Friday, October 18, 2013

Planning for Your Pantry

I’ve been asked by several people to write about how I figured out how much to preserve for our family for one year.  Or two years, or however many years you are trying to preserve for.  Personally, our ultimate goat goal here is to grow and preserve enough to last two years.  That way, if we have a bumper crop one year and a dud the next, it won’t be as big of a deal because we worked ahead to make up for a crop failure. 

There are going to be several big things to take into consideration when trying to figure this out.  Each family’s needs will be so different than the next one.  Do you have any dietary restrictions to take into consideration?  What kind of activity level does your family have?  How many people are in your family?  How many children and how many adults?  Is there something you just eat A LOT of?  Are you planning on having more children in the future?  Will your food needs grow in the next two years?  And just how dependent do you plan on being on your own preserves?  Are you or will you have access to buy what you need later in the future?  Always remember, it is better to plan for more than less.  You can always leave a can/jar or two to sit a bit longer, but you are going to be hurting if you run out and there is no back up. 

Personally, we plan to rely on what we grow completely.  That is the goat goal.  You know, we do this for a lot of reasons.  First, we try and eat as healthy and organically as possible.  But let’s get real.  Organic products are EXPENSIVE.  And we can’t afford to feed eight people organically.  So, really this whole things comes down to having quality food at as low a cost as possible.  And for that--- it can take back breaking work.  No getting around it.

First, take into consideration what you do actually consume on a monthly basis right now.  For us, this was really easy for figure out, because I go grocery shopping only once a month.  I call it marathon shopping because it is VERY easy for me to go in and out of the grocery store 4 times with a full buggy each time.  Remember, we are feeding 8 people.  Although, not one of them right now is a teenager.  They are all still pretty young, so they aren’t going to consume as much food right now as they will when they are 14, 15, 17 years old.  Our food bill still tops about $1,200 a month.  So, make a monthly grocery needs list.

Take out of that list what it is that you plan on preserving.  Vegetables, fruits, jams/jellies, salsas, applesauce, tomato sauce, peppers, etc.  For now, I am going to focus on the fruit and vegetable side of this, but you can add whatever you want to this list using the same technique.  Meats, sauerkraut, etc.

Next, figure out the logistics-

half pint= small sized canned good from the store
pint jars= normal size canned goods from the store
quart jars= family sized canned goods from the store

I did it like this to keep it as simple as possible.  This is so much information and planning already.  Let’s just keep it totally uncomplicated.

Then, make a graph-  Or use mine 

This is what mine looks like---


Update: I forgot I left out VITAL information!  I forgot to tell you HOW I got my numbers!  Doh!  So, here it is...

To figure out a yearly supply, multiple your monthly supply by 12.  Then double that to get the two year supply.

To figure out how many cases of mason jars, divide however many you want to end up with at the end of harvest by 12, because 12 jars are in a case.  Now, you can take this however far you would like- 3 years or more.  But if you get a three year supply of produce in one growing season trying to feed as many people as I am...  well, then I can only praise your fantasticness.  Because that would be A LOT of work!

So yeah, that's pretty much how I did it.  Feel free to use my stuff and pass this along!

PS- If anyone feels compelled to donate to my mason jar fund, I would be greatly appreciative!  

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