Getting Your Family on Board With Food Storage

Sharon January 27th, 2009

Ok, I’ve convinced you - you need a reserve of food, you want to learn to can and dehydrate, you want to start eating more local foods.  But you haven’t done anything yet, because, well, the rest of your household isn’t on board.  Before you go there, you need to convince them.   So I offer up this handy guide of answers to common protests about food storage and preservation.  I also offer up some suggestions on what not to say, just in case you need them, mostly because that part was fun for me to write ;-) .

Protest #1: It will be too expensive!

Bad answer: “But honey, the world is going to come to an end soon, and male life expectancy is going to drop into the 50s, so you won’t need your retirement savings anyway.  Let’s spend it on food so I have something to eat in my old age.”

Good answer: “I’m glad you are so concerned about our finances, and I share your concern.  I think in the longer term this will save us money, allowing us to buy food at lower bulk prices and when it is at its cheapest, and thus will insulate us from rising prices.  But let’s sit down and make a budget for what we think it is appropriate to spend on food storage.”

Protest #2: No one has time to can and preserve food anymore!  Isn’t that a leftover form the bad old days?

Bad answer: “Of course you’ll have time to do it, sweetie - can’t you get up before the kids do to make pickles?  You already get 5 hours of sleep a night, so what’s the problem?  Here, read this woman’s blog and you’ll start feeling guilty that you don’t love the kids enough to make your own salsa.”

Good answer: “What I think will end up happening is that we’ll save time later from effort spent now - and we’ll know that our food supply is nutritious and safe - I don’t feel good giving the kids processed foods with all the recalls and contaminations.  But let’s definitely start slowly - I’ll make some sauerkraut, and then if you think we should, we’ll look into plans for a dehydrator.  But we’ll do it together.

Protest #3: Where are we going to put all that stuff?  There’s no way it will fit!

Bad answer: “On those shelves where you keep all your old vinyl records, silly.  As soon as I get that stuff out to the trash, we’ll be ready to build our pantry.”

Good answer: “I think there’s some unused space in that guest room, and if I clean out this closet, I know we could put shelves up and store some food.  I guess I should think about cleaning out some of my junk, right?”

Protest #4: Storing food is for wacko-survivalist types - that’s not us.

Bad answer: “Oh, didn’t you read that stuff by Nostradamus that I gave you?  Oh, and do you know how to use an uzi?”

Good answer: “No, storing food is what my grandmother did to get through the great depression.  It is pretty normal, actually - so normal that FEMA and the American Red Cross recommend that every American store some food.”

Protest #5: Nobody in our house is going to eat Garbanzo beans.  I’m certainly not going to - they make we want to puke!

Bad answer:”Oh, you’ll eat those beans, young lady,  or you’ll spend the rest of your life in your room!”

Good answer: “Ok, you don’t like chickpeas.  That’s ok - what would you suggest we get instead?  Would you like to come with me to the bulk store and help me pick out some storage food?  It needs to be about 1/3 protein sources to grains - what would you suggest?”

Protest #6: I don’t want to think about bad stuff that might happen, or be reminded of it!

Bad answer: “Ok, you don’t have to.  But have you ever seen this great website, The Automatic Earth?”

Good Answer: “But remember, we’re not just storing food for bad times, we’re storing food so that we can save money, go shopping less, have more time for each other, and so we have to worry less about money.”

Protest #7: Things will never get bad enough that we need our stored food, so what’s the point?

Bad Answer:  ”I expect things to get so bad that we seriously consider whether or not to eat the hamsters - probably by next Friday.  After Pookie and Herman, the neighbors will be next.”

Good Answer: “Well, this is really about a whole way of eating - not just storing food for an emergency.  So no matter what happens, we come out ahead - we have the food, and it will get eaten.

Protest #8: Ok, I’m willing to think about some food storage, but storing water?  That’s for whack jobs.

Bad Answer: “Ok, well I’m storing water for me, and if anything bad happens, I’m just going to sit there watching you shrivel up.”

