We are creating a plan, budget, place to store, and system for purchasing and rotating foods and other items used daily by our families. Our goals are: a three-month supply of the foods we eat and a plan for maintaining that supply. We will be saving money as well as preparing for emergencies. Some of us will go on to store a one-year supply but the items added to complete that goal will be slightly different than our basics for the three-month supply. For now the key is to stick with the plan.

Please don’t get anxious as you begin to see progress. Don’t fall into the trap of just buying so you can say you are done. Many people have been lured into buying tons of wheat and beans or dehydrated food, then a few years later, all the food is dumped. What a waste of money!

Mark It

Go to your cupboards and pull out the items that are not used up after one use, like oil for example. With a permanent marker draw a line at the level of product remaining in the bottle and write the date on the bottle. Now go to the laundry room and bathroom and do the same with products used there. When you need to add those items to your storage or replace them, you will know how much you really use.

Personally, when I use storage charts that you find on the Internet, I always have too much oil stored and they never tell you how much toothpaste you should store. Measuring your consumption is a great trick to use for your non-food items as well. Toilet paper is a difficult one since homes often have more than one bathroom and various people change the rolls. I suggest dating the wrapper when you start a new roll, then place the wrapper in a drawer. Do this each time you begin a new roll and at the end of two weeks collect all the wrappers and count. Multiply that number by six and you know how many you will need for three months. (See suggested items below)

Establish a Budget  

You may want to begin with $100 investment and then move on to $10 per week or whatever works for your family. You should have done this as part of your homework after my last article. Maybe even think about food storage when you get that tax return, birthday cash or yearly bonus. The most important part of the plan is to be consistent. Slow and steady wins the race

Once you have a budget established don’t allow yourself to be tempted into spending it on something else. During a time of crisis you can’t eat that something else.

As you purchase storage each week you may find that you have money that you have not spent. Put it aside and spend it some week when several of the items you need are on sale.

What to Store

You should already have discussed as a family what meals are family favorites. Choose at least ten meals, some breakfast, lunch and dinner. When you have finished, decide which five desserts or snacks you would not want to live without. Once you have both lists it’s time to get out the recipes.

Record all the ingredients from the first recipe. Do this with each recipe. If there are items that repeat make a tally mark next to that item. Continue this process until you have a master list of all the ingredients in both your meals and desserts. You should be able to see a pattern. You may have more green beans than corn, more pasta than rice, more cookies than cakes, etc. As you work on your food storage you will want to purchase items in those ratios. This does not mean you will only be eating 10 different meals for three months.

What it does mean is that as you make other meals or try new recipes, you will naturally gravitate to those that have ingredients your family likes.

If for example, your favorite desserts were: chocolate chip cookies, brownies, German chocolate cake, cherry pie and pudding you could use the same ingredients to make many other desserts. You could make: Brownies with chocolate chips, brownies with coconut pecan frosting, chocolate cake with cherry filling, chocolate cakes with chocolate pudding filling, chocolate chip cookies with pecans, pecan pie, and think of the pies using pudding, and the list goes on and on.

The same principle holds true for your meals. Adding just a few extra sauces to your storage can also help you create many more meals.

You are now ready to begin purchasing your three-month supply of the foods you normally eat. I like to call this building your own General Store. As time goes on we will add non-food items as well to round out your self-reliance plan.

Some extra Help

Every Monday last year I posted items to be purchased that week to achieve a three-month supply of foods you normally eat in a year. Remember slow and steady wins the race. Beginning July 6th I will add these items to my current Monday Facebook posts which list the non-food items to purchase for the week. If you can do both great! If you can only afford to do one, then please store your food first. On weeks you are not purchasing food fill in with the non-food purchases. If you can or freeze, for example, you may already have a three-month supply of fruits and veggies.

My 52 week challenge is based upon the foods most likely to be on sale that week so we will be storing lots of fruits and veggies during the summer months when fresh is available to can and freeze, and ketchup and relish during barbecue season. More on that next time….

I will not be writing an explanation of why we are storing certain things each week as I did last year so check former posts for more information and guidance. As always please feel free to ask question on Facebook. There are many there who accepted the challenge last year and have their three-month supply. They will be happy to answer questions as well.

Just a few suggestions for items to date to get you thinking.

deodorant                              feminine hygiene products
shampoo                                lotion
conditioner                            diaper cream
shaving cream                       after shave
toothpaste                              toilet paper
contact lens solution             facial tissue
ketchup                                  honey
mayonnaise                           cooking oil
salad dressing                       cooking spray
mustard                                 brown sugar
lemon juice                            pancake syrup
dish detergent                       laundry detergent
fabric softener                       glass cleaner
hand soap                              toilet bowl cleaner

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