home storage centers

This article appeared yesterday in the Mormon Times, a subsidiary of Deseret News: Church Works to Meet Increased Canning Demand. (Parenthesis added)

Here is a segment:

Long-term food storage, however, is just one of four directives found in "All is Safely Gathered In," a pamphlet distributed throughout the church last year that outlines the "basics of family home storage." The counsel includes building a three-month supply of "food that is part of your normal, daily diet," storing drinking water and developing a financial reserve in addition to a longer-term supply of food.

Using the home storage center is helpful in meeting one of those directives for those who live in proximity to a facility, but all four must be balanced, Nield said (Kevin Nield, director of bishop's storehouse services for the welfare department of the LDS Church). Long-term storage is also less applicable in areas of the world where such endeavors might not be possible.

"People have more opportunities now than ever before to use the church as a place to help get some reserves, but these kinds of reserves, the three-month (supply) or the water or the money, they don't come from a home storage center," Nield said. "And that's the more immediately accessible element and that's the more worldwide church element.

"Following the guidelines of the First Presidency is about "the spirit of preparation" and the "idea of being strong and self-reliant," Nield said. It's not about fear.

"All is Safely Gathered In" discourages church members from going "to extremes" and incurring debt to establish a food storage. "With careful planning, you can, over time, establish a home storage supply," it reads.

I have a friend who is a manager at a large local grocery store. He said that anytime food storage or signs-of-the-times are mentioned in general conference, there is always a run on food storage products. Individuals will go "to extremes" and fill several carts and put thousands of dollars on their credit cards.

Like Kevin Nield says above, home storage is about preparation and being self-reliant. Fear can drive you to make large, expensive one-time home storage purchases. But when you really understand the purposes of home storage, you're more likely to make gathering your supply and consequently becoming "strong and self-reliant" an ongoing effort.


advantages of a three-month supply

Who knew that a three-month supply could bless us in many unanticipated ways. I've discovered several advantages that come from having a good three-month supply:

I can cook almost anything!
To add versatility to my three-month supply, I always keep items that I use regularly in cooking on hand. For example, I have two packages of yeast, baking soda, sour cream in my freezer, 1 or 2 cans of water chestnuts, and several cans of green chilies. By having a few extra of everything, I can basically shop from my pantry. If I decide to make honey chicken on a whim, I'll have everything I need. Need a quick batch of cookies? Well, I've got oatmeal and raisins stored for my breakfast menu. Funny thing - my neighbors are always borrowing food from me. Guess why?

We save money.
Because I have a good stock of food supplies on hand, I almost never have to buy items at full price. If you keep a list of your three-month supply items, you can stock up whenever you see a good sale.

I go to the store less.
This not only saves gas and shopping money but also saves time. I already have most ingredients on hand. Rather than running to the store every few days to put together a meal, I only go when I want fresh milk (which works out to be about twice a month). If circumstances demanded it, I could go a lot longer without going to store at all.

We eat better.
Because I have considered and planned for food supplies ahead of time, I am more likely to prepare wholesome meals. Isn't it interesting that the foods that store best are often in their most natural form? Because those are the foods that I typically store, I'm motivated to learn new recipes and techniques for cooking with those whole foods.

We're prepared for emergencies.
This might seem like a "duh" category, but I couldn't leave it out. Because of our food supply, we're better prepared to face many potential problems. Having a good three-month supply would certainly reduce family stress in times of belt-tightening, job loss, economic crisis, natural disasters, pandemics or whatever.

We have peace instead of fear.
There is a scripture that says, "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear." (Doctrine & Covenants 38:30) Having a three-month supply, as the prophets have asked us to, gives me confidence and peace which replaces any fears of the future.

