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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Let's Store for a Year

The Ant and the Grasshopper

In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart's content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.
"Why not come and chat with me," said the Grasshopper, "instead of toiling and moiling in that way?"
"I am helping to lay up food for the winter," said the Ant, "and I recommend you to do the same."
"Why bother about winter?" said the Grasshopper; "We’ve got plenty of food right now." But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil.
When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger - while it saw the ants distributing the corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew: It is best to prepare for days of need. (Aesop)

“The time will come that gold will hold no comparison in value to a bushel of wheat.”

Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses

For years we have been counseled to have on hand a year's supply of food…. Should the Lord decide at this time to cleanse the Church -- and the need for that cleansing seems to be increasing -- a famine in this land of one year's duration could wipe out a large percentage of slothful members, including some ward and stake officers. Yet we cannot say we have not been warned. April 1965, Ezra Taft Benson.
We have been commanded to store a year’s supply. How do we do it?

This booklet will tell you how, but first things first.

If you don’t pay your tithing, this will be difficult. If you pay your tithing, I can promise you it will be easier to ask the Lord for help on obeying the law of saving a year’s supply. So go ahead and ask with confidence! If you don’t pay your tithing, trust the Lord will help you do so as you fast and pray about it. Do it now!

Elder Ezra Taft Benson (“Prepare Ye,” Ensign, Jan. 1974, 69), said: “The Lord has warned us of famines, but the righteous will have listened to prophets and stored at least a years supply of survival food.”

How do we get our required huge amount of food/toiletries, etc., bought and paid for, much less stored in our homes?

The Provident Living website has a great book called Providing in the Lord’s Way. This is what it says:

Build a three-month supply of food that is part of your normal diet.

Store drinking water in case the water supply becomes polluted or disrupted.

Gradually build a longer-term supply of food that will sustain life.

The righteous are those who listen to the Prophets. We all know this. Yet we may feel completely over-whelmed and believe it’s not possible in our tiny apartment or house that strains at the seams with our family of eight. We grumble that the Lord couldn’t be serious that we need to really, really REALLY store enough food (and more) to feed our family for a whole year! Who’s got room, much less money, for that??

Notice what Providing in the Lord’s Way states: We are to start with a three month supply of food, which, believe it or not, is do-able. We make sure we have drinking water, and then we gradually build up our long term storage foods to sustain our lives (wheat, oats, beans, etc.)

Then we go from there and store whatever else we think we need to eat, as well as other storage items like toilet paper and sanitary napkins.

And, while we’re getting this year’s garden in, we should also store enough vegetable seeds to put in next year’s plants. Maybe a fruit tree or two should be in our backyard as well. However, the gardening side of this is another subject. Today we are talking strictly about storing our year’s supply and how to do it.

But maybe we are cringing even with these requirements and we wonder how we can possibly do all this when we are already in debt, our savings is a thing of the past and we can barely pay for our mortgage or rent. Or maybe we say that our children no longer drink milk and don’t like anything made of wheat, so why bother storing it?

I can't answer every question, but we can talk about it. You may not have a year’s supply of anything, but there are people who do. We will work together on this and become self-reliant!

So, what exactly IS a “years supply”? How do we even begin to attain it? And why doesn’t the church do something, like maybe store grain in large warehouses like Joseph did in Egypt?

President Thomas S. Monson said: “As has been said so often, the best storehouse system that the Church could devise would be for every family to store a years supply of needed food, clothing, and, where possible, the other necessities of life.” Guiding Principles of Personal and Family Welfare,” Tambuli, Feb 1987, 2

Hmm. That kind of shoots the idea of the church taking care of us, doesn’t it? Apparently, “every family” is to store a years supply of food, clothing, etc. That means none of us are exempt. You and me, all of us, must figure out how to do this, so we can survive the future famines and trials to come.

Here’s another quote:

“The Lord has urged that his people save for the rainy days, prepare for difficult times, and put away for emergencies a years supply or more of bare necessities so that when comes the flood, the earthquake, the famine, the hurricane, the storms of life, our families will be sustained through the dark days.” The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 374 (italics added).

All this really seems to indicate something, we’re not sure what, but something, is going to come along and wreck havoc on our ability to provide for our families.


George Albert Smith said: “How…could a man enjoy his religion when he had been told by the Lord how to prepare for a day of famine, when instead of doing so he had fooled away that which would have sustained him and his family” (Deseret News, Mar. 4, 1868, 26).

Okay, so let’s say your husband and/or wife isn’t ready for this stuff and can’t even talk to you about sparing money for such things. Do your best. Pray about it. Pray about it more. Trust in the Lord to help you start saving, storing, preparing for your future. The Lord will soften hearts as needed, even if the only stubborn heart here is yours!

What of those of you who started your food storage long ago. So long ago that it’s rotten. Now what?

