The second capacity I introduced in my eBook is that you must store a minimum of two to three weeks of non-perishable foods. In it I state that:
You must “store a minimum of two to three weeks of non-perishable foods. Better yet, work toward a month or more of non-perishable foods, if possible. You can use a basic food journal to track what you (and your family) eat over that time, although these are more intended for dieting purposes. Another option is to use the reThinkIt! Preparedness Tools to aid with this. Regardless of how you track your eating habits, ensure that you always have a minimal threshold of the non-perishable foods identified in your food journal.”
Besides the basic needs for water (and breathable air, of course), food ranks high among survival priorities. I’m sure you’re aware of several instances where groups of people went without basic services, including the ability to replenish their food supplies. Examples would include the northeastern blackout of 2003, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, as well as plenty of other smaller scale emergencies.
Why Two to Three Weeks?
This recommendation is a bare minimum of food to keep on-hand at all times; the key point here is what you keep on-hand at all times. The thing with disasters is that they typically give little to no warning and never seem to strike after you just went shopping for groceries.
The more non-perishable food that you can store the better off you and your family will be. I would generally expect that most emergency situations will resolve themselves well-enough within a few weeks in order to resume basic services or, at least, allow time for some form of basic outside aid. Of course, every emergency is different. In addition, a minimum supply of food gives you time to think, weigh your options and, most importantly, NOT PANIC!
What Should I Store?
Simple: store what you eat! You may hear this plenty of times before, but it’s true. When you’re talking about basic foods to store, there’s nothing better to keep than the foods you and your family are already accustomed to consuming. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t also work at storing long-term foods (e.g., rice, beans, etc) but until you put back a good larder of the foods you currently eat, there’s little point to storing foods you probably don’t normally eat, let alone know how to prepare or cook with.
How Much Should I Work Toward?
Start with a stockpile of two weeks, then work to double that amount for a total of one month. Once you have this amount on hand you’ll “get the bug” and probably find that putting back food gets easier and more contagious, if you will. I would say that three months of non-perishable foods is a manageable amount of food to have. As you work toward more months of food storage, you’ll probably need to transition toward long-term foods due to space considerations, money, and food viability.
How Do I Do It?
Use a food journal (or anything you want to write on) and record all of the food you and your family consume over the course of a few weeks, but a month is best. Highlight all non-perishable foods, then use a large Rubbermaid tote bin to store this extra food through which you will rotate all newly purchased non-perishable food. Doing so will ensure you always have a bare minimum of food on-hand. As you build your stores up you can add more tote bins. These totes can also double as grab-and-go options for bugging out if need be. It’s a simple habit to get into and works well. (Thanks to Jack at TheSurvivalPodcast for this excellent suggestion!)
Just be sure to store foods you and your family already consume and you’ll be more prepared before you know it.