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Preparing for Three Months of Regular Family Meals

The LDS church advocates that its members prepare for family emergencies such as unemployment, illness, or natural disasters. As my Ward's Emergency Preparedness Coordinator I have been encouraging my flock to prepare. The Church put out new guidlines a few years ago that specified that we should first prepare three months of regular meals, then we should move into a years supply of "keep your family alive" food storage. I will talk about the three month supply since that is the one that gets some people overwhelmed.

Menus, Groceries and Plans (Oh My!)

One of the many preparedness blogs,  Safely Gathered In, published a good idea on how to plan for the three months of regular meals. It got my brain spinning. Basically it was based on something I and many other freedom loving people hate- Menus! Although the blog focused on dinner menus I decided that to be precise I needed to know what to plan for all meals. So I made three week long menus. I planned breakfast lunch and dinner as if all family members were going to sit down and eat a home cooked meal. I knew this would be overdoing the amount of food, but I wanted to see if I could come up with enough variety to satisfy my family. (Well mostly my hubby since he is the pickiest.)

My Name is Nicole and I Love Spreadsheets
First, I just wrote it out on a notebook page, but then decided to put it into an Excel spreadsheet. I then made a complete grocery list of all the items that would be needed for the weeks meals.

After I put it into Excel I could see a bigger picture and began rearranging the meals into groups that could be prepped together, such as three meals using beef stew meat (hubby just gave up hamburger :-/) or meals that needed beans such as burritos, enchiladas, nachos and quesadillas. Many of these items could be doubled and frozen for easy meals too. I regrouped and planned what I should do the first day of the week to make other meals later in the week a snap and minimize dishes. I also noted what bread stuffs needed to be prepared and included that on the first day. If I didn't have time but had money I could always buy these items (or store a little of them ready to bake).

When I was done I had three complete menus with minimal duplication, complete with instruction for groceries, and things that could be planned ahead. I labeled the menus AB&C. With three menus to rotate, I figured we could be fairly satisfied with the variety. I printed it all out and but it in a binder. (yes I also love binders)

Extreme or Not Extreme?
Also on Safely Gathered In they planned for the extreme situation of not being able to cook. Since this adds to the complexity I decided to start by NOT assuming life would be much different, except that I would need to rely on my pantry. I have even assumed that some money would be available for fresh items like tomatoes, lettuce, and milk. This would be a mild emergency like a job loss that still allowed unemployment income where money is tight and the need for lowering my spending would be high. However, thinking about what I would change if I had no power to my oven didn't really require much change because we have a propane grill that would do nicely for almost everything on the menu. Besides if the power is out for three months we will have more to worry about than how to cook our food (riots, freezer/refrigerator spoilage or freezing to death). So, I think I'll add some extra propane to the list of preparedness items and call it good. Course I could make plans to feed my neighbors.....

Part two found here Tinkering with the Three Month Plan

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