*On Merging Food Storage*
By: TooshieGalore
26 July 2015

I inherited a bunch of food storage. If you've never tried to merge someone else's food storage in with yours, you might be surprised at the work involved.

Yesterday four strong adults stacked my garage with 5-gal buckets, totes filled with vacuum packed dry goods, #10 cans, Ball jars and grocery canned goods. All in all, I'd guess about $12,000 worth. That's the good news.

This stuff came from a local, like-minded family member but life got in the way and obviously food storage was not their priority for the past year. So, the bad news is:

About half of the 5-gal buckets were DIYed with the other half being purchased from name brand suppliers. Still, I felt obliged to open each, empty and inspect thoroughly before repacking. We also surveyed every jar-seal, every box and every bag.

I felt this necessary so that I would know exactly what I had, I would know that what I had was good, and to know I wasn't contaminating my food with stuff that may contain bugs or disease. It took two long, back-breaking days. At the end, I had divided everything into piles:

After purging the Throw-Out and Donate piles, I still had quite a bit of stuff. A few notes:

I prepared several of the boxed food items. Once satisfied box-food was still good, I stuck them in the freezer for three days to kill any possible bugs. Then I repackaged them into vacuum sealed bags with o2 absorbers and labels.

I used unique labels so that I'd know which the inherited food was. This will be the first to be given to neighbors should the need arise.

I normally store canning jars in their boxes along with the protective cardboard dividers. My inherited jars were not protected. I was able to find divided-boxes at the Liquor Barn. As it turns out, large wine bottles are the same diameter as a quart size canning jar. I only had to cut down the height of the box.

I hate bringing cardboard boxes into my home. They are a source for cockroaches. So, after trimming the new boxes to size I fumigated them with bug spray before packing and storing.

My storage totes are all the same size. Call me anal, but a consistent size makes storing and inventorying a lot easier. My shelves are built for the dimensions of these totes. I figured I got all this food for free and could afford to invest in my regular totes to store it in.

My food storage plan is built around recipes. Suddenly, having all this odd stuff that does not relate to a recipe made it very difficult to shelve with any organization. I found an online recipe builder, (http://myfridgefood.com/.) where I could enter ingredients and the software recommends recipes to use them. So, we'll try a few new recipes to eat up odd items. Or course, these items can also be great for barter.

I added the inherited food that we are likely to eat into my computerized food inventory system but did not add the odd food. Instead, I made a new area on a shelf, calling it "barter food."

As it turns out, inheriting food storage is time and energy demanding. I spent about nine days all total. Incorporating other people's food into your own storage is inefficient and inconvenient. Plus free is not really free considering that I purchased buckets, totes, additional o2 absorbers and Mylar bags all total about $200 worth. But hey, I appreciate having it. I'm NOT complaining.


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