I think minimal hurricane Sandy served as a pretty good lesson as to what happens when you sit around and wait for the government to take care of you. (You get really cold and hungry is what happens.)
While I don’t want to denigrate any of the companies that sell prepackaged food supplies (2,000 calories a day for a year! Only $1,600.00!), you can gather your own supplies based on what your family will actually eat. For example, a lot of the prepackaged food storage supplies have a lot of wheat in them. This is not so good for those of us that have to be gluten free if we want to survive.
I’ve based my food storage mainly on rice and beans. Why rice and beans? They’re cheap and readily available. You may prefer to base yours on canned chicken and dried potatoes, or macaroni and tuna fish. WHATEVER.
We have a year-round growing season here. If TSHTF in the winter, for example, I may have collard greens, turnip greens, cabbage, potatoes, and onions in my garden. If I don’t, I’ll have seeds and, in the meantime, can eat wild greens such as dollar weed and stinging nettles along with my rice and beans while waiting for the garden to grow. You may have only a very short summer growing season and prefer to have hundreds of canned vegetables in storage, and lots and lots of deer jerky.
Regardless of where you start, food storage is surprisingly easy and inexpensive to do. You can purchase rice in 50# bags at a warehouse store and jump start your food storage program. Beans can be purchased in bulk at Hispanic stores or some grocery stores. I have a selection of black beans, white beans, red beans, pinto beans, and lentils. I’ll probably add some dried limas and various varieties of peas in the future. Sugar, salt, and grits are in there, too, as well as other things that are palatable to my family although not to myself (such as pasta in various forms including ramen noodles).
If you’re worried about the price, don’t be. You can do this over a period of time for very little additional cost to your food budget. For example, instead of buying one bag of rice, buy two. Better yet would be to buy a 3# bag of rice at a buy one get one special. Instead of having 3#s of rice for storage, now you have six! Instead of buying 5# of sugar, buy 10. In ten weeks, you’ll have 50# of sugar and 30# of rice in storage, assuming that you consumed the rest. In 52 weeks, you could have 260# of sugar in storage, and 156# of rice. You, however, will probably have stopped stockpiling sugar about a hundred pounds ago and moved on to salt, ramen noodles, and/or macaroni. But don’t stop there. Add 4# of dried beans weekly to your shopping list. In 10 weeks, that’s 40# of beans. In 52 weeks, that’s 208# of dried beans. Got kids? How about some dried milk? How many times during the year did buy one get one free vegetables or brownie mix go on sale? Hope you took advantage!
Aw, geez, once you start accumulating food, where in the world do you put it? Well, some folk store their extra flour in gallon-sized bags in the freezer. It makes sense to put it in there for a couple weeks, anyway, to kill any bug eggs that may be present. I like to use my vacuum sealer and put rice and beans @ 4# per bag, and vacuum seal. Then I put them in a 5-gallon bucket with a gasketed top or inside a bin with a lid.
Food safe buckets can be purchased from suppliers, along with gasketed, sealable lids. Buckets can be purchased nice and clean from the same type of company, OR you can pick them up used from restaurants, bakeries, and the grocery store deli. Sometimes they’re free, sometimes the businesses want a fee for them. Let your budget be your guide.
It is very important to actually use what you store. Don’t store something that the family doesn’t like! If they hate chili, for example, don’t stock up chili. Stock up on beef stew instead. A few hens for eggs is a good idea, and old hens that no longer lay make good chicken soup.
If you have the extra money in your budget and want to be prepared NOW, Emergency Essentials has basic emergency supplies that you can buy by the bucket, can, or in a kit. You can choose the minimum survival rations, or opt for a more varied diet.