Good Answer: “Remember the floods in the midwest this summer?  A lot of areas had contaminated water, and I don’t really want to go for days with no water to wash hands in or to cook with.  All we’ve got to do is take these recycled soda bottles and fill them with water and a couple of drops of bleach, to know that we won’t be in that position.”

Protest #9: Home preserved food isn’t safe - I heard about someone who died from eating home canned food.

Bad Answer: “Oh, you are right.  Let’s only eat industrially packaged food with lots of peanut butter in it.”

Good Answer: “It is true that unsafe canning practices occasionally result in home canned food hurting or killing someone.  But think of all the trouble we’ve had with the industrial food system - the melamine in dog food, botulism in canned chili, salmonella and ecoli on tons of things.  I agree we have to be very careful, especially when pressure canning, and I plan to be.  But we can preserve our own in lots of ways that are completely safe, and overall, home preserved food is actually safer, not to mention more nutritious, than commercial canned food.

Protest #10: There are so many things about this that are hard - it takes time, energy, new tools, money.  It may be a good idea, but why would you want to take it on?

Bad Answer: “Because Sharon (yes, that woman on the blog you call “the nutjob”) says I should - she fed me the zombie paste, and now I have no will of my own.”

Good Answer: “Because I think we deserve better food than we’re getting.  I want it to taste better,  I want the money we spend to help do things we’re proud of. I want to depend on ourselves more and on corporations less.  I want us to be healthier, and I want us to work together on this as a family.  I want us to feel like when we are eating, we’re doing something good - for us and the world.” 

Best of luck on this!


37 Responses to “Getting Your Family on Board With Food Storage”

  1. Cassandra says:

    Sharon, I just want you to know this post shows exceptional brilliance. :) Your insight into relationships and the workings of the human mind are uncanny! PLUS, they had me laughing out loud (at work. I know, forshame.)

    Thank you again for posting useful information that is also fun to read.

  2. Fern says:

    What’s the recipe for zombie paste?

  3. risa b says:

    >for zombie paste?


  4. Jill says:

    “Ok, you don’t have to. But have you ever seen this great website, The Automatic Earth?”

    yeah, i used that on my husband… it worked though and now he’s on board! (and he checks The Automatic Earth and your blog regularly)

  5. Susan in NJ says:

    Zombie paste, yum yum, does that require pressure canning?

  6. KathyD says:

    Ok- First I laughed until I cried. I actually said the majority of those “Not to Say” things to my husband. Really! “The bond market will collapse in 2 weeks and the shelves will be bare.” “The folks at TAE say…” “Sharon this… Sharon that…”

    So hilarious. Now I’ll have to go back and study the “What to say” answers.

    Thank you!

  7. sealander says:

    Mmm, zombie paste……
    Take 2 cups of pulped newspaper. Mix with a handful of minced industrial chicken and one finely chopped genetically engineered non-organic tomato. Add one teaspoon MSG powder and two tablespoons of corn syrup. Deep fry.
    Irradiate in front of a TV set broadcasting Fox News for 24 hours……and serve.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Nice post. One thing that’s worked for me is stopping saying the word “apocalypse”. While that may be how I view economic collapse etc. it’s not the best word to use… :) I now say “for hard times.” Which is something that most people can get around. I even found a list floating around with “oil, candles, matches” and when I asked what it was for? “For when times get hard.” I was so proud.

  9. sealander says:

    I just used the argument that since 10% of my company workforce got laid off already this year, we might find ourselves living on one income in the future, so it might be a good idea to build up food stocks. I’m having a little more trouble convincing him about stockpiling toilet paper, but I just said I was going to build a fort when I got enough packets ;)

  10. curiousalexa says:

    Protest #3: Where are we going to put all that stuff? There’s no way it will fit!

    A3: We’re going to eat all this weird stuff in the cupboards, throw out the expired stuff, straighten what’s left, and wow, look at all this space! If the mantra is store what you eat, we need to eat what’s currently sitting around being stored (and expiring!).