What other advantages have you found?


economic crisis

What does the current economic crisis have to do with home storage? Everything! Families are blessed in myriads of hard times by having their home storage, which includes a financial reserve. We recently saw families in the Houston area that relied upon their home storage during a natural disaster. Many families in our area are using their home storage to survive gaps between jobs. Now, most of us are contemplating rising food prices and reduced income. Having stored food in a situation like this is a sure bet! In inflationary times, money can become worthless, supplies can dwindle, and the prices of food can become outrageous. But your family will not go hungry when your pantry is already full of food.


buying in bulk

As I shop for items on my three-month supply list, I always find myself with the dilemma of whether or not to buy in bulk. Typically buying in bulk will save money. But you have to be smart about it -- if you don't know comparison prices, you might find yourself unwittingly spending more. It's easy to just assume bulk store prices are lower, when in fact they are similar or even more. With a little searching on the internet, you can usually get an idea of what a good price per ounce/pound is.

I also have to remember to pay attention to the container sizes. It doesn't do me any good to save a bunch of money by buying a gallon of mayonnaise, only to have it go bad before we've used half of it. With mayonnaise, for example, I try to find the best price on the smallest possible container. Some bulk items come in large package sizes, but can be redistributed to make smaller servings and reduce waste. I do this with ground beef and shredded cheese (neither item is on my three-month supply list) that I buy at a bulk store. I just repackage into smaller containers before I put them into my freezer.

If you plan your three-month menu trying not to rely on refrigeration like I am, then you also have to consider how quickly your family will consume the menu items. Some products can sit on a shelf unopened for quite a while, but once they are opened, they need refrigeration. Pasta sauce or canned chili are good examples of this. Both require refrigeration once opened. It would be better for me to buy meal-sized jars of pasta sauce and chili rather than gallon-sized cans.


powdered milk

Unless you have a cow, powdered milk might be a product on your three-month supply breakfast menus and shopping lists. Yesterday, Gracie (http://urbanprairieliving-gracie.blogspot.com/) asked about powdered milk. So, today I'll write some thoughts on powdered milk.

Recently, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints changed their powdered milk shelf-life estimates. Recent scientific studies showed that powdered milk can be stored for up to 20 years (depending upon storage and packaging conditions as well as the quality of milk). 20 years gives you a long time to rotate through your powdered milk.

There are a lot of different companies that make powdered milk. Most stores even offer in-house brands, though these are usually sold in boxes. I would strongly suggest that you buy powdered milk in #10 cans rather than in cardboard boxes, which are poor containers for storage. If you like a brand that comes in a box, make arrangements to use a canner and transfer the milk into #10 cans.

Some common brand names of powdered milk are Provident Pantry, LDS Cannery (not really a brand name), Morning Moo, Carnation, Country Cream, and Country Milk. The prices vary widely from around $8 to $18 per #10 can. It's important to taste the milk you're storing. Brand preference seems to vary widely. Which milk you prefer will likely depend a lot on the kind of milk you normally drink. To save yourself from buying a lot of milk, only to discover that you hate it, share samples with your neighbors or start by buying only one can (small if possible) of any brand of milk.

I've tasted most of these brands and personally found Country Cream to be most similar to the 1% milk that we drink. Country Cream is more expensive than most powdered milks. I buy it, though, because I know that my kids will drink it. I don't like the cannery milk, but know some that really like it. You're lucky if you fall into that category, because cannery milk is also one of the cheapest powdered milks. If you find that you like Morning Moo, you need to be aware that it is a milk ALTERNATIVE. They've added sugar and partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil (trans-fats) to it as well. I like the taste of Morning Moo, but would hesitate to cook with it.

You can also store evaporated milk or shelf-stable milk to supply your milk. These are both more expensive alternatives.

If your family doesn't normally drink powdered milk, but you want to use it for your three-month supply, you can mix some and add it to your regular milk. You might start with proportions like 1/2 regular milk and 1/2 reconstituted powder milk. If you gradually increase the proportion of powdered milk over time, it may help your family to get used to a different milk taste. Powdered milk can also be added to basic baking recipes like bread, pancakes, oatmeal and sauces. Because of the longer shelf-life and by using powdered milk regularly, you should easily be able to rotate your powdered milk.


do I wait for a sale?

What a hard question! This is such a personal question. Each of our situations and especially our finances are different. Only you can determine how you should proceed with this question.

