It’s the Working Supply of Your Food Storage.
Having a well organized pantry, 3 month food supply, and a good meal plan is really important for you, your family, and your greater community.
How does this affect the world around you? Beyond taking away the stress of having to cook last minute meals on the fly, having a planned 3 month food supply in your pantry really cuts down on food going bad and having to be thrown out.
The US Department of Agriculture estimates that over 30% of the American food supply is thrown away each year! By making a plan and maintaining a good 3 month food supply year-round, you can do your part to make the planet a more livable place.
At the same time, following these simple tips and our get-it-done-today organizational challenge will help you de-stress and not have to worry about those last minute dinner plans.
Power of the Pantry: The Work Horse of Your Long Term Food Storage
Picture the following scene: It’s Friday night and you’re heading home after a long day at the office. You’re tired from working late, and you really don’t feel like going to the grocery store now. But one problem festers in your mind. You can’t remember what you have at home in the pantry.
So much for all that meal planning you were going to do! Can you still pull together a nutritious (and tasty) meal for your family using only your pantry supplies? This nagging question is enough to coerce many of us into making an often unnecessary pit stop at the grocery store on the way home. This wastes time and money in the process.
However, if you have a 3-month food supply stocked and planned out, the answer to that nagging question is a resounding yes!
Make a Plan!
OK, I admit it, I hate to be hungry. My family thinks I’m obsessive about my 3-month food supply, but I say a stocked pantry is security. It can also be a big taste bonus! Knowing what you have stocked means you can plan out delicious and healthy meals without breaking a sweat or breaking the bank.
When you live in a small town, keeping a good 3-month supply can be a necessity, unless you want to spend a fortune at the local grocery store! And, in uncertain times like these, during an unpredictable pandemic and indefinite quarantine, a well stocked pantry can be a lifesaver.
Even if I don’t cook with ingredients stored in my pantry every day, knowing that I can gives me a sense of power and freedom. It also gives me the confidence of feeling that I am better prepared for any kind of potential food-related stress. Whether it’s cooking tomorrow night’s dinner to comfortably riding out a long term quarantine, I know I’m ready.
Scroll down for more tips on how to maximize nutritious food in your short and long term supply.
A 3-Month Food Supply Helps You by:
- Saving money during challenging economic times.
- Giving you peace of mind for potential job loss, natural disasters, and meal planning.
- Letting you control what your family eats.
- Providing healthy nutritious meals.
“But wait!” you say. “I just read your last article advising me to need to prepare Long Term Food Storage and now you want me to have a 3-month food supply on top of that?”
Yes indeed! The two are not mutually exclusive by any means.
Rather, long term food storage and a 3 month pantry supply work hand in hand, like cheese and crackers… or beans and rice. Take your pick.
When it comes to long term food storage, think about the bare necessities. This means life-saving items to sustain you and your family over the long term, such as grains, fats, milk, or leavening.
Granted, you can also find those things in your 3 month food supply. But, you will need to add other items to your pantry in order to turn the right combination of elements into complete meals.
And remember, always think about what foods you actually like (be mindful of avoiding food waste). Your 3 month food supply should always revolve around meals that your family will actually want to eat! Food fatigue is real.
For this next step of organizing a 3 month food supply, you will be using your pantry, but also your cupboards, freezer, and refrigerator.
What Should You Include in Your 3 Month Food Supply?
- Put away your regular pantry items, the things that you use on a weekly basis or more. For some families that might be pancake mix, while for others, it could be applesauce or cream of mushroom soup. Why not both? We always have a variety of sauces, salad dressing and spicy mustard in our 3 month food supply. Planning ahead makes it possible to figure out how you can work any and all of these ingredients into future meals.
- Store what you regularly eat as part of your 3 month supply. It isn’t a good deal if it sits on the shelf and goes bad. Be mindful of how much food gets thrown away in the US each year. Don’t be a part of the problem! Besides, does anyone really want to eat a can of jellied cranberries?
- Pack away your refrigerator and freezer foods. Take the time to learn the basics of freezing fruits and vegetables or learn the art of canning. Stock up and buy canned goods from the store during discount periods. Scroll down for more tips on selecting healthy canned goods.
- Purchase meat on sale and have it wrapped into family portion sizes or invest in a Foodsaver.
- Use the handy 3 month food supply spreadsheet to make a list of possible storage items. Start by thinking about baking mixes, canned or bottled food, baking ingredients, and seasonings.
- If money is not a huge problem think about Plan B: Meals Ready to Eat (MREs). MREs are also known as camping food and they have been around for ages especially in the military circles. Most MRE brands have their calories counted, but don’t be fooled by serving sizes. Most serving sizes are microscopic and wouldn’t make a n adult feel full. When picking a MRE kit look for number of calories (1,600 – 1,800 calories/per day is normal, 2,000 calories is ideal, and 3,600 is best for situations with lots of physical exertion). MREs require minimal cooking: you’ll need just some hot water and a bit of patience. Many of them can be prepared in their own packaging which means less dirty dishes for you (a nice bonus when water is scarce). Some MREs can last up to 25 years which means that you won’t have to worry about rotating inventory, but they’re rather pricey and not all taste that great.
