A Three Month Supply?

I suspect that a change has been made to the counsel regarding food storage. See here. It looks like the basic counsel is now to have a three-month supply, with longer term storage as more of an add-on.

I like this idea. I think it seems less intimidating. If that’s the case, people are more likely to do it. And better to have a three month supply than to feel guilty about not having a year’s supply.

(OK, OK, here’s the real reason I like it: we have about a six month supply. Now instead of being 50% righteous, we’re 200% righteous. Woohoo!)

39 comments for “A Three Month Supply?

  1. It makes sense. It seems that we don’t cook a lot from scratch like we used to, at least generally. It would be cumbersome to have a year supply of Lucky Charms and Frozen lasangas. Three months is reasonable for your usual menu, and a year supply of stuff that would keep you from starving to death (wheat, legumes, sugar, salt, oil, drinking water).

    If the price of gas ever had an abrupt and drastic shift which carried over into other economic sectors, we may only be able to buy a fraction of groceries that we could on our current budgets. It would be nice to have a home store to cushion the effects of a price flux.

  2. I think the year’s supply counsel still stands. The three month supply is food you normally eat, whereas the year supply is long-term foods such as wheat, rice, and legumes.

  3. Back in Brigham’s day I believe they wanted a 7 year supply. Nobody did it. So it was reduced to 2 years in later years. Few did it so it was reduced to 1 year. Few did it so it was reduced to 3 months.
    Now, if we can catch that vision, then they can slowly increase it again – I think.

  4. #4: yeah, he did mention it, as did Pres. Hinckley, but neither of them mentioned a year’s supply. Pres. Hinckley’s wording, IIRC, was “a reasonable” amount.

  5. Actually, the new pamphlet is also up.


    The answer is both. Start with a three-month supply, but aim for a one-year supply of the longer-lasting staples. I think it’s a good balance because some people won’t do anything with storage because they don’t know how to use it. This way, everyone can have something and then aim for the longer-term storage (and maybe even someday how to use it!). Interesting changes.

  6. Ah, duh, I didn’t see that the link above was for the same thing. But I don’t understand, then, the comment of “sorry Julie, no such luck.” ??

  7. In last night’s Priesthood meeting the counsel was to have more food storage, and less debt, than you do now, until you have no debt and a year’s supply of food. Bishop McMullin quoted President Hinckley as saying we should start with a one week supply.

  8. Anyone who has exceeded the 3-month food supply ceiling should feel exceedingly guilty for hording victuals a the expense of others less fortunate. Those feeling appropriately guilty may ship their surplus to me, so that I may comply with the prophet’s words.

    Aaron B

  9. With these comments, I think what they are going for is something like this:

    (1) Have 3 months of the food you normally eat.

    (2) Then, work on having 9 months of staples that will last 30 years because we all know you are never going to eat those lentils unless you near death already.

  10. I have heard that in some countries, storing food is considered hoarding. You give the impression that you are aware of some impending crisis that the govt. doesn’t know about. Creates suspicion.

  11. I wonder, too, if 3 months is directed at many saints outside of the US. In many countries, it is difficult to put food on the table for one day, much less one year. That would be incredibly overwhelming. So many new members in poor countries – they need a guideline more reasonable for their circumstances and one where they can feel there is a possibility that they can comply.

  12. Thank you, Sally. We need more of those international considerations. So much counsel and so many examples & stories are geared to the situation in the U.S. It will take time to develop the broader world view.

  13. The more you save, the more you will be able to share with your neighbors. Thats is why its a year-supply. You gonna watch your neighbors suffer. What a great missionary tool it will be when you are prepared to share with your neighbors. I bet it will be easy to talk about the importance of a living prophet.

  14. Some people think that they have to save guns and amunition to defend their food storage. This misses the point. In 1976 welfare conference we are told we are expected to share with our neighbors and to not give worry about theives another thought. Also, that dry food storage has its own built in security. I mean really, if someone broke in your house for food, they’d be looking for cambells soup, dinty moore, and oreos. You would show them ur dried wheat and lentils and they wouldnt even know what it was let alone know how to prepare it. Dry pack food storage has its own built-in theft deterence. Also, those who lived through the great European famine after WW2 said that Vegatable Oil was like liquid gold. You could trade it for anything.

