There is little doubt that most Americans need to improve their family’s food security, but just how is that done? Let’s take a look at some practical ways you can make sure your family always has enough food! Here’s “10 Ways to Improve Food Security for Your Family”!
For the last three years here in the states, we have seen unprecedented shortfalls in our food supply.
In 2019, known as the year of NoPlant19, we saw record rain fall/flooding in the “Bread basket” states, disallowing farmers to be able to plant in the Spring. Seeds that needed to be in the ground in order to secure the nation’s food supply simply weren’t planted. Further, massive flooding killed a record number of livestock, driving meat prices up at the store. Empty shelves created panic among shoppers. There were shortages on just about every grocery item!
Consequently, many of those farmers went bankrupt.
In 2020, we are facing a pandemic caused by the deadly virus Covid-19.
This pandemic has pushed our country to the brink with “life or death” situations and food shortages that no one could have anticipated.
Covid-19 has caused most of the country to come to a complete standstill, as officials try to stop the spread of the virus by implementing a nationwide lockdown.
Once again, many restaurants and family businesses will go under as a result.
At risk people, like the elderly and children are not able to get the food and medicine they need. Food banks are under more pressure than ever before to supply food to millions of people, who have lost their jobs during this crisis.
The economic fallout is yet to come, we may not fully see it’s damage until fall of 2020, at the soonest.
Then, 2021 brings about a huge shipping crisis, with unknown amounts of shipping containers are floating around on barges at sea. The containers can’t seem to be unloaded, there’s a shortage of truck drivers and the crisis just keep getting thicker every day, with no end in sight.
Now, in 2022, we’re dealing with multiple crises, including reported inflation rates of over 7% (the true rate is much higher)! The price of everything from fuel for our cars and to heat our homes, to the price of bread and meat at the grocery store has skyrocketed in recent months!
This life brings situations that we can’t anticipate, understand or control.
Doesn’t it just make good sense to improve your family’s food security?
But while we can’t predict the future, we can rest assured that problems DO come. No doubt about it.
Why not take the time to insure your family’s food security?
There is so much you can do, in your own home, to improve your overall food supply!
At the end of the day, government can only do so much. Folks, Uncle Sam isn’t coming to save you.
Americans would benefit greatly to take a lesson from our grandparents to become more self-sustaining!
1. Stock a Pantry
While the middle of a crisis isn’t the best time to start a pantry, you can still start one!
I’ve written extensively about the importance of a pantry for your family’s food security, it’s that important!
Having a well-stocked pantry is one of the BEST assets you can have! Being married to a financial planner, we discuss money and finances a lot. At the end of the day, there is NO investment better than having your own supply of food.
Get started this week, would you?
First, establish where you’re going to store your food. People get really hung up on this. I’ve lived in several types of houses, big and small. There is always some dead space somewhere! Under a staircase, in a closet (move some things around or consolidate with another closet to free one up), under your bed, in your furnace room, in the bathroom under your sink, in the basement….just pick a place!
Your first pantry doesn’t have to be perfect! Just start with something, you can improve on it later.
Starting with your next grocery visit, I want you to buy one or two extra items that your family eats all the time. Maybe it’s an extra jar of peanut butter, or an extra package of coffee beans. Avoid convenience foods like boxed cereal, chips and soda. Think about what you can make meals and bake with. Flour, sugar, brown sugar, yeast, vanilla, shortening, baking soda and powder can make a plethora of bread products: Pancakes, bread, biscuits, waffles, quick breads and the list goes on!
The other evening, I made a wonderful Minestrone soup with items from my pantry! I used stock, home-canned carrots/potatoes/green bean meal starter, macaroni and home-canned kidney beans. THIS is the kind of convenience I’m talking about!
You could begin your pantry by purchasing everything you need for one of your family’s favorite meals and store it away. That way you’ll know you have ONE meal in your pantry.
By watching sales and loss-leaders, as well as gardening, you can stock your pantry so that you never have to worry about how you’re going to get to the store!
2. Get to Know Your Local Farmers for Food Security
Regardless of what the economy is doing, there are farmers that are still growing their crops, year in and year out.
Do you know who your local farmers are? Do you know what they grow and sell?
If you log onto localharvest.org and put in your zip code, you’ll be able to see a list of farmers in your area. Everything from dairy farms, beef farmers, bee products and produce, you can find out where these local sources of food are.
If your local growers have a tent up in the summer, selling food, stop by! Patronize them! They need the business and you need the food they grow!
Many farms have CSA programs that you can become a member of, this is a great way to insure fresh produce and to support farmers as well!
