The earth has been movin' and shakin' this week near where we live. With three earthquakes over 3.0 about 15 miles away, and a myriad of them much too small to be felt, it's a good reminder to check our emergency supplies.
Examining our pantry and food storage, it's evident that being unemployed for almost a year has had a significant impact. One thing I notice is that we don't have nearly as much prepared items. In fact, most of our food storage is in the form of basic staples. The difference is that my ability to put together easy meals from these basic foodstuffs is so much better than a year ago! This is what I've gained by cooking almost every meal from scratch... you can do it! Sometimes my family is amazed what I can make. And actually, it's not that amazing, I was just "stuck" and frankly not very confident about using a lot of prepared (expensive!) ingredients. Almost a year later and things certainly have changed at our house. Of course there is an occasional raised eyebrow by the boys, but in the end there are no complaints!
Now in the case of an emergency like a significant earthquake (or other natural or other disaster), you WILL want to have some preprepared items on hand in your 72 hour kit. You'll need the comfort and ease of these kinds of foods to get you and your family through a very difficult time. For the rest of your storage, simply use your pantry ingredients with a good set of meal plans on how these ingredients can be used. These are foods your family likes, not mine or anyone else's! My boys love chili, so we store ingredients for that. I also store tomatoes of various forms and pasta. Pasta can be cooked right in a "sauce" made from canned tomatoes. Of course, if your family enjoys camping, any "camp food" works! See if you can come up with about 20 meals you can make just from your pantry. Keep this list!
If you're looking for inspiration for your meal list, check out Utah State University's Food Storage Cooking School. This is a great, free resource for emergency preparedness as well as helping you to build your pantry. I encourage you to read their section on making a 72 Hour Home Emergency Kit if you don't already have one. In addition, their "Use it or Lose it" sections will give you ideas on how to use your food storage items in your normal cooking routines. If you start with meal plans that your family enjoys, you will be successful at incorporating food storage and preparedness into your home.