How to prepare your family to survive and thrive in todays uncertain world

A Concrete Example of Short to Medium Term Food Storage

I'm eating steak tonight!
I'm eating steak tonight!

So earlier I posted about our concept of short to medium term food storage.  If you haven’t read that post, go back and read it now.  I’ll wait, I promise.  I’m still waiting.  No really, I am.  Well, while we’re waiting maybe I’ll just go ahead and show everyone else what I’m talking about.

I’m going to give you a more concrete example of how to plan food storage for short to medium term emergencies.  The general idea here is to try to keep meal time as normal as possible under whatever circumstances.  Since the zombies like brains and not steak, this shouldn’t generally be much of a problem, right?

Step One:  What on earth do we eat?

This one should be pretty easy.  Well, that is unless your family’s favorite meals consist of Big Macs, Whoppers, and the Chicken Volcano Burrito from Taco Bell.  The chances of those things being available in an emergency situation are pretty low.  And while McDonalds burgers may have the texture and taste of salted cardboard, they DO go bad.  Well, actually they seem to turn into this hard flat hockey puck thing, but that’s beside the point.

Some of our staples:

Breakfast

  • Cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Pancakes
  • Toast

Lunch

  • Sandwiches
  • Chicken Strips

Dinners

  • Pasta
  • Green Bean Casserole (or Hot Dish if you’re a cheesehead)
  • Potato and Ham Casserole
  • Lasagna
  • Tacos
  • Pot Roast
  • Pulled Pork
  • Black Beans and Rice

Definitely not an exhaustive list, but it’s enough to get us started.

Step Two:  I’m not a Chef, why am I creating a menu?

Time to plan!  It’s pretty simple.  Create a rotation of your overall staples.  This could be a week rotation, or a two week rotation, or three, or whatever floats your boat.  I find it easiest to do this in a spreadsheet, which can then tell me EXACTLY what I need to have to make the meal.  I MIGHT be able to be convinced to share my secret spreadsheet sometime, but that’s for another day.

For simplicity, I’m going to plan on a one week rotation.

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Breakfast Pancakes Cereal Oatmeal Cereal Oatmeal Cereal Pancakes
Lunch Chicken Strips PBJ Sandwiches Deli Sandwiches Pizza Deli Sandwiches PBJ Sandwiches Chicken Strips
Dinner Lasagna Pulled Pork Tacos Green Bean Casserole Pasta Beef, Rice, and Beans Potato and Ham Casserole

Bonus Tip: Sometimes things like Sandwiches get boring.  Think of ways to vary it up…Different kinds of jam, or different types of sandwiches.  BLTs instead of just plain lunch meat.  Maybe a mock Panini.  Use your imagination, your kids will thank you!

Step Three:  Menu?  Check!  What do I need to make all this?

This is where  you look at your menu, figure out how much you need per meal, per day.  For example, my family will go through about a box and a half of cereal a day.  Apply Rudy’s Rule of Extra Goodness and add a buffer.  So assuming we have three days of eating cereal at two boxes a day, that means I need six boxes of cereal per week.  Plus milk.  Yummy powdered milk.  Regular milk doesn’t store all that well!

I know you guys are all smart, so I’ll let you do the rest of this exercise yourself.  Figure out what it will take to keep your family eating food they actually like, instead of trying to figure out what to make today with the bucket of red winter wheat you have stored in the basement.

Another Bonus Tip:  Don’t worry TOO much about shelf life for some of this stuff.  I’ll talk about that down below.  For now, if you need stuff like regular milk, or ground beef, or whatever, just plan on that.

Step Four: Good grief, that’s a ton of food

Now we want to figure out how much we need to store.  This is a simple math problem.  But since we’re all old farts, we may need to grab the closest third grader to help out here.  In our example, since we planned on a one week rotation, and we’re planning for three months of storage, we need to multiply our ingredient list by twelve!  So my family needs 72 boxes of cereal to continue living the way we do.  Great Scott, Batman!

Step Five:  I don’t think all of this will last three months

Perfect for harnessing the excess energy of six year olds
Perfect for harnessing the excess energy of six year olds

Since we determined above that we’re all smart, we all recognize that while we certainly hope that we have power in the case of an emergency there is no guarantee that we will.  That said, I’m fond of steak and eggs, and good lord I love my wife’s fried chicken.  Most of which need some form of cold storage to keep for a while.  And the freezer doesn’t work without electricity.  Until I hook up the jumbo hamster wheel and lock my hyperactive six year old into it for a few hours a day, but that’s another post for another day.

My approach to this is simple and quite brilliant.  I plan on having grid power for most emergencies.  So I keep a freezer stocked with meats and other frozen items like my wife’s hidden ice cream bars that I’m not supposed to know about.  Please don’t tell her I’m the one who sneaks one a few times a week!  Anyways, the way I figure it is that if there IS an emergency without power, then we’re eating steak and chicken and burgers and ice cream for the first couple days.  Then it’s on to the food storage!  At least we’re eating well at first…

After that, you have to figure out longer term options for things you’d normally consume fresh.  Canned goods, whether you can it or you buy it at the store is a good option.  Another good option is dehydration.  You can dehydrate all sorts of stuff and it’ll store great.  Ground beef is a staple in this household and it dehydrates wonderfully.  Now that I think about it, I haven’t ever tried dehydrating my world famous hamburger patties and then trying to cook them.  I should try that.  Anyhow, be creative here, and look what’s on the shelf at the store, and you’ll manage fine!

Step Six:  Rotation, Rotation Rotation … Not Location!

Rotation, Rotation, Rotation.  Keep an eye on what you have on your shelf.  I know I talked about this in my summary post, but I can’t emphasize enough.  It’s important enough to get a post on it’s own soon, but until then, I recommend you practice FIFO rotation.  First In, First Out.

I hope this helps!  Please ask any questions you might have in the comments and I’ll try to answer them!

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7 Responses to A Concrete Example of Short to Medium Term Food Storage

  1. Good info there. I’d be very interested myself if you chose to publish that spreadsheet. I’m trying to help my parents get into being a little more prepared, something like that would make it a little easier for them.

  2. Thanks for your hardwork in putting this together. Seems to me like you are leading your readers down a very concise path. Not too much or too little. I think it depends on what one sees in the future or “future scenario” and that basis is what you prepare for. Keep bringing the specifics. I am learning a lot. As a father, i am concerned for the future of my family. I don’t want to live in a state of “fear”, but would like to be prudently prepared. Your blog fits the bill.

  3. i am just starting into this journey. Getting married soon and have been talking this over with my girlfriend. We both think there are going to be big issues in our country in the future and we want to prepare for our future family. I didn’t know there was so much to think about. One question i have, is how does someone really start the preparing? maybe a spreadsheet from SRIKER can help. I don’t have a lot of money, but want to do something. Can u help us Rudolph?

  4. Hi Rudy,

    From the dates above it looks like I’m getting in a little late on this thread, but had a question. What are your thoughts on canned food? We are slowly accumulating a prudent reserve of canned goods to supplement dried bulk items and freeze dried stuff. It looks like most canned items have a two year shelf life. My rotation plan (at least for now) is to rotate stock either by consuming it (not my wife’s first choice) or by donating to local food banks at end of year.

    • Canned food is great and should be a core part of your storage as well. As you noted though, the shelf life of canned food is usually a year or two, so you have to be strict about rotating. Your rotation plan sounds reasonable to me.