The other day as I was going through my pantry doing some inventory in preparation for Thanksgiving, I stumbled across a can of peaches that, well, let’s just say they were well past their prime (that’s all I’m going to say to save myself from total embarrassment!) It was a much-needed reminder that I needed to get a better grasp of what I have in my pantry and how long it has been there!
While I don’t have an extensive system of food storage, I do try and keep a good supply of the basics in my pantry and refrigerator as a stockpile of sorts for the unexpected (ie. unemployment, natural disasters, etc.) You don’t have to be a survivalist to see the value of home food storage. Even a sudden illness or an expensive car repair can contribute to the need to have a good supply of food at the ready.
Most people become paralyzed with fear at what they perceive as the daunting task of obtaining “food storage,” but it doesn’t have to be such a scary proposition. Here is what I do….and it’s easy AND affordable!
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Buy Something Extra Every Trip
I know many of you may think that it’s difficult to even spare a few extra dollars for food storage, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you go to the grocery store on a daily basis, buy a canned good to put in storage. If you go shopping once a week, designate a few dollars to donate to your supply. It does not seem like much, but in a month’s time, you will definitely see progress. Try to get a variety of things, but always keep it in within your budget.
Continue this strategy until you have enough food stored (many experts suggest a 3-month supply for your family is a good place to start,) then just start eating from your stockpile and buy whatever needs to be replaced.
Easy and affordable!
Once you have your food storage where you want it, rotation is the key to keeping it fresh and nutritious. And it’s actually quite easy, once you know these very simple rotation methods.
Take From The Front
When your shelves are deep enough to store multiple rows of food items, place the newest items in the back while moving the older items to the front. This is the rotation strategy that grocery stores use every day.
It’s called First In First Out (FIFO) and it ensures that when you go to grab something, you know you’re using the item that has been there the longest. You’ll also be more likely to eat the food before it reaches its’ expiration date (thus avoiding wasting money on stuff that goes bad before you get around to eating it.)
You can use this strategy to rotate food in your refrigerator and freezer as well.
If you find it a bit difficult to move all your items from back to front, you can build yourself a rotating canned food shelf that allows cans to roll to the front by themselves.
I bought several of these shelves on Amazon and they work just fine for me. I just add cans to the back.
Take From The Right
This works well if you don’t have much storage space or you have narrow shelves, where the classic back-to-front rotation system doesn’t work.
Whenever you need something to prepare a meal, take the first item on the right. When you restock, place the new item on the left and push the other ones to the right. This technique always ensures that the item on the right is the oldest. You are ‘rotating’ without having to think about it as long as you follow the ‘take from the right rule’ every time.
And that’s all there is to it! All you need to remember is “back to front” and “left to right”. It’s easy to remember and a simple way to properly rotate your food storage.
I am definitely not a food storage expert, but I do feel like I have enough food to feed my family if we weren’t able to get to the store for awhile, which gives me some peace of mind.
I hope these simple ideas help you build and rotate your own food stockpile……just in case.