*YOUR Family Food Storage Plan*
By: Osage
25 June 2012
(Minor Revision 13 August 2012)


Why is it yours? Because it's not mine. I don't have to live with it (or more importantly 'within' its restrictions). What (I hope!) works well for my family may not work at all for you.

That means that, from the first word, YOU have to think and decide. I can't decide for you. I can give you some things to think about and the value of experience, but I can't (and won't) decide for you.


First Steps

First off, ask yourself why you're storing food.

Obedience to Spiritual Guidance is sufficient reason to embark on this journey. And, in my experience and opinion, it is the best reason for sticking with it.

Within the realm of temporal motivations I would think that someone who is aware of international events over the past century would find sufficient examples of the necessity of preparing against disasters within the confines of their own memory. As a partial list:

And a quick side note: Food preparations are only a part of an entire preparedness lifestyle. One standard I particularly like is "...food, clothing and, where possible, fuel...". But that entire suite of considerations is beyond the scope of this article.

Please note that motivation aimed at 'why' is insufficient guidance for 'how'. For that you need to decide what you're protecting against. And for that you need a Threat Analysis.


Threats

I've often used the tag line that food is good against everything from a short paycheck to the end of the world. But the truth is that different threats require different foods. Or, to be more exact, different threats require different mixes of common types of foods.

First off: if you want to prepare against the direct hit of an F5 tornado on your slab-on-grade stick-built house I can't help you within the confines of this article. Recognize that some disasters require preparations outside the mere realm of "food" preparations. On the other hand, this disaster can be prepared against and those preparations can include a store of food.

One way to conduct a threat analysis is based on a cause and effect analysis. To do this, list all 'causes', triggering events that can cause you problems, across the top of the page. Then, list things you may need to address that situation, aka 'responses', along the left side. Go down the column under each cause and, wherever that cause triggers a particular response, make a mark in that row. For example, the cause 'unemployment' may cause me to need food in the short term (if your financial reserves are low) and may cause me to need food in the long term if I remain unemployed for months, but it is unlikely to make me abandon my house rapidly. On the other hand, a 'transportation emergency' (train derailment carrying dangerous chemicals) may cause me to abandon my house rapidly (requiring a 72-hr kit), but is unlikely to make me worry about feeding my family 4 months from now. For example:

   
Unemployment
Transportation
Emergency
Tornado
Flash Flood
72-Hr Kit
   
X
X
X
Food 1-3
months
X
   
X
X
Food 3 months
2 yrs
X
   
   
   
Heating Fuel
X
   
X
X
Water
   
   
X
X

Yes, this can become quite a large analysis. Don't get "analysis paralysis". But it is a valuable exercise in designing YOUR plan. After a while you'll notice that many widely varying causes are sufficiently addressed by a similar set of responses. Those are the things you need to focus your resources upon.


Finally, Let's Focus on Foods

In terms of food, three related responses come to mind that should (with very minor variations at most) address almost every situation:


Short-Term Foods

These are foods that need little or no preparation for eating. It is especially helpful if such foods also need little or no added water since potable water may be in short supply during an emergency. You won't need a large quantity of these foods because they're meant to be used for only a few days at a time. MRE's, snack foods, and some canned foods are popular choices to fill this need.


Mid-Term Foods

Bridge Foods: What you eat daily or something close. Foods that require much less preparation than dry beans, rice, wheat berries, etc. 'bridge' the path from your current diet to the third leg of economical stored basic foods with very long shelf lives. Bridge foods allow time for both psychological and digestive adjustment to a different diet. Because they are quicker and easier to prepare they also allow time to fully develop other needed items such as long-term water supply and waste disposal (see "Bridging" below). These foods include wet-canned meats and vegetables, flour (vs whole grains), baking mixes, etc. These foods are characterized by familiarity and ease of preparation but also by higher cost and shorter shelf life than the items in the third leg.


Long-Term Foods

Foods in this category can range from extremely simple combinations to more complex, and more nutritionally complete, plans.

First: The simplest is taken from current recommendations by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS or 'Mormon' church). It calls for 25 lbs of grain and 5 lbs of beans per person per month and is nutritionally sufficient for most folks in good health for those not doing significant physical labor. For those working hard additional calories (grain) needs to be added, up to an additional 20 lb/month. This plan is super-simple, very plain, and somewhat bland. Without significant spices and other helps most Americans will grow very disillusioned with this diet quite rapidly.

