I don’t know if you remember or not, but when I started this blog, I posted a picture of what my food storage area actually looked like(see original post here). It is temperature controlled and safe, but it was a MESS! See?
*Before* picture of my infamous Closet Under The Stairs.
I wanted to keep it real though, so I posted it, as embarrassing as it was. I also promised that I would eventually clean it.
Several weeks ago, I finally did it! And I took pictures to show all of you. It’s still packed, but it’s organized in such a way that I can rotate the food I use regularly with my long term storage, which I don’t need to access as often, in the back. Take a look.
After clearing everything out of the closet, which was faster than I thought with the help of my boys, I started with a clean slate and reorganized the entire closet. First, I put in the things I wasn’t planning to rotate right away: my wheat, beans, and other grains. Next, I organized my dehydrated and freeze dried food and my “just add water” meals.
Then I put in the items I plan to access regularly: my grain mill, honey, flour, sugar, etc. I also put our “bug out bags” (aka 72 hour kits) in a place we can grab and go, if needed. In addition, I put some store brand “Sterno” to use as emergency fuel for cooking in an easily accessible place.
Then I organized my jams, jellies, and other home canned goods for easy access. I also used an old book shelf for food I rotate regularly.
See? I also have some of my regularly used supplies on top of the bookshelf (food grade hose, gas shut-off tool, etc), so I can easily access them.
Is it my ideal food storage compartment? No. But who has the ideal everything in life? I make do with what I have, and I’m very grateful to have it. You may be thinking, “Great! She’s a crazy prepper!” and will ignore everything I say from here on out. If so, that’s your prerogative, but there is wisdom in storing food.
Food storage like mine has become a thing of the past for most families, but it didn’t used to be that way. Families used to regularly store food to get through the winter and pantries were rarely completely bare like ours often are now. We are used to shopping daily or several times a week for food. Did you know that grocery stores usually stock enough food for 1 day or less for the entire community they serve? Food storage is vitally important for all who want to eat when things go wrong (tornadoes, snowstorms, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.).
As much as I love my readers, neighbors, and friends, I can’t feed you if things go wrong. Take a minute or two today and evaluate how long you would be able to feed yourselves and your families if the grocery store ran out of food. Would it be months, weeks, days, or hours?
Make a plan today to get one more day’s supply of food than you currently have and build on that. If you do this each and every week, in six months, you will have almost a 1 month supply! If you do it once every other week, you will have a 2 week supply after 6 months. Plan for the worst, but expect the best. That’s my mantra.
Do you have any long term storage? If so, what are your favorite things to stock?
If not, why not? If you had one, what would you like to stock in long term storage?
How do you organize your food storage, both long and short term?
Funny thing, water. Everyone needs it to survive, but most people don’t have a lick of it stored. Is this you? That was me a few years ago. I had a few 20-oz bottles of water and some “expired” water in my 72 hour kit, but that was it! Not very bright of me, if I do say so myself.
I live in an earthquake ridden desert! Not sure why I wasn’t smarter about it, but I guess I was hoping I’d never need water beyond what I could get from my tap.
Glass of water – Now that’s the kind of water I’m talkin’ about! Me, sitting by a lake with a view of the mountains, no kids hangin’ on my sleeves, just sippin’ some ice cold, clean, clear water.
I think my biggest stress was wondering where I was going to keep all this water. I’d even done research on how to store water, how to purify/disinfect it, etc., but I thought the best solution was water barrels, and I didn’t have any, and I didn’t have $100/barrel to spend at the moment, so I didn’t store any.
One year, for my family’s Christmas gift exchange, we opted for “preparedness” themed gifts. My sister sent me a 25 gallon water storage kit, which was awesome! It was a set of 5 boxes plus mylar bags. You filled the bags with water, and they kept for 5 years. You could stack them for easy storage. They were light enough (although not light), I could move them around. Also, once you use the water out of them (in an emergency), each box and bag could be used as a “toilet.” If you don’t have water, you can’t flush your toilet, so I thought this was a brilliant idea.
Of course, I didn’t think about the fact that I had a cat who liked to sharpen his claws on boxes. Needless to say, only one of the 5 boxes survived, and it’s no longer in the best of shape. But I still have it, and I’m keeping it just in case we have an earthquake and no water to flush my toilet. Still, I wasn’t much better off than I was before.
So, despite my efforts, I had very little water stored, and I knew I needed to do better, to do SOMETHING!
Does this sound like you? Well, it was me. Then, I had a realization (about the same time as my “start where you are” realization). The bare minimum amount of drinking water experts recommend we store is 72 hours worth (64 oz a day per person). For me, that meant 4 20-oz water bottles a day or 12 bottles. For my family, it meant 72 water bottles or two cases of Costco water bottles.
I was already buying water bottles on occasion, so I bought a couple more cases, andnow I make sure I always have at least 2 cases of water. If we start using one of those cases, I buy a couple more. I don’t love our tap water here, so I use bottled water on a regular basis. It’s also easier to send with my kids to school. (Yes, I know I’m probably destroying the environment with each bottle I use, but at least I recycle all of them. That’s something, right?) I average buying three cases a month. It’s stored in my “Harry Potter” closet, just behind the coats, so it’s easy to access. This way, I’m rotating it, so I know it’s within date.
Once I had that down, I just stewed about it for a while. Then some friends of ours were moving out of state, and they offered us two 30 gallon water barrels. We jumped at the chance to have real, long-term storage water barrels and brought them home. We didn’t have room in our garage or in our house (we don’t have a basement or much extra closet space), so we put them on the side of our house. It’s well protected and shady most of the day, and it was the best we could do, so we did it. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve delayed doing something, because my efforts were perfect or ideal. I’ve since taken my mantra, “something is better than nothing” to heart, and I do the best I can with where I am. When I can do better, I do.)
Then, someone at church arranged a bulk purchase of used 55 gallon water barrels. There are quite a few people in my area who sell these barrels on Craig’s List. These food barrels were used to store different things (fruit juice concentrate and the like). The guy selling ours cleans and sterilizes each barrel and sells them for about $30 a piece. That’s an awesome price, as I’ve seen them go for upwards of $75/each. (And, once you use your barrel once, it’s used. It’s only new once.) So we bought a couple of those.
More recently, I’ve started storing water in used 2-liter soda bottles. I clean them out and disinfect them (in a simple bleach-water solution). Then I let them dry completely and fill them with water. Plastic soda bottles are great for storing water (or grains, beans, etc.), because they are food-grade plastic, they last a long time, and they’re relatively sturdy. Also, they fit in small spaces, like under your bed or sofa, in your closet, etc.
Now, let me ask you a question… Do you have any water stored? If so, what? Do you have enough for at least 72 hours worth of drinking water? How about for hygiene needs like washing your hands, bathing, or cleaning your clothes? If not, what can you do today to build your water storage?
Let me know what you’re doing or plan to do by commenting below. Share so others will benefit from your experiences!