Our challenges are not over. We know there will be many more, but do you understand what they may be for you? This week as a family, prepare a list of the challenges you are most likely to face in the future. As we move past food storage to other areas of preparation it will help you focus on the most important things for you to do to be ready for the disasters most likely to affect your family. Could you experience hurricanes, floods, fires, earthquakes, job loss, chemical spills? Make a list for your area this week.

Food storage was often characterized by worldly critics as eccentric — just steps away from building a nuclear bomb shelter under your house and stocking it with guns, ammo and dehydrated rations. The past seven months have proven just how valuable food storage really is and inspired many who previously thought it foolish to begin preparing. We have learned food storage is an individual family need. But, where to begin? 

In my last article, I challenged readers to answer a few questions. If you have not thought about those questions please begin your food storage journey by reviewing the article, We Can Never Stop Preparing.

Once you have reviewed that article you will have complied a list of foods and other necessities and can now begin to create a plan. We are not in a situation that requires panic buying, but we do need to be careful in purchasing and rotating the storage that we’re putting away. The instability in the world today makes it imperative that we prepare for the future. We have witnessed panic buying of toilet paper, which we can all agree is needed in every emergency, but we also witnessed panic buying of bottled water in case lots which was unnecessary for a pandemic scenario. A great food storage plan will get us through any emergency.

As you move forward and purchase food, remember that a complete two week or one-month supply is better than having a year’s supply that falls short in nutrition. Purchase foods in all the food groups and don’t get caught up in purchasing vegetables every week. There are always veggies of some kind on sale making it very tempting to stock up, thus ignoring grains or dairy or proteins. When dealing with a crisis, it is essential to eat well balanced meals. 

Do not let others influence your purchases. In the article We Can Never Stop Preparing.

we worked on answers to food storage questions that you could ask yourself to better understand the needs of your family, those needs will not be the same as mine. Another family may love tuna and think you need to run to the store to purchase tuna because it is on sale at a very discounted price – however, if your family doesn’t eat much tuna will the meals made with tuna bring comfort during a challenging time? No. We have more ways to preserve food and we eat differently than our grandparents. This is not grandma’s food storage.

Over the past twenty years, I have taught many self-reliance classes, written a few e-books and of course, written for Meridian Magazine and other publications. When talking to people or reading responses, the most common excuse for not preparing is lack of money. That should never stop anyone from beginning. Preparing is possible for everyone determined to succeed.

In the October 2005 General Conference, President Gordon B Hinckley spoke of our need to be prepared: “We can so live that we can call upon the Lord for His protection and guidance. This is a first priority. We cannot expect His help if we are unwilling to keep His commandments. …I have faith… that the Lord will bless us, and watch over us, and assist us if we walk in obedience to His light, His gospel, and His commandments.” The Lord will always help us when we are trying to live what prophets have counseled.

Here are a few ways you can prepare on a budget:

Check a dollar store.

Hygiene items: Deodorant, shampoo, shaving cream, 6 combs, or 3 large bars of soap. All only a dollar each.

Medical needs, $1.00 each: Antibacterial cream, cortisone cream, bandages and more. Teething gel is also available and a great addition to kits even if you don’t have a child; adults get toothaches too and visiting a dentist may not be an option.

Food storage: So much here to get excited about. Pickles, mustard, catsup, barbecue sauce, spices, cereal, chips and more. There are even some great deals in the refrigerated foods such as lunch meat, cheese and eggs. When purchasing brands you are not familiar with, purchase one and try it before investing in several. I have been known to purchase an item, take it to the car and return to the store to buy more after it passed the taste test.

Consider the things that have changed for your family during the last 8 months. Are you cooking from scratch rather than buying prepared meals from the deli counter and freezer section? Have you decided shopping may be a little dangerous to your health so you only shop every two weeks instead of twice a week? Are you doing curb side pickup at the grocery store thus spending less on impulse items? Have you discovered fun places to “vacation” close to home, saving on hotels and travel expenses? Are you eating out less? Movie night at home?  Why go back? Why not continue those habits until your food storage shelves are full and you know you are prepared to care for your family’s needs and even some wants.

