Survivalism has become more and more popular over the last ten years. Reality shows like “Doomsday Preppers” and “Independence USA” have turned terms like long-term food storage and survival skills into buzzwords.
Mormons have been “prepping” for decades, although not necessarily for an end-of-the-world scenario. Rather, long-term food storage is simply a part of the church’s principles of self-reliance and emergency preparedness.
But while we know that LDS leaders recommend it, the “why” and “how” can be a little fuzzy.
Reasons for having long-term food storage
If you’re like me, “because the Prophet said so” isn’t a good enough answer. The good news is that there are plenty of non-religious reasons why it’s wise to have both short- and long-term food storage on hand.
In case you lose a job
I’ve never been laid off, but I have family and friends who have been, some for as long as two years. You see, being unemployed isn’t always a matter of not looking hard enough or being lazy. For some people, the stars just take an excruciatingly long time to align.
Having at least three months’ worth of food stored up can easily get you through a short-term unemployment. And if you want to feel even more secure, shoot for a year’s worth. That way, your top concern isn’t how to feed your family.
In case you become disabled
Depending on the situation, you may get a heads up about a potential layoff. A short- or long-term disability, however, rarely comes with a forewarning. And unlike unemployment, getting another job may not solve the problem.
Because a disability can be so devastating to a family, I always recommend disability insurance. Even so, short- and long-term disability insurance policies typically don’t replace your full salary. So, having some food storage can help you cut your costs when your budget is tighter.
In case of a natural disaster
I’m not talking Armageddon here. There are plenty of natural disasters that can be devastating, regardless of their geographical impact. Think Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or the Joplin Tornado in 2011.
And, if you live along the Wasatch Front in Utah, consider the Wasatch Fault that is long overdue for a major earthquake.
If something like this happens, the infrastructure in the area could be wiped out for a while. It could cut off water and electricity supplies and the price of food could go through the roof. Having food on hand gives you an advantage.
How to budget for long-term food storage
Now that you know why food storage is an important part of your emergency preparedness, that doesn’t mean you feel like you can make it happen. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck or don’t have much leftover each month, food storage likely doesn’t top your priority list. But you can still make it happen with a few tips.
Even if your target is a three-month supply of food storage, that’s still an overwhelming amount of food. Start by buying just one thing each month, whether it’s a case of something from the online LDS Store or just one #10 can from your local home storage center.
Whatever you choose, be consistent each month. It may take you a while, but it’s better than not starting at all.
Have a plan
When building your food storage, having a plan is essential. Know how much of each food type you need and keep an inventory to make sure you’re not spending money on things on which you’re already well-stocked.
The blog Food Storage Organizer offers a sample plan in this post that you can use to kick start your own. Make sure to keep track of your progress as you go, so it’ll be easier to know what’s in your inventory.
There are several food storage companies out there that sell ready-to-eat meals. They’re super convenient (just add water), and you’ll pay for that convenience. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with buying that stuff if you can afford it. If you’re on a budget, though, stick with the basics (rice, flour, beans, etc.). Later on, it may make more sense to pay for the fancier stuff.
In my opinion, buying food storage is never a waste of money. Like health insurance, it helps you mitigate potential future risks. But if your food storage goes bad because you’re not paying attention to the expiration dates, that’s you’ll get zero value out of it.
What’s more, imagine finding yourself in a situation where you do need your food storage, only to find that half of it’s no longer edible.
Protect your family with long-term food storage
As I mentioned before, I view food storage in the same vein as insurance. The difference is that buying insurance is usually a one-time thing and building up food storage requires a lot of time and effort.
Regardless of the reasons for having long-term food storage, for me, it boils down to protecting your family.
Of course, this blog post came about because I have had trouble finding room for it in our budget. So, writing this has provided me with some motivation to make it more of a priority.
Regardless of how or where you start, long-term food storage can give you peace of mind and help you meet your emergency preparedness goals. Following these tips, you can start building your food storage and protect your family during times of personal or financial struggle.