(The next installment in a series on preparation. You can find other posts covered by searching this blog for "Preparedness".)
She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.
It was always dark in the cellar. Dark enough that I would hug my doll tight as I crept down the steep stairs behind grandma, watching out to make sure I didn't hit my head on the overhang. She led the way, opening the door to the laundry room, and over to an aged wooden door that led to a wonderful room we weren't allowed to go in. She used an old skeleton key to unlock and I can still remember how it felt to hold my breath, waiting, as she twisted the glass doorknob. That old door creaked just the slightest bit when she opened it then she disappeared into the darkness. One, two, three...SNAP! The familiar sound of the pull-string light was confirmed by the sudden brighteness. I couldn't go further than the doorway...but there it was...a room full of home-canned goodness. Along two walls (I couldn't see behind the door) I saw jars and jars of homemade apple butter, canned tomatoes, beans, and so much more. It was a place that lives on in my memory, even though I wasn't part of the process (we weren't allowed in the room when the pressure canner was working), it fascinated me.
In truth, there probably weren't as many jars as my child mind wants to believe. And the cellar, well, when the house was new it might have been a true cellar. It still had the old-fashioned cellar door like Dorothy fruitlessly tugged on in the Wizard of Oz, paint chipping off until grandpa put a new coat of whitewash on it, complete with stone stairs leading down to the very heavy, very thick inner door. Alas, the root cellar is long gone, paved in and even carpeted for most part. Plumbing filled in the ceiling with it's long pipes and even the lights were definitely a "modern" feature even with their string pulls. But that room, it still reminds me of old fashioned days.
More than that. It reminds me of old-fashioned ways.
You see, while grandma stored up the fresh bounty of her garden it was never in excess (and she was always certain to share her apple butter with me!). She had enough to help take care of her husband and even the children who moved on with their children, should they need a jar of green beans or a sweet for toast (hey, can I help it if I love apple butter?).
That's what we are getting at here. The point of a pantry is prepare for hard times, but to also be wise in what you have and how much.
The key in successful food storage is this: STORE, NOT HOARD.
Yes, the sale on tins of sardines might be great. Yes, they are a source of good protein, should you need them in an emergency. That said, let's be realistic! If you don't usually eat them, they are not going to be such a great value. Say it's February and the weather has turned so nasty that you aren't going anywhere for a few days. How appetizing does that tin of sardines look to you now?
When we store foods we won't use or can't use before they go bad, that's hoarding. I would like to encourage you to pray about this (I've certainly had to and probably will have to again) because sometimes in our enthusiasm to prepare and provide, we can go a little crazy.
One other thing...I've had people ask me what's the point? If a tornado (flood, power out, etc.) is going to hit your house you'll just lose it all anyway. Let's go back to what I said in the first part of this series. If it does, then you start over with everything. But what if it doesn't? What if it's the neighbor's house that gets hit and yours is still standing. But power is down, roads are closed and you have no where to go.
God has not called everyone to prepare their pantries for everyday or emergency prep and I suggest you seek His wisdom in your own case. I've seen the arguments for and against. This is not a pro or con discussion. This series is to help you, if you want, to prepare a pantry like grandma's.
So, this week, before we start digging into lists and whatnot, think about your family's needs. What do you and your loved ones enjoy? What is shelf-stable? What can you freeze? Where will you put things? Do you have room if you shift a few things around? What can you use to store some foods in? Think about these things and begin making your plans.
Remember, FEMA recommends at least 72 hours worth of supplies for emergency planning. For some time they said up to two weeks, but I can't seem to find it on their website right now (wonder if that has to do with HS suspicious list of more than a week's worth of food??). At any rate, it's just smart business to have things on hand to help you save money and take care of your family.
Next week, 72 Hours Kits - the beginning!