A few more of my favorite ideas for building on a budget.

Pull out the grocery ads. If you have two grocery stores within a few blocks of each other, look at their ads. Sit down with your homework from two weeks ago and see what you can find that is on sale. Don’t go crazy. Remember it is far more important to have a two or three-month supply of a balanced diet than a one-year supply of oatmeal. Oatmeal three times a day will get old fast! Shop the sales.

Send a friend. If you have trouble sticking to a list, ask a friend to pick up the sale items at one store and shop at another store that has other sale items both of you need.

Decide when you will do your shopping. Don’t shop more than once a week. Shopping more often equals spending those extra bucks; the “I just need one thing” trips — have you ever really been able to get out of the market with only one thing?

Find a friend and pool resources. In many areas, supermarkets or super stores have case lot sales. Purchase a case of as many items as you can afford and split the case with a friend. This will provide a greater variety of food in your storage.

No case lot sales? If your local store does not have case lot sales ask the manager about having one. If they refuse, ask about a discount for buying by the case. Selling full cases saves the store time and money and they will usually go for it, especially if you get together with a group of friends and purchase several cases.

Eat breakfast-for-dinner once a week, and use the savings to purchase food storage. Breakfast foods such as French toast, pancakes and waffles are much less expensive than most dinner foods. Add fruit and milk and you will have a balanced meal and be saving money.

Eat lunch for dinner. A grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup will cost a little over $3.00 to feed two people.

Drink water. We have saved a not so small fortune as we have adopted the habit of drinking only water at meals. It is good to have soda, juices and other fun drinks on the shelves of your General Store but they should be used at celebrations or as comfort foods during a crisis time. 

Add more beans, eggs, nut butters or other less expensive protein sources to your diet.

Purchase one extra package of five different items you are already purchasing as you shop. Place the extras in a special food storage area and don’t touch them until you have a three month supply complete and you can begin using and rotating. If an item is on sale buy three and store two. You will be surprised how little this adds to your grocery bill and how quickly your storage grows.

As we go back to work and school, take lunch. If you have a family member who objects, give them a budget of what it would cost to make a meal at home and let them try to eat out on that budget. 

Go to a cash budget. Place cash in envelopes for food, entertainment, gifts, vacation, etc. As you shop or spend remember when the cash is gone you are done. Add an envelope for food storage and do not use it on anything else. If you have money left in any of your envelopes at the end of the month place it in the food storage envelope. Of course, the vacation envelope should be added to until you take a vacation.

Personally, I hate clipping coupons, but I have friends who consider it a challenge. If you are like my friends, go for it, but remember that even with a coupon, a name brand can still be more expensive than a store brand. Be careful and always compare prices.

Continue cooking from scratch. When baking cookies, make a triple batch. Bake some, freeze some. Make the dough into balls, freeze them on a cookie sheet and transfer to a freezer bag for fast cookies later. If you vacuum seal cookie dough it will last a year. When preparing a meal, double the recipe and freeze one for when you are tempted to order out.

Look low and high when grocery shopping. The less expensive products are usually on the lower shelves or on the top shelf. Shelf space is purchased by manufactures so those who do not pay those fees get the less desirable shelf space.

“The Lord will make it possible, if we make a firm commitment, for every Latter-day Saint family to have a year’s supply of food reserves…. All we have to do is to decide, commit to do it, and then keep the commitment. Miracles will take place; the way will be opened… We will prove through our actions our willingness to follow our beloved prophet and the Brethren, which will bring security to us and our families” Vaughn J. Featherstone.

For answers to your preparedness questions or to help with relief for fire victims please contact Carolyn at Facebook.com/Totallyready or at send an email to [email protected].