Today, I purchased a few extra boxes of cold cereal for my three-month supply breakfast menu. The cereal wasn't on sale. I bought it anyway. I'm eager to complete my three-month supply and have the peace/confidence that comes from know that it's complete. On the other hand, when finances are tight, sales can make getting your storage affordable. You should not go into debt to get your storage! Nor should you buy things faster than you can afford them.

I have a budget for home storage. So, I usually look for sales. But, if I can't find a good price after a month or so, I might purchase my items anyway. I'll only buy a minimum amount. Or, if I have items to buy in a different category that are on sale, I may spend my food storage budget on those things and wait to buy others. Once you get a pretty good basic supply, then you have time to wait for the sales. You'll also figure out pretty quickly when and if certain items go on sale.


goal 2(c) - three-month supply

Our current goal is gathering our Three-Month Supply.

Making a shopping list for your breakfast menu.

Start shopping.

Unless you have saved the money, this won't be a single shopping trip. When you go to the store, pick up an extra package of pancake mix or an extra box or two of cereal. Remember what President Hinckley said, "We can begin ever so modestly. We can begin with a one week's food supply and gradually build it to a month, and then to three months. Begin in a small way, . . . and gradually build toward a reasonable objective."


breakfast inventory/shopping list (example)

This is how my inventory/shopping sheets look. I save a word file with this exact list. Then, each time I do inventory, I delete the old inventory, recount and edit what I have and what I need.

Three-Month Supply:

Breakfast Menu:
1 - Oatmeal and juice (155 servings)
2 - Cold Cereal and milk (155 servings)
3 - Pancakes and milk (155 servings)

Breakfast Item List:
A - Oatmeal (5 - 3lb cans of quick oats)
B - Powdered milk - used for all three meals (6 - #10 cans of powdered milk)
C - Salt (1 container of salt)
D - Sugar (2 - 2lb bags of brown sugar)
E - Cinnamon (1 large container of cinnamon)
F - Cold cereal (16 boxes)
G - Pancake mix (2 - 10lb packages of pancake mix)
H - Syrup (4 - 2qt jugs)
I - Juice (31 jars)
J - Fruit (freeze dried, dehydrated, canned to add to oatmeal/pancakes as desired)
K - Water

A - Oatmeal (5 - 3lb cans of quick oats)
3 – 3lb cans of quick oats (93 servings)
120 Oatmeal packets (85 servings)
B - Powdered milk - used for all three meals (6 - #10 cans of powdered milk)
6+ #10 cans of dry milk
C - Salt (1 container of salt)
1+ containers of salt
D - Sugar (2 - 2lb bags of brown sugar)
2+ bags of brown sugar
E - Cinnamon (1 large container of cinnamon)
F - Cold cereal (16 boxes)
3 boxes of cold cereal (all currently opened)
NEED – 16 boxes of cereal
G - Pancake mix (2 - 10lb packages of pancake mix)
2 – 10 & 8 lb packages of pancake mix
Flour and all ingredients to make from scratch
H - Syrup (4 - 2qt jugs)
2 – 2qt jugs
NEED – 2 -2qt jugs (would like to also store maple flavoring)
I - Juice (31 jars)
17 jars
NEED – 14 jars/cans of juice
J - Fruit (freeze dried, dehydrated, canned to add to oatmeal/pancakes as desired)
3 packages of raisins
1 #10 can of freeze-dried strawberries
6 #10 packages of dehydrated apples

Shopping List
16 boxes of cereal
2 - 2 quart jugs of maple syrup (Costco)
Maple flavoring
14 cans/jar of juice (6 or 9 to be bottled this weekend)


goal 2(b) - three-month supply

Our current goal is gathering our Three-Month Supply.

Create a breakfast menu.

Making a shopping list for your breakfast menu.
[Remember to adapt your menu for three months.]

I previously created the following full breakfast menu:
1 - Oatmeal and juice
2 - Cold Cereal and milk
3 - Pancakes and milk

Three months = 93 days.
[You can round this number to 100 if it's easier to remember]
I need to feed a family of five for 93 days. That means I need to have 465 breakfast servings (93 multiplied by 5). There are three meals on the breakfast menu, so I divide the 465 breakfast servings by 3 meals (465 divided by 3). So, I need 155 servings of each breakfast menu item.

