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Just A Little Preparation

Every now and then, for reasons I can't always suss out, folks in my social sphere bring up disaster preparedness independently of each other. This time, it seems it's come about as part of general insecurities and concerns triggered by election talk... which we ARE NOT going to discuss in specifics here, please, darlings! Suffice it to say I've had three conversations with politically diverse folks who share some of the same anxieties.

But there's one conversation in particular that struck me as needing to be addressed, so here ya go:

For at least two years, this friend of mine has been mentioning her desire to start storing extra food. For two years, she hasn't started. And she hasn't started because, once she starts looking up "food storage" on the internet, she gets overwhelmed with talk about grinding her own healthy grains, storing a gazillion gallons of water, how to sprout seeds at any time of year, making jerky in her oven, dehydrating a year's harvest, constructing a canned-goods rotation system, making her own all-natural herbal tinctures, stockpiling veterinary antibiotics... You get the idea.

She hasn't started because anything she could think of as a starting place seemed inadequate. Almost useless, even.

I took a little Google-toodle around and... Yes, the overwhelm is strong on this topic. My favorite was the three-month list that included adequate supplies for one person to bake bread.

Sorry--my family ain't getting freshly baked bread in an emergency. We can do just fine without bread in a short-term emergency, and if it's a long-term crisis, I just don't see myself expending all that energy--and cooking fuel--to bake bread. YMMV.

Besides, most folks who want to store food don't know how to bake bread anyway.

So here's the list I gave my friend as a starting place:
5 lbs quick cooking oats
2 lbs sugar
10 lbs white rice (Yes, brown rice is nutrient-rich. It also takes a long time to cook.)
5 lbs. dried fruit
12 cans of beans (chili, baked, plain, etc.)
24 cans of fruit
24 cans of veggies
12 cans of meat (chicken, tuna, beef, etc.)
12 cans of soup/stew/ravioli type stuff
1 big bottle of olive oil
1 big jar of peanut butter
1 big bag hard candy and/or mini-chocolates
1 big container of Tang or Tang-ish drink mix
1-2 big box(es) of crackers
Assorted teas and/or instant coffee
Powdered milk
Multivitamin/calcium
20 gallons of water

If she had a pet, I'd add a month's worth of pet food and water, too.

It'll last one person about one month, or four people about a week.

A quick-n-dirty off-the-top-of-my-head calculation puts the cost at between $200 and $250, depending on brands and price differences--way too much for her to purchase all at once. So we broke the list down into eight segments, and prioritized the items according to her needs. We added a little Sterno cookstove and fuel, too.

Questions she asked:
What the heck am I going to do with two whole pounds of sugar?
Sweeten your tea/coffee and oatmeal. Mix it with some of the oats and peanut butter (heck, nutella, if you'd rather) for quick and filling no-bake "cookies." You probably won't use all the sugar, but sugar is cheap.

But those canned meal things are full of fat and salt!
And food. They are full of food.

What's all that candy for?
When you're stressed, and when the kids are cranky, treats are good. Very, very good.

That's a lot of water!
Water is cheap, and water is priceless. Twenty gallons gives you a bit less than a gallon a day--well within average use, but not ideal. That's why you'll drink the juice from your canned fruits and use the liquid from canned veggies to supplement cooking rice. Water is also a pain in the rear to store, especially with limited space, so we do what we can.

***

My friend was thinking of food storage from the perspective of a more natural disaster--a bad snow storm that made roads impassible for days, floods or wildfires that limit supermarket restocking, that sort of thing.

To that, I'll add the reason food storage is important to me: inflation and income insecurity. Not too many years ago, my food storage sometimes became my grocery store. What we ate that week came from what was stored under my bed. Sure, these days I can put a little cash aside, but what $20 will buy today is more than it'll buy after six months of economic hardship. Storing the food makes more sense to me than storing the cash.

So there it is: a quick starting place that has nothing to do with suddenly living off the grid after a solar flare destroys the grid, causing global collapse that results in a landscape of crumbling infrastructure run by gun-toting looters riding mutant bison past zombie herds. It has everything to do with making sure you're not hungry on the third day of a fixable power outage, and mega-everything to do with ensuring emergency response personnel can focus on those who can't prepare for disasters.

And, yeah, it's knowing you can still feed your kids if the next paycheck suddenly vaporizes.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
resonant
May. 12th, 2016 12:43 pm (UTC)
Every month, I get a box of Soylent dropped off at my doorstep. It's a nearly-tasteless powder that comes in zip-lock bags, lasting a long time with no refrigeration. Stir a scoop into water, and drink. No cooking required. One 440-gram bag feeds one person for one day, with all the nutrients they need. It's bland, but I mix in chocolate or other things to give it some taste.

Easy to prepare in an emergency. Plus you can easily carry a month's worth of food in a backpack - it's a lot lighter than cans, if you have to evacuate.

https://www.soylent.com/product/powder/
blairmacg
May. 12th, 2016 04:55 pm (UTC)
Yep, that's a great option. I keep a collection of meal replacement powders around because they can be mixed with other stuff (like oatmeal or peanut butter), in addition to water. One is pina colada flavored because YUM. ;-)

But some folks, when they're starting, balk at purchasing things they don't usually eat for fear it'll go to waste. So I usually put meal replacement mixes, MREs, and similar things on the "second stage" list.

Me, I'm one of those who feels better with six to nine months of stuff stored up, and a back-up plan, so I'm totally into the soylent. :)
zianuray
May. 13th, 2016 03:04 pm (UTC)
For storing water -- 2-liter pop bottles are great. Not too heavy and a size almost anyone has room for in several places. If you don't drink pop, it's a good bet you know someone who would love to pass them along.
blairmacg
May. 16th, 2016 10:45 pm (UTC)
(sorry for the delay in responding!)

Yes! Pop bottles and milk jugs are excellent for repurposing. I put a few drops of bleach (four or six or something around that) or ionic silver in each gallon to take care of any stray bugs and such. And that's after I wash the bottle/jug, and let it sit with bleach-y water overnight.
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( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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