*Food Storage and the Reluctant Spouse*
Lessons Learned and Current Solutions
By: Dáire
13 December 2010

Food storage really is a journey, especially when married. For any married survivalists it is important to have your spouse on board in some way. If they are reluctant to embrace the lifestyle, food storage provides them with a practical and familiar way to get involved. Here are some of the lessons that I have learned during the food storage journey.

When I first started storing food away I didn’t involve my wife at all. The first issue this caused was that food storage became another thing that I was doing alone in a lifestyle that she really didn’t trust. Perhaps the biggest issue, however, was simply in what I was buying. My early purchases were based strictly on shelf life and nutrition. I didn’t give any thought at all to whether anyone in the family would like the food or even how it would be rotated. My motto was “hunger is the best sauce.” While there may be some truth in that phrase, it is certain to cause problems. The fact that I was spending a bunch of money storing food that most of the family wouldn’t willingly eat led to many arguments. Those arguments, and more education on my part, eventually led to the next leg in the journey.

Once it finally sunk in that I needed to primarily store foods that my family normally ate, with some substitutions made for fresh meats and vegetables, I got obsessed with knowing exactly how long the food would last and purchased according to how many meals it would make. This is where the expiration date arguments first started because I was buying larger quantities, although it hadn’t become a problem yet. I just needed to make sure that things were rotated fast enough. My wife was still unhappy with some of my choices. She was also unhappy with my shopping habits, which often led to having to rotate absurd amounts of food to adhere to the expiration date. I remember one time I had 20 jars of pasta sauce all expiring at the same time. Eventually, the arguing finally led me to get frustrated and cry, “Fine, you do it!” That was probably the smartest thing I could have done.

By letting her do the storage shopping, she became involved which resolved a lot of the arguing right there. I was still tracking the inventory and she accepted advice on what we should buy, although it was still her decision. She was sure to buy things she knew we would eat and didn’t buy a large quantity all at once, that would end up being rotated all at once. Things were going pretty well until recently when the expiration date issue came around again.

She had always followed the expiration date printed on the package. To her the food became inedible after that date, although I did note that she would still use foods she liked after the date. She has never wanted to trust her own senses to make sure food was okay to eat, with the exception of smelling meat that had been in the fridge a couple days. She discovered that I had food in storage that was “expired” and had a fit because it would need to be thrown out and that would be wasting money. I was on the brink of thinking the journey had just led to a cliff and we could not proceed. We argued a lot about what the dates actually mean. I provided her with links explaining where the dates come from and what they really mean, etc. In the end some of it finally sunk in, or maybe she was just tired of arguing, and we finally arrived at a compromise. Here is our somewhat complicated current storage/rotation method:

  1. When food is purchased for storage, the purchase date is marked on it with a Sharpie so we instantly know what gets rotated first and can identify it in inventory.
  2. The food is added to the FSP (Food Storage Planner – http://www.foodstorageplanner.com) inventory using expiration guidelines found at www.stilltasty.com. Using the website guidelines gives her a solid reference and makes her more comfortable than trusting senses and experience.
  3. When regular groceries are brought home they are immediately rotated with the oldest storage foods. We should have been doing this all along.
  4. I print a rotation report each month showing what is “expiring” within the next month.
  5. The FSP expiration is now considered the drop dead date that things have to be rotated into the kitchen to be used as soon as convenient. This covers things in storage that are not part of our usual groceries.

We are still on the food storage journey and I expect that things will continue to evolve. But I am very happy that my wife is more involved and we have, hopefully, settled the expiration issue.

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