- Keep your options open. Don’t rely on a single source of food such as homemade canned goods and dry staple like rice, beans, flour. Keep your food supply as varied as your budget permits. Add instant meals from the grocery store to the mix too, even though they are not that nutritious and healthy, along with a handful of MREs. In an emergency situation, you might not always have the time or energy to cook a meal from scratch. So, always have a Plan B when it comes ot meal prepping.
Today’s Challenge: Get Your Pantry in Order!
Download our 3 Month Supply Spreadsheet of Common Pantry Items and inventory the items you currently have in your pantry.
Throw out all out of date items while you are in there! (See if those out of date items are really ok. Check out our short guide to expiration dates.) Identify what you are missing.
While you’re at it, make note of what items you’ve purchased, but never actually consumed. It’s important to figure out what you don’t eat when planning ahead for what you will eat.
Furthermore, making note of this will cut down on food waste. So, save that food for those who will actually eat it!
Make a list of the meals your family eats for 10 days straight and break those down into individual items. Divide them up by breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus any mid-day snacks. Remember, when it comes to snacking, the healthier the better.
Looking for weight loss tips? Avoid any snacking after 9pm, because it’s harder for our bodies to digest when we’re trying to sleep.
Be very specific with your ingredients and their respective quantities. Think, for example, how many eggs do you need for one week? This process is the foundation for keeping your 3 month food supply under control and for avoiding wasted money and food.
Remember, eggs and dairy don’t last that long. So, in case of a prolonged emergency, stock your pantry with as many non-perishable alternatives as you can. Augason Farms is an industry leading supplier of emergency food and water storage solutions and one of my family’s favorites.
Create a plan for purchasing the necessary items for your 3 month food supply. Budget some money each month for expanding your prepared pantry.
Create a plan for rotating your items. Use it to rotate your food storage on a regular basis so you will always be prepared. Mark down the anticipated expiration times of your items so that you can keep those at the front of your cooking list. This will avoid any waste.
Tips for Maintaining a Balanced 3 Month Food Supply
When it comes to eating healthy, whether its fruits and veggies or meat and produce, it’s always good to follow the rule of “fresh is best.” However, many food items in those categories can’t possibly last that long.
So, when planning out a healthy 3 month food supply, it’s important to also factor in the next best options for maintaining a steady supply of healthy foods. For fruits, vegetables, and meats, your next best bet after fresh is frozen, followed by canned.
Why are frozen meat and produce healthier than canned goods? The nutrients and vitamins inside them are maintained at the moment of freezing. When you thaw these items out for cooking or immediate consumption, it largely retains its fresh contents.
This is less so the case for canned goods. These are usually filled with additional substances such as salt, brine, or syrups that may not be as healthy.
So, when you do plan out your 3 month food supply, make note of how long your fresh fruits, veggies, meat, and produce items will last. A good way of maintaining a longer supply is to purchase that same amount of items but as frozen equivalents and store those in your freezer.
For those of you who have a large freezer, doubling that number would also round out your full three month supply.
Plans with Cans
However, if you’re like me and have a standard sized refrigerator/freezer combo, then doubling your fresh supply of produce items as frozen stock isn’t an option. In that case, canned goods will certainly do the trick.
When selecting canned foods with the healthiest properties, keep in mind what exactly the food is being preserved in. Avoid preservatives and excessive sodium additives when possible. Also, check what material the cans are made of. Avoid those that contain BPA, a potentially harmful chemical.
Nutritionists identify pumpkin, beans, coconut milk, fish, and black olives as the healthiest types of canned foods available on the regular market.
Tuna is one of the least expensive canned fish in the store, but be wary of your mercury intake. Instead, consider smaller fish such as mackerel and sardines, which are better for your body.
Not sure what to do with canned pumpkin and coconut milk? Check out this unique recipe for a dairy-free pumpkin pie.
Related Posts: 10 Laws of Food Storage – The Food Storage Law of 3’s – Sauce up Your Food Storage
At Preparedness Mama, our primary goals are to help you be prepared for an emergency with the necessary kit and accompanying family plan. We aim to provide you with the knowledge to garden, preserve your harvest, and use useful herbs every day. And we strive to arm you with all of this information. This way, you can do these things on your own without spending a ton of money in the process.
Luckily, if you plan these things out, budget reasonably, and inject a little creativity energy here and there, this is obtainable for almost every family. Furthermore, this process is a journey of learning and growing, and it’s one we would love to help you with.
You’ll also find many ideas to help you be more self-reliant. With that power, you’ll be confident in facing some of the challenges that can arise when we least expect it.
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