3. Consistently Cook from Scratch
Knowing how to cook and bake from scratch is such a critical skill!
It makes me so sad to think that Home Economics was taken out of high schools, along with Shop.
I was one of those young adults who didn’t know how to do anything in the kitchen! I mean anything! I could barely locate the stove.
Somehow, we’ve been convinced that cooking from scratch is too hard or takes too much time…hogwash!
Home-cooked food requires far less money to make and is better for you! Who wants all of those preservatives and fillers?
Your kids need to see you cooking from scratch so they can learn from you! Make a batch of cookies this weekend, or try your hand at a new casserole recipe!
If you aren’t much of a cook, start slow, but be consistent. I’ve been there.
If I can do it, anyone can!
4. Garden like You Mean It
Growing some of your own food is the best way to improve your family’s food security, especially when you take the next step to preserve it yourself!
Many of us put out a garden in the Spring, with all of the photos from the seed catalog fresh in our minds!
But after a month or so, we lose enthusiasm, let the weeds grow up and finally mow the thing over.
Let’s make this year the most productive gardening year yet!
Think about what fruit and vegetables you like to cook with and what your family enjoys!
If it’s too late to start seeds indoors, then head to your local garden center (locally-owned) and get some starters!
Companion planting will help your overall production as well.
What if the only food you and your family would have for the year came from your garden? How seriously would you be about making sure your garden got watered and weeded?
We never know what the future holds so this year, garden like your life depends on it!
5. Learn Food Preservation Methods
You can grow the best garden in the world, but if you don’t know how to preserve food, you’re going to be out of luck.
Freezers are wonderful, but keep in mind that a loss of power will quickly reduce all of your frozen stash to puddles.
Learn how to can!
Making jam is a good place to start! Our family loves strawberry jam, we make it every year!
Water-bath canning would be the next thing to learn, most fruit can be preserved with this method.
Vegetables and meat require pressure-canning, and many people are afraid of the pressure canner. I can relate! It is a little un-nerving at first!
But once you get the hang of it, you’ll be a pro in no time!
One of my favorite parts of Spring is all of the foraging opportunities!
Our grandparents consistently foraged for fresh edibles to bring home for their mothers to use for meals.
Foraging is a great way to improve your food security!
If you’ve never foraged before, go with someone who has and take a lesson on them. Many extension offices have classes about foraging as well.
Classes and books will help you to recognize foods that are edible from those that are poisonous.
There is so much fresh and organic food out there, to be had for free! Why not take some time to learn what grows in your area that’s edible?
7. Raise Meat
During WWII, people were encouraged to grow “Victory Gardens” to support their families, so that more food could be shipped to the soldiers fighting the war.
In very small yards, folks planted gardens and raised small livestock, like rabbits and chickens, as a source of protein.
This is easily done today! Some folks I’ve read about farm fresh fish, like Tilapia, in aquariums indoors!
If you aren’t able to raise meat, support a local farmer and buy your meat from them! At least you’ll know where it came from and you can buy a year’s worth at a time.
8. Plant Edible Perennials to Improve Food Security
Who wouldn’t want a fresh source of food, every year, without doing anything for it????
Yep, edible perennials are amazing and will totally improve food security for your family!
Crops like rhubarb, asparagus, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries will bring you a harvest, year after year, without much work at all!
Whenever I hear about someone wanting to start gardening, I always tell them to begin with edible perennials! I am always open to giving folks a “starter” from my perennials, so don’t be afraid to ask a gardener friend for one!
9. Make it Yourself
It just blows my mind how much toiletries, laundry detergent and cleaning supplies cost! These alone can add up to over 30% of your grocery bill! You could be food improving your food security with that money!
Let me tell you, it’s so easy to make your own!
DIY Foaming Hand soap
One part Castile liquid soap
Three parts water
1 tablespoon liquid glycerin
1 tablespoon almond oil
My General Cleaner
1 tablespoon dish soap
I use this simple recipe to clean surfaces, bathrooms, appliances and countertops.
10. Go Zero Waste
Finally, going Zero-Waste will not only save you a ton of money, but you’ll save the planet as well!
For example, by getting rid of paper products in your kitchen alone, you will save sooooo much!
Simply use dish towels! Dish towels eliminate the need for paper towels!
Make cloth napkins! You’ll no longer need paper napkins!
Use mason jars for food storage instead of plastic!
Choose a couple of these ideas and implement them this week! Then move on to the other ideas! You’re going to be amazed at how much money you’ll save and how much more food security you and your family has!