Sunday, December 18, 2011

Taking Stock

I've been creating a stockpile of food for the better part of 18 months, with emphasis on the pile.

Piles of boxes filled with food 

I took the opportunity this week to shift the whole mess around a bit and managed to clean up the storage room somewhat. I also inventoried my stockpile. I have a much better idea of what I have and when it expires. I thought I'd share with you some of the ways I keep track of my preps.

Our Long Term Food Storage Inventory

The most useful tools I've found for organizing my food storage are the Long Term Food Storage and 3 Month Supply  Excel spreadsheets from Food Storage Made Easy. If you don't have Excel, they have printable versions available, but it is so nice to have the computer do the calculations.

When I updated the spreadsheets this week, I found to my surprise that I have 30 lb of peanut butter stored. I guess I won't have to worry about that peanut shortage after all.

Another online tool that I really like is Emergency Essential's Food Storage Analyzer. It's not perfect, but if you put the time into personalizing it by adding in your pantry items, it can give you a good estimate as to how far your food storage would go.  The analyzer said we have enough food for 397 days, but we only have 56% of the RDA of Vitamin C, 93% of Vitamin A, and 87% of Calcium. That gives me direction for our future purchases.

Another problem to tackle is replacing items before they expire. I have a spreadsheet with preps such as batteries,water purification tablets, etc., their dates of purchase and their expiration dates.

I have one for #10 cans, too. Some of them will stay viable for 30 years, others expire in 3-5. Each individual can is labeled with the date of purchase, but this spreadsheet enables me to see at a glance what I have and when it expires. If I had my #10 cans in other locations besides my food storage room, I would also note that.

This last list is all the items I consider essential to our preparedness pantry (excluding long term storage items, such as wheat). These are the items that are in our 3 month supply and I found that typing them up in an alphabetized list was more user-friendly than the Excel file.

I find it essential to go through my canned goods like vegetables, soups, and fruit on a regular basis. If I come across any that I think we will not consume before they expire, I give them to my local food pantry and buy new stock. Most canned goods will actually be just fine for quite some time after the expiration date, but since our family gives to the food pantry on a regular basis anyway, this helps rotate our food storage. Note: food pantries cannot take expired food. My oldest two children and I went on a tour of the food bank last month and they had a whole freezer full of expired Hot Pockets and a shelving unit of expired canned goods. They were allowing volunteers to take home the expired food since they could not legally hand it out to the needy.

That's how I keep track of our inventory. Do you have any tips for organizing your preps or keeping track of expiration dates? 

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