‘Food Storage has styles?!’ You bet. Different people do things differently and hence, there’s a style to just about everything we do. Food storage is no exception. One style may work fabulously for one person, but be a completely wrong fit for the next. It’s important to find the style that works for you so that your food storage process is something that is comfortable and enjoyable. Below are the different ‘styles’ I’ve assigned to the food storage world. I’m sure there are more than just what I’ve thought of (if you think of some, feel free to share!), and so that you don’t think I’m ever mocking any style, just know that I’ve tried most of these (so if it sounds like I’m mocking, I’m only mocking myself… I promise!) and I will explain reasons why they do or do not work for me.
The #10 Can Fan
These are the people who think ‘it’s not food storage unless it’s in a #10 can’. (You know who you are! :)) This style tends to be more of the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach to food storage. These are generally the people who purchase and then pack away a bunch of #10 cans of dehydrated and freeze-dried foods, generally hoping they will all last 20-30 years so that they don’t have to think about ‘food storage’ again for another 20-30 years.
The reasons this doesn’t work for me (yes, I’ve attempted this method): 1) The cans are not generally purchased with a recipe in mind. So when it’s time to use the food in these cans, we’re stuck trying to come up with recipes that will actually incorporate our #10 can ingredients. That’s okay if it’s just an ingredient or two, but if you actually had to live off these foods, you’d probably be in a world of hurt. I feel it gives a false sense of ‘my food storage is complete’ and people will neglect to look at the supplementary foods needed to be able to actually cook with these foods. 2) The foods don’t all last 20-30 years (in fact, most probably don’t with the exception of the grains, milk, etc) but trying to find expiration dates or the shelf life for each product drove me crazy. I was not able to find it for most of the things I had bought and therefore have no idea how long I can actually keep these cans. And 3) it’s expensive. It definitely costs more than an equal quantity of food from the grocery store (with some exceptions).
Things that work for me: I have found that supplementing my food storage with certain items of food sealed in #10 cans works really well for me. They are my backup for everyday items I use now but will not have access to if we couldn’t get to the stores, or they are simply items I want to last for a long time. So I get things like wheat, white rice, oats, powdered milk, and powdered eggs in #10 cans (remembering that I need to still use them in order to rotate).
The #10 Can – Meal Plan Edition
This style is the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ Deluxe approach to food storage. These are the people who purchase the dehydrated or freeze dried meals in the #10 cans (or pouches) and store them away with the hope that they will last for 20-30 years so that, again, they do not have to think about food storage for the next 20-30 years.
Reason this doesn’t work for me: 1) It’s expensive! Really that’s about it. And maybe that it takes up a lot of space. But really, if I had a bunch of money to toss around, I could see myself doing this. Having the whole meal already prepared and then freeze dried takes away the problem of having a bunch of individual ingredients and struggling to come up with a recipe, or of failing to store supplemental ingredients in order to actually be able to make something with them. So, as long as the shelf-life is known and you don’t fail to replenish them after they have expired… and you’re rich :)… then go for it! But, you may want to purchase just a few to start and give them a try to make sure you actually like them before you purchase a whole year’s worth.
Survival Ingredients Storage
These are maybe the people who look up the recommended amounts of food necessary to survive for a year (i.e. ___ lbs of grain, ___ lbs of sugar, ___lbs of legumes, etc.) and store exactly that. Well, good for them. They’ll be able to survive for a year.
The reasons this doesn’t work for me: 1) I do not want to survive for a year. Yes, by the end of the year I still want to be alive, but I want to enjoy my life as well. So while storing certain foods may enable me to survive a year, if I have the option to put together a food supply that will enable me to enjoy that year as well (instead of dreading mealtime), I think I’ll choose the latter. 2) This style also lends itself to neglecting the additional ingredients necessary in order to be able to actually cook something… unless you’re just planning on chewing all your wheat and having bland oatmeal every morning for 365 days. Yummy! 😉
On the plus side, it’s probably one of the least expensive routes you could go, although that’s probably because you’re only buying just enough to get by. (But just keep telling yourself, “Oatmeal for 365 days, oatmeal for 365 days…”)
Recipe Minded Storage
This style is the most realistic in terms of everyday use. This is the ‘eat what you store and store what you eat’ approach to food storage. These are the people who have a system of family-friendly recipes and then purchase the necessary ingredients in order to make a year’s supply of those everyday meals.
The reasons this does work for me: (In case you couldn’t guess, this is the approach I am taking to food storage.) 1) I don’t feel like I’m wasting money on food that I won’t ever really use (unless the end of the world comes)… the food I buy is food I use everyday and it will therefore be eaten. 2) I like that you can also stock up when there’s a sale on (thereby saving even more money). And 3) The biggest reason I like this approach is because I love knowing that in any given crisis (unemployment, natural disaster, nation-wide food shortage, etc) my family–my hubby and children that I love so much–will have real, everyday food to eat. And in a time of hardship or crisis, normalcy is so very important.
So there you have it. What style are you?