When you first start prepping, one of the first things that most new preppers tackle is their food storage. Whether you start out buying a lot of food at once, add a little bit at a time, and/or preserve everything you can, you stockpile food. While that is a good thing to do, after a while you have a lot of food in storage. You now have a new problem. You may be a little lost as to what you are going to do with all that food.
Like with all other areas of prepping, you need to have a plan and the same goes for your food storage. You need to have a plan on how you plan to use your food storage. The first thing you should do is create a flexible meal plan.
When you have a meal plan, you have a better idea of what you should be purchasing and stockpiling. Meal planning isn't hard to do. However, you want to keep it flexible so you can be ready to roll with whatever situation you are facing. You want to have options depending on what you have in storage, if you have power, and what your fuel options are at the time.
How To Make A Flexible Meal Plan
1. Brainstorm a list of meals. Think of what you and your family like to eat and what you normally prepare for meals in a month. At this point, do not worry about whether the meals are food storage friendly or not. Just make a list of meals for breakfast, lunch, supper, and snack time.
2. Consider what cooking methods you would use for making these meals. Get creative! You can bake a casserole on a grill or in a dutch oven over a fire. You can make a lot on a camp stove. Solar (sun) ovens are also a good method of cooking and baking. Some of your meals may not even require cooking which saves on fuel. However you plan on cooking (or not cooking) your meals, you need to make sure you plan for all contingencies. You may not have power and may not be able to use your stove and microwave. You may have power but just can't leave home. Just make a note beside your meal about how you plan to cook it.
3. Beside each meal, list the ingredients needed to make the meal. You will also want to include how much water the meal takes because that will be important if you are trying to also ration water. Listing your ingredients will help you to understand how much food you will need to store to make the meal. You will also see what fresh and refrigerated items are needed and what you may need to do for substitutions.
4. Think about how many people you plan to feed. Will your meal be enough food or will you need to double/triple the meal? Will you have older children in the future who eat more? Will you be eating more because you are working harder and need more calories? While you may want to err on the side of lean eating, you shouldn't. You should have enough food planned for meals and in storage to make sure everyone is eating their fill.
5. Separate your list into food storage friendly meals and non-food storage friendly meals. Some meals that you make and your family loves will not be feasible for food storage meals. You can try with canned and freeze-dried ingredients, but the meal may not be the same.
At this point, you may realize you do not have a lot of food storage meals. You have bought a lot of ingredients like rice, pasta, and beans, but you do not have meals for those ingredients. You need to take the time now to learn how to make meals with those ingredients. They work great as sides, but you want to be able to make meals with them.
If you are in need of meal ideas, consider some of the meals I have posted:
Corned Beef Casserole
Tuna Noodle Casserole
Easy Skillet Spaghetti
Some excellent resources for food storage meals can be found here:
A Year Without the Grocery Store: A Step by Step Guide To Acquiring, Organizing, and Cooking Food Storage by Karen Morris
The Prepper's Cookbook: 300 Recipes To Turn Your Emergency Food... by Tess Pennington
Prepper's Pantry: Build A Nutritious Stockpile to Survive... by Daisy Luther
5. Think about what you will have with those meals. Condiments, spices/seasonings, and side dishes all need to be considered just like regular meals. You might not be able to have what you prefer to have with your meals like shredded cheese and sour cream on tacos or fajitas. Will you be able to live without them or will you have an acceptable substitute on hand? Having freeze-dried cheese and powdered sour cream can go a long way towards making a meal better.
6. Plan for some non-cooking meals. You might not be able to cook your meals or need to conserve your fuels for cooking. What do you have on hand for non-cooked meals? These meals can be super simple like meal bars, cereal, peanut butter on crackers, unheated soup, prepackaged chicken or ham salad, salsa and chips and more.
7. Organize your meals and put them on paper. You will want to access these easily and keep them handy. Meal Planning is a lot simpler when you have a nice page in front of you to write on and put into your recipe and preparedness binders. Lucky for you, I made you a printable that you can print off again and again to make your own meal plans.
Meal Planning is a crucial part of your food preparedness plans. Without a meal plan, you might know what you are making with your food storage, but you might be missing ingredients, condiments, seasonings, and more. Finding out what you are missing when you need them the most would be difficult. Having a meal plan means you have one less thing to worry about and one less decision to make when times are really stressful. You already know what you can make and can just pick a meal.
I would also recommend printing off some food substitution sheets to keep in your food and emergency binders. Sometimes you do have to be a very creative cook and create substitutes for missing or already consumed ingredients. Having them handy to look at would take some of the worries and pressure off of the cook's shoulders.
What meals do you have on your food storage meal plan? Leave them in the comments below! I would love to see your ideas and meals.
Thanks for reading