  15. To echo a theme from yesterday, what is the appropriate storage amount for pickles, 3 months or 1 year?

  16. You might as well tell Bishop McMullin’s joke! Well, it was actually President Monson’s joke being quoted (I’ll paraphrase from memory):

    We have told members to have a years supply of food and to be debt free. However, some seem to be getting this backwards. They have a years supply of debt and are food free!

  17. The more you save, the more you will be able to share with your neighbors. Thats is why its a year-supply.

    I’ve always had a feeling that is also part of why the staples are a good choice, even if we don’t know how to use them all. I’ve tended to think we aren’t necessarily just storing for ourselves, so if we share, there are those who could help us use it well. :) And there is more bang for the buck. Think of how many cans of chili a #10 can of beans could make. :)

    Sally, I liked your insights. I think this is very likely.

    Aaron B. Thanks for the smile. I’ll contribute a #10 can of above beans to your cause. :)

  18. The advice about emergency food reserve is to help prepare families to endure not just calamities but economic hardships such as farm failure or lost of employment opportunities in your vocational specialty.

    Families with the year supply are able to endure periods of long unemployment a lot better than those that don’t. These are the testimonies I hear most frequently out here in California.

  19. If you are looking for a safety net to weather common financial shocks such as job loss or medical emergency, there are better things you could be doing than hording a year’s worth of lentils.

  20. When did lentils get such a bad rap? I don’t even have a weeks worth of food supply in my house but I cook with lentils regularly. If you know what to do with them, they are very very good and tremendously good for you.

  21. One of the puropses of the year-supply is for something like an avian pandemic flu outbreak. Something like this would paralyze transportation. And because, individul US states and the US itself is not selfsufficent food-wise, that will drive the price of food through the roof. Look at the recent E.coli outbreaks, All the US spinach goes from a couple farms in California. Whats gonna happen if trucks cant cross state lines— no spinach.

    A great talk was given at my home ward in Salt Lake City I distinctly remember. A man about 85 years old spoke of how Utah was not self sufficent any more with respect to its food supply. He told about how sugar beats were grown in west valley and the HS maskot is the beat diggers and we still have an area of the city named Sugarhouse becaue of the old sugar factory. He told of the Ephraim area about the peas that used to be harvested there. But there hasnt been sugar beat and peas grown in those areas for 60 or more years. It just makes me realize jsut how vulnerable we are. I feel like the people of Ammoniah who didnt believe God could destroy their “great city”.

  22. Lately, conversations on the bloggernacle have me thinking I should start a cooking blog or something but thats way too much work.

  23. Someone should create a food storage cooking blog, if you, Veritas, don’t set one up.

  24. The only people I know who’ve used their food supply haen’t used it for disasters so much as job loss. We know a family who lost their job, and it took almost exactly a year for the dad to get the job he wanted after that. They used up their food storage, but it was really cool.

    M&M, I said no such luck, because the pamplet still says have a years supply…

  25. I’ve heard of people doing a year’s supply without resorting to canned wheat etc– anyone know of sites that tell you how to do more palatable food storage? I was the ward emergency preparedness specialist for awhile, and one thing that occured to me at the time was that a lot of the stuff we traditionally store isn’t all that great for you– white sugar, white flour, shortening, etc. And I know we’d have to be pretty desparate to eat it.

  26. Plenty of ordinary canned goods are good for a year or more — our standard method (in my family) is to keep a X-number-of-weeks supply of foods we like, based on the shelf life of each product. And you can get those lists from the internet easily enough. On the other hand, we also try to get things in a “as storable as possible” condition, which means seeds for some things, and powdered stuff for others. It’s tricky, but you can make a combination of powdered and condensed milk that children used to 2% will accept on their breakfast cereal (said children will refuse to drink frozen milk that has been thawed, however.) Anyway, this means we have a 5 year supply of pinto beans, but a much shorter supply of frozen cheese and beef (less than a year.) My personal storage includes a larger amount of tunafish and canned spaghetti sauce than my mother’s does: that stuff is good for over a year, easy.

    One of the primary lessons of food storage is figuring out the things you can buy now in bulk, and give yourself a buffer in case cash or product availability makes replenishment difficult: we also store things that don’t go bad, in quantities that will let us buy big during sales and stave off shortages — stuff like shampoo and hand soap and window washer fluid and duct tape and light bulbs. Matches, if properly stored, last at least ten years — candles will burn after 30 years in a box. Lined paper from 1982 still holds ink and graphite, and if you take proper care of it, you might never have to replace a nice set of cooking knives. That sort of thinking is what helps you get through unemployment, or a winter storm that knocks out power for 6 days, or the year you realize you owe the IRS $6,000 and you have three days to send in the check and there’s only $6200 in the bank, and of course you get paid just once a month.