Want an algebra equation?
f=number of family members,
m=number of meals in your menu,
s=how many servings you need of each meal
(f x 93)/m =s

Here is my resulting shopping list (155 servings each)
A - Oatmeal (5 - 3lb cans of quick oats)
B - Powdered milk - used for all three meals (6 - #10 cans of powdered milk)
C - Salt (1 container of salt)
D - Sugar (2 - 2lb bags of brown sugar)
E - Cinnamon (1 large container of cinnamon)
F - Fruit (freeze dried, dehydrated, canned to add to oatmeal/pancakes as desired)
G - Water (already stored)
H - Cold cereal (16 boxes)
I - Pancake mix (2 - 10lb packages of pancake mix)
J - Syrup (4 - 2qt jugs)
K - Juice (31 jars)

It's a good idea to make a master copy of this list. Not only can you use it for a shopping list, but also as an inventory list (I'll post an example tomorrow).


more three-month supply alternatives

Sara R at The Pantry Panel commented on the original three-month alternatives post (last Friday) and said that she inventories and plans her three-month supply annually, which allows her to include preserving garden vegetables in her plan. She indicated that she thinks through her three-month supply and longer-term supply simultaneously as an overall one-year's supply.

She wrote, "I made up a master list of ingredients and typed it on the computer. I started out with the ingredients I already had in my storage, and what I wanted to get. I looked at my recipes (we have a family cookbook of our favorite recipes) and added any "storable" ingredient. I also looked at other people's lists got some ideas from them.I guessed how much of each item to store. Sometimes I figured out how many cans of tomato sauce I would use in a week; other times I just guessed how much I would need. If I wasn't sure, I buy more than I think I need. Most items store longer than a year if you don't use it all.

"Once a year I walk around the pantry with my master list (printed from the computer) and count everything. I make a shopping list of the items that need replacing, and I place that in my household notebook. I look for those items over the next few months, trying to get a low price. But some items never go on sale, and eventually I give in and buy them. We aren't on a strict budget and we have a small savings account, so this works. We would have to figure out another method if we needed to be careful about spending even amounts each week."

Thanks for the great thoughts, Sara.


caution on customization

Yesterday, I posted examples of my (and my sister's) three-month supply breakfast menus. Eventually, I'll also post sample lunch and dinner menus. Feel free to copy, modify, use or whatever. But please make sure that you customize these menus for YOUR FAMILY! Your three-month supply should consist of foods that YOU regularly eat and will consequently rotate. By using someone else's menu, without customizing it for yourself, you may not have food that your family will eat or rotate. This can result in a lot of unnecessary waste and expense.


goal 2(a) - three-month supply

Our current goal is gathering our Three-Month Supply.

Create a breakfast menu.
[Determine which meals you regularly have for breakfast. Decide which meals are compatible with a storage plan. Include any accompanying foods. Write down your menu.]

Here is the process that I went through to create our three-month breakfast menu:

Typical breakfasts at our home:
1 - Oatmeal
2 - Cold cereal
3 - Pancakes
4 - Toast and Yogurt
5 - Scrambled eggs
6 - Omelets
7 - Cream-of-Wheat
8 - Muffins

Oatmeal, cold-cereal, pancake mix, bread, cream-of-wheat and muffin-mix are all pretty easy to store. The supplies, however, for eggs and yogurt and harder to store, so I'm going to drop these from the menu. I could choose to still have these items on my menu IF we were willing to eat powdered eggs and keep a constant supply of yogurt starts on hand. [Note: I am choosing to not count on my freezer or fridge as a storage source.] I'm also going to drop cream-of-wheat (since I'm the only one who really eats it), the toast (since I'm not storing yogurt to go with it), and the muffin mix (requires a long cooking time).

So, I narrow my breakfast menu down to:
1 - Oatmeal
2 - Cold cereal
3 - Pancakes

Now, I need to create a full breakfast menu for each of these days.

