Over the years, I’ve learned the value of blogging a few things – things that I think I’ll remember but find the details got hazy. Some of my best recipe creations have been lost to the haze, but as soon as I started blogging some of my successes I’ve been able to go back and find them. Technology can be a helpful and beautiful thing. Another benefit for me personally is the way it helps me track progress on goals. I love seeing posts and pictures from big projects from beginnings to end. They say a target to be hit must first be seen, well for me the motivation to keep working on those targets comes from visually being able to view and comprehend my progress. It is literally my fuel for success. So this post starts the first of many on recording my progress toward my goal of true self reliance through the principles of Family Home Storage.
First a little history to understand my perspective. I grew up hearing the importance of self-reliance and preparedness. The wise counsel of preparation has been ever present in my life, although I readily admit that I’ve been only partially vigilant in following the counsel. Instead of a full year’s supply of emergency food storage, I had a couple month’s worth. Instead of financial freedom I convinced myself I was doing great because we were always paying more than minimum on our debts as well as putting money away in several different savings and investment plans. If anyone had asked me how I felt about things at that time my story would have been laced with illusions of grandeur through rose colored glasses. My wake up call came when disaster struck in 2001 and I learned the valuable lesson of direct correlation between our level of vigilance and our survival/recovery. The good news is that we survived a serious blow of six months with no income without declaring bankruptcy. The bad news is that we only barely survived and our recovery was monumental. I seriously underestimated how quickly all those reserves would go when used. We incurred increased consumer debt used to float us through the gap of my husband securing employment. There are not words to express the feelings of helplessness, frustration and entrapment which followed the many months later as we struggled under a mountain of debt and limited resources. Looking back, I see how our partial attention to self reliance played a critical role in our surviving our own emergency, but I can also see how full attention would have provided full benefit. Things would have been different. Things would have been better.
In September I helped organize and present an evening of instruction on the very topic of Family Home Storage. Through the process, I was able to identify several things I still haven’t and should be doing for my own success in this area. The first was moving my knowledge of what I had from my cluttered head to an easier and more tangible system. So this week I took my own advice and went through all my food storage to make an inventory. I pulled things off the shelves, wrote down what I had, reorganized my supplies and then moved all that wonderful information into a spreadsheet.
While I haven’t perfected my system, I now have a start. I organized my list into a column for checking when the item has met my 100% goal, a column for the item description followed by two columns one for “have” and the other for “need.” My goal was to quickly identify in the first column how complete my goal is, the purpose of the last column was to help me quickly determine items needing to be added to a shopping list. I broke the list out into sections that included my pantry, freezer, long term food storage and non perishable items. The goal for food is to get three months worth of usable storage and one year of long term/emergency basic food storage.
Yesterday I put my list on the door of my pantry. I added a checklist for myself and family members to write down when items are pulled and used so I know what needs replaced. I just used a large white mailing envelope to hold my list and attached a checklist on the front and a pencil.
I’ve got a good start to my three month supply and a decent beginning to my long term storage, but I am totally lacking in drinking water and a few other non-perishables. It is recommended to have two weeks worth of drinking water for each family member. The suggestion is 3 cases of individual drinking water bottles per person for that time. That means I should have 12 cases of water bottles, I have one. So my immediate goal is to add one case of water and one package of toilet paper to each shopping trip. In our last home, I’d get caught with my pants down several times when the complex had to turn our water off for repairs. Sometimes it would last a good half to full day. I was so grateful for the inspiration to fill my empty canning bottles with water. The number of times I had to run down to my storage room to get a pint of water was many! I know the value of having usable water available.
My next immediate goal is to start tracking how quickly I use the items in my pantry. That way I’ll know what a three month supply means for me and my family. Right now it would be pure guesswork. I will also start adding that step by step application of one extra can of something here, a few pennies in the jar there, etc. I look forward to sharing photo updates of my progress on my goal. I wonder if it will look anything like the picture in my head?