will be because the food storage is stuff they like to eat. And when the power is out, or the schools are closed because it is so cold, or Daddy has lost his job and is trying to make it off $290 a week, you don't have to add one more stress to them or you.

Where do you put it?

Ideally you put it in a pantry.  A special room just for storing your food in.  Other ideas are: your cubords, (it is where you put your food now) on a small book shelf, under your bed, in plastic bins that stack in a room.  The goal is to have the cans and boxes some place you can access them easily, and can rotate, where you can use them.

Other ideas?

If you have them or hints, please help out by posting them.  I plan on coming back to this at some point but looking more at food storage and gardens.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I don't eat a lot of canned food (13+ / 0-)

    Too much sodium, for one thing. I'll usually only buy a can of something when I have a specific recipe in mind that needs the can of whatever.

    However, I probably have more than a month of rice and dry beans on hand, since I buy that in large bags (25 lbs) and then transfer it to glass jars that used to hold pasta sauce or pickles. Bulk bought lentils and pasta and dry mushrooms also store well in glass jars.

    "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

    by Orinoco on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 11:11:16 PM PST

  •  I like freeze dried stuff myself. (15+ / 0-)

    There are a number of companies that cater primarily to Mormons that put out high quality, low/no sodium items that are very good.  You add hot water and let them hydrate, then use as normal.

    Most of the actual freeze dry processing is done by Mountain House, mostly known outside Mormon/survival circles for camping food - which does the Saratoga Farms label as well for example.  

    It's not just pre-mixed meals, though you can get things like spaghetti and beef stroganoff - but individual food items like chicken breast cubes, beef crumbles, veggies and fruits.  They tend to come in #10 cans, so they are larger and can be a bit spendy, (the meat tends to run $30 - $45 a can, though the veg and fruit are much less than that) but you get a lot of servings.  Mind you a serving is 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup per person to get that kind of result - but that's a lot of chicken chunks.

    I've used and been very happy with the chicken, corn, green beans, strawberries and apples off the top of my head, though I am pretty sure I have tried a few more than those.  I got over a months worth of meals from a single #10 can of diced chicken breast - and it was nothing but chicken breast - it needed a touch of salt actually.  Even the crumbs at the end of the can were great added protein for soup.

    You can buy pouches, individual cans or combo packs and some vendors (TheReadyStoredotcom) have regular sales on staple kitchen items.  

    They look and taste like food - I was eating the dry green beans right out of the can as a snack, they were awesome.  The fruit is another one you can snack on right out of the can and comes is a lot wider variety of fruit than I actually eat.

    So if you are serious about food storage, freeze dried food can be a nice supplement - it may take up space, but it is easy and quick to use in an emergency (boil water, have food) lends itself to thermos cookery on the go (premix dry in wide mouth thermos, add boiling water, open in 30-45 minutes for dinner) and has those nice little extras that make shitty days suck less.  At least when it comes to dinner time.

    On the downside - these companies don't generally take SNAP.  Which sucks. But if you can buy a can a month or every other - you have the makings of an excellent long term food plan.

    I'm so fat! Oh, they're going to love me, I'm so marbled! - Jack LeMans, Bounty Killer

    by Mortifyd on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 12:10:11 AM PST

  •  Back before Y2K, before Windows 95 even, (6+ / 0-)

    I worked for a software company, while attending a church that had become concerned about computers, your money, and the end of the world. And it was interesting, because they were right on in this book, explaining how we were now all about to be totally spied on and that satellite pictures were actually to count the number of cows you have for tax purposes. Nobody believed them because they were a bunch of fringe element Christians.
           The computer people at work told me they weren't afraid of Y2K because it would be successfully patched enough. Mostly they had figured that both software and hardware would have already changed enough that it shouldn't have been a problem.
         I tried to bridge the gap by doing a women's group talk about how to be prepared for disaster in general...just in case you were worried lately.

    We are all pupils in the eyes of God.

    by nuclear winter solstice on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 05:05:49 AM PST

  •  Interesting and helpful, thanks (9+ / 0-)

    I have used a system similar to yours which involves having multiples of the food we eat regularly but also with an eye towards hurricanes, emergency food, etc. I have often looked at the pantry and thought, that yep, we could hang out for quite a while if we had to.

    I think you only have to be trapped once in a snowstorm or hurricane without anything to eat to realize that it really is necessary to have some back-up if at all possible.

    When I shopped for an older family member I also tried to stock them up with emergency food and what I focused on for them were those shelf-stable single serve items and soup. You can't go wrong with soup as a core for emergency food - there's lots of variety, there are lots of healthier ones and some are pretty darn good. And because of their budget, I simply bought one soup or shelf-stable item on every shopping trip and put it on the same shelf. It's amazing how fast the little storehouse builds up. The biggest challenge is to rotate the stuff into actual use so that it doesn't become waste and expire. You can always make a quarterly run to the food bank and donate if it looks like there's any risk of that happening.

