I just want to say that for those of you out there who can plan your meals for a week, a month or more and stick to it, deserve the highest praise. I can plan meals and grocery shopping but actually following a meal plan is like torture. Lately, my husband and I have been planning about 14 meal ideas and then we see how many we actually make in the next month. Meal planning is just not our thing. However, I am really good with understanding what my family will eat when there is nothing to eat. I, also, know how to maximize nutrition (even if I don’t actually follow that). Instead of following the tasks set out by Project Noah, I used what worked best for me.
I knew breakfast would be the easiest. In our house, breakfast is often a grain of some sort and rather simple since we’re not huge morning eaters. What we eat, sometimes, depends on weather but I picked meals that would fill us up, give us comfort but also do not require ingredients that need refrigeration. Those “meals” are – oatmeal; teff cereal; grits; hot chocolate and toast; biscuits and gravy; and graham crackers and milk.
From there I broke down how much of each food we need. To start with I had to determine how many meals total – 3 months equals approximately 90 days, 2 people in the family equals 180 meals. Six different meals means we need at least 30 servings of each meal. (I should note here that I did not include my son in our breakfast meals but did include him in the lunch/dinner part because he absolutely does not eat breakfast.)
I’m not going to break down each meal because that will get boring but I will show you how I figured out how much of each to add to my list. I looked up what a serving size of each grain looks like – oatmeal is 1/2 cup of dried oatmeal per person. Now, I know that 1/2 cup of oatmeal is too much oatmeal for me but planning for that amount should mean there is extra. 1/2 oatmeal for 30 servings equals 15 cups of oatmeal. If you are an instant oatmeal person then it would mean 30 packets of oatmeal.
Something that dawned on me as I was working through the breakfast menu is that there are a lot “hidden” ingredients in our food. Things we don’t think about. To make a serving of oatmeal, I need oatmeal but I also need water or milk, sugar, butter and other things to make the oatmeal taste good. While I didn’t dig that deep, I did realize that I had to figure out how much water I would need. For 30 servings of oatmeal, I need 15 cups of oatmeal and 30 cups of water. A gallon of water is 32 cups so I need a gallon of water just to make my oatmeal.
Let’s go to hot chocolate and toast. To make hot chocolate, I need 4 cups milk, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, and vanilla. For toast/bread, I need flour, yeast, water, sugar, and butter. I can’t keep milk and butter in my pantry but I can keep powdered milk and hope that there is a decent stored butter out there (there is shelf stable butters and butter powders but I haven’t tried them). For every cup of milk I make with the powdered milk, I need a cup of water.
I did make a note to stock up on boxed milk because my family doesn’t like cereal with powdered milk but the boxed milk is not bad. However, boxed milk for the amount of milk I planned for would take up far too much room. Since my family can tolerate the powdered milk in anything where the milk is not the flavor (such as hot chocolate or gravy), I can save more powdered milk and bottles of water.
Sorry this is getting lengthy so I’ll move on to lunch and dinner. Now, I couldn’t meal plan for lunch and dinner. Lunch for us is usually leftovers or we make a big lunch and then eat the leftovers for dinner. This made it semi-easy. The problem is that we needed a whole lot more servings – 540 servings to be exact. I made it easy on myself and broke it up into food categories instead of meals.
For the three of us to have our daily fruit servings, we need 1080 ounces of fruit or 270 ounces of dried fruit (to make it really easy, the Dollar Tree has 1 ounce bags of very nice dried fruit so 270 bags gets us our fruit – not 100% sure that is the way I will go but it gives me an easy out).
To get our vegetable servings, we need 675 cups of dried vegetables or 1350 cups canned vegetables.
Proteins – I went simple: beans and canned meat. I didn’t do a lot of figuring here because I want this easy. I picked 90 cups beans and 45 cans of tuna/chicken. I should note that none of this takes into account things we may can ourselves.
The last part which was almost the most difficult was figuring the starches. I just broke it into two types – pasta and rice. Any more choices and I might have actually cried. Pasta comes out to 82 pounds and the rice was 84 cups.
The absolute hardest part was figuring the water – just to make these foods we need 151 gallons of water. That doesn’t include water for drinking or washing.
This isn’t a perfect plan. One thing I do know is that being trapped in your house messes up your appetite. Nothing will sound good, especially after a month or so. But it is nice to know that we have an idea of what we need. As much as I want to make a plan to stock up today, we are hoping to move next summer so we will put off the big push (especially the large amounts of water) until after we settle into a new place and can plan the storing of the food better.
Hope this helps you plan your food storage.
Here is my list in case you are curious. I should note that at the end of the list are a bunch of random items that we thought of after I did all the math and was no longer wanting to do more thinking.
Ham bouillon (we need to try this first in case we hate it)
5 boxes graham crackers (may want more for snacking)
5 boxes milk
8 cups grits
15 cups oatmeal
7.5 cups teff
2 containers shortening
24 cups powdered milk
270 ounces dried fruit or 1080 ounces canned
675 cups dried vegetables or 1350 cups canned
90 cups dried beans
45 cans tuna/chicken
82 pounds pasta
84 cups rice
3-6 jars of vegan mayo
151 gallons water
25 pounds sugar
50 pounds flour
oil – olive, coconut