Earlier this month SayEducate.com published an article titled, “Should You Stock Up On Groceries In Advance of Inflation?” Well, it turns out that this story was one of the most read of all of the 450+ articles published here so far, underscoring that a lot of people are thinking about controlling their food costs.
And for good reason too: food costs, which gyrated wildly in 2008 due mostly to high fuel prices, are likely to increase once again when inflation’s impact begins to be felt. Many economists believe that inflation is inevitable given the trillions of dollars of government spending our elected representatives in Washington, DC have been pushing over the past several months. Paying off that debt is one thing, but servicing it – making interest payments – is something else, likely to lead to higher costs for just about everything.
Inflation or Deflation, Your Food Budget Can Take a Beating
Even without inflation, many Americans are experiencing a form of deflation. No, prices may not be going down, but for many people their overall income has shrunk meaning that whatever they spend their money on will consume a greater portion of their budget. With many workers now unemployed or furloughed, holding costs down is essential. We all need to eat, but cutting back really isn’t usually an option especially with children in the house.
As mentioned in the earlier article, storing food can be a great way to lower your food costs and also prepare for the possibility that food shortages could occur. Last summer there was a run on grain products which temporarily reduced availability while driving up prices. Though ethanol production was blamed in part for that event (corn was used to make fuel not to feed people and livestock), widespread drought extending from Syria to Kazakstan to Pakistan has reduced crop yields in those countries. Oh, by the way, it just so happens that I mentioned one of the most politically unstable places in the world!
Essentials For Storing Food
Vicki Tate, who is the author of a book about food storage, “Cooking With Home Storage,” published an article, “7 Mistakes of Food Storage” which appears in Backwoods Home Magazine, an online publication for people who desire self-reliant living. In her article she outlined seven essential points to consider when storing food. They are:
- Extended Staples
- Quick and Easy Psychological Foods
- Use Your Storage
Please visit our resource section which follows for a link to article which explains in depth how you can best prepare.
Setting Up Your Storage Space
Beyond the essentials, exactly how much room do you need for storing food and for how long? Well, there are several factors to take into consideration including the size of your family, amount of space available for storage and length of time for storing (that is, do you want to have a three month supply on hand or are you looking at a year perhaps longer?)
Some Things to Keep in Mind
Not everyone lives in a rambling house located on a large piece of property miles away from the nearest city. With America being a much more cosmopolitan place than ever before, a lot of us don’t have a lot of room to work with. Fortunately, you don’t need a lot of room, but there are a few things you should keep in mind:
A Cool, Dry Place – If you have a finished basement, then that area of your home is the logical place to set up a food storage area. You’ll need shelving to keep food off of the ground and you’ll likely need to put much of your food in air tight containers. Make sure that everything is properly labeled to show what it is, when it was first shelved and when it will expire. Visit our Resources section located at the end of this article for a link to a food storage guidelines website. Also, consider using a dehumidifier if your basement is prone to moistness.
What about a cellar instead of a basement? If your basement is unfinished, you may still be able to use it. You’ll want to make sure that it is dry, clean and not visited by members of the rodent family. Set up traps just in case and check the room or storage area several times weekly to make certain that your food supply is safe. Also consider converting a pantry, a section of the kitchen area or a closet for food storage. Of course, if you live on a farm then any sort of outbuilding might do.
Shelving, Containers, Usage – Any packaged food not in a sealed container is almost always vulnerable to the elements. Many home storage experts recommend transferring foods to a #10 tin can (pictured) which means that you’ll need to invest in a flywheel can sealer to do the job yourself. Serious food storage people invest whatever it takes to manage their food, but you may find that you don’t have the time, space, money or inclination to go to that extent.
Make sure that you rotate through your stored foods on a regular basis. If you have invested in food storage equipment, then you know that some foods can last for many years, not months. For everyone else, including people relying on store bought canned goods, following recommended expiration dates will ensure that the gravy you bought last year will still look and taste good next Sunday.
Variety, Why Not? — Your local Costco or Sam’s Club may have a great price on wheat, flour and dried fruit, but you’ll want to make sure that there is a good amount of variety in what you store. Some people like to draw down their food storage on occasion, spending several months feasting on what they have put aside. Unless you like pasta seven days a week or pancakes and waffles for each and every breakfast, you’re likely to get tired of eating the same ‘ole thing. Children especially want something different, so make sure that some sweets are included with what you store.
Finally, if you are setting aside a food storage area for the first time, you may find that your budget has been stretched to the breaking point. Instead of doing everything at once, why not start small and expand as time allows and your finances permit? For additional savings, split bulk purchases with other families and share or invest in equipment jointly if that is a more practical approach for you.