Despite the fact that I spent my “working girl” years in the preparedness business instructing thousands of people on what to buy and how to store, and taste-testing all sorts of foods, I’ve realized that I still don’t know my own food storage. I might know I’ve got some wheat, beans, dried milk, and a bunch of stuff from the last case lot sale, but when I think about it, it takes me less than a second to be certain—I don’t really know what I’ve got in the deep, dark confines of my storage room. Does this situation sound familiar? You might know you have X amount of wheat buckets or that you bought a case of mandarin oranges the other day, but do you know how long that will last you in an emergency? Let’s ask an even deeper question: will you receive enough nutrients from what you’ve chosen to store? One way to know would be to go through each item and track the nutrients and calories against the number of people in your family. But who has time for that? Luckily, there are tools to help you. One that I have found especially useful is the Food Storage Analyzer. Analysis Paralysis My husband was the one who introduced the idea to me one morning over breakfast. At first I thought he was talking about a dime-a-dozen food storage calculator, which I have used before. “No,” he said, “this is an analyzer, it’s different.” (He said this emphasizing “analyzer,” seemingly pleased to correct me.) The skeptic in me had me rolling my eyes. You see, I live in the wonderful world of motherhood, where a clean room is rarely really clean, the laundry is never really done, and being a skeptic is second nature. He proceeded to sit himself down at my laptop, quickly typed beprepared.com/analyzer into my internet browser, stood up, and motioned me to sit down at the computer. Still hesitant, I slowly sat down. “Wait a minute, this is only freeze-dried stuff—we’ve got more than that stored downstairs. What about those boxes of Cheerios that our little caboose adores?” I thought I had him, but he promptly showed me a tab listing commonly stored grocery items, and a way to manually enter products not listed. Hmph. He grinned, gave me a hug, and slipped out the door, leaving me in my bathrobe with the website peering back at me. So I created account. The system asks for the sex and ages of who you’re storing for, which in my case is for a man and a woman in their 30s and three girls ages 4 to 11. It then calculates a recommended daily amount of calories for everyone, which for us is apparently 8,800 calories! Next, go to the “Food Storage Products” tab and start entering the information for your items. My first time, I decided to start with the Cheerios. I searched for them in the grocery goods tab, but they weren’t in the Analyzer. For us they are a must-have food storage item, so I clicked on “Add Your Own Item.” In short order, I copied the nutrition facts from the box, plugged in “3” (for three boxes tucked into my food storage), and submitted my work. First item down! Next I entered information for a case of chili beans, some mandarin oranges, chicken noodle soup, cream of chicken, cream of mushroom (must-haves for casseroles), two jars of jam, and two cases of green beans (the only vegetable my oldest will eat these days), and I hit “calculate.” Calculating will bring up your results and tell you what sort of balance your storage has. After I hit “calculate” my first time, I was pretty amazed at what I saw. Apparently our family could live for more than four days on the calories from those few items I had put in the analyzer. However, I quickly saw that I was lacking in a few areas; I could use more vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Obviously, canned soups and Cheerios weren’t going to cut it by themselves. But, it was a good start, and I would know quickly and easily how to prioritize what should be next on my list. In addition to having the freedom to enter any item you wish, the Food Storage Analyzer also has information for many of the grocery store canned goods, meals ready to eat, Provident Pantry #10 cans, and Mountain House products that many people store. Simply “click to add.” Since discovering the analyzer, I’ve been madly running down to my storage room and adding in whatever I see on my shelves, curious to see how many days I’ve stored for and how nutritionally sound my pantry is. The days have begun to double and triple. I’m positively giddy, doing a little jig in my slippers as I bound up the stairs! Beyond Calculating For someone who described herself as “bored with food storage” just the day before I started with the analyzer, I had a hay day racking up days and calories, and seeing what nutrients we could use more of. And, not only can you Replace your calorie count and what you might be lacking, but you will also Replace suggestions for foods that will satisfy the nutrients you are low on. It’s like a little food storage dietician giving you hints on what to store next. Come to Replace out, after all my entering and slipper-jigging, my husband had already spent time on the analyzer, and we have almost 10 months of food! Since that fateful day, I’ve cruised around the website to see what else it has to offer. I’ve printed my list and put it on a clipboard, making a note to replace it whenever I add something new. Strangely, I’ve found an amazing amount of solace in plugging cans into my analyzer. Just a short time ago, I didn’t even know how long our food storage would last our family of five, or if it was nutritionally sound. Now I have a whole new perspective on our pantry and a drive to reach my goals, not to mention a way to know when I’ve hit the target. The Food Storage Analyzer can be like a food storage GPS system. You can Replace out where you are on the road to preparedness and choose the perfect route to get there! Analyzing will afford you the information you need to prioritize and decide exactly what to do next.