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 05:25:10 AM PST

    •  The soup reminds me - water. (6+ / 0-)

      If you're keeping goods on hand for natural or man-made disasters, it's always good to have a few gallons of water on hand, whether in jugs or bottles.

      A lot of people in West Virginia just learned this lesson the hard way.

      •  Water (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Most Awesome Nana, blackhand

        We use old 2 liter bottles. wash and rinse them well and they make a great thing to freeze (with the cap off) then lay on the bottom of our freezer (where they play back up cooling if power goes out).  We were able to get a few of those plastic things that stack 2 liters at the convince store and that helps stack them easy.

        We also have a Berkey filter we use every day.  That way if some company "forgot" to let anyone know they had a chemical leak (not that would ever happen), we would not be drinking that stuff. (and I don't like the idea of drinking fluoride)

        Stupid question hour starts now and ends in five minutes.

        by DrillSgtK on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 08:51:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  If you are dealing with a situation where (0+ / 0-)

          water could be an issue and you know in advance, the SOP for us is to fill all the tubs and the washing machine. Most people know about tubs but a lot of people don't seem to realize how great a washing machine is - stainless steel tub, clean, etc. Ir also makes a great cooler if need be.

          You also have to have bleach on hand to purify water in an emergency. I have an emergency handbook that I keep that I read a long time ago and the one thing that really stayed with me was to always make sure to have bleach on hand for that purpose, plus just all purpose sanitizing.

          It also has instructions for how to build a solar oven. Haven't tried that and hope to never have to.

          I remember stories from Katrina where people who didn't have enough storage containers were putting water in every dish they had in the house at the last minute.

          “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

          by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 04:45:14 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Tipped and Rec'd (8+ / 0-)

    There are lots of excellent reasons to have a sizable food storage supply that don't involve the shit hitting the fan / end of the world as we know it scenario.  I have been trying to build up a food supply for the last few months.  The three main challenges have been: storing what you're going to use, having the extra money to buy it, and three where to put it.  This diary has recommendations on how to deal with all three.

    I also liked the comment above suggesting some freeze dried items.  Freeze dried last MUCH longer than canned and dehydrated, even longer than MREs,  is capable of being stored in a car as it is immune to heat and cold extremes, all making it an excellent idea for very long term and emergency storage.  It makes an excellent complement to a rotating food supply.  Mountain House, which was also mentioned, is a good source for these items.

    The last suggestion I have, something that I am planning on getting into this year, is getting a pressure canner and canning more of my own food for storage.  I don't have a garden where I am at currently and my thought is to work with the local farmer's market to find someone with whom I can contract to buy a supply of items such as green beans when they are ins season.  This is a win win because the farmer knows that they have a confirmed buyer and you get a discount.

    "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

    by blackhand on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 05:59:20 AM PST

  •  I would just re-emphasize the 'that you eat now' (5+ / 0-)

    section of that.  Your pantry/store of extra food should not be put together with any sort of idea of 'improving' your diet.  So many of us have good intentions to eat more fruits, more vegetables, etc, but if you don't eat it now, you won't eat it from the pantry either, and you'll wind up several years down the road with large numbers of items you just never got around to eating.  I know this from direct experience, as I've got a 12-pack of sliced peaches hanging around that's already 2-3 years past its expiration date and never opened.  Now personally, I do eat canned goods past their expiration date, but I keep the peaches just as a reminder not to try and 'expand' what I eat via the pantry.

    I've also got a lot of rice, bought before the housemate actually admitted she really doesn't care for rice, the dog turned out to be allergic to it, and I started working on eating fewer carbs.  I can't simply hand it over to a food pantry, because I unbagged it and poured it into one of those giant glass jars they used to use in general stores back when I was using it sporadically.

    Now it doesn't last as long as canned goods, but I've still got spaghetti squash I grew in the summer and harvested in august or Sept or so.  Squashes and other 'hard rind' types of veggies really do store pretty well even unprocessed and canned.

    •  You can compost that rice. Probably not the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN

      peaches - unless packed in water.

      "May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house." - George Carlin

      by Most Awesome Nana on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 09:27:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Speaking of rice ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      One recommendation I read (while researching freeze dried items) was that you can get buckets with screw top lids, Mylar, and iron DE-oxidizers.   You place the beans, rice, grain, whatever, in the mylar bag place the iron pellets in and seal the bag with a clothes iron.  The iron pellets will absorb all the oxygen and prevent spoilage.  You can then put the bag(s) in the plastic bucket which will keep rodents out.  This will give things a shelf life of many years.