    (and the guidelines have, for as long as I’ve read them, included notes about “what’s legal in your community” — another good reason to engage in food storage now is that in western democracies, you have hope that hastily enacted laws against hoarding won’t count against what’s already in your pantry.)

  27. #17, the amount of pickles you need to store is in direct proportion to the amount of tuna you store ;) (regular tune, mind you, since the white albacore is higher in mercury content.) The question is, dill or sweet? Perhaps we should consult Elder Bednar on this point?

    #19, If I have to store food for my neighbors, I give up! In restocking my food storage yesterday (after trips to 2 club stores & another off-brand grocery store) I’ve filled our under-stair-pantry, behind my fridge hole-in-the-wall, garage, coat closet, upstairs bedroom closet and every air conditioned free-space I can find & I’m still coming up short. I guess I’ll have to get rid of our couches & put my 50# buckets out for seating. Of course I can’t access any of this stored food because it’s too hard to get at! And because it’s so darn hard to get at, when we’re hungry we just go out for dinner. So, like #11-2 said, our year supply is really a 30 year supply so we are super compliant & have no cause for further concern.

    I think the counsel to store LOTS of food was given back when people had barns, basements & big houses in which to store them, i.e. when the church was basically in UTAH. Utah homes still have lots of pantry space. My folks have an entire basement room dedicated to food starge. However, living in apartments or in very hot climates without basements makes it near impossible to store over a year supply of food, especially if you have a large family of your own. My neighbors will have to fend for themselves…maybe I should look into some ammunition, per #16? :)

    Ah…I do love those “Pantry Perfect” packages I can buy at the club stores these days. Mormons are obviously having an impact on the marketplace when you can get these & even 72-hour kits at COSTCO outside of Utah! Hooray! Kinda like seeing Pres. Hinckley’s “Stand For Something” on the shelf at Wal-mart!

  28. nhilton,

    Here’s an idea for hiding food storage: get rid of the box spring and bed frame under your bed. Replace with a layer of 18-gallon Rubbermaid totes. These are the same height as box spring + frame, which means you can put a standard-size dust ruffle over it and no one will know. Under our king, we have fifteen boxes: the middle row is hard to get to, but the edges slide in and out pretty easily.

  29. Julie, I’d jump at your suggestion & I’m sure others will benefit from it, but alas, with more than one child per room, I have beds atop drawers full of clothing…in an effort to economize space! Ha! Does a year’s supply of CLOTHING count? Yes, it does per “How to Clothe Your Family For This Year & The Next & The Next” published by Deseret Book. (Isn’t DB THE source on reaching the mark?)

    BTW, what happens to your mattress when you’re deciding what’s for dinner & need to dip into your under-bed-food storage? I bet this makes snacking in bed really easy!? And this brings new meaning to “don’t let the bed-bugs bite!”

  30. It’s still longer.

    But 3 months is much better than dreading longer and not doing it.

    Also, I think some govt. “clarifications” (such as interpretations on illegal caching) might be changing the emphasis.

  31. If I have to store food for my neighbors, I give up!

    My point was that perhaps, just perhaps, the year’s supply could end up helping those around us, not just ourselves. Although someone did give an example of food storage being used during job loss, for a year. Anyway, that’s just one speculation I’ve had, particularly because our stake asked for an inventory of what the stake members have in terms of supplies and skills. I could only imagine that in an emergency, we would approach things as a community and not as individuals.

    As for lack of space, that’s where we just do our best.

    Ah, this all makes me think about my boss on the East coast when we lived there…made it clear that he would come track me down if there was ever an emergency, knowing of the penchant LDS folk have for storing food. Made me smile.

  32. We experienced a disaster a few years ago. It was caused indirectly by food storage. We spend a few thousand dollars just before Y2K and for the first time had enough food in our basement for two years. When you store lots of food in Georgia it attracts rats. Our rats could chew through 2 inches of wood around doorways and through any Tupperware-like plastic containers. They punctured aluminum soda cans and rolled glass jars onto the cement floor breaking them. They rolled steel cans off the shelves onto well-positioned glass jars sitting on the floor to break them. They ran up the interior walls two stories and chewed through the door frames to get the kids Halloween candy stashes. They never got into the freezer or through steel cans, but it was like they could smell the food and were working on getting it.

