Food Storage – Beyond the Emergency Fund

Having an emergency fund is critical to successfully sticking to a budget. When used only for emergencies, the fund will go a long way to keeping you from needing to use debt to see your way through unexpected financial situations.

I also believe in being prepared to sustain yourself and your family in the event of economic trouble, disasters, etc. I’m not a guy who thinks the world will end next week. I do think however, that it’s our duty in a society that values individualism and freedom to be prepared and not be a burden on others if we can help it.

In my mind, this is the fundamental principle behind saving and having an emergency fund. To supplement your emergency fund, one idea is to start to stock up on things you would need in the event that you or your spouse lost their income through layoff or disability. I’m not advocating this as a replacement for disability insurance. Insurance is an important part of the budgeting process when you are able, but I think every little bit you can save will help.

Stocking up on household items you will use anyway is a relatively easy way to save for an emergency. I’m also not recommending you stock up on things to the point where you need to take over the garage with your stock. Things go bad and become hard to manage when you do that not to mention that it can be expensive. Couponing can help but that’s another topic. Here are a few categories of things we like to stock up on:

Hygiene

Personal hygiene is important for health and also if you lose your job and need to find another one! We stock a couple extra of these types of items to allow our family to not have to purchase anything in this category for at least a month or longer if needed. This is dependent on the item of course. Items we stock are toothpaste, floss, soap, shampoo, extra tooth brushes, hair product, women’s personal items, and even toilet paper although that can be bulky and hard to find an out of the way spot to store it.

First Aid

First aid items tend to not be used as often so it doesn’t take long to get a stock of items. We purchase extra band aids, pain medications, a month extra of allergy meds (over the counter), iodine, triple antibiotic ointment, hydrogen peroxide, and rubbing alcohol.

Cleaning

Cleaning items are important too but maybe not something you would normally stock up on. We are pretty light on this item but we do have extra dish washing detergent and cloths washing soap. That’s pretty much it for that category.

Food

This is a category that can be expensive and also hard to find room to store. My approach has been to buy a couple extra items when we go to the store for things that last a long time and also that we would use up as a normal part of living.

You could buy freeze dried or dehydrated food but in my opinion these are expensive. If you have the extra money and want to do it, go for it. We do have some but we also use it for camping trips so I could justify having a little bit around.

Items we buy typically are canned goods and dried pastas and grains. Our family uses canned ham, chicken and tuna for many dishes so keeping a stock of those items is easy to do and in an emergency, a stockpile of protein.

We also purchase canned vegetables, soups, powdered milk, flour, rice, dried beans, peanut butter, pastas and grits.

Grits are great to use to stretch how far a few eggs go.

As an experiment, I bought a can of crystalized (freeze dried) and a can of powdered eggs (dehydrated). If you can afford it and want to store eggs, crystalized are the way to go. They taste much better than powdered.

Frozen food is another thing you can stock but unless you have a big freezer, it can be tough. We do stock frozen meat (mostly beef, chicken and fish) but that’s about it.

Rotating

The last part of this is rotating stock. If you don’t do this or keep an eye on it, you’ll end up with out of date product and it will end up costing more than it’s worth. I’ve found it to be pretty easy, you just have to do it when you bring home your groceries.

It doesn’t take long to develop a food stock that could last you for 3 months. It doesn’t take too much room for that amount either. If you have a family of four and have three month’s worth of food, that would significantly reduce the amount you need to have as income if someone in your family loses their job.

You can also use it to help others who may be in need. If a friend, neighbor or extended family member falls upon hard times, you just may be the person who can really make a difference to them.

Do Not Prepare Food For Others If You Have Any of the Following Complaints

People who work in commercial kitchens, or any other type of food business should be in good health, clean and well presented. Dangerous bacteria can easily be transferred onto food by any number of means, many of these originating from personal health and personal hygiene issues.

It is, therefore, necessary to maintain high personal hygiene standards wherever food is prepared. These standards are implemented to prevent the contamination of food and reduce risk to the public. Here is a list of personal health and hygiene situations that can cause food contamination. Both staff and management should constantly be on the lookout for the following hygiene issues and intervene promptly.

Do not prepare food if:

You are suffering from any disorder of the digestive system.
Your are suffering from a sexually transmitted disease.
You have an open wound that cannot be covered with an industrial grade waterproof antiseptic wound dressing.
You are suffering from any infectious or contageous disease.
You are suffering from any allergic or bacterial skin conditions.
You are suffering from any fungal skin conditions anywhere on your body.
You are suffering from any parasitcal disease
You are suffering from serious burns.
You have infection of the eyes.
You are running a temperature for any reason.
You are coughing or sneezing due to any infection of the nose, mouth, throat or lower respiratory tract.
You have a urinary tract infection
You have not thoroughly washed your hands to the elbow, including cleaning under the finger nails.
You have not showered in the past 24 hours, including washing of the hair.
If you are not wearing a clean kitchen uniform, including head cover
and clean work shoes.
All kitchen staff must be especially diligent in washing their hands after visiting the toilet. It is advised that you wash your hands twice with soap.

