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Storage -Short Term

Why store more food than you might need for the next couple of days/weeks?

  • SAVE extra trips to the store
  • SAVE money by buying multiple items at sale prices
  • SAVE grief if something were to prevent you from getting to the grocery store – LOSS of grocery money to an unexpected expense; LOSS of transportation; LOSS of food availability due to a more general emergency such as weather, power, fuel, pandemic crisis, etc.

Here are four principles that can help you identify what to do next in building additional food storage.


Having a supply of food and other necessary resources on hand is like having money in the bank for now and for a rainy day. With money, you check with your bank for a balance. It’s a pretty simple process.

With food, however, checking amounts on hand might involve a little more. Let’s see. Open the cupboards; count the cans of soup and boxes of macaroni and cheese. Peek in the fridge and freezer. Oh wait, there’s a Rubbermaid container of rice and half-bag of flour – and two boxes of cheerios. Can I count the fast food catsup packets? Do I count the cat food? Yes and yes. Comfort food for kids and kitty food for kitties is important.

Once you feel you have a pretty thorough inventory, sit down with family members and make a list (this can be an interesting game) of how many meals you can make from your food on hand. Of course, you will take notes on where you’re short on supplies (lots of spaghetti sauce, not very much pasta). And this will be the beginning of creating your goals for increasing the food you have in your cupboards and pantry.


Now that you’re working on putting useful food items and ingredients on your shelves, your shopping list becomes more important than ever. Impulse buying, anytime, means you are giving up something you need for something you probably don’t need.Having a grocery list is like having a budget. It keeps you on track with your goals.


Budgeting, for me, means being able to say where the money I have will go. If you are planning for handling emergencies with confidence, the last thing you want is to create a money emergency by overspending. If you already have a carefully planned budget, good for you. Press on.

If you don’t have a working budget, take some time (and it will take time) to create one. has a guide and a worksheet to get you started, now go for it. Once you determine an amount for your groceries, you might try this common budget tip: make purchases like groceries on a CASH ONLY basis. When the cash is gone, the grocery budget is spent for that period of time. Check out the envelope system of budgeting used by many people to monitor and control their spending.


Keeping food storage goals and menu ingredients on your grocery list will prepare you for taking advantage of items on sale. This is especially true if your food budget now allows a little extra money each trip for on sale items. If you don’t find an acceptable sale, and don’t use that extra allotment, put the cash in an envelope for the next time. If something is on sale, but it’s not on your list, mentally check: (1)  is it a need I forgot to put on my list? (2) is it an impulse item I should go home without?

OR, if your food budget extends over a month’s time, you may find you can spend a little more “this week” and a little less “next week.”

The approach above takes self-control, attention to detail and practice. Make the most of your experience by involving another family member. They will learn along with you! It may even be them motivating you!

I’ll never forget the day I was at the grocery store with my 13 year-old daughter. She looked in our cart as we approached the check-0ut line and said, “Mom, you sure do impulse shop a lot.” She was right and her observation changed my life.

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