04 September 2018

The Smart Stockpile

This topic was brought to mind earlier this week when I was listening to ABC radio and they were talking about food security, and just how little Australia really has. The drought was mentioned, as was the shrinking number of primary producers, and our reliance more and more on importing what we need. They also talked about the  nine meals from anarchy theory, and how our shopping habits are shifting from the big weekly shop to smaller, daily food shops.

There's  no need to panic or become scared, but a good time to think about putting some kind of plan in place so if you do have a disaster (financial, health, weather related, whatever) it won't be a disaster but rather a hiccup.

If you are stockpiling for the long-term, to save money and to survive a disaster (of any kind), try to stockpile high protein foods first, then other dry goods. So aim to  keep a good stock of legumes - dried beans and lentils store well on the pantry shelf and are a high protein alternative to meat. A little serve provides a good whack of nutrients. Then look to stockpile flour - it does have a shelf life believe it or not, and it will go sour over time. Self-raising flour will lose it's ability to rise so keeping plain flours and baking powder (or the ingredients to MOO it) solves that problem. Flour can be frozen too. I pack it in 2kg lots, vac seal it and freeze it. Tinned tomatoes are always handy - even tinned they are good nutritional value. Dried fruits last just about forever, however they will lose freshness and become candied. For the long term they can be frozen too.

Now, the problem with freezing everything is that if the power were to go out for any length of time then that frozen stockpile is lost.

I still freeze a good portion of my food stockpile but I started bottling more about 7 years ago, and the last two years have preserved by bottling around a third. I'm saving up for a pressure canner so I can actually "can" soups, stews, casseroles, pasta dishes etc. for long term storage instead of relying on the freezer.

A good way to recession or disaster proof your grocery bill is to grow your own vegetables and fruit. I can't stress this enough; it will save you a fortune and if the supermarkets were to close you'd have food in the garden, not only to eat but to sell or barter for things you don't have. And homegrown is always best, being fresher and in most cases chemical free. It does not take a lot of time to grow food, it does take commitment. You do need to water, mulch, plant, weed, harvest, start seedlings and so on but none of these things is hard nor do they take a lot of time, they don't even need to take up a lot of space.

My stockpile is a little odd:

12 months cleaning and toiletries (soap, bicarb soda, borax, washing soda, eucalyptus oil, vinegar, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes)

I usually have 12 months of pasta, sauces (tomato, barbecue, sweet chilli are the main ones - I usually make them in Jan/Feb for the year - Worcestershire which I am about to make another batch of as I've just opened the last bottle and I like it to sit for 6 months before I use it), jam and marmalade (I make them all year round), salt, lentils, beans.

12 months canned goods: tomatoes, tomato soup, chicken soup, baked beans, black beans, beetroot, tuna, salmon, tinned fruit, pineapple

6 months baking supplies: flours, dried fruits, spices, sugars, molasses, golden syrup, nuts, bicarb soda, citric acid, tartaric acid, cream of tartar etc.

3 months of meat, chicken, frozen veg, hard cheeses, butter, weet bix, bran, ricies, peanut butter, vegemite, honey.  All these things could easily be stretched to 6 months if necessary (I know, I've done it before).

The only paper goods we use regularly are toilet paper and baking paper (which I buy from Aldi, same price per metre as the bulk pack).

I've been thinking about our stockpile, how we use it, and how we live now and plan to live in the future and next year our stockpile will grow a little, to hold 18 months worth of our "supermarket" supplies.

You don't need to go to extremes to build a stockpile. Most of you have seen my pantry, shelving and laundry cupboard on TV (they always seem to find a way to get it at its worst!). That's most of it. The toiletries are in the bathroom cupboards.

Smart people only stockpile the things they use regularly, buying them when on sale. Once you have a stockpile you'll never pay full price for groceries again, saving you even more money and helping you stick to your grocery budget.

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