by Beth Buck
I’m specifically writing this article for my sister-in-law who just moved to Germany in connection with her husband’s job in the United States Army. She likes the concept of emergency preparedness, but hasn’t been able to build up much in the way of food storage because they’ve lived in three different states in the last five years. It’s difficult to invest a lot of your money and energy on something that you may very well have to leave behind when you move.
I can relate. I moved around a lot when I was a kid because of my dad’s job working for an oil company. By the time I had graduated from high school I’d lived in three different countries and three different states in the Union, with an average of three and a half years at each location. To engender a certain semblance of stability, my parents always tried to have some food storage when they could.
How can you have food storage when you move around so much? The first step is to decide how important your food storage is to you. Is it something you want to sacrifice for and make a priority in your life? There isn’t a right or wrong answer here, but knowing where you stand on the issue will help you determine how to proceed.
If you are one of those itinerant corporate people, you may be able to take part or all of your food storage with you, depending on your destination and how much your company will allow you to ship. Is your food storage important enough to you to move it in lieu of other possessions? Don’t plan on always being able to do this, however. Some countries have national laws that prohibit residents from keeping stockpiles of food in their homes. Additionally, to the best of my knowledge, the United States military will not move food at all, for reasons of liability.
Remember that every little bit of food storage helps! Always start small. Also, if you have limited space it may be best not to be too ambitious – a year’s supply is a little much when you know you’ll have to cart it around with you. A three-month supply is not only more doable, but it is also cheaper – especially if you have to leave it behind. If you don’t want to give it away, make friends with people who are interested in acquiring their own food storage. Maybe they can buy it off you. This can go both ways. If you are in the market for food storage and live among other nomad types, as on a military base or a corporate compound like the one where I grew up, find ways to make friends with those who have a little food storage. When they leave, you can inherit it, or purchase it from them inexpensively.
Is food storage worth the hassle if you’re just going to move in a year? Absolutely. My family lived an Dhahran, Saudi Arabia in the late 1980s and until the Gulf War. My mom made it a point to purchase extra flour at the market whenever she could. Chocolate chips were difficult to come by sometimes, so when they were available she always bought extra. Our circumstances precluded us from having a dream pantry loaded with six-gallon buckets full of wheat, but we did what we could. We left shortly before Desert Storm, but not before all that flour and chocolate was distributed to others in the community. I have it on good authority that most people used those supplies for making chocolate chip cookies for the American soldiers. If you served in Dhahran during that time and ate a homemade chocolate chip cookie during that time period, the odds are pretty good that the ingredients came from my mom’s food storage.
In answer to my sister-in-law’s question about how to manage food storage when you’re a military family: Yes, you can do it! Don’t feel like you have to have a massive quantity when a smallish quantity will do fine. It will always be worth the effort, even if you have to give it away or sell it if you can’t bring it with you.
Beth Buck has been involved with emergency preparedness since her very earliest years. She enjoys hiking, martial arts, reading, and writing about food storage. Beth lives in the Intermountain West with her family.