You throw it away and start over. Yep. Right now. Today. You aren’t using it, are you? So get rid of it. Let’s talk about what you really want to store and how.

Dark days are coming. The commandment is to prepare, and prepare now. So what if this counsel has been given for years and even your grandparents have rotten food storage they never use? The point is obedience! It doesn’t matter if we never use our food storage (which is a misnomer, because if it’s done right, you already use it. Commit with us to learn what to do with long term storage items like wheat, beans and oats).

Some say: What if it gets stolen or destroyed by flood or fire? To which we say: “So what?” We are being obedient, and that is what it’s all about. Maybe we’ll never have to use it at all!

Let your children see your obedient spirit as you store food and other supplies on a regular basis. When they get old enough, ask them to help you at the cannery or to figure out new meal ideas. Our children need to see us take the words of the prophet seriously. We are to be obedient, regardless of the circumstances we see around us.

So, once we have the conviction to collect and store stuff, then what? How do we actually do it?

First of all, you can follow the words of wisdom given on the webpages. You can read this and other great publications. Two of my favorite books on food storage are: Food Storage for the Clueless by Clark L and Kathryn H. Kidd, and Making the Best of the Basics Family Preparedness Handbook, by James Talmage Stevens. However, please note that there are new and better things ways and means for food storage than even those books have. Go online. You will find tons of information on the Internet from recipes for wheat to making your own shoes!

So…What Do We Store?

There are two different types of food storage, and we’ll talk about those first. There is LONG-TERM storage items; i.e., food products that can last for 30 years or more if dry pack canned, and SHORT-TERM storage, which are items you rotate in about 3-5 years.

Long Term Items (lasting over 30 years) are:

White Rice
Pinto Beans (or other legumes)
Dried Apple Slices
Rolled Oats (instant or regular)
Potato Flakes
Nonfat dry milk (20 years or so)

However, before food storage, the number one item above all others is:


Water must always be considered FIRST. There are many ways to store water, but a years supply of it is, in my opinion, impossible; however, we are commanded to store a minimum two week supply, with each person expected to drink at least a half a gallon a day.

There are only two of us in my family, but I can relate to how hard it is for the larger family to store water. For one thing, you have to be careful or it might leak all over the surface it’s sitting on. I lived in an upstairs apartment once, above the carport. I dutifully stored a few gallons of water for myself in a closet, and when I left that apartment three years later, I discovered the water was completely gone from the plastic containers. It leaked down through the floor! If I had needed that water it would not have been available.

I can offer two ways to store water quickly, easily, and inexpensively. Using tap water which has been filtered (not necessary, but I like “Brita” water filters), pour the water into clean (washed hot water/soap) liter size plastic soda bottles

When you pour the water into these clean containers, put the DATE on the cap, and the word WATER on several places of the bottle so you know what it is. Put enough for each person in a plastic storage bin (as many as you need), and place in their closet or under the bed. For example, if I had two children in on bedroom, their bedroom would have their own 72 hour backpack, and about 14 soda bottles of water per child.

Every six months we are supposed to change out the smoke detector battery. While you’re at it, check the 72-hour kit to make sure the food’s still good and the clothes still fit, and rinse out the water bottles and re-fill. Re-date the bottles.

Do this twice with the same bottle. After the second time, get new bottles.

What if you feel that there is simply no place to put the water, that your closets are full?

Here is the answer, one that you already know.

Read James 1:5 again. Ask for that inspiration you need. And remember this verse too: "I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." - 1 Nephi 3:7

So where do you put food storage? Where the Lord inspires you to. Pray about it. Have faith the Lord will provide the answers you seek, and don’t be afraid of an answer that may sound weird. Try whatever you can think of. Under the house. Under beds. The shed. An unused bathtub or shower. Whatever. Trust me. You WILL find a place for everything you need to store, and if there is no place to put something, maybe it might not be as necessary as it appears. Clean out your closets again!

It should also go without saying we also need a bit of common sense. Try not to store in wet or overly hot areas.

What about water for hygiene?

Fortunately today, there are products out there that clean our bodies very well. For my storage, I’ve chosen baby wipes, which I bought in bulk from Costco (although any non-scented item will do). Use them just like washcloths. Take them camping and use them in your every day life such that they will be rotated within a few years so they don’t dry out.

Buy enough that you have at least 3 wipes a day per person for at least two weeks in case the water service is interrupted.

Water that is unavailable for more than two weeks is a HUGE crisis situation and may require total evacuation of the area. Just store as much as you reasonably can.


As you are taking care of the water storage, let’s start with the food storage. This is a three-direction SIMULTANEOUS approach. Each one will have it’s own discussion.

Direction One: A years supply of long-term storage items, collected over time and rotated.

Direction Two: A three month supply of daily meals that your family enjoys, collected over time and rotated. (Just for varieties sake, if you can, extend this up to a year’s worth.)

