Food – spreading the risk

The Nation’s Food Supply

Food. It is something we deal with every day of our lives, but many of us give little thought to the supply chain that keeps our supermarket shelves stocked.

The UK’s supermarkets tend, like many other businesses these days, to operate on a ‘just-in-time’ delivery system.

Some people have speculated that if the supply chain was disrupted for a few days, that empty shelves will appear across the country.

If that happened, how long would you be able to feed your family with the food you have in your home right now?

Your Current Storage

Take a look in your fridge and freezer. How many days worth of meals have you got available to you? Could you last a week? Ten days? Two weeks? Longer?

What have you got stored in your kitchen cupboards? Are they mainly ingredients to enhance the flavours of the meals you cook? Do you tend to rely on ready meals?

Do you tend to buy fresh ingredients to use the same day? Do you need certain types of food for specific medical conditions?

Store what you eat. Eat what you store.

You need to understand the food you have to hand and the food you eat in order to optimise the amount of days-worth of food you store.

How long do you want to feed your family?

One of the first tasks you will need to undertake, is to work out how much food your home consumes each day. (Don’t forget to include any pets as well.) Remember to include three meals each day, plus snacks per person. By doing so, you will actually over-estimate the food required during any preparedness situation.

You then need to decide the stock of food you wish to hold. This could be a week, a month, six months or even a year’s supply depending on how ambitious you want to be.

Now that is easy to say but just how do you accumulate a stock of food if you don’t have a large amount of money to spend?

Well the good news is you can get started the next time you go shopping. When you buy tinned goods, get the usual number of tins you buy and add an extra one to your basket for you emergency food store. If you buy things in packets like rice or pasta, put an extra packet into the basket. You will be surprised how quickly you can build up your emergency food store over a short number of weeks. This method works well if you, like many others, are living on a tight budget.

Increasing Your Storage Capacity

It really is simply common sense, the more room you have to store food, the more food you can store. Typically, many of us use the kitchen to store our food. It is the one room in the house that is directly linked to the storage and preparation of food.

Regardless of the type of home where you live, there are always opportunities to store more long-life food within your home if you really look for it.

  • Attic space
  • Crawl space
  • Under beds
  • On top of wardrobes
  • In cupboards / closets in different rooms
  • In garden sheds
  • In garages

Regardless of the new spaces you find, remember, you are now thinking longer term storage. You want to store the type of food that will not perish quickly. Canned foods are ideal, as are vacuum packed foods. Don’t forget to rodent-proof your storage containers. Rodents can chew through packaging of various types, so if you are storing packets of food, place them in a stronger outer container like a food grade plastic bucket with sealing lid.

Rotation of supplies

Wall mounted can dispenser
Wall Mounted Can Dispenser

Don’t forget, just like supermarkets do, you want to make sure that the oldest food consumed first.

This requires the clear labelling of best before / product expiry dates on the outer packaging of all food. This can be done very easily using a marker pen.

Whilst no replacing for individual labelling, you could also use the locations where you store food to indicate their expiry date, storing longer term items further away from your kitchen and shorter term items in the kitchen.

One device that I have found useful is a wall mounted can dispenser. You fill the dispenser from the top and remove the cans you use from the bottom. This simple box type dispenser ensures that the cans are used in the order you put them into the dispenser.

Function before beauty becomes a mantra. There is no point in something looking pretty if it does not achieve what it is supposed to.

There are other types of can dispenser available, however, I made my own and mounted it on the wall using some wood I had. It doesn’t look pretty, but it does work and that is a concept that you will come across throughout your preparedness journey.

Types of Food

Tinned / Canned

This is probably the type of long life food we are most used to. Aisle after aisle in our supermarkets use tinned / canned as the method for preserving the food in the containers.

However, have you ever considered canning your own food? That favourite caserole or curry recipe will last well if you can it, and store it, in the right environment. A number of home canning kits are available.

Pressure Jars

You can also use sealed jars to preserve food. If you like jams, marmalades or pickled items, pressure sealed jars provide an ideal way of preserving food for extended shelf life.

Dehydrated

Vacuum Packed

Grown your own

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