Setting up a food storage program – by self sufficiency guru Nev Sweeney

As with any worthwhile enterprise , planning is essential for a workable food storage program . Following are sheets to help you work out a list of foods to store that suits your family , it can be photocopied then filled using the technique below : –

For each entry work out if you wish to store it or not , then assuming you do work out the amount needed to be put away for a year . Say it is tinned potatoes , say also that one tin will do one meal (with other vegies, for two adults and two small kids this is about right), you might wish to have potatoes 3 times per week. So the number of tins of potatoes required for a years supply will be  – The number of tins per meal ( 1 ) multiplied by the number of times it will be desired per week ( 3 ) multiplied by the number of weeks per year (52). Thus the number of tins of potatoes to store will be 1 * 3 * 52 = 156 tins . For other types of produce the idea is the same after you have worked out (in practice) how many meals the pack size you intend to store will last your family.

It is sometimes easier to buy store and rotate produce by the unbroken boxful, each individual box should be dated of course to make rotation easier. In our tinned potato example above, to find out the number of boxes to buy we divide the figure for tins by the number of tins in a box ( usually 24 even in these days of metric everything ), ie 156 / 24 = 6.5 boxes. There is a space on the list sheets for the ” box equivalent ” to be written in if you wish to use this method of storage.

If you set up your system on single tins one way to start your system is to” copy buy “, for example if you normally buy two tins of corn niblets for a week buy four and put the extra two into storage. If you use this system you need to date every tin you buy and have enough shelf space so that the tins can be stored and rotated easily. There are two ways that you can use to ensure that your food storage is rotated regularly, the first uses inclined shelves where the back is higher than the front. Tins are placed at the back of the shelf on their sides and allowed to roll to the front. When require the tins are then taken from the front , when newer tins are bought they are also placed in the back and allowed to roll forward up behind the older tins . Thus all of the older tins will be used before the newer ones become available and the process continues on.

The second method involves setting aside some shelf space for each variety of tins . The tins are stacked in from the left until the space is filled so that the oldest tins are on the extreme left, the newest on the extreme right. Tins are taken from the left and replaced a line at a time so that by the time you are using the cans from the extreme right they are the oldest and the cycle starts again.

Once you have worked out your storage list it is important to prioritise, for example wheat might be the first and gelatine the last thing to be bought . If you are buying your tins by the box it is better to buy a box each of potatoes, corn, peas, carrots, beans and pineapple rather than buying half a dozen boxes of potatoes in succession. This means that if things go bad before your program is complete you will have a variety put away and not just get heartily sick of tinned potatoes! Not to mention how much easier it will be to rotate stocks.