For Month One of Project Noah, the short term food storage goal is to do some menu planning. There’s something nice about the way they have broken the food storage plan into bite sized chunks. Unfortunately, it wasn’t working for me. Food storage is where I have my greatest weakness. There is a certain amount of simplicity in food storage charts, except my family won’t necessarily eat what I store (or they eat it before we have an emergency).
Anyway, I was seriously considering just pretending not to notice the food storage goals. Or pretend that I was doing them but not really. Who is going to notice? Hmm, well since the only grade I am getting is my family’s ability to survive in an emergency, we’re going to notice that I failed.
I needed a new way to approach this because this was not going to work. Talk about killing 2 birds with one stone – I remembered that playing in My Plate was in my food merit badge. Could My Plate make food storage planning easier?
I feel it does but that’s me. What My Plate is is an interactive site sponsored by the USDA to help Americans make better nutritional choices. Gone are the days of the pyramid and ambiguous servings. While there are still some areas that require extra thought, the majority of the meal planning is simple.
Food is broken up into six categories – fruit, vegetables, grains, proteins, dairy, and oils. To find your daily requirement, you search under your age and sex. This is just to help you determine what types of food. There is another component to help you determine calories based on weight and activity level.
For the sake of simplicity, I went with the goal of 2000 calories a day. Not sure how that will alter the plan as I get into it but it gave me a good reasonable ballpark when I need to choose between foods.
Because there are three of us and all of us are in different categories for serving amounts, I’m just going to share what our daily requirements look like as a family. I started with listing our individual needs, then grouped them by day and then by month. For vegetables, I did a week and then a month but I’ll explain why later.
Here are our daily requirements:
Fruit – 5.5 cups
Vegetables – 8.5 cups
Grains – 21 ounces
Protein – 17.5 ounces
Dairy – 9 cups
Oils – 18 teaspoons
I did not include oils in my food planning. I expect that we will use some but I didn’t think it was necessary to plan for them.
I mentioned that I planned vegetables on a weekly basis before I went to the month. The reason for this is that My Plate has a weekly chart for your vegetables to help you get a good variety.
Our week should look like this:
Dark Green (broccoli, greens) – 5.5 cups
Red/Orange – 17.5 cups
Beans/peas – 5.5 cups
Starchy vegetables (green peas, corn, potatoes) – 15 cups
Other – 14 cups
Now, not all foods are equal. 1/2 cup dried fruit counts as 1 cup of your fruit serving. 1/3 cup of shredded cheese and 2 cups of cottage cheese counts as 1 cup of dairy. It does take a little bit of finagling but I was able to simplify based on the fact that I needed everything to be shelf stable.
Our plan looks like this:
Fruit 165 cups: 83 cups canned, 41 cups dried
Vegetables 255 cups: 23.5 cups dark green (freeze dried broccoli, green vegetable powder – amounts to be determined), 75 cups red/orange (canned carrots, pumpkin, tomatoes, and yams), 23.5 cups beans/peas (equals 8 cups dry legumes), 73 cups starchy vegetables (canned corn, green peas, dried potatoes), 60 cups other (canned beets, asparagus, dried onions, dried peppers)
Grains 630 ounces: 6 pounds pasta (192 ounces), 26 cups uncooked oatmeal (1/2 cup uncooked equals 1 cup cooked equals 2 ounces), 18 cups rice (1 cup dried equals 3 cups cooked equals 6 ounces), 53 ounces popping corn (1 ounce unpopped equals 3 cups popped), 371 crackers (1 ounce equals 7 crackers), 18 batches of pancake mix (this is an estimate because I forgot to check the packaging), 105 slices of bread (ingredients to make simple loaves of bread)
Proteins 525 ounces: 15 cups dried beans (in addition to amount under vegetables) (15 cups dried equals 45 cups cooked equals 180 ounces), 58 ounces TVP (makes 174 ounces of meat replacement), 86 ounces nuts and seeds (equivalent to 172 ounces)
Dairy 270 cups: 45 cups of powdered milk equals just over 68 quarts (4 cups per quart)
While it’s not the most interesting food storage plan, it’s one that makes sense to me. First of all, it feels manageable. More so than trying to figure out how to plan for 30 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. There’s flexibility. I’ve seen plans that are simple but they don’t feel like I can make a variety of dishes nor do they feel like I can make meals that keep us healthy.
The part I like best, is that I can just continue this plan to become a whole year’s worth of food. While it’s not meal by meal, I have accounted for my family’s favorite meals. Which is why the grains look so strange. Not only do I have favorite meals, I have snacks. I will make changes as necessary but the basic amounts won’t change. I will still need 630 ounces of grains for every month whether I decide to swap the crackers for shredded wheat cereal or half the oatmeal for quinoa.
In time, I might actually get my family eating according to My Plate. We’ll see but in the meantime, I feel like I might actually have a food storage plan that works for me. Hope it helps you with your planning.