People working in the preparation of food must not work with refuse, clean areas in which refuse is stored, sweep roads or drive ways, clean toilet areas or do garden work in or around the business in which they work.

Likewise, people working directly of indirectly with food must not come into contact with cats, dogs or any other type of animal during working hours. Kitchen staff should also refrain from eating in the kitcken area, particularly eating with fingers.

Emergency Preparedness & Survival – Why Sanitation & Personal Hygiene Win the Prize!

If I were to ask you to identify the most significant medical breakthrough in the past 150 years, how would you answer? For most of us we immediately think of high-profile medical advances, such as the discovery of penicillin and antibiotics, or the invention of the X-ray, the realization that we are products of a basic structure called DNA, the elimination of major disease processes such as smallpox, plague, and others, or the incredible life-saving virtues of automatic de-fibrillation, transplants, and so on. In fact, if you were to Google ‘Nobel Prize Winning Medical Advances’ you will find a host of incredible achievements, all that have improved longevity and quality of life.

And yet, none of them win the prize for being the most significant medical advancement of the past 150 years. The winner may surprise you…

The British Medical Journal recently surveyed more than 11,000 readers, mostly physicians, and asked them the exact same question I just asked you: What was the most significant medical breakthrough in the past 150 years? The winner: Sanitation.

Perhaps the Indianapolis Star said it best, “How can it be that seemingly mundane, homely sanitation — including sewage, reliably clean water, decent housing — could possibly earn more votes than Nobel Prise-winning advances? Because the best measure of a medical advance is not its complexity, but what it does for the length and quality of our lives.”

Proper sanitation and hygiene eliminated deadly diseases such as cholera and infection, and paved the way for the creation of a large and sophisticated network of structures and infrastructures that have revolutionized our lives. Today we simply turn on the faucet or flush the commode and viola’ we have water to drink and waste water to flush. Today we benefit from a public health system that stands as a constant watch dog to ensure that our sanitation, living and hygiene needs are met.

But what if I were to remove all these conveniences. No running water. No flushing toilets. No structures, institutions or infrastructure for you to rely upon for sanitation and proper hygiene. What would your life look like?

The hidden danger in natural and man-made disasters is not so much in the actual events, (which is usually what gets all the news), but in the consequences of those events. The most significant of these consequences is disruptions in sanitation and personal hygiene, consequences that transport us back to a time when lack of sanitation was a leading cause of disease and death. Don’t take my opinion on it, believe the 11,000 readers of the British Medical Journal.

So, how should a reasonable person prepare for a disruption in structures and infrastructures that support our system of sanitation? Here are three things you should be thinking about to prepare for the big one should it wash up on your shores:

1) Clean Water. You must have clean water for drinking, washing and cleaning during a prolonged disruption in infrastructure. Most experts agree that the average person requires two gallons a day of water for cleaning and drinking. This includes water for washing as well as removing waste, (don’t forget that most toilets require 3 gallons to flush). We recommend that you keep a minimum of 7 days water storage for your family, (7 days times 2 gallons times the number of people in your family). A 30-day supply is even better.

2) Emergency Preparedness Kit. Individuals, families and businesses should keep Emergency Preparedness Kits and Disaster Survival Equipment on hand that include the necessary sanitation, hygiene, and survival tools and equipment to help you maintain a safe quality of living should you be required to live ‘off the grid’ for an extended period of time. Most standard Emergency Preparedness Kits include toilets, toilet bags, antibacterial gels, sanitation wipes, soaps and other sanitation/hygiene necessities.

3) Non-perishable Food. Keep in mind, a component of proper sanitation and hygiene is food that does not spoil and expose us to the risk of deadly food-borne diseases. The best foods for long-term storage and emergency preparedness are those that are ‘ready to eat’ and do not require refrigeration, such as dehydrated foods, military Meals Ready To Eat, canned meats, power bars, etc. As before, we recommend a minimum 7 day supply of nutritious, healthy, high protein foods in your supply.

Remember Occam’s Razor: the simplest explanation is almost always the best. It wasn’t the incredibly complex medical advances that won the day, it was simple sanitation and hygiene, two things that are well within your control and ability to prepare for.

Stay informed. Stay prepared. Stay safe.

KBaum