Second: A more complex plan, commonly called the Mormon Four Plan, sufficient for one adult for a month is shown below:

Used alone the Mormon Four plan will provide about 2,200 calories per day. That is between the recommended intake for an average adult man and woman in good health. More would be needed for a man doing significant physical labor, less for a child.

Finally: This plan is noticeably more complex and nutritionally complete than either of the ones above. The plan recommends an amount of grain which varies by gender and age of each of your family members. It then adds for each person, no matter the gender or age of the person, a standard package of legumes, milk, oils, sugar, and salt. This system accounts for the different needs based on gender and age very elegantly according to a professional nutritionist I consulted.

Table 1 (below) is the monthly amount of grain per person based on gender and age.

   
Child
Male
Female
Age
1-6
7-18
18+
7-11
12-18
18+
Lb / Month
20
33
35
28
26
25
Table 2 (below) is the monthly amount of the other items per person regardless of gender or age.

Beans & Legumes (Lb / Month)
Fats &
Oils
Milk
Sugar
Salt
Misc
Beans
Misc
Beans
Soybean
(TVP)
Split
Peas
Lentils
(Lb /
Month)
(Lb /
Month)
(Lb /
Month)
(Lb /
Month)
2.0
0.15
0.15
0.3
0.3
2.2
1.4
5.0
0.83

This plan provides sufficient calories for adult males doing significant labor. Note that the Misc Beans is any kind of bean you want pinto, black, pink, or a mix of whatever. The other very specific bean/legume items are required to maintain a balance of essential amino acids, and can't be skipped.


Pre-Packaged Plans (and Some Warnings)

One solution to acquiring your long-term food storage items is a pre-packaged food plan from a commercial vendor. While this type system has advantages, you need to watch out for two major pitfalls. First, many of these plans depend heavily on highly convenient but expensive freeze-dried foods. You can get nutritious meals that have a longer shelf life for much less money. Second, many pre-packaged plans I've reviewed provide as little as 1,200 calories per day as an adult portion. That is seriously insufficient for an adult doing any significant physical labor. Current USDA guidelines for daily caloric intake are 2,500 for males, 2,000 for females {2,500 in late pregnancy}, and 1,800 for children aged 5-10. Not all pre-packaged plans suffer from this insufficiency, but check carefully any package plan you're considering.


Added Stuff

From the earliest recorded history it, whatever 'it' was at the moment, is never as simple as you'd think at first glance. Food storage is the same. If you have a plan based on freeze-dried foods you have to supply a lot of potable water and energy to boil that water. With a simple plan like I have recommended you'll need a grain mill and supplemental vitamins.

A quick note on cooking: Whatever system you settle on you absolutely must be able to cook the food. That's the "fuel" part of the advice above. That's beyond the scope of this article, but you ignore it only at grave peril to your family!

Most simple food storage plans depend on wheat or corn for the majority of their calories. Both grains can be cooked without grinding, but both benefit greatly from grinding the grain kernels into flour. You need to be careful of spending too little on a mill. Maybe the adage "buy once, cry once" has no greater application than this one. From personal experience I can only recommend one mill, the Country Living Grain Mill. By recommendation of others I can add the Wonder Mill Jr Deluxe, Family, and Back to Basics mills. The Grain Maker and Victorio mills have received good reviews, but not from people I know well enough to pass on their comments. I recommend you avoid like the plague the Corona mill and its clones. It is designed (and sufficient only) for turning soaked corn into masa (tortilla dough). I can recommend the Marga (aka Marcato aka Fox Run) roller mill only for that for which it is designed: turning oat groats into rolled oats.

Most long-term storage food plans are light on vitamins. You can supplement this by sprouting the wheat and beans and storing seeds specifically for sprouting. The most convenient way to supplement vitamin content is to store a one-a-day type vitamin and take 2-4 per week as a supplement.


Knowledge and Practice

And now to another old adage: "OK, now that I have it what am I gonna do with it?" Whatever types of foods you store you must know how to use them. Not have read a good article. Not have done it a few years ago at Scout camp. Know! That applies to freeze-dried foods as much as stored wheat. At a minimum you'll waste a lot of food if you're unfamiliar with it.


Info Sources

No one talk can tell you all you need to know even about a topic as specific as this. And no one speaker can answer all your questions, especially the ones you don't even know you have yet. Here are some information sites and suppliers I have come to trust:

Osage



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