My Breakfast Menu:
1 - Oatmeal, juice
2 - Cold cereal, juice
3 - Pancakes, milk

Breakfast is pretty easy, in my case, because my family doesn't eat much and doesn't demand much in variety. We have three meals in our breakfast menu. They are all items that we eat very regularly. Rotation will not be hard. I added juice and milk to my menu. My family is okay with drinking powdered milk (it also lasts a long time in storage, so I can take my time using it up). I also store bottled grape juice, which my family likes.

You might have five or seven different meals. Do whatever works for you. Store what you eat! This is extremely individual and there is really no wrong way to do the menu.

Here is my sister's breakfast menu (which ended up being remarkably similar to mine):
1 - cold cereal and powdered milk
2 - pancake mix and syrup
3 - oatmeal
4 - cream of wheat
5 - breakfast bars (this is what her husband normally eats)
Chocolate Milk Mix (to accompany all meals)


three-month supply alternatives

Choosing how to approach your three-month supply is highly personal. I've waffled back and forth with several methods and have finally settled on the one that I think will work best for our family. But just because it is best for us, doesn't mean that you have to approach things the same way. The sub-goals that I'll be using can be applied to most of the following methods of gathering your three-month supply. Continue to follow along, but feel free to use your own approach. The goals should help you regardless.

Here are some different methods of tracking/collecting a three-month supply:

Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner Menus
Create a menu for breakfast. Buy 93 days worth. Then work on lunch and finish with a dinner menu. (This is the method that I'm using. I'm choosing to use this method because it allows me to work with smaller menus, yet still buy items in bulk.)

One-Week Menu
Create a 7-day menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Work on getting one-week's worth of food. Continue acquiring food in weekly chunks until you have 14 weeks of food.

One-Month Menu
Create a 31-day menu. Multiply by three for three-months worth. Shop sales to acquire your food supply.

Three Month Menu
Figure out your entire menu for three months. Shop for ingredients in bulk.

Breakfast/Dinner Method
Make two separate menus for breakfast and dinner. Double the amount for dinners and count the double towards lunches. This is the method that my sister uses. She doesn't want to keep track of separate menus for lunch and dinner.

Test Method
Live entirely off foods you have in your pantry for one week (or one month). Keep a detailed list of everything you use. Use that list as a weekly/monthly menu and shop accordingly.

What method do you use? Please post your approach and I'll either add it to this page or devote a post to your ideas!


three-month supply

Our next set of goals will focus on gathering a three-month supply of food.

Here are the new instructions from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (All Is Safely Gathered In: Family Home Storage pamphlet):

Three-Month Supply
"Build a small supply of food that is part of your normal, daily diet. One way to do this is to purchase a few extra items each week to build a one-week supply of food. Then you can gradually increase your supply until it is sufficient for three months. These items should be rotated regularly to avoid spoilage."

Under Longer-Term Storage in the same pamphlet it says:
A portion of these items may be rotated in your three-month supply.

I also want to include this quote from President Hinckley which seems to capture the idea of gathering a three-month supply:

"The best place to have some food set aside is within our homes. . . ."We can begin ever so modestly. We can begin with a one week's food supply and gradually build it to a month, and then to three months. . . . I fear that so many feel that a long-term food supply is so far beyond their reach that they make no effort at all."Begin in a small way, . . . and gradually build toward a reasonable objective."16


more general conference counsel

Here are President Monson's remarks on preparedness from the Priesthood session of General Conference (as reported by The Deseret News):

"With the world facing difficult economic times, Latter-day Saints must increase their efforts to live prudently, avoid debt and prepare to provide for those who are adversely affected, President Thomas S. Monson counseled on Saturday. His remarks came during the evening priesthood session of the 178th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"Many areas of the world have experienced difficult economic times. Businesses have failed, jobs have been lost and investments have been jeopardized," said President Monson. "We must make certain that those for whom we share responsibilities do not go hungry or unclothed or unsheltered." Working together, the priesthood of the church can make "near miracles take place," he said. He repeated long-standing advice that church members be "prudent in their planning, to be conservative in their living and avoid excessive or unnecessary debt." The financial affairs of the church are conducted within the same guidelines, he said, "for we are aware that your tithing and other contributions have not come without sacrifice and are sacred funds."


general conference counsel

Some preparedness gems from General Conference:

"The challenges we face today are in their own way comparable to challenges of the past. The recent economic crisis has caused significant concerns around the world. . . We know from the scriptures, that some trials are for our good and are suited for our own personal development. We also know that the rain falls on the just and the unjust. It is also true that every cloud we see doesn't result in rain. Regardless of the challenges, trials, and hardships we endure, the reassuring doctrine of the atonement wrought by Jesus Christ includes Alma's teaching that the Savior would take upon him our infirmities and succor his people according to their infirmities.

