Food Storage: Multiply and Replenish

While we’re working on collecting our recipes (you’re remembering to collect those, right?), I wanted to give you some insight into where we’re headed with them so that you can tweak the numbers as suited to your tastes and needs.

The next step after we’ve collected our recipes is going to be to multiply the ingredients in them based on the amount of times we’ll need to make that recipe in a year. “Huh?”

It’s easy peasy! Let me just explain it like this… For me, I’m collecting 7 breakfast recipes because I want to have a different breakfast every day of the week, and those 7 recipes equal one full week of breakfast. Well, there are 52 weeks in a year, so I know that in order to have those 7 breakfasts all year long, I will need to multiply each breakfast recipe 52 times. Make sense? Let’s do a hands on example:

Let’s say I have cereal as one of my breakfast meal options, and my family eats about 4 cups of cereal in one breakfast (I have no clue, I’m just guessing right now) along with 2 cups of milk on that cereal for everyone. Then I’ll do some simple math (of course, my simple math involves a calculator) :D…

4 cups of cereal (breakfast for one day of the week) x 52 (weeks) = 208 cups
2 cups of milk x 52 = 104 cups

Alright. So that means that to have cereal once a week for a full year, I need to have 208 cups of cereal and 104 cups of reconstituted milk. (Starting to make sense?) Taking that to the next level, now I just need to know how many cups of cereal are in a box… let’s just say 10 because I’m too lazy to go check right now. So then for our cereal we divide 208 (which is the number of cups we need) by 10 (the amount of cups in a box), which equals 20.8 (we’ll round up to 21). For the milk I need to know how many cups can be made from a #10 can of powdered milk. Let’s just guess 30, because again… too lazy. 😀 Divide 104 by 30 and that gives us roughly 3.5. So our hypothetical numbers are that I need to keep 21 boxes of cereal and 3.5 cans of powdered milk on hand in order to have cereal once a week for a full year. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Perhaps cereal was a bad example to start with because you’re not using a whole box in one sitting. Let’s do one more easy one. Spaghetti dinner. Ingredients: 1 lb of spaghetti, 1 jar of pasta sauce.
So if I were going to have spaghetti once a week for a full year, I would multiply:

1 lb spaghetti noodles x 52 (weeks) = 52 lbs spaghetti noodles
1 jar pasta sauce x 52 (weeks) = 52 jars pasta sauce

So I would need 52 lbs of spaghetti noodles and 52 jars of pasta sauce. See? EASY! 🙂

So what you need to decide is how many times you want to be repeating your meals. If you only want 7 dinners and have each one once a week for the 52 weeks of the year, you only need to collect 7 dinner recipes. If you want a 2 week variety, you would need 14 dinner recipes. And while we’re on the topic, I’ll go ahead and explain why I chose the number of recipes to collect that I did:

I chose 7 breakfasts and lunches because I don’t need a lot of variety for those meals (in fact, 7 is stretching it… I’m sure I’ll double some of those up) and also because 7 is an easy number to work with (as we’ve just gone over) because it represents one week, so I just need to multiply everything by the 52 weeks in a year.

Dinner, however, is where I go a little crazy on you. For dinner I chose 20 recipes. Twenty seems like such an odd number to choose. It’s not a multiple of 7 and 365 is not divisible by it… so why 20? Okay, here’s my logic. I like a lot of variety at dinner. And since I know I am going to be using my food storage on an everyday basis (and then simply restocking) I did not want to be having the same 7 meals over and over, or even the same 14 meals over and over. So… instead of working on a weekly rotation, I am using a monthly rotation. (And yes, I’m aware that months have more than 20 days! Bare with me. :)) So instead of taking one week of recipes and multiplying by the 52 weeks, I’m going to take one month of recipes and multiply by the 12 months. However, along with my basic comfort food recipes, I like to experiment with new meals as well. This would present a problem if I’m trying to calculate in advance how much I need for a year. SO! What I do is this… I plan on a month being 30 days. I have 20 recipes that I keep as my standard and keep those ingredients stocked. But that’s going to leave me with 10 unprepared for days in each month. These 10 days are where I can experiment, or I can have my big fresh green salad that I love, or my chili baked potato bar that aren’t completely food storage friendly meals. And then, if I find myself in a crisis situation and needing to last a whole year on just my food storage, this is where my extra long-term supply food comes in handy. (Remember that part of my ultimate goal is to have extra of things like rice, wheat, beans, etc in those nice #10 cans that lasts for.ev.er?) I figure my family and I can deal with 10 dinners a month of rice and beans if we absolutely had to… especially since we’d be having things like pancakes for breakfast and peanut butter sandwiches for lunch. 🙂 Uh, ya… I think we could definitely get by! So that’s why I said to not despair! We will not be living our whole life out of cans in order to be prepared! We can still enjoy our yummy fresh fruits and vegetables while they are available to us! So anyway, for me that would mean that for my 20 food storage friendly dinner recipes, I would multiply each of those by 12 and call it good.

