I know discussing how to best take care of our families can be a dry and serious topic usually not seen around these parts.  Sorry about that.  If you’re looking for my typical immature humor, I promise to make up for it on Twitter and you can head over there for my boobie joke du jour.  Or you can see what Sweety Petey is up to on his very own Twitter feed.  You’re as surprised as we are that he can apparently communicate by rocking a QWERTY keyboard in addition to banging on his high chair tray.

This is Part 2 of a series that I guess is on track to finish sometime in late 2013.  In our last installment we talked about the importance of having a little extra water on hand for our families.  Just in case.  This time we’re talking food.  After all, Joanna fancies this to be a food blog.  And I don’t know about you, but I like to eat.  I will eat at least a few times today.  I ate yesterday.  I hope to eat tomorrow.  If for some reason we couldn’t make it to Kroger’s, or if we just want to take a little strain off our food budget every now and then, there are some very simple things we can do.

Before we get into the thick of it… as a reminder, deciding to take care of your loved ones by keeping spare food, water, and some supplies socked away for emergencies doesn’t mean you’re a crazy person and your family will be the featured idiots on next season’s Doomsday Preppers.

Sure a major Hurricane Katrina type event can happen and throw things into chaos for a few weeks almost anywhere and anytime, but thankfully that is unlikely for most of us.  More probable is a snow storm or heat wave knocking out the power for awhile, which usually leads to a panicked emptying of the local grocery store. More probable than a civilization-ending EMP is one of the bread winners in your family losing their job.  More probable than the Zombie Apocalypse is your decision to move to a new house and needing to float two mortgages for a few months until the old one sells.  (Psst… Anyone want to buy a nice house in the Midwest?  Drop us an email…)

For all of these possibilities, ranging from Smaller Inconveniences to Mad Max’s Thunderdome, it is a great idea to have a little extra set aside.

Just in case.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I find it ridiculous that most people have thirty days of dog food in their basement and only a couple days of people food in their pantry.  And they think that’s OK.  Our grandparents would not be pleased.

What are our basic physical needs again? (After skipping a pretty important one we can’t do too much about – Oxygen.)

  1. Water
  2. Food
  3. Security
  4. Energy
  5. Shelter

So let’s talk food.


Step 1

Store what you eat.  Eat what you store.

Carefully track the groceries your family uses on a regular basis.  Then the next time you’re pushing a wobbly cart with a squirming 10 month old in the seat to replace what you’ve gobbled in the last week… instead of buying one box of pasta, buy two.  When grubby little hands reach for the Mac N Cheese, grab an extra.  This is an easy and inexpensive way to put something aside for a rainy day a little at a time and before you know it, you’ll have a nice little store built up in your pantry.

In addition to the peace of mind in knowing you have food on hand, just in case… there are other benefits to storing what you eat and eating what you store.  You can wait to buy when items are on sale.  Maybe spaghetti sauce is on your list, but they just increased the price of your favorite kind.  If a few extra jars are sitting at home, you can wait and shop on your terms and not the store’s. Additionally, ever had one of those evenings where you’re running home late, are dead tired, your beautiful kiddos (and maybe your spouse) are screaming for dinner NOW NOW NOW and the last thing you want to do is stop off at the store?  Well, now you can head to the basement instead.


Step 2

Storage Foods.  At some point you’ll hopefully want to do a little more.  All those bags of quinoa and cans of soup can not sit on the shelf indefinitely.  Even with rotating out the older goods, it’s difficult to use everything you’re Storing to Eat if you follow the recommended expiration dates.  That’s when it’s time to introduce yourself to a few other options, starting with our good friend the MRE (Meal Ready to Eat).

MREs may not be the finest cuisine you’ve ever had, and you probably don’t want to drag it out along with a tripod for an artistic photo shoot atop the backyard wood pile… but they are complete meals and some are really quite tasty.  They will be fine for five years, and if kept in a cool place, probably even longer.  They’re great for throwing in a backpack or trunk for that weekend camping trip and require no outside energy (stove, fire) for preparation.  A case or two doesn’t take up much space and makes a lot of sense.

Next, you want to stock up on some pouches of freeze dried foods.  These will easily keep for seven years and so long as you have the means to boil a little water you’ll be dining on some absolutely delicious meals.

This is also the step where Joanna and I got a little more serious about learning to can what we grow in our vegetable garden and can’t use right away.  Add canning supplies to a dehydrator and you’ll be able to do a lot yourself here in Step 2.  This includes some very easy work with food grade five gallon buckets, some mylar bags, oxygen absorbers, and tons of pasta, wheat, beans, and other staples.  Just make sure you know how to cook with them if you’re putting that away for a rainy day.


