The Golden Rule:
Store what you will eat and rotate it regularly.
What good is it to have food on hand if it isn’t something you will eat? An emergency is no time to find out that you can’t stomach lentils and that’s what you have stored away. Look at the foods you like and eat on a regular basis and start with those. The types of foods we have put away in our emergency pantry are the same foods we eat on a regular basis. Anything that isn’t something we eat regularly, like the three day supply of freeze dried emergency foods we keep on hand, we taste test first. Most of them were OK but a few flavors out there were downright nasty. Neighborhood cats would disappear before I ate those so we don’t stock those flavors.
When our regular pantry gets low I pull from the emergency pantry and then replace it next time I go shopping or if still have a minimum level on hand I wait until it is on sale. Rotation is key. Just like a computer, your food storage should be first in first out.
Sometime I find that the same food item bought from the same grocery store has a “best by” date months earlier than items bought weeks or months before. So always check the dates and use those with the closest dates first. I find those little dates to be very difficult to read and not always in an easily seen portion of the packaging. To make it easier, I use a grease pencil or Sharpie marker and write the date in the item in a place that will be easily visible and given that my eyes are over 50 years old and have a little extra trouble seeing things these days I make sure to write those dates are large and easily read.
Some items like sugar, honey and salt don’t have expiration dates. I still rotate them anyway.
Keep a written inventory of what you have on hand and what you want to have on hand. I have a spreadsheet that I created that has columns for what I have on hand, what I want to have on hand and another for how many I need to buy to keep those number balanced. I also set up conditional formatting so I can see at a glance what is red (need to buy now), yellow (can wait for a sale) or green (we have enough on hand). Some people I know just keep it all on a yellow legal pad. It doesn’t matter how you keep track of it just make sure you do.
It would be a very unpleasant surprise to find all that food you had stored away was spoiled or that you were missing critical supplies.
Now you may be asking yourself…
How do I get started?
Which will be part 4 of this series.