Did that confuse the heck out of anyone?? Definitely feel free to simplify that dinner part if it will work better for you!! And something else to consider is that you frequently have a dinner meal more than one time in a month. We probably have spaghetti 2-3 times in a month, so spaghetti would count as 2 (or 3) of those 20 meals. Some families have pizza once a week. Well, that’s 4 of your meals right there. So don’t stress about having to find 20 unique recipes if you don’t want. Just plan according to how your family eats! Also, feel free to change these numbers up now that you know the logic behind them. If you don’t like to experiment much on meals, bump your ’20’ recipes up to ’25’ (or even higher) and still just multiply those all by 12. Just leave yourself some breathing room for all those recipes you enjoy that didn’t make it onto the food storage friendly list. 🙂

Alright. Enough of that for now. Next week we’ll look at how to organize all of our information. (YEA for organization!!)
Oh, and if anyone is really confused by this, please feel free to contact me and I can email you or even call you to explain it one-on-one. Sometimes I know that what makes total sense in my head doesn’t come out completely coherent to someone else. 🙂 So anyway, good luck ya’ll and keep working on those recipes. 🙂

Food Storage: Gathering Everyday Recipes

Okay, I feel like within the last week or two we’ve covered a lot of ground really fast. It might be starting to feel a little whirlwind-ish at this point. Ya? So I’m going to take it down a notch and let us breathe for a second.  *breathe. in. out.*  Ah. Much better. Okay, jumping back in! Just kidding. 🙂 Today will be an easy one. We’re finally getting to the “doing” part of our food storage plan. Not that we weren’t doing stuff before, but it was more philosophical, in our head type stuff (although hopefully your goals and plan are written down somewhere!). So now we start putting things into action… we get to Implement The Plan! This is where it gets fun. (I have a warped sense of fun… I know.) 😉

Today let’s look at the first short-term goal on our plan (well, my plan anyway). Let’s see… it was collecting ‘everyday recipes’ to make those ‘everyday meals’.
For this, I like to break my meals down by category. I’ll get some breakfast recipes, lunch, dinner, and let’s not forget snacks and desserts (for pete’s sake! DON’T forget the desserts!!).
Now, in each category, I’m just going to start listing some of my family’s favorite everyday meals.

Breakfast: we like cereal most days, pancakes quite often, waffles, occasionally oatmeal, occasionally french toast… and geez, I think that about covers it!

Lunch: Hmm… I hate lunch. I never know what to fix. Peanut butter sandwich? Anyone anyone? Ya, that’s what it usually ends up being (my poor, deprived daughters!) What else? Grilled cheese sandwiches, mac & cheese, leftovers, ramen, (wow… this is starting to sound like ‘confessions of the nutritionally deficient mother’… hey, I throw some carrots and apples in there too!). Perhaps I should stop there for now.

On to Dinner: We have a plethora of favorites here. Spaghetti; Chicken Broccoli Casserole; Beef Stroganoff; Chicken Penne Sun-Dried Tomato Alfredo; Quesadillas; a nice big salad; Chicken Enchiladas; Beef Enchiladas; Broccoli Beef; many Asian-themed meals; Chili Baked Potatoes; Soup on a nice cold night; and on and on.

When you get a chance, go ahead and write down as many of your family’s favorites that you can think of. (I like to do this while I’m maybe sitting and watching the kids play, or zoning out in front of the tv. I’m a multi-tasker like that. ;))
Now what we need to do is look at the recipes for each of the meals on our list. Which of them can be made using only shelf stable ingredients or ingredients stored in the freezer? If they can be made with completely shelf stable ingredients, I put a little (SS) next to the title. If they can be made from a combination of shelf stable and freezer stored foods, I put a little (E) next to the title (‘E’ for ‘Electricity Needed’). If it requires ingredients that do not meet one of these two categories, it gets crossed off. (There goes my nice big salads along with the baked potato bar.) NOT that it means I can no longer make these meals!! Heavens sakes! I’ll explain how these recipes can still fit in later.
Helpful Tips To Consider: Think outside the box. Some recipes that appear to not be food storage friendly can be easily tweaked and be perfectly suited to your food storage. Another thing to consider is that by adding certain ingredients to your pantry, you can also increase your food storage menu options (i.e. having things like powdered milk and powdered eggs means I can make a lot more recipes completely shelf stable.)

So now that we know what we’re looking for, our challenge is to gather 7 breakfast, 7 lunch, and 20 dinner food storage friendly, family favorite recipes, with at least half of them in each category being completely shelf stable recipes. (I’ll explain the reasoning for the numbers next week when we get started on the next step of the plan and you can change them then if you’d like. In the meantime, just go with it. :))
And since this is a goal, I’m going to give myself a deadline to get this accomplished by. I think I’ll give myself two weeks. Not that I can’t sit and write down a bunch of menu ideas in just an hour or so, but I want to give myself time to try out and test several recipes before I just add them to my list. I want to make sure my list is fully comprised of ‘family approved’ meals before I go purchasing tons of ingredients to make them for a whole year! (I know… I’m smart. I went to college. :))
You can download and print this page to help organize your process:
Food Storage Menu List

Alrighty then. Start flipping through those cookbooks and recipe cards and we’ll check this list in two weeks! Good luck.