For some, storing extra food can be a real hardship, but for most families, building food storage can bring peace in troubled times.

Food storage is one of the most important components of emergency preparation. In planning, it's important to know who you are feeding and for how long and where to obtain items to store. Food can come from a variety of sources, including the following: Gardening: Though they require quite a bit of startup time and preparation, gardens can be the most fulfilling way to obtain fresh food. That food can then be stored by canning and preserving in the kitchen. Whether it's a small plot of land in the backyard or a few buckets on the balcony, a home garden is well worth the time. Aquaponics (the system of bringing fresh fish and plants together) is rapidly becoming a popular method for growing food and is worth investigating for those who would like to be more independent. Grocery store: This source is the most popular way to buy food storage. Whether using a warehouse store or a standard grocery, be sure to make a written plan of what is needed. Buying items a little at a time weekly is an easy way to start a successful food storage program. Food co-ops/farmers markets: This kind of food buying can be very helpful as well. Some food co-ops allow families to trade and purchase in bulk the food they need to store. Often, farmers markets have sales on in-season items, since they need to keep their offerings fresh. Search online or ask around for local opportunities. Companies that sell freeze-dried/dehydrated items: Anyone can order from these businesses, either online, via phone or regular mail, and have food shipped to their home. This can be a helpful way to store for the long term, but let your family taste products before ordering large quantities. There are several ways to start a food storage program. One starting point is to list meals eaten for two weeks and break down what items are needed. In doing this, you might find your meals are not storage-friendly. A freezer full of chicken nuggets and Tater Tots will not last long, so some changes might be in order. Budget food storage money each week and purchase a little at a time to build up your supply. A year's supply is a worthy goal but can be overwhelming, so first start with a three-month supply. Store what your family eats. It's no good storing 500 pounds of pinto beans if your family refuses to eat them. Many websites, books and other resources share lists of basic items to store as well as the amounts needed for adults and children. The more conventional idea is to buy certain foods in bulk that are standard in preparing meals. This method requires monthly menu planning to rotate and use food from storage. These items would include the following (amounts taken from "LDS Preparedness Manual"): Grains (400 pounds per adult per year): This category includes wheat, white rice, oats, barley, pasta and dried corn for cornmeal. Those who are accustomed to eating whole wheat bread should store more wheat. Those who are not should store white flour to supplement in making bread. Since brown rice has too much moisture content to store safely for more than three months without becoming rancid, this food is discouraged. Beans and legumes (90 pounds per adult per year): Again, store according to what your family is used to eating: If you eat more beans, then store them, including pinto, kidney, black and navy beans, and lentils and split peas. But also store the types and quantities of liquids and sauces needed to prepare them. Sugars (60 pounds per adult per year): Honey is a great storage item, but if you are not used to using it, then sugar is the way to go. Brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup and cane syrup are also viable sweeteners. Milk/dairy products (75 pounds per adult per year): Mostly, this category includes powdered milk, but powdered sour cream, which lasts longer when frozen, is also a possibility, as is canned milk. Eggs can be used after freezing. Meat and meat substitutes (20 pounds per adult per year): Dehydrated, freeze-dried or canned meats are great options. If your family is used to eating more meat, then plan to store more than 20 pounds. Fruits and vegetables (90 pounds per adult per year): This category is where storage gets really interesting. Canning fruits and vegetables over a season has been a popular undertaking for many years: A family grows a garden and eats what they are able, shares with neighbors and then cans the rest. This lifestyle is making a comeback in modern society and is a very nutritious way to go. Fresh fruits and vegetables can even be stored in a root cellar, if available. Dehydrated, freeze-dried or canned fruits and vegetables are all great options, however. Fats/oils (20 pounds per adult per year): These vital ingredients usually need to be rotated regularly because they become rancid after six months. All types of oils, butter, margarine, lard or shortening can be stored. Another important consideration when storing food is using proper containers, such as #10 cans, mylar gallon bags or plastic airtight bags, which can be sealed with heat. All are good packing options, but families should decide what would be best for them. Cans can withstand mice and moisture and sit on a shelf wonderfully, but they do rust after a while out in the elements. Mylar bags and strong plastic bags don't hold up to mice but can be easily stored anywhere. Create your own calendar for organizing and purchasing food and other items so it won't overload your budget or time. And don't forget to include a few "treats" for emotional well-being. You will find much peace of mind when you complete your food storage, which will allow you to concentrate on other areas of emergency preparation - and life.%3Cimg%20src%3D%22http%3A//