"The scriptures and modern prophets have made it clear that there will be lean years and plentiful years. The lord expects us to be prepared for many of the challenges that come. He proclaims, 'If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.' . . One of the great blessings of the scriptures is that they warn us of challenges that are unexpected but often occur. We would do well to be prepared for them. One form of preparation is to keep the commandments. . . Clearly having the blessings of the spirit, the ministration of the Holy Ghost, is an essential element to truly prosper in the land and to be prepared."
(Elder Quentin L. Cook)

“Newspapers are filled with reports of the current housing crisis. We’ve been encouraged from almost every general conference that I can remember, to not live beyond our means. Our income should determine the housing we can afford, not the neighbor's big house across the street. President Grant once said, "From my earliest recollection from the days of Brigham Young until now, I have listened to men stand in the pulpit urging the people to not run into debt. I believe that the great majority of our troubles today is caused through failure to carry out that counsel." One of the better ways to simplify our lives is to follow the counsel we’ve so often received. Live within our income. Stay out of debt. Save for a rainy day, We should practice and increase the habits of thrift, industry, economy and frugality. Members of well managed families do not pay interest, they earn it.”
(Elder L. Tom Perry)


water storage summary

How is your water storage coming?
Check in by responding to the poll at the right.

Here is a summary of the water storage goals:

1) Determine which storage containers and storage locations you will use.

2) Begin purchasing or collecting those containers.

3) Fill your containers with water.

Purchase new water containers or save and clean pop bottles. Plan to store enough water for a minimum of 28 gallons per person. Don't store your water directly on cement or in the light. Most people can simply fill their containers with water from the *tap.

*Click on "Water" in the Table of Contents to find additional requirements if your water is not already chlorinated.

Not finished? That's okay. Really, even for those with a good water storage, it is a continual effort. Keep collecting and buying containers. Even a little bit of water storage is a good start. When you're ready to move onto a new goal, just click the Goals link under "Table of Contents" to the right. All of the goals will be posted there.


fill 'em up!

Failing to fill your water containers is a common mistake with water storage. It doesn't do any good to collect containers only to leave them empty. My parents had a 55-gallon barrel that sat empty in our garage for almost two decades. Just recently, I talked them into filling it up. It isn't hard, it just takes some time. Remember, if your water is already chlorinated when you fill your containers, you don't need to add anything to the water.

Tomorrow is a Saturday. It would be a great day to fill those water containers. You could get it done between conference sessions. Make it a priority. Plan on an hour to fill a family's worth of water.


pull-tab cans

For years we've used soda cans with pull-tabs on top. Applying the pull-tab concept to all sorts of canned goods is one of the greatest preparedness innovations I've seen lately. I've always needed to store a can opener in at least one of our 72-hour kits (and probably should have had one in every kit). Can openers are heavy, bulky, and awkward even if you found the light-weight version. But, it was necessary to pack them in order to open and eat any ready-to-eat canned foods. Now, I can skip the can opener. I specifically choose only cans with pull-tab tops to store in our 72-hour kits.


emergency binder

In an emergency, you could potentially be without electricity or internet access. You might not be able to access your computer, your files, this blog, or other resource links. It would be helpful to purchase a binder in which to collect all that great online emergency information.

Choose an unusually colored binder (orange, fluorescent green, or whatever) to help you find it (see it) in an emergency. Purchase a package of tabbed dividers if that helps you organize your binder. As you work on your preparedness, if you see a post or page that contains particularly valuable information, print it out and put it into your binder. You may also want to make duplicate copies and store two binders in different locations.