Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Frugal Food Storage - Fifteen Years Later

Last week, our inspirational thought was an exerpt from the January 1993 Ensign. It was a story written by Colleen Hansen. Colleen has graciously agreed to write a follow-up article on her food storage progress. Thanks, Colleen!

Years ago when still in college (and completely broke), my husband and I began setting aside a few cans and boxes each week after bringing home the groceries. If it was an “extra,” and we could do without it until the next grocery shopping trip, we added it to our growing pile of food storage. To our surprise, our food storage “savings account” became much like a savings account at the bank. Although we started out small, it became an inspiring challenge to see how much we could make it grow each time we came home from the grocery store.

This basic method has worked so well for us that we still continue to use it many years later, with one refinement: now, we actually treat our food storage like a savings account. In order to rotate our storage and minimize waste, each grocery day, we “withdraw” food staples such as dry and canned goods from the storage area and put them into our kitchen cupboards. Then we “deposit” the recently-purchased food back into the storage area, always trying to deposit more than we withdraw. (My husband calls this “going shopping in the basement,” and he has more fun on shopping days than I do!)

Through using this savings method, we have been able to gradually but steadily increase our food storage so that currently, we have enough food on hand to sustain us for a year. In addition to the obvious, I think this method has several benefits:

1. It allows for any income, large or small. No matter what our economic circumstances, we have learned that we can always save something. As better employment opportunities and income increases, the “savings” can be increased accordingly. On the other hand, if income has been altered negatively, the “savings” may temporarily be less, as well. The important thing is to keep saving whenever possible.

2. It provides the opportunity to develop the consistent habit of thinking about and planning for food storage. Now it is simply ingrained in me to keep an eye out for bargains and sales, and grab a few of the items to add to our storage. When I arrive home, it is routine to automatically set aside food and other goods to go into our storage stockpile. We don’t miss it, and it isn’t a sacrifice to save food.

3. It permitted our children to become more involved in the food storage principle. Over the years, they enjoyed helping to choose which foods went into food storage, and which ones stayed in the cupboard. Sometimes I used simple tracking charts, and the children liked to mark off what was used and what was replaced.

4. It offered positive emotional motivation. Instead of feeling overwhelmed at the idea of planning and paying for a year’s supply of food and essentials on a smaller budget, I am consistently uplifted and encouraged. Watching an asset such as food storage grow can motivate us to continue until we have completed our goals. In addition, the peace of mind which comes from feeling that we are better prepared to meet temporal challenges is priceless. Knowing that our family will not need to go hungry is often more than enough incentive to keep me looking forward to keeping my home storage well-stocked.

I have found that by making home storage a priority, we have received additional opportunities to add to our food storage. These occasions have included unexpected food sales, access to unique, low-cost sources not generally made public, offers of free extra fruit and vegetables from friends and neighbors for home canning, etc. I believe that when we are making any effort to follow the Lord’s counsel to become better prepared through home storage, no matter how small, then He blesses us, and often in more ways than one. In other words, when we try, He provides. In this way, we can all succeed at “safely gathering in” what we need to take care of our families.

Copyright 2008 by Colleen Hansen


West Family said...

Thank you so much for your article. It is very motivating to remember that the Lord will help us if we keep trying.

Colleen said...

Thanks for your comment! I agree--what a blessing to know He is there for us under any circumstances. Good luck in all of your "gathering!"

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your article! It is a great motivator to know that the Lod blesses us to be prepared and that we can see progress little by little. I love your idea of your food storage "savings account"!

Cygnus MacLlyr said...

I can't find the verse, and mayhap it is more a folk proverb, but I recall the saying "The lord helps those who help themselves".
Seems to make sense.
I must admit that I am not Christian, but as a desired 'self-provider' and minimalist, much of it's doctrine spans good, common sense, and allows one to take comfort in knowing there are forces 'larger' than li'l ol' us that aid in determinations we set in motion.
Long have I had the dream to become more prepared for whatever the future may bring; I see many good points on your site that will bring me back time and again.
Thank you, and Season's Greetings.


Caroline @ Give LDS Gifts said...

Thank you for this update. This is the approach my little family has been doing for the last year. It's very satisfying to go and "deposit" as well as "withdraw". Although we do not yet have a year's supply, we're on our way and doing it this way makes it seem more manageable.

I hadn't referred to it as a savings account before, but I like that analogy.


Colleen said...

Thanks, everyone, for your comments! It is really terrific (and strengthening) for me to hear of your successes in following the counsel to be better prepared. For myself, I think I appreciate most the peace of mind that comes. Hope you all have a wonderful, blessed Christmas! :)