    We left for Christmas vacation when the rat population in our house was in the single digits. They chewed through some plastic parts in the bottom of our dishwasher. This caused it to spray hot water for 3 weeks. The hot water heater kept heating water all this time. The steam screwed up the thermostats and the attic furnace pumped hot air into the house while the basement furnace quit. When we returned, the house was about 110 degrees and filled with steam and the basement flooded a couple feet deep. We had the most fascinating array of molds growing everywhere. Most of the drywall was buckled all through the house making the walls wavy.

    We lived without a kitchen for 11 months and without central heat for the rest of that winter. The ducts were moldy even though the furnace worked. It took 4 months to get the mold out of the house. The basement and everything in it was a complete loss. Toxic mold and hundred of rats feasting on our food storage sitting in a couple feet of water destroyed almost everything. The mold expert told me that even the steel cans of food had mold and rat feces on the paper covering and were not worth the risk of disease trying to save them. They took the basement down to the cement and sand-blasted the wood joists and sprayed them with this magic paint (copper-based?) that prevents mold. We had to tear out and rebuild 5 of the 7 rooms on the first floor of the house. The second floor had to have most of the drywall screwed back down and spackled and painted and the carpets replaced. It looks pretty good now but if you get a four foot level, none of the walls in my house are straight and many door jams are not very tight.

    Conflict with the insurance contractors over quality and pricing problems lead me to doing most of the remodeling work myself which took 3 years of all of my spare time. The insurance company ate about $70,000 and we ate about $20,000. The first inspector who came out took one look and got back in his truck and sped away. The agent said it was the worst disaster short of a total condemnation of a house that year for the entire company nationally. Several lawsuits were filed by sub-contractors against the insurance company or each other. One guy got so mad he repeatedly returned to our house and slashed up the flowers growing in the yard. Mold damage is no longer covered on our policy and I have been told it has been taken off most of the others. If this were to happen again that 70/20 ratio above might be reversed.

    I had to trap and poison the rats. I eventually consulted with a rodent psychologist to help me figure out how to solve this problem. Large herds of rats roam the dumps and other similar places in urban areas. Once they discover a good food source it is difficult to redirect them elsewhere. You have to eliminate all food and water sources in the area and close off all cracks. Rats like to run in dark enclosed spaces towards slivers of light and they can smell where another rat has gone before them. They associate the color red with food as many food labels are red. They follow odors. After 5 years things got about back to normal. We speak of family events in terms of antediluvian, peridiluvian and postdiluvian. I don’t have more than about a week’s worth of food in the house and the rats have gone.

    If you store food you need to store it properly. I would recommend behind air-tight steel doors, like in old freezers, which are dangerous to children. Maybe construct steel rooms. I think rats could maybe eventually figure out how to penetrate exposed steel cans if given enough time.

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  34. Uh, Mike, I’m not 100% sure I can believe you (I was doing OK until I got to the part about the rodent psychologist) but I think I’ll have nightmares anyway.

    (I recently went through all our stuff when we moved and I’m pleased to say that after 5 years, there was no evidence of nastiness in or near mylar bags that had been stored in rubbermaid buckets.)

  35. I have often wondered if the commandment to build a year\’s supply is more about obedience than it is about food. If I had to walk to Missouri, I would not be able to take what I have stored with me, but I would go unafraid because I remember other such times in the scriptures where the Lord sent manna.

    I tell my married children (in this day and age when expenses are so high and the economy is struggling) (and yes, they live in small apartments, too) that the most important concept is to figure out a plan, no matter how small, and do that. Store what your budget allows and with what room you have. I feel it\’s more about obedience than anything – work on being obedient a can at a time. When we are actively trying do what He says, no matter if we have achieved the full range, He is bound. And, I feel, that He will be there in our times of need, if we have actively worked towards doing what He says.

    And, if we are sincerely trying to obey a commandment that He has given, He will help us make it happen for our individual circumstances – what money we have and what storage room is available. And, He will compensate for the lack that we have if we have worked on obeying.

    I may store food and never eat a bite of it – robbers may come and take it away – my leaders may ask that I give it away, whether to strangers in need or hungry neighbors or children without – but I am not worried because if I store and then cannot use that storage and find myself in the wilderness, hungry, I will turn to the Lord for help and He will be there because I have worked on obeying that particular commandment. That\’s the important concept – obedience.

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