Step 3

Long Term Storage Foods.  Freeze dried foods are again your friend and there are offerings that last as long as thirty years sitting on a shelf!  These can be a little pricey, but in addition to the security of knowing your family has a lot of easy meals available, it’s interesting to think of how much food prices have increased over the past few years.  You may be paying about the same for a box of cereal, but have you noticed the box got smaller?  Hmmm.

Storing away a few of these #10 cans might just turn out to be a pretty safe investment for a lot of reasons.

Of course, throughout these steps we’ve only been talking about storage. Another way to keep a little extra food on the table when the grocery isn’t an option or the budget is being pinched is to grow your own.  If you’ve never dug your hands in the dirt, you’d be really surprised how much you can harvest with a little hard work and a little luck.

We never know what tomorrow may bring, but personally, we sleep a little more soundly each night knowing that if a mini crisis occurs pinching the budget… or the Walking Dead start roaming our neighborhood… our stomachs will still be full.

 — Mike

Question of the Day: If your grocery store closed up shop tomorrow, how many meals do you have in your house right now?

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  1. this is so interesting and something I never thought of. I would fail at this. I have an empty pantry but probably a years worth of toilet paper.
    Alex @ therunwithin recently posted…MIMM: Last Day at HomeMy Profile

  2. Very informative Mike, but I disagree with MRE’s being “really quite tasty”. You’ll get in trouble for false advertising if you keep talking like that!

    • You may not know me very well, 😉 but I choose PBR over everything else. I have a very refined palette. MRE’s can be good. 🙂

      • Maybe that’s my problem. You must be tasting your MREs after having several PBRs. My typical Diet Coke didn’t numb my taste buds enough.

        • Do you guys take them camping sometimes? I don’t think I have ever even eaten one.

          • We don’t take them camping because they are VERY heavy (for backpacking food). Tim came home from an Appleseed with a couple and we had them for dinner one night and I was turned off of them. In a survival situation I’m sure they’d be great, but I’d rather eat Spam on the backpacking trail than an MRE.

    • Perhaps a blind taste test is in order . . . when are guys coming up next?? 😉

  3. This post is filled with such great ideas! And all the pictures are gorgeous!!!
    Maren recently posted…Exiled but I love dragons so it’s [kinda] okay.My Profile

  4. luckily I am married to an Army man and so we have two cases of MRE’s in the garage as we speak. Also as we speak we are in the process of dwindling all current food in the house in order to move. So hopefully those walking dead will stay away for the next 37 days.

    That pantry is looking a little “Sleeping with the Enemy” to me. I think I might be a little nervous. If you show me a picture of towels in the bathroom with the stripes matched up perfectly, Im outta here!

    And to answer your question…if the grocery store closed up tomorrow, Starbucks would still be open so WHEW! We are good.
    Cinnamon @ eatpraytri recently posted…So here’s the deal…My Profile

  5. Interesting post! I don’t stock up for emergencies per se, but I do stock up on items when they go on sale. The point you made about pet food is an excellent one. I am going to Sam’s Club tomorrow – perhaps I will buy a little extra- just in case! 🙂
    Kelly @ Runmarun recently posted…It’s Friday…My Profile

    • I love to stock up on sale items too! Our local grocery store started doing a 10 for $10 sale and the first time I bought I thought you had to buy 10 of the same item when it was really 10 of any items in the special. Doh. Our pantry was quite full. Quite.

  6. I actually love this post because part of me always thinks about how we’d survive a doomsday event. It’s part of why I love we have guns, even though I know that’s hugely controversial. We also have a water purifier. Anyways, we have some extra food,but definitely aren’t as well stocked as you are! Maybe I’ll grab some MREs next time I’m near an REI 🙂
    Brittany (Healthy Slice of Life) recently posted…Sprayberry High School: Class of 2002My Profile

    • Now this right here makes me incredibly happy. Thank you so much for commenting. Although I want to keep it tame and introductory, I have a feeling you’re going to love my next post on Security. 😉 Hopefully you’ll chime in then with some ideas as well. Pretty please? I’m a certified firearms Instructor and before we were blessed with the Pete, I spent a whole lot of weekends teaching firearm safety, responsibility, and skill. Now, I get out for just a few here and there.

      It’s been difficult writing these introductory posts on preparedness because I have a feeling my wife’s audience is a little different than the guys I’m used to talking to around the campfire after spending a full day on the range. I want to try and be serious for a minute here and hopefully help someone out that has never thought about these types of things. Sometimes bad things happen. Never thinking about it… or worse, sticking our head in the sand and ignoring it after we have thought about it… is unforgivable when family members depend on us.

      Thanks again for stopping by, especially since I’ll proudly admit I’ve been dragged into my wife’s food blog world and you’re one of the very few I actually follow on a regular basis.

  7. how did I not know that petey had a twitter feed? Love it!
    Calee recently posted…Tuesday Tutes + Loot #1: Peanut Butter & Co. Giveaway + Fall Trail Mix Rice KrispiesMy Profile

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