Thursday, June 4, 2009

Food Storage: Meal Planning

My brother requested I share some of the knowledge we've gained about food storage from our great opportunities to use it. It got me totally excited to share about it!

About a year ago, I started taking seriously the council to have a 3 month supply of the things your family eats on a regular basis. Our pantry could maybe have held out 1 month of food before it was empty at that time, so I wasn't really sure how to go about things. Finally, with the help and experience of others I refined a system that works well for our family.

First, I created a menu of around 30 meals we make a lot, that also store well. ie: spaghetti, chili and corn bread, noodle casseroles and assorted rice meals are some that are on our menu.

Once I had the menu written up (and I did this in a spreadsheet) I listed next to each menu item the ingredients and the amount needed of each ingredient. This gave me an accurate shopping list and inventory check sheet for my pantry. I multiplied each of the 30 meals by 3 (to create 3 months worth) some meals that we make more I did more of, and those we eat once a month I stuck to just 3 times.

One example of this would be:

Meal: Beef Taco Skillet
Ingredients: Tortillas (can freeze or make out of flour, oil and water.)
Tomato Soup 1 can = 3 cans
Salsa 1/2 cup = 1 1/2 cups
Ground Beef 1/2 lb or 1 jar of canned beef = 1 1/2 lbs.
Cheese some (can also be frozen)

So I made my list and added things up and now I have an accurate list of what should be in my pantry to allow me to make 3 months worth of dinners for my family.

I always make sure I have a little of everything on hand. When I notice a good sale on a particular item I will buy either the whole 3 months worth of that item or a significant part of it depending on what the budget will allow.

Other tricks we've learned, there are powdered versions of a lot of different things. Dry milk, for example stores beautifully and works really well for cooking. My girls love things with syrup in the morning (I mean, what kid doesn't love things smothered with sugar?!!), so I always have enough sugar and a bottle of mapeline flavoring so we can make homemade syrup. (the dry milk is very helpful for pancakes, waffles and muffins.)

Powdered Sour Cream is something we recently learned about and it too works very well in casseroles and even stroganoff gravy! I know there are ways to store eggs and make egg substitute, but I have not yet ventured there. And then the basics of having flour (wheat and a wheat grinder make this go MUCH farther and make for tasty homemade bread products), sugar, some yeast in the freezer, and salt are also musts in that 3 month supply.


John and Laura said...

What a great summary! YOu've inspired me to actually make a spreadsheet of meals for my family. Good for you, and I'm sorry you have to go back to your food storage meals. :( We're praying for you.

Kellie said...

Thanks for sharing your knowledge...great way to get started!

Kay said...

Wow. I'm impressed. I try to think that I'm some what organized, but I'm so not when it comes to food storage. And we need to be. Thanks for the inspiration!

Chris said...

Thanks, Steph! This sounds simpler than I thought it would be. We'll get started!

Did you find that there were many meals on your menu that required few or no perishable ingredients?