At the grocery store today, there was not a single grain of rice left in sight. As pointed out by the editor of Survival Topics (http://www.survivaltopics.com/) in the comments section of this post http://codenameinsight.blogspot.com/2008/04/rice-crisis-and-how-not-to-panic.html people who run out in a panic and start stockpiling food without a plan or the knowledge to do this will probably end up with an expensive mess on their hands some time from now.
Before you start randomly stockpiling food, you need to have a plan. Here are some things to consider:
- Like all of the plans here are CNI, we do not focus on a single effort or a single source for anything. The more comprehensive and varied your plan, the more likely you will be able to survive anything.
- Figure out what kinds of foods you want to stockpile. Take into account how many people you will be storing food for, where you will store the food (under a bed, in a closet, in the garage, in the basement), what you will want to eat, how much you can afford to spend, and how you will work the stored food into your current menus.
- Make a list. Hmm...four people, three meals a day, 365 days... Make daily menus if it helps you to get a better idea of what to start storing. For us, a 50-pound bag of rice lasts for about a month, so twelve 50 pound bags of rice should do it. I would throw in about four more bags of rice because a) I know it won't go to waste, and b) should we not be able to eat out once a week like we often end up doing, we would need to make an additional meal each week which the rice would work for.
- Having some MREs on hand is a good idea. This will be one source of survival food which has a long shelf life and is easy to store.
- Canned food is pretty easy to store, however if you are going to purchase boxed foods (like pasta) or bagged foods (like rice) you need to store the food so that bugs and rodents can't get to it. There is a science to this so check out the resources below.
- Stock up on loss leaders and at case lot sales. After holiday sales are also good (I once bought 50 big chocolate Easter eggs for five cents a piece at WalMart after the holiday--they just wanted to get rid of them and I ended up with enough candy for all of the kids at a youth center for only $2.50).
- Be sure to store the food in a dark, cool, dry place. Things like humidity, light, and heat lead to deterioration of the packaging and quicker spoilage of the product. Also, protect food in glass jars from breaking and protect both metal cans and glass jars of food from freezing.
- Put in a garden and learn how to process the food for year-round eating. Canning, drying, freezing, and vacuum packing are some of the methods you can use to preserve your harvest. You will not be self sufficient in this area immediately, but each year you can expand your garden by learning how to be more efficient and effective with your gardening skills.
- If it looks like meat, milk, and eggs may be a concern, consider raising your own. Rabbits and chickens are fairly easy to keep. Goats may be an alternative to a cow for milk. Killing and butchering your own meat if you have no experience with this may take some getting used to.
- Make sure you have the necessary implements to use the food you have stored. A rice cooker isn't a must but if you will be eating hundreds of pounds of the grain, it may be well worth purchasing one. If you buy bushels of wheat or corn, make sure you have a grinder otherwise you will end up laboriously pounding it by hand. If you plan on cutting up your own meat and have previously only owned a paring knife, investing in a good set of knives would be a good idea. Also, many people forget about the need for a manual can opener until all of the power goes out.
- Store water too. You will need water more than you need food so make sure you have adequate sources of this very necessary item.
- Don't forget to store some comfort food (cookies, candy, etc) which is in high demand during a disaster.
- Consider stocking additional food for trade and barter should such a thing become necessary.
- Make sure to focus much of your stockpiling efforts on the basics (grains, protein, salt, oil, spices, vegetables, fruit, meat, etc). Most everything you want to eat (cookies, bread, noodles, pizza, even Twinkee-like substances) can be made out of basic ingredients.
- Do you know any farmers or prolific home gardeners whom you can purchase food from directly? If not, you may want to meet some. Direct from the farm food is often healthier and cheaper than what you find in the stores and this gives you an opportunity to can/preserve food in quantity.
- Figure out how you will cook all of this food. Right now you can use your electric or gas stove but it is also a good idea to ponder alternative cooking methods and fuel sources.
- Go catch something and eat it. Many people have either never done this or they did this so long ago they forgot how. During a disaster is not the time to learn how to catch a fish or a squirrel. Go out this weekend (with a knowledgeable friend if needed) and procure your own dinner from the wilds.
- Make it a goal that you will have at least a month's reserve of food stored by next weekend; three month's worth stored by the end of May.
- Realize that sooner or later, should TSHTF, your stockpile will run out and food may become very expensive or hard to come by. Do you have a plan for when this happens?
Book: Putting Food By
Book: Square Foot Gardening
Book: The Encyclopedia of Country Living