This week we are going over building a three month supply as part of our Food Storage Do-Over 2015. I have been needing to do this for a while so I sat down and REALLY “did over” my entire plan. I’m going to share my thought process with you and how I actually implemented everything. It may feel a bit ramble-y but that’s the way my brain works, so go easy on me 🙂 Here we go!
Step 1. What is my current system?
Several years ago I made my 3 month plan using our excel spreadsheet. I basically just took my regular family recipes and pumped them in, planning to use freezer foods as necessary. I had all the pantry items purchased and put in the basement. Well over time I would start using them for my regular meals because we are supposed to “rotate” right? Sometimes I would remember to re-stock. Other times I would be sure I had things in the basement and then when I needed them I would discover I HADN’T restocked. ARGH! So at the start of this week I realized this system wasn’t working. I don’t ever have a FULL three months in my basement if I’m always stealing from it for regular meals.
Step 2. Create a new plan
I decided this time that I would use most of my regular meals but they would be ones that could easily be replaced with freeze-dried cheese and meats and powdered equivalents for milk, sour cream, eggs, etc. I don’t have enough freezer space to store a full three months worth of those items for my family any more after having a few more kids 🙂 So I did the meal plan using a week of breakfasts and lunches just repeated multiple times, and thirty dinners that will multiply three times. I used all shelf stable ingredients in the plan.
Step 3. Shopping time
I already had a lot of these items on hand, so I cleared off a shelf in my basement food storage that will be exclusively for my three month supply items. I made a grocery list using my excel spreadsheet and logged in to my deals to meals account to find where the cheapest prices were for the items I needed. You could also search your local papers for coupons and deals. After buying everything I loaded it all up into box on the newly cleared out shelf space and labeled them “THREE MONTH SUPPLY – 2/23/15″. I listed the items in each box so if I DO need to steal” from them ever I can easily find them.
Step 4. Rotation plan
So since all of these foods are my family’s regular meal foods anyway, it will be easy to rotate. I don’t need to rotate through the long shelf life items like freeze dried meats and cheeses, I will just keep them in my can rotating shelves and use as part of my long term plan. But for the pantry items I will plan to bring them upstairs after one year and incorporate them into my meal plans for the next several months. I can use the money saved on needing to buy those groceries and just replenish the whole three month supply with fresh items at that time. This way I will ALWAYS have a full three months downstairs (that I’m not in the middle of depleting) but I will also be rotating and using the food so it doesn’t go to waste. I created a chart for my 3 month plan that lists each meal and how many times I can make it based on what’s in my storage.
Step 5. Meal planning
I have 30 dinners on my list, but there are a few other family favorite recipes that we like to make each month. So I worked out a plan to use/rotate my three month supply ingredients regularly and also still get eat our other family favorites. I made a list of my 30 dinners plus about 10 other favorites and printed it out. I wrote down all the groceries I need to buy to make those 40 dinners. So now I do a big grocery shop about every six weeks and know that I have all the ingredients I need to make those 40 dinners. As I make each one I check it off the list, and don’t make a duplicated until I have made all 40. Then I simply rinse and repeat and go shop for it all again. It’s also helpful for nights when my hubby needs to make dinner because he can just look at the list and know that we have everything to make those meals and he can just pick what to make. I did this before and it worked great, I’m excited to do it with my specific 3 month supply meals to make for easier rotation/replenishment.
Step 6: Recipe binder update
I figured this was a good week to do a little update on my recipe binder to make sure that all of the recipes included in my three month supply plan are included in it. There were a few that were on websites or in random cookbooks that I didn’t have in there. I added them all and also updated the recipes to include food storage conversions in case I am using my shelf stable foods instead of fresh. To see how I organize my recipes view our post on How to Create a Recipe Binder.
How is YOUR three month supply planning going? Come on over and share your progress on our Food Storage Do-Over Facebook group. We’d love to hear your approach!