Along with everything else, I’m trying to 1) actually accomplish and 2) catch up on, getting ready for winter—like the squirrels—is high on my list.
Speaking of, yes, I do have a list of stocked supplies. It does need to be updated periodically though, because of course I rotate, but with a twist:
If I need to use something, I do, but I’m often in the middle of cooking and don’t have a chance to remove that item from the list right away. And then I forget. [hangs head in shame]
For me, it’s much easier to, oh, once a month, check the list and compare it to my supplies. It really doesn’t matter HOW you do this, just that you DO it.
I have three areas of storage: the garage for things that rodents can’t break into, the upper shelves in my kitchen, and the bookcases in the kitchen. Yes, bookcases. When you close up a bookstore and have um, a few extra bookcases, you use them. I have two, four feet tall, beautiful dark wood—cookbooks, canning jars, and of course, the bar . . .
Now, I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s important: stock whatever food you will eat. No point is hoarding cans of sardines if you can’t stand them, right? I actually have a small box of things, in the garage, that I’ve somehow accumulated—and will only eat if I’m starving—marked “Icky Food.”
Besides the list updating, I also have to reorganize a bit; things are starting to spread out. And of course, I’ll be bringing out the dehydrator today and pulling in the last of the garden stuff. Well, probably the last—my tomatoes just keep going and going and going . . .
So where should YOU start?
First, I watch the dollar sales at my two local grocery stores. I shop twice a week, usually two different stores. Quite often, sometimes in the same week, each of them have products that are “10 for $10” and it’s mix and match.
Next, consider all meals and the number of people for whom you’ll be providing: breakfast, lunch, and dinner for us, some snacks, some desserts, for three-plus people. Why the plus? Because, even though many in our extended family prep a little bit, they aren’t really prepared, ya know? And I’m not sure I’d be able to turn away kids and grandkids if that time ever came.
SHTF meals should achieve several things: nutrition, taste, variety, and satiation.
Now, we all know that meat is uber-expensive these days, but pasta and beans are an acceptable substitute. Ten packages of pasta don’t take up much room, and they last forever; dried beans, same thing. If you don’t know how to cook from scratch, you’d better learn. Ten for ten cans of soup and ravioli and whatnot are convenient and take up less space, but you have to consider product weight, variety, and health benefits.
I’m not advocating foods touted as “all natural” or “gluten free” or whatever buzzword is popular this month, but consider preservatives and weird chemical ingredients too. When SHTF, it’ll take a lot of energy to stay healthy—assuming you already are. The closer to natural, the better—and that doesn’t mean paying big bucks for things marked “organic,” either.
Herbs and spices are expensive, yes? You can plant a few pots of herbs, and grow them year round. You don’t even need a dehydrator; just dry them on the counter on a paper towel, crumble, and put in a saved and washed spice jar. Little things will go a long way on making that pasta with beans more palatable as time goes on.
Finally, take a moment and think about the meals you ate when you were a child. Maybe your mom cooked breakfast, maybe you grabbed something quick; lunch was probably at school, or maybe you packed a sandwich. For dinner, you probably had meat, potatoes, a vegetable, and a salad. And sometimes a dessert. Any snacks were probably a quick bite after school, or maybe popcorn during a weekend movie.
And, of course, most of us played outside and ran ourselves ragged all over the neighborhood, right? Which, kind of, is what you’ll be doing when SHTF.
But mostly, think about the portions you were served. It was enough, yes? Did you ever leave the table, moaning and groaning and feeling TOO full (Thanksgiving doesn’t count!)? Probably not. Do you do that now? Probably yes.
Satiation is just that—feeling full, but not overfull. You don’t have to cook elaborate dinners, but everyone must have “enough.” Try it now, before SHTF, by cutting back on food prep. Remember the old recommendations? A serving of meat is about the size of a deck of cards. Practice that. And leftovers? A lot of people use up leftovers in other dishes, or have them for lunch. But in a world where power and fuel are at a premium or being on the move is important, those leftovers will be likely be wasted. Practice cooking just “enough.”
Look, everyone has to start somewhere. When you grocery shop, pick up a few sale items or a couple things you might need. Make a list of what you’d like to have stocked, at some point, so you don’t just grab items marked “sale.”
My own policy is to avoid purchasing things I can make myself—same thing when I go to a restaurant; I order something I’m not going to make at home, or can’t easily make at home. And I stick with the “the more natural, the better” rule. I don’t buy granola bars, I make granola; I don’t buy dried fruit, I buy fresh and dry it myself. Same with herbs, onions, mushrooms, etc. Try it—it’s not hard, and you’ll be a lot better off when SHTF.