      "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

      by blackhand on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 10:43:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Toothpaste, etc. (5+ / 0-)

    Over the years I've maintained a pretty good food pantry, with a 90 day supply at least. I also started a list of drugstore items we use regularly, and had a box with toothbrushes, toothpaste, Tylenol, bandaids, etc.--quite a lot of things actually.

    When I became ill I found this stash of items very useful, saving me trips to the store when I was too sick to go out, and lowering the stress level about things. I've used up quite a lot of these items and was glad they were there. Eventually I will replenish the supply.

    Where in the Constitution does it say: "...on behalf of corporate interests" ???

    by sillia on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 07:13:54 AM PST

    •  Don't forget things like (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      toilet paper, monthly hygiene products, deodorant, etc as well as consumable items that could be really handy like paper plates.  

      Other items, including things like bottles of booze could be used to trade or even as an antiseptic.  

      "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

      by blackhand on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 10:41:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Extreme couponing? (3+ / 0-)

    Not that I would ever buy 100 bags of candy and 50 bottles of Vita-water (even if they were free), but you can use the principles behind extreme couponing both in your regular shopping and in your stash building. Knowing how store sales operate enables you to combine saving money with building a good pantry.

    To use the example cited above, if your store has peas on sale for a good price (say 10 cans for $10.00), and you have a manufacturers' coupon for $1.00 off 5 cans of peas, you can now have a supply of 10 cans of peas for $9.00. If you trade coupons with friends, or buy multiple Sunday papers, as I sometimes do when the coupons are excellent, you can buy 10 cans for $8.00.

    So, if peas are normally 1.25 per can, you are now paying $0.80. Not free, but 1/3 off.

    Add to this the knowlege of how manufacturers plan their sale cycles -- we eat a lot of canned soup. (Yes, I also make homemade soups and stews, with freezing extra, but a can is much easier to take to work, and I don't make enough to feed our entire household all the time.)

    Campbell's owns both Campbells and Progresso soups. Sales start in the fall -- usually October. So the can of soup that cost $1.25 in August can be on sale for $0.75 in November. Add coupons, and the best I have done this year is $0.40 per can.
    If I collect coupons, I can buy about 40 cans over the winter, which means that I can have a few cans left over for next August

  •  we buy 25 lb sacks of things we eat (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Most Awesome Nana

    like organic brown rice, and vacuum pack them in mason jars.  This prevents rancidity and possible hatching out of insect eggs with resulting infestation.  We use a "Foodsaver" device for the vacuum packing.  We do this more as a cost saver than a survivalist thing because the 25 lb sacks are far cheaper.  Not likely to starve, however, in a food shortage.  

  •  It might also be useful to keep... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Most Awesome Nana, blackhand

    ...a little camp stove and a supply of fuel for it for if the electricity goes out or if the gas supply is disrupted. (Of course you must be careful using it.)

    ...freeze-dried yogurt cultures for turning that dry milk into yogurt. (I actually prefer to making yoghurt from powdered milk because it has already been pastuerized. Just add water that's been boiled & cooled to just warm, and keep the container in a warm spot!)

    ...lots of herbs and spices to turn those rice and beans you're storing into nice pilafs and curries. I can whip up an Indian or Mexican dinner any time just from what I've got in my pantry, some stockpiled fresh vegetables, & the homemade yogurt.

    ...If baking is your thing (it is mine), stockpile supplies for that, too. One added benefit is that you won't run out of flour or baking powder halfway into making your chicken pot pie.

    Finally, I also want to add my endorsement of your method of stocking your pantry with food you already eat. Having to eat 'strange food' in atmosphere that is already stressful just adds more stress (especially for kids) even if that 'strange food' is objectively more tasty and healthful than the usual. To this day my uncle can't stomach venison because that was what his family had to eat when money was really tight.

  •  Good idea for a diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    All really good ideas, too.

    I am a vegetarian so I don't need to worry about storing meats. And rice and beans are already my staples. I normally shop once a month for shelf stable foods and twice a month for fresh veggies and fruit. Living alone helps as I do not have to worry about anyone else's preferences or needs.

    The only thing I can add - those of us who have pets need to keep their supplies on hand, too. I know my dog would eat whatever I am eating, but it is healthier for him to stay on his regular diet.

    It isn't that I worry about the total breakdown of society, but I live pretty far out in the woods and the nearest pet supply store is a 19 mile drive up and down mountains. So I like to make sure I don't need to go in bad weather.

    "May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house." - George Carlin

    by Most Awesome Nana on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 09:48:04 AM PST

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