Direction Three: A years supply of toiletries and other non-food items, collected over time and rotated.

Notice they all say the same thing. You must collect reasonably, over time (don’t get in debt), and then use the items as you go along, in a natural way, so that spoilage isn’t a problem.


Long term storage products, such as wheat, oats, beans, etc., are, in my opinion, best dry pack canned by YOU at the cannery, instead of bought and shipped to your home. There are several reasons for this. 1) You have a personal stake in it, which means it will MATTER to you, 2) It’s fun to “put up in store” items for our survival, and 3) the price is right when you consider how long this stuff lasts.

However, if buying the products online at the site or elsewhere is your way to go, then do it. Better something than nothing.

How do you get the extra funds to purchase any of this stuff?

Once again, pray about it. You will find a way if you are determined, even if it means Christmas presents will include cases of green beans and canned peaches (which is kind of cool, actually).

How much do we need per person per year?
Go by these recommendations:

• Grains: about 300 pounds per person, including wheat, rice, oats and cornmeal (a mixture of whatever you like).
• Powdered milk: about 100 pounds per person (even if you don’t drink it, you can cook with it)
• Sugar or honey: about 30-50 pounds per person
• Salt: 5 pounds per person
• Beans: Minimum 15 pounds per person of each type

The amounts can vary widely depending on what you like to eat and what you plan on doing with it.

How to Dry Pack Can at the Church Cannery

Before we get started, please note: You may no longer bring bags of stuff in to can, such as your own flour from Costco or rice from the local Chinese market. Fortunately, almost everything you’d want to can is available there anyway. If you want to can items not sold there, you will need to borrow the canning machine.

The process for dry pack canning beans, wheat, rice, etc., goes something like this:

a) Look at the product sheet for available items. Your RS presidency should have this list. Make sure it’s current.
b) Call the Bishop’s Storehouse Cannery near you, or in Sacramento at 916.381.5150.
c) Ask for an appointment time that suits your needs (they are open only Monday through Thursday unless your ward rep has been trained to open the cannery and cashier).
d) Make sure you have enough money to buy the amount of food you plan on canning. Last I heard, ATM and credit cards are NOT accepted, but they do accept personal checks and cash.
e) The cannery personnel will show you how to use the canner and where the foodstuffs are (make sure you see everything—there is variety—so check it out!)
f) Put on the booties, gloves and hair nets provided.
g) Using the cart provided, bring a bag of wheat or whatever product you wish into the canning area.
h) Open the bag with the scissors or knife.
i) Put six empty cans into the white bins provided (that catch the overflow).
j) Pour or scoop the product into the cans, all the way to within a half inch of the top.
k) Move the cans onto the countertop next to the canner machine.
l) Open the oxygen package, understanding that you can only expose these to air for a moment while you throw one oxygen packet in every can (unless you are canning sugar, as sugar does NOT need the oxygen pack).
m) Turn on the machine (as instructed) and place a oxygen pack on top of the canned product, then a lid
n) Start the canning procedure per the instructions.
o) When finished, attach a label on the can, either on the side or on the top, and be sure to DATE the can with that day’s date.

Once you go the first time, you’ll want to go again – so don’t worry about trying to get all your foodstuffs done at once.


People have, on occasion, expressed an interest in dry-pack canning chocolate bars, chocolate chips, jelly beans, etc.. Remember: chocolate has fat in it and fats can turn rancid over time. The oxygen pack may not be effective against this. You would be better off, in my opinion, using a Seal a Meal or Food Saver appliance to vacuum-pack chocolate chips or other forms of chocolate (not powders) for longer storage. I buy 10 pounds of chocolate chips at a time from Costco (you can buy either Nestles’ or Ambrosia, which is my favorite), and then separate it out into two- cup sizes, and Food Save them. Fantastic! Lasts a very long time and tastes very fresh!

Hot cocoa is found at the LDS Cannery, and may be dry pack canned. It lasts about 3-5 years. If you like hot cocoa, this is very tasty stuff! Use it, rotate it out, and you’ll do fine.


The church recommends that everyone gather a three month supply of foodstuffs that they normally would eat and rotate it out. This section describes what I believe is meant by that and how we can do it for a years supply of food.

As you are dry pack canning the long term storage items, sit down with a note pad and figure out the following:

1. What do you want to eat every day if there were fourteen recipes you could rotate during a crisis? It should have only five or six readily storable ingredients and be easy to prepare. An example would be spaghetti, involving a can of spaghetti sauce (like Ragu) or your personally canned tomato sauce, and spaghetti noodles.
2. Write down fourteen such meal ideas. Include vegetables and desserts if you can.
3. Create a shopping list with the items needed for those meals.
4. Buy extra items to account for each meal, one at a time.
5. Do the same thing for breakfast and lunch ideas.

