You or someone you love may have just decided to store food and be asking "WHERE do I start?" The myriad of options can make food storage feel overwhelming, especially when you are on a budget and just starting. Having a simple plan makes storing food economical, rewarding and reaching your goals is very motivating.


Four simple steps
1. Decide how much food you want to store. Set a goal to get a two-week supply of food; then work up to a month supply. Once achieved, you can change your goal to get a three-month's supply of food, if you desire, then six months — or even enough for a year. Setting smaller achievable goals gives a great feeling of accomplishment along the way. It's fun to reach your goal each time.

2. Think about storable foods that you like and purchase them. Sometimes a grocery store may not be accessible, or a reduced income may limit what you can afford to buy. Which foods you store depends on how much money you have. If you're on a budget, purchase inexpensive basic foods that make a healthy foundation for meals. These can include pasta, rice, oatmeal and beans, which can be inexpensively purchased at the grocery store or packaged to last a long time from a food storage supply store. This list can also include wheat. (See "Storing wheat: It's not a big deal") You can also include canned and dried fruits and vegetables, and canned meats. Set aside a part of your weekly food budget to invest in food storage. Sales really stretch your dollars.

3. Look for favorite family recipes and other delicious food storage recipes that can be made with stored foods. Planning around these recipes helps you know exactly what you want to store. A good food storage book or two can give you lots of ideas to try.

4. Create a menu for a week with your favorite food storage recipes. Multiply ingredients by two to plan your food storage for two weeks. As you store more food, increase your menu of recipes. Two weeks of meals, multiplied by two, gives you food for a month. A month or two of good-tasting recipes helps you plan a year's supply of delicious food. Simply multiply the ingredients accordingly.

Plan some variety in meals
Variety in meals helps people avoid becoming tired of what they eat until they can't stand some meals. A friend with five children, including three young children, served their favorite family meal — "Hawaiian Haystacks" — too often in her busy schedule, and now her family can't stand it. She lost her favorite back-up meal by serving it too often. That can also happen with food storage meals. (For simple ideas on planning a month menu of meals see previous article "Storing food, where do I start?")

You can find packaged freeze-dried meals that are delicious, have a 25-year shelf life and are fast to prepare. However, these can be very expensive, especially if you are planning to store enough food to eat for a few months or longer, and if you have a family. If you're on a budget, the trade-off in buying these foods is that you can usually only afford to prepare food for a short amount of time.

With food prices predicted to increase, now is a great time to get going with food storage. It's also a good time to encourage loved ones and friends to consider storing food for emergencies.