Leslie Probert
Making preparedness a part of Christmas planning each year can be a gift of peace of mind to those you love most.

During a recent trip we passed through farmland dotted with neatly stacked haystacks. Farmers had prepared to feed their animals during cold winter months by storing alfalfa in a time of abundance for use in a time of scarcity. For millennia this pattern of preparation has been a common practice. People have stored harvest abundance for themselves and their animals for use when food cannot be grown.

Early Mormon pioneers under the direction of Brigham Young were advised to have on hand a year’s supply of food to carry them over until the next season, should they lose their crops.

Today our food supplies are shipped readily from one part of the world to another, insulating us for long periods of time from the events of life that cause food shortages. How easy it is to assume that abundant food will always be available. Knowledge of history, recent events and common sense tell us otherwise.

Wise is the family that includes something to increase preparedness on their list of Christmas priorities. Make food storage a serious consideration this year. Buying something that will bring peace of mind in the current economic climate is an important gift.

Decide what your greatest preparedness need is and do something about it this Christmas.

Don’t know how to use your food storage? Why not buy a good food storage cookbook and plan to try some recipes in the New Year.

Don’t have enough space for food storage? Buy some inexpensive, sturdy shelves to hold more food. Clean out a closet to make more space.

Don’t have enough water storage? Buy a stack of bottled water on a sale or buy a water barrel.

Need more food? Set a goal to buy some No. 10 cans of dried foods or a few cases of canned foods. Plan what you need based on recipes you want to eat. Maybe it’s a time to buy something special, like some freeze-dried fruit or yummy cheese, a case of favorite chili, or a supply of chocolate chips.

Children learn a lot from parents when preparedness items are included in Christmas giving. They can feel a sense of safety from the tangible preparations being made and see how to make preparedness a priority in their own families one day.

Current counsel from leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to start to store a three-month supply and where permitted, gradually build a longer-term reserve. Though that may seem daunting, by never forgetting food storage and making steady progress, these goals are reached. Remembering preparedness at Christmas can bring a feeling of accomplishment and peace. It is also an expression of gratitude to a loving Father in Heaven for his many blessings when we follow his counsel and use what he has given us wisely.

Here is a favorite easy holiday treat made from stored foods. It’s fun to have recipes for great food that can be enjoyed in any circumstance, even in an emergency.

O Henry Bars

1 cup sugar

1 cup corn syrup

1 cup peanut butter

6 cups rice crispy cereal

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup butterscotch chips

In a pot, cook first three ingredients until bubbly, stirring. Remove from heat; stir in cereal. Pour into greased 9-by-13 inch pan. Quickly sprinkle chocolate and butterscotch chips on top. Cover pan so chips will melt. Once melted, spread chocolate and butterscotch evenly over bars. Cool and cut into bars.

— Leslie Probert, Lisa Harkness, "Emergency Food Storage in a Nutshell," 3rd Edition (2011)

Leslie Probert, a graduate in home economics from Brigham Young University, has been a popular speaker and is co-author of "Emergency Food Storage in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition" with over 400 fast, creative recipes. Email: [email protected]