For example, I’ll show you how to do the spaghetti dinner idea. Double, triple as needed for your family.

I’m also assuming water is not cut off and you have a method to boil water:

Meal for Two


1 small jar Ragu or similar meat sauce
one tight handful of spaghetti
2 tablespoon diced onion flakes
½ teaspoon chopped garlic (from a jar)
Garlic salt and pepper to taste

Vegetable: canned green beans. Dessert: canned peaches

Now that I know this is a meal I could enjoy from my food storage, how do I store the food? Assuming this is a dinner I will have every two weeks, I need to buy enough for 26 meals for a year’s supply or enough for 6 meals for a three month supply. I’m assuming a year’s supply.

So I need to store
• 26 jars of meat sauce
• 8 pounds of spaghetti noodles
• 3 cups (48 oz) dried onion flakes
• 25 tsp of chopped garlic, and
• 26 cans each of canned green beans and fruit

Keep in mind what you need for this meal every time you do your regular shopping and it will make this very easy. Let’s say I find a great deal on Ragu sauce. I check out my budget. Looks like I can spare about $10 extra this week. I buy 3 bottles of Ragu on sale for $4.00, and a large package of spaghetti noodles. (I will buy a case of green beans and a case of green beans as I go each month at Costco).

Once that is taken care of (or concurrently), you’ll also remember that you planned on having oatmeal, protein bars, and 7-grain hot cereals for your three-month breakfast supply. Costco is having a great deal on Tiger’s Milk Bars. You happen to have enough money that you can buy a 12 pack. For my family, that would take care of a breakfast for each of us for six days.

Choose other breakfast, lunch and dinner menus that work for you using this method, and you’ll quickly see what you can do to have a true year’s supply of a variety of meals/food.

But start small at first. Just be concerned about water, the dry pack canned stuff (wheat, nonfat milk, beans, etc.), and then start saving a three month supply of foods you can rotate through.

If you keep this up, you will be shocked how quickly your budget money expands to acquire all you need!

Storage Ideas

If you look prayerfully around your home, you’ll be surprised to find places to store food. Just don’t lose track of it! Look under beds, in closets, under sinks, behind couches and chairs, or even on bookshelves where books sit that have yet to be read. There are some great computer programs to help you keep track, or you can use a binder or pad of paper. Whatever works.

Here is one area of where I put some of my canned goods.

This is a 7 inch high oblong storage bin designed to fit under beds (although it didn’t fit under ours until we literally raised the bed using coasters). We have two of them so far. This one has the extra tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes that I use often, as well as canned corn. I buy ONLY on sale, (after checking expiration dates), and this is where they go, in date order. My kitchen cupboard has a few of them, but I know where to go when they’re gone. And when I buy more of these products, they go under the bed.
I also have dry packed cans in the laundry room storage cabinets. Try it and see if you have room in there. It may not be dry packed cans, it might be toilet paper (whatever works for you), but do store something in every inch of space you can.



Storing non-food items can be critical to survival, safety and comfort. Those things are far too varied to give you much of a recommendation list, plus there are other publications that will list them for you.

Suffice it to say you’ll need at least the following, remembering that all of these amounts can be reduced in an emergency rationing mode:

1. Critical medications (talk to your doctor about having a three month supply), plus aspirin and/or Advil type products
2. Tampons and sanitary napkins, if needed
3. Diapers, if needed
4. Extra fabric for making clothes.
5. All cleaning products you like, including detergent, toothpaste, shampoo, hand soap and dishwashing soap, or the means to make them
6. First aid kit
7. Toilet paper and facial tissues.
8. Fuel or some method to cook or heat the home without electricity. However, do NOT store propane or any other flammable liquid as fuel more than enough to run a camping stove or barbeque for a few hours, until you discuss with the fire department!
9. Razors, shaving cream, and hand lotion.
10. Paper plates and plastic utensils.
11. Garbage bags and plastic bags/
12. Whatever else you’d hate to live without.

There are so many other items to store. Don’t forget equipment you need, such as a wheat grinder of some kind (I use a Vitamix blender), Seal a Meal or Food Saver appliance, dehydrator, a water bath and/or pressure canner, gardening tools, sleeping bags, tent, extra blankets, 72 hour kits, firewood, maybe a portable toilet. Think about a generator. There are lots of items you can pull together as you are inspired. But again, DON’T PANIC. Pray and watch for sales!

Start slow, just as the prophets have been saying. But you must start!

Go the dry pack cannery and learn how to can your own food. Attend every class you can regarding self-sufficiency.

You can do this. Your family needs you to do this. Even if you are single and have no kids at home, you are not exempt. Be prepared for what is to come, and be cheerful! Be positive. The Lord will help you!

Much love to you all, and I pray each of you will take this message into your heart and life, and I say these things in Jesus name, Amen.

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