Lazy Budget Chef: How Much Emergency Food Storage to Buy and How Make It Last

Monday, March 16, 2020

How Much Emergency Food Storage to Buy and How Make It Last

When I was trying to get the hang of paying attention to seasonal sale cycles to help my family save money on groceries, I typically bought the household staples we used all of the time, for example like toothpaste, every time I saw it on sale. That way I’d have a sale priced backup on hand when we run out. In theory that should work just fine. In practice I seemed to always have too many of one thing on hand (like  toothpaste) and not any of another when I need it most like my DIY laundry detergent. This grocery buying strategy didn’t help me one bit when it came to having an extra two weeks of food in my pantry for emergencies because I had weird amounts of stuff that didn’t always go together to make a meal.

Reading advice from food storage moms about how many extra pantry items to have on hand in case of emergency (we have storm related blackouts here) didn’t help much either because the amounts they suggest are for families much larger than mine or for food we don’t typically eat, like Jell-O and desserts. The first thing preparedness folks tell you is to store the type of food you typically eat.


That’s great advice but the food some of them suggest are not the things we typically or are interested in eating. For example keeping giant sacks of wheat berries and grinding my own flour is not practical during a blackout when I have an all electric kitchen but having enough oatmeal on hand to keep making our morning oatmeal for hopefully less than a week using the overnight oats method (soaking the oats overnight in milk or water) instead of a the stove is much more practical for us. (As always your mileage and desires my vary.)


how much food do I need to buy in an emergency
Save this post to your Pinterest boards for later! Share it with your friends!


Determine the what to keep on hand is easier than the how much. How do you determine when you have too much of something and it spoils vs not having enough?


It may seem a little crazy anal retentive but I came up with an easy hack to determine how many supplies (food, household, what have you) on hand for your size family and make them last . To get a handle on how long stuff lasted, or not, I write the date I opened it on the label of consumable items like toothpaste, cleaners, olive oil, etc. You may think that’s incredibly anal retentive of me, because, I admit it, it is.

But you know what? My little born on date experiment also made me realize a few things. Our happy little family of 2 didn’t go through nearly as many bottles, tubes and cans of cleaners, condiments, and health and beauty aids as I thought. I don’t need to buy toothpaste every time it goes on sale because we use average 2 tubes a year (our dentist recommended we also use this Sonicare toothbrush that doesn’t require toothpaste which is why we don’t go though as much as I first thought.) (Disclosure: I am including affiliate links in this post for your convenience.) 

Dating my food storage and supplies also told me why I seemed to be running out of certain household staples more often. Sometimes the package date told me I was buying a package that was too small. For example, I used to make my DIY powdered laundry detergent one batch at a time and it lasted less than a month. When I ran out it was most likely at a time when I was staring at a mountain of laundry and didn’t have time to make more detergent.  I started making multiple batches at a time and storing it in a larger repurposed container - which takes 15 minutes to make every 6 months. (I timed it when a reader yelled at me and claimed making laundry detergent was too time consuming.) I now know that I don’t need to have  a case of each ingredient on hand to last the recommended 2 week stock up period in the case of an emergency, when one box of each is plenty.



This is what one batch of DIY laundry detergent looks like. Enough to do the job but not enough when I don't always have the time to make it each month. Photo courtesy of my DIY blog Condo Blues


This helps so much when you live in a small home with limited storage space. Dating your food storage is an easy way to determine how much is too much and how much is not enough.

*Here is my homemade powdered laundry detergent recipe:

1 Cup of Borax
2 Cup of Washing Soda
1/2 Cup of grated laundry soap – Using Zote (you can buy it here) is my favorite. I’ve used Fels Naptha (you can buy it here) was good results too.

- Grate the bar of soap using a hand grater (I use a food chopper like this one) until you have 1/2 cup of grated soap. Mix it together with the borax and washing soda.  Use 2 – 3 tablespoons of laundry detergent per load depending upon the size of the load and the recommendations for your washing machine.

Looking for more pantry and food storage organizer ideas? Check out the following options – and more! – below!

Did you like this post? Get more like it by subscribing to the Lazy Budget Chef RSS feed or by subscribing to Lazy Budget Chef by email.

2 comments:

Mother of 3 said...

With trying to stock our pantry these past few weeks I found that we too do not eat much of what is being recommended we stock up on. My family tends to eat a whole lot of fresh fruits and vegetables and we rarely eat food from our pantry. I think dating the foods and goods to see how often they need replacing is a great idea! But I have to say with three teenage boys more food just seems to encourage them to eat more and I find we are still running out of things to eat every 5-7 days! I've taken to hiding certain foods. LOL.

Liz said...

What a great idea to make your own washing detergent. I have pinned your recipe. Thank you for bringing it to FF. I think our discussions online are going to be very interesting over the next few months, we are all in the same boat which is something that has never happened before.

Post a Comment

Share what you have to say! The good and the not so good. Disagreeing is fine but no hair pulling please. Thanks!