Friday, May 1, 2009

How Much Do I Need to Store/Inventory

One of the first things needed when starting (or continuing) your food storage is to have a plan on what and how much to store. Your family may be large or small. Perhaps there is only 1 person. It is important to assess your needs. There are many tools to help you do this. Click here for a great food storage calculator that follows LDS guidelines, and is very simple to use. I was so happy to find this! I have been meaning to create a spreadsheet for my own use and to post on this blog. When I found this, it saved me lots of hours of work :) This comes from You can save it to Excel, modify it, add to it, take away items, etc. It is really great- and easily adapts to what YOUR family will use.

I would count each child as an adult so you don't have to continually re-calculate as the kids grow and eat more. Remember, these are only suggestions. For instance, if you don't eat or use cornmeal, certainly don't store as much as is recommended. However, substitute the pounds it recommends with another type of food in the same category.

To be successful with your food storage program, it is essential to use what you store, and store what you use. This way you are continually rotating your supply. One of the best ways to do this is the following (from Becky Low, USU Extension):

1. Using the chart write a list of dishes frequently eaten, or a list of favorite meals. Studies show families will eat the same 10 main dish foods 80% of the time.
a. Create a list of 10 to 20 meals
b. Create a separate list for breakfast and lunch foods, as appropriate and if desired.
c. As you begin this process you may not think of many foods. Post this list in aprominent place in your kitchen for the coming 2 weeks. Each time you think of a new food write it on the list. Ask the family for ideas and suggestions. Make the list reflect what your family typically eats and enjoys.
2. Go back over the list and add foods needed to make the meal balanced.
a. Write these foods after the main dish item, see the sample.
b. Add foods from the bread and cereal group, fruit group, vegetable group, milk and dairy group and meat group as needed.
(Click on Picture to make it bigger)
3. Break down each meal constructed in steps 1 and 2. In the columns to the right break the dish into specific foods. For example tuna noodle casserole would include tuna, noodles, cream soup, etc.
a. Write the category above the columns, for example: vegetables; fruits; meats; bread, cereals, grains, pasta; soups, sauces, mixes; dairy.
b. In the spaces below the main categories, write the specific foods needed. For example under the vegetable category you may have listed peas, green beans, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, etc.
c. Write down the amount of the food needed for that particular dish for your family. Continue with all dishes listed.
d. When completed, add the amount of foods in each column and total at the bottom of the page.

4. Plan on preparing 80% of your meals from this storage planner. The remainder of a years meals and storage will include foods eaten less frequently, short term seasonal foods, special meals, holidays, and long term basic storage to sustain life such as beans, rice, wheat, etc.
a. Eighty percent of 365 days is 292. Divide the total number of dishes or meals in step #1 into 292. This is the number of times each year that you will prepare this dish.
b. Multiply each food totaled in the columns in step #3d by the answer above. This will give you the amount of that food needed for 80-90% of a years supply of foods most often eaten.

5. Place foods from planner onto an inventory list.
a. Group foods according to category. For example, use one page for freezer, and group together frozen vegetables, meats, etc. Use one for the shelf, and group together vegetables, fruits, canned meats, soups, pasta, etc.
b. Inventory current food storage and pantry and compare to the amounts needed.
c. Update inventory on a regular basis, monthly, every 6 months, yearly, etc.
(Click on Picture to make it bigger)
6. Shop for foods on the inventory list. Watch for good buys, buy in bulk, etc. Gradually increase the amount of food stored to equal the amount needed for 1 year.
a. Spend 80% of each food dollar on storage items, 20% will go toward fresh foods, special or seasonal foods.
b. Date all foods going into storage.
c. Place new foods to the back of the storage. Use old foods first.
d. Add new purchased food amounts to inventory list.
e. Update inventory on a regular basis, monthly, every 6 months, yearly, etc.

7. Plan meals for the week from your created list of foods in step #1. Select foods to prepare the meal from your storage.
a. Keep a list of dishes from step #1 in a handy readily visible place.
b. Move foods for the week, month, etc. from the storage to your smaller pantry.
c. Use what you have on hand. Purchase fresh foods (milk, fresh vegetables, etc.) as needed.
-Becky Low, USU Extension
Click here to print off inventory sheets. They are on page 4-6 of the link.

After you have the recommendations for your family, print it off. Next, take an inventory of what you have. Now you will know what you need to start focusing on.

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