As with everything in life, there is a hard way and an easy way. Most people take the easy way and later discover that ‘easy’ usually has a significant cost waiting to be uncovered. The hard way usually involves educating and disciplining yourself but has its own rewards. Stocking up on bulk food is no different. Avoid the temptation to run out and buy a whole year’s worth of bulk food and then throw it in a tuff-tote in the garage for a rainy day.
The items that have a good shelf life and could be considered staples in any household are sugar, flour, lentils, dried beans, and dried split peas. If you are stocking up for your family, and these items were the main food source for your family for an entire year, you should plan on a 50 pound bag of each per family member. You can supplement this with 25 pounds of powdered milk, 25 pounds of rice, 10 pounds of powdered eggs, and 1 gallon of vegetable oil per person. Our regular readers would like you to remember their favorite seasonings: salt, pepper, Old Bay Seasoning, crushed red pepper, honey, garlic powder, onion powder, cinnamon, and Italian seasonings.
The degree of your preparation is directly related to how long you expect to be on your own. For a family of four living on their own supplies for a year, this is over 1500 pounds of food. Thankfully, most of us only need to plan for 2-4 weeks to cover a significant disruption event. Although we haven’t mentioned water yet, it is critical. You should plan for a gallon of drinking water per person per day.
Rather than converting your garage into a mini-Costco, dedicate a set of shelves in your garage or closet to stocking up. If there are items that are staples in your family, each time you go to the store to buy one of the items, buy two and put one on the shelf labeled with its date of purchase. New items go in the back of the shelf and the older items up front. By doing this, you are always pulling from your oldest stock up front and bringing it to the kitchen or pantry. As time goes by, you can determine what your family uses regularly and can gradually stock up on items in bulk without damaging the checking account.
Make sure to seal your bulk food in air-tight containers to avoid bugs, ants, and rats. Always use common sense and your common senses to check for spoilage.
We will continue this topic on “Stocking Up? Part 3: Where to buy bulk foods”