Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pantry Challenge: What you should store


This month I’m participating in the Pantry Challenge and one of my goals is to evaluate my food storage.  For the last year I have been adding a LOT to my long term food storage.  It is time for me to reevaluate what I need, what I have, and what I want.  

With this as with all big projects I like to break it down into smaller tasks, so today we are just going to focus on figuring out what you need.   I like to use a combination of the free food storage calculators and inventory sheets available online. 

Choosing a Food Storage Calculator  
There are a couple of easy to use food storage calculators that I recommend. 
       1.      Food Storage Calculator from

The is really easy to use.  You enter the number of people over 7 years old, than you enter the number that are younger and hit calculate.  You than have a list of basics divided by pounds. 

This calculator does not include any freeze dried foods, any canned goods, or any fresh foods stored in a root cellar.

This is a free download.  You need excel to open the file. 

This is a great calculator.  It allows you to customize the number of months that you desire to have food storage for, that is a  great feature that many of the calculators don’t have. 
I also like this one because it has a place for those of you who are OCD to track the cost, where you purchased it, and how much you have stored. 

This planner is specialized to the THRIVE brand of food that Shelf Reliance sells, but I feel like it is easy enough to transfer across to any brand you are buying. 
I LOVE it because it is easily customizable.  

For example my family is pretty picky about what beans they will eat.  They will not eat kidney beans.  Ever. So when I was figuring out what we needed the planner recommended that I store 5 cans or 25 pounds of red beans .  I took them out and the planner recalculated showing me that I now only had 43% of the meat and beans my family needed.   I swapped things around until I was happy which left me with a case each of Freeze Dried Chicken, Instant Black Beans, Sausage Crumbles and Whole Egg Powder.  This put me over the recommended but I’m okay with that. 

This is the calculator that takes the most time to use. But it takes that time because it allows you to totally customize it.  If you want to store freeze Dried Spinach and Freeze Dried tomatoes it can handle that.  If you are storing only gluten free grains it can handle that. 

It does take a little time to process as you change things around.   

One of the things I really like about this caculator is that it gives you the food amounts in pounds and in the number of number 10 cans.  
For example it figured out that I needed 7 cans of 9 grain cracked cereal which is 28 pounds.  I like this because I purchase most things in number 10 cans but I sometimes buy things in bulk and knowing how many pounds to buy is great .

When you are finished with the planner and everything is set how you want it.  You have a couple of options.  You can Set up monthly shipments (which you are totally in control of what comes, and when it comes) you can add all of it to you cart and buy it all in a go, you can e-mail your plan, and you can save you plan.  I like to e-mail it to myself and save it.

      4.      The Food Storage Planner from the USU Extension:  This file is a PFD and you will have to do some of your own math.  (But it is simple math and you can do it.)

This plan helps you create a list of 10 main dishes that your family likes.  You than break down the dishes by ingredients and store the ingredients to make these dishes.  This PDF includes easy to follow instructions, an example, and 3 blank forms.  The 3 forms are the food storage planner, the Pantry Storage Inventory, and   Frozen Storage Inventory. 

This is a great way to think about food storage.  It insures that you have foods stored that your family will eat and that you know how to cook.  I really like that it includes the pantry and freezer storage, places many of us overlook when we are evaluating our food storage.   

If this kind of food storage appeals to you, than check out the cookbook   it’s in the bag by Michelle Snow.  You can see my review of it here. 

5.  E's Food Storage Inventory:  You might Remember E from a while back.  She is the one with the super awesome pantry.  She also has a great way that she keeps track of her food storage inventory.   

How do you figure out how much to store?  Do you use a food storage caculator?