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Storage on a Shoestring


With the daily cost of living tugging at your pocketbook, you may wonder how in the world you can afford to add one more item to your budget. You may want to store food, but don’t see how your income can be stretched any further. The following tips may help you see how a food storage program can be put together without sacrificing money earmarked for existing bills:

  • Set aside a plot of land to grow specific "food storage" plants. Consider growing tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro and putting up some delicious salsa, as well as plain tomatoes, for a rainy day. Or grow other fruits or vegetables that your family enjoys and are easy to prepare for storage. If you live in a condo or apartment, you can grow plants in pots in a windowsill.

Lot of seedlings in pots ecological farm

  • When the next urge to splurge on fast food or a pizza hits you, resist it! Take the $10 or $15 you would have spent and invest it in food storage.
  • Sprouting seeds cost pennies to purchase, yet yield big dividends in nutrition. Learn how to grow this economical source of greens. Sprouts are tasty additions to salads, sandwiches, soups, and stir-fry and can be grown in a matter of days. (Note: Never sprout seeds intended for planting in gardens.) For more information, review the Insight Article on Growing Your Own Food.


  • How many times do you buy food at the store, and put it in the refrigerator--only to throw it out a week or two later because you forgot to use it? Plan a menu and stick to it. Cut the waste, and every time you go to the grocery store for your major shopping, set aside an extra $5 that you normally would have spent on perishable vegetables you usually end up discarding. Within a month, you will have enough savings to purchase a "favorite something" on your food storage list.
  • Come up with your own creative ways to save or make money, then use it to add to your food storage. Involve the whole family, perhaps a family paper route or other job will provide just what you need.

Checklist on Clipboard

  • Store what you and your family will eat. Don't just arbitrarily put together a food storage list. Purchase the basics (honey, salt, wheat, powdered milk, grains, legumes, and garden seeds), and build upon that (don’t forget the non-food items as well). Sit down with family members and organize a personalized plan. Systematically develop your storage according to you and your family's food preferences.


  • Remember that a short-term, as well as a long-term food storage program is the most sensible. If you cannot afford a year supply, work on a 72 hour supply, then a week supply, and so on.

Storing extra food and other necessities is just as important as having money saved in the bank. Once you have some extra food, remember to keep it dry and cool. Also, learn to rotate it as much as possible so that it doesn't go to waste.

When a crisis arrives, good people work together--so do your part to prepare and share. It is amazing how we can help each other.

9 thoughts on “Storage on a Shoestring”

  • Your Impact Matters

    I never thought about planting "food storage" plants in the garden, or planting with a specific recipe in mind. I'm really glad you mentioned that. I am planting a varied garden this year, and now I have a new way to look at the plants I'll be putting in, and maybe find some holes in my garden for ingredients that I'd like to have for recipes that I'd like to can in the fall!

  • NJH

    Very good suggestions. I've been unemployed for 21 months and couldn't have made it, had I not had some food stored up. Anything one is able to store will help stretch the food budget in hard times.I appreciate the "sprouts" suggestion. I've never used sprouts but having something fresh & crisp would enhance the menu when one must live totally on stored food.

  • Catrina

    I really love sprouts, but i never had thought of growing them! It is something you can even grown inside. I live in a very harsh climet, so indoor gardens are a major help to me. This is such a great blog entry! I am a new wife and mother and food storage hasn't been easy to learn, but this advice on building on basics and involving your family was really awesome.

  • sean

    Hi, I am disabled from diabetes affecting my legs and now I found out that I am losing my eyesight too. My wife takes care of my daughter and I. We live month to month on social security and their isn't enough money left each month to even get all of the medications that I need. How can I possibly but emergency food? There just isn't any money left. Any suggestions? Is there any where we can turn for help? Please I am not trying to scam or trick anyone but we have no where to turn.

  • grannie8

    I love the MEXICAN FOOD COMBO GIVEAWAY -- it's all the foods I love. Ethnic foods that are vegetarian are very healthy-- eaten in moderation like everything else.. You can supplement these foods with some garden produce-- outstanding !!

  • Travis Michaud
    Travis Michaud June 28, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Why not plant your own wheat? I'm not talking about a GMO variety, that is unethical and will most likely open you up to being sued. I'm talking a tried and true old fashioned heirloom variety (some of them go back centuries). That's what I plan on doing when I have the space.

  • Sustainablehome

    I didn't realize planting for food storage was what I am doing! One of the things that has always gone through my mind is: how will I preserve this?

  • cranky non-pc old broad

    I am just learning how to grow food. I figure, even if not totally sucessful, every year I get to eat fresh food out of the garden and am growing to like veggies much more.

  • Nancy

    Another tip - grow/can food that will keep you alive in a survival situation. Along with gardening, learn to can. Canned food does not go bad. Freezing food can. If you can get chicken/beef/pork on a GOOD sale, can it. Don't freeze it. Canned chicken breast is THE BEST for chicken salad. Plus, using canned meat, you can put a dinner together in minutes.

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