Warning! This is not your average scare mongering post about prepping for catastrophe! I’ve got realistic, money saving stockpiling lessons from food bank which everyone can benefit from learning.
Know what you have
Chances are, the only times you’ve ever completely emptied your kitchen cupboards is during a spring clean or when you’re moving house. You end up chucking in the bin a load of out of date items you’d forgotten about. Realising you’ve got three (open) jars of pickled onions (because they last forever right?!) and a packet of stuffing which you work out must have made three house moves already.
This is not great use of your cupboard space. Terrible food waste and not to mention the cash down the drain! But have you ever considered how long the contents of your kitchen cupboards would last you if your income just stopped with immediate effect? Or maybe the scenario is that suddenly food scarcity becomes a reality in your country (see a no-deal Brexit perhaps??)
This month the UK Government has said that realistically, if importing became a significant issues for us then we have enough here to last us 10 days without people feeling affected. I’m sure you’d agree 10 days is not a lot. At all! This is because 40% of all the UK’s food is imported.
I’ve just cleared out my own cupboards and had a realistic think about what we have in…just in case. I’m not (currently) planning to stockpile, as I’m well informed that it is stockpiling which actually causes the shortages people then experience. However this is what I did have in.
The big stock-take:
- Quite a few tins of chopped tomatoes
- A few tins of beans/spaghetti hoops
- Some tins of soup
- Small amount of dry pasta
- A couple of jars of pasta and curry sauces
- Large box of tea bags
- Large bag of rice
- One pack of dry spaghetti
- Couple of tins of fruit and rice pudding
- Loads of dry herbs and spices
- Half a dozen tins of fish (mackerel and tuna)
- Loads of freeze dried noodles
- Carton of custard
- Freezer full of various meat and frozen fruit
The result from my kitchen stock-take was that I’m actually in quite a strong position should the zombie apocalypse descend. (Please don’t take that as an invitation!)This would be a fine amount for just me but quite often there’s two, four or five of us in this house including some fussy children. It really made me consider how long I could feed the kids for if say, I lost my job, one of us died or was taken ill with a serious condition?
Becoming a food bank trustee
I’ve recently become a trustee of my local food bank which is part of the Trussell Trust network. Having seen what food they accept due to limited space and no refrigeration facilities, it has made me consider stocking my cupboards like them. There’s loads of stockpiling lessons to learn from food banks!
Because I’ve moved house quite a lot this last year, I started only buying what I needed for a few days rather than doing a big monthly shop but now we’re a bit more settled I will return to doing more so I can have that peace of mind that we would have enough to tie us over.
So here’s the stockpiling lessons from a food bank and how they run their service:
- Write on tins and packets their use by dates really large with a marker pen so you use up food in the right order and nothing goes off in the back of your cupboard.
- There are some foods e.g. custard which you can buy that either needs milk or water to be mixed with it. Opt for the just add water one or even better, buy ready made. Being reliant on milk can be risky if money is tight or there are food shortages.
- Store similar food items together in categories e.g. bases, flavourings, snacks, desserts, dried carbs, tinned fruit etc. This way you’ll know what you’re running short of at a glance.
- Buy fewer perishables now and buy long life alternatives such as UHT milk, dried fruit, dried beans, dry pasta, cheese and canned spaghetti. Maybe even powdered eggs (nah this is going too far even for me!)
- Just like a food bank, don’t just consider food. Would you have enough medicine, sun cream, contraception and sanitary wear to last you as well?
- Remember pets too! Here the key is to ensure you don’t let yourself run out at any point and maintain a level of food to last you a certain period of time e.g. a month’s worth.
- Have a mix of sweet and savoury to keep you sane. Most dry snack are long life anyway but think realistically about how long a large packet would last you or if multiple smaller packets or bags would help you spread the use.
- Ensure you keep nutrition up to maintain your health. Tinned and canned fruit and veg are great for this but opt for those in water, or juice rather than syrup.
Hopefully of course, none of this will ever actually be necessary and instead this will just help create you a good base in your kitchen with the foundation ingredients to make lots of different meals with little effort and not require much adding to it to make it special. Better to be prepared though…
For more ideas on what foods you can eat after their best before dates, check out this post.