Preparedness Email - Week 25

The Three Month Food Pantry

Our next project is a big one. We're going to start our emergency preparedness pantry by setting aside a 3-month supply of food.

Why Store Extra Food?

Earlier in the series, we set aside a small emergency food supply of a few days or two weeks. But in a serious emergency situation, that is not going to be enough. In a real emergency, grocery store shelves will be bare within 3 days. Travel may be difficult. Money may be tight. Having extra food at home will not only ensure your family is fed, it will free up emergency resoures for people who truly need help because they could not afford to prepare.

What Kind of Emergency Are You Preparing For?

Answering this question will help you make decisions about how much food and what type of food you want to store. Here are a few types of emergencies that we could face in the future:

  • Job loss

  • Personal medical issue that make it hard to get to the store, such as broken bones

  • Flu or other epidemic with quarantine and travel advisory

  • Food shortages


Why Three Months?

Many people who are concerned about preparedness suggest having a one-year pantry. This is a major commitment of time and finances. We felt it would be easier and financially feasible to start building a 3-month pantry. Once you have achieved that goal, you can repeat the steps to add another 3 month's worth of food and beverages, and repeat until you have reached your goal, whatever that may be.

Coming Up
In the coming weeks, we’re going to:

  • Take an inventory of space and figure out where to store the extra food you’re going to accumulate. 

  • Consider food storage methods, longevity and protection from infestation. 

  • Identify what kinds of food to store for our family's particular needs and tastes  and think about health needs.

  • Learn about food rotation so food stays viable and doesn't go to waste.


We’re going to think in terms of storing 90 breakfasts, 90 lunches, and 90 dinners, with beverages and snacks [this is for one person].

This Week
For the next two weeks, jot down what you and other family members eat at each meal so you know what people like and feel comfortable eating. Contrary to what you may think, in an emergency situation, people do not suddenly start eating unfamiliar food just because it's there. Rather, people lose their appetite and fail to eat enough. So it makes no sense to store food that you don't or won't eat. Start taking notes now on your family's eating habits.

Also this week, take an inventory of your current pantry.

  • What do you have

  • How much of it

  • On the shelf or in the freezer


Google Pantry Inventory Forms for examples of forms you can use for this purpose. While you're looking at your food supplies, take a moment to move those with a looming expiration date to the front of the cabinet so you use them soon. 

Do you know how fast you use the food you have? One way to determine this is to label each item with the date when you put it in the cupboard/freezer. For example, label 2 jars of peanut butter with the date and (#1 of 2, #2 of 2).  When you open the second jar, you can see how long it took to use up the first one. If it took you 2 months, you need 2 jars for a 3-month supply.  

This works for anything that comes in a package you can write on - laundry soap, shampoo, dish soap.

Finally ...
Transition Longfellow is hosting a book group on Sharon Astyk's book, "Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage and Preservation." The book group is the 2nd Thursday of the month at Moon Palace Books. The book is out of print but can easily be found online. Join with neighbors who are discussing food preservation and the emergency pantry.

This email series -- brought to you by neighborhood volunteers at Transition Longfellow -- is designed to help you become more prepared for extreme weather emergencies. Transition Longfellow does not recommend any specific product. Images or links are for illustration purposes only.

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