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March 12, 2014
Totally Ready for Anything
Your Own General Store
by Carolyn Nicolaysen

Do you wish you had a general store in your home stocked like the ones from the turn of the 20th Century? With the severe drought in California, there is no better time to get started or to add to your food storage. Prices will be going up, no matter where in the United States you live.

We have already been told milk will go up next month, about sixty cents per gallon. Naturally that means cheese, yogurt and all milk products will go up as well. Beef herds are being sold off so beef prices are expected to triple.

No rain means limited fruit, vegetables and nuts from California. But you can have that general store and together we will make it happen. It’s time to begin the journey.

First Step: Decide how long a period of time you want to prepare for. Are you going to begin with one week and work up or are you going to work toward one month or three months of a complete supply and then move on to more? This will be a critical decision as you move forward. I would recommend going right to the three month goal — three months of the foods you normally eat.

Second Step: You must decide what to store. No one should ever tell you what to store. This is a decision only you can make as you evaluate your family’s likes and dislikes, assess allergies and other medical questions and understand your storage challenges.

To determine what you will store on the shelves of your general store, begin by making a list of your ten favorite meals. Get all the family involved and ask their preferences. Be sure to include menu items for breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Don’t forget to include desserts.

Chocolate is a must in a good food storage plan. Treats are so important for keeping up moral when dealing with a stressful situation.

Once you have your list, gather recipes and sit down with a binder and some paper. You will now begin building your own family food storage reference binder.

Beginning with the first recipe, list all the ingredients from your first recipe down the left hand side of the page. Move on to the second recipe and do the same. When you have an ingredient that is a duplicate, place a check next to the item. Do not forget to record the spices.

When all the recipes have been recorded, count the check marks next to each ingredient. You will now understand which ingredients your family enjoys the most.

For example: Your family has listed chicken and rice, chicken pot pie, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, spaghetti, chicken stir fry with peanut sauce, tacos, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, mac and cheese, and chicken noodle soup.

After making your chart you now know your menus include chicken four times, beef twice and peanut butter twice. As you work on the protein section of your general store, you understand you will want to store more chicken than beef.

You can also see that you will need more pasta than rice when you stock grains. This is not an exact science, but it will give you a guide to follow as you stock up.

Notice there was no tuna on the list. If your family likes tuna, you will want some for lunches but not as much as peanut butter since that did make the list. The more your family enjoys an ingredient, the more often you will be able to serve it without protests from your crew.

Since your menus may not include fruits and veggies, be sure to ask the family to list their three favorites. This will again be the basis for deciding what percentage of your general store shelves are stocked with peaches and what percentage are pears.

Notice I did not tell you to purchase those ingredients. This is just meant as a guide. As you shop and add ingredients your family loves, you will be able to create many, many more meals than your original list. You can be assured your family will eat these new menu items because you now understand they like each ingredient in the dish and thus, will give a new meal a try.

There will be some items on your ingredient list that are not used up in a recipe — catsup, mayo, and pickles for example. All these take your meals from ordinary to extraordinary. I suggest you plan to store three months of these since often three months is only one or two bottles. How do you know how much to purchase of these? That is part of your homework assignment.

Homework assignments

  1. Make a list of the meals you enjoy and your ingredient list.

  2. Date the items you do not finish in one use, again, mayo, salad dressings, oil, pickles, dried onions, and all those miscellaneous bottles on the door of the fridge. Take a permanent marker and draw a line at the level of the contents. At the end of a month you will check to see how much you have used. If you open a new container, calculate how long it took you to finish the first. If it takes two weeks to use a bottle of salad dressing, you know you need six bottles for a three-month supply. That would be plenty for my family for a year, but your family may eat more salads or may only eat one type of dressing while my family likes variety. This is why no one should tell you how much to store. They should teach you how to calculate the needs of your family so you can store according to your needs, not some chart.

  3. Keep track of every penny you spend this week. Every family member should have a small notebook or record in another way, everything they spend. This will help you to determine what you can cut out to free up the funds to stock your General Store.

That’s it! You are now ready to start purchasing food. Once you reach your food goals you should move on to non food items such as hygiene products, cleaning supplies and medications.

As you get started, please ask for help. We were all beginners at one point and there are no stupid questions. Please post a comment and ask a question on the Totally Ready Facebook page and ask for help from those who are further along on the journey.

Each Monday on our Facebook page we talk about a food group to add for that week with specifics. Please join us there and we’ll help with all your food storage needs.

Be sure to check out Carolyn’s Facebook page for preparedness tips. Develop a personal preparedness binder by subscribing to the Totally Ready Newsletter. Contact Carolyn at:

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