If you lost your employment today, how long could you survive without a job? In difficult financial times, people who never imagined themselves unemployed are facing this situation and it is lasting longer than they might have expected. The time to prepare for unemployment is right now, while you still have an income.
Food storage is one way to prepare for difficult times. The Bible offers many examples of times when God instructed His people to prepare for the days when things were not going well.
You might remember that in the Old Testament, Joseph helped the Pharaoh to understand that a famine was coming. Did God tell them to just trust Him and let it happen? No, He had Joseph instruct Pharaoh to prepare for the famine by storing food while there was still plenty of it. By doing so, not only were the Pharaoh’s people saved, but Joseph was able to save his own family from starvation.
When Noah was commanded to build an ark, God also told him to bring on board what he was going to need to survive—and to build the boat. God didn’t provide him with a ready-made and fully stocked yacht. He had to create it and fill it himself. Only rarely does God provide manna from Heaven. Most often, He expects us to try to meet our own needs, and then He makes up the difference.
How, then, can you get your ark ready for hard times? Food storage is one of the easiest ways to cut the budget in a family. When there is no money, you can eat from your pantry. When you do have money, you can save on the cost of food by buying in bulk and on sale, because you don’t need anything specific most of the time.
It is not wise to go into debt to build a food storage. It doesn’t have to be obtained all at one time. If you have the money, you can jump-start the process by buying a larger amount to start. For instance, if your store has pasta sauce on sale for forty cents less per jar than it normally costs, you might decide to buy twenty or thirty all at once. While forty cents isn’t a lot of money, when you multiply it by thirty cans, it begins to make a difference. If you don’t have enough money to do this, simply buy one or two jars more than you expect to need before your next shopping trip. If you always buy a little more than you need of things that keep a long time, you will eventually have enough to get by. Be sure to take note of the expiration dates and don’t buy more than you’ll need before items expire.
When you’re first starting out, it is helpful to stock up on those items essential to sustain life first. What would you absolutely have to have if you had no money at all to spend on groceries? You would probably want baking supplies so you could make your own bread—flour, sugar, salt…the staples. You would want a basic supply of grains, fruits, and vegetables, with enough protein to keep you healthy. Once you have those, you can begin building up the other items that would make eating more pleasant.
Of course, you will need more than just food. You will need cleaning supplies, hygiene items, and baby care materials. Start making a list of what you use on a regular basis. Stock up on the ones that are critical to your survival.
In weather emergencies, people often find themselves without clean water. Store water barrels to get you through a week or so without water. It can sometimes take that long for emergency services to get to you. Stores often sell out during dangerous times. In a blizzard, you might be snowed in for a week. Don’t forget about first aid, supplies, flashlights, batteries, a non-electric can-opener, and a battery-operated radio.
This type of food storage is not hoarding. Hoarders normally buy food and supplies, but then put them in their basement and forget about them. When members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are sometimes called Mormons, store food—and they are considered the experts on the subject—they rotate their storage and use it regularly.
This means that when food comes into the house, it needs to be organized so the newest food is at the back or bottom of the supply. The oldest items are at the front. When we see our kitchen pantry has no canned peaches, we don’t head for the store—we go to the basement or wherever our storage is—and bring some cans upstairs. When we buy new food, we take it to our storage area, not our kitchen cabinet.
While it’s helpful to have a basement for this storage, it isn’t essential. Creative people find all sorts of ways to fit storage into small homes—they cover it with a board and a cloth and call it a coffee table, for instance. They stash it under beds and in closets. Sometimes they decorate boxes and place them right out in the open. If you’re having to keep your storage all over the house, make sure to keep an inventory. You don’t want to find yourself racing around the house searching for the corn.
What are the benefits of having a supply of food and other commodities in our home? As mentioned earlier, if you are unemployed or simply have a brief financial emergency, you can immediately cut costs by not shopping for a while except to obtain perishables. Even if you don’t have a complete storage, there will be some items you won’t need to buy during this time.
However, the storage can also get you through a week when you are sick and not up to shopping, a snowstorm, or a week that is simply very busy. It can bring your grocery costs down because you never have to pay full price for anything. The most important benefit, though, might be peace of mind. When you look at that supply of food and know you will at least eat, whatever happens, it can relieve your stress and make you feel more secure about the future. The money saved by buying in bulk or on sale can go into a savings account that can also assure you’ll have a place to live and the utilities you need.
Learn more about family preparedness.