    Protest #4: Storing food is for wacko-survivalist types - that’s not us.

    A4: Or those who want to avoid the crowded stores after a crisis (flooding, ice storm, Gov impeachment…) This answer goes over better with someone who has the option to telecommute and isn’t forced to leave the home anyway! Bliss is being able to sit out a snowstorm that other people are commuting 4 hours in…

    Protest #10: There are so many things about this that are hard - it takes time, energy, new tools, money. It may be a good idea, but why would you want to take it on?

    A10: Cuz I think it’s fun! Hey, I could be scrapbooking… (I have friends who do this. Neat cool books they enjoy creating, but my gods the money involved!)

    And I’m pretty sure I’ve used this answer a number of times (including frequently with myself!)
    Bad Answer: “Oh, you are right. Let’s only eat industrially packaged food with lots of peanut butter in it.”

    A very fun list, thank you!

  11. annette says:

    I loved the bad answers. Particularly, for reasons I cannot explain, the idea of eating hamsters named “Pookie and Herman” had me rolling on the floor . . .

  12. Robyn says:

    Loved this: “Storing food is for wacko-survivalist types - that’s not us!”
    That would describe everyone outside our immediate family. When is everyone else going to wake up and agree with all of us ‘nutjobs’?

    What do you store all of your dry goods in?
    Would you consider a post regarding how much we should be storing?

    I really enjoyed Depletion and Abundance - very inspiring!

  13. Brad K. says:


    All that was missing with the story of poor Pookie and Herman was “It tastes just like chicken!”

  14. Leila Abu-Saba says:

    Oh here in California you just say: earthquake supplies! And if you get questions as to why so much - well you know FEMA is saying two weeks now, didn’t you?

    If people express shock at the thought of two weeks, I remind them of A) Katrina and B) that last hurricane in Houston, where grocery stores were left unsupplied & the water was out for two weeks.

    Since most people don’t know how much 2 weeks’ supply is, they don’t question further. Hubby just goes along with it.

  15. Survivalist News » Casaubon’s Book: Getting Your Family on Board With Food Storage says:

    [...] Casaubon’s Book » Blog Archive » Getting Your Family on Board With Food Storage Ok, I’ve convinced you - you need a reserve of food, you want to learn to can and dehydrate, you want to start eating more local foods. But you haven’t done anything yet, because, well, the rest of your household isn’t on board. Before you go there, you need to convince them. So I offer up this handy guide of answers to common protests about food storage and preservation. I also offer up some suggestions on what not to say, just in case you need them, mostly because that part was fun for me to write ;-) . [...]

  16. Rosa says:


    I have to admit, I went to Costco with a friend yesterday and, instead of the one giant can of chickpeas I usually buy I bought three.

    And I totally blamed you, Sharon. But I did have room in my pantry - we’re OUT OF APPLESAUCE and I think that empty shelf was causing me anxiety.

  17. Rebekka says:

    Is zombie paste good for marinating chicken?

  18. Leila Abu-Saba says:

    Oh yes indeedy, marinate those chix in zombie paste.

    I gather if you’ve read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, you’ll be having nightmares about zombies marinating your …no I won’t say more. I read a two paragraph excerpt in a review and could not read the book no matter how much my literary colleagues praise it. Nightmares for a month.

    My shorthand for the Dimitri Orlov/Cormac McCarthy scenario is “Zombies take over Oakland”.

    Somehow I just don’t think it’s gonna happen, and if it does, well, the zombies will find plenty to eat at our house and no weaponry to keep them from getting it.

  19. ctdaffodil says:

    Oh my - those bad answers are sooo amusing! Definately made me giggle in the face of the east coast winter storm today…..and school is closed.

  20. Jennifer (Baklava Queen) says:

    I suspect the zombie paste would do a great job of holding chickpea “burgers” together. Well, come to think of zombies themselves, maybe not…

    Maybe spread it on a dehydrator tray and make zombie leather?

    Oh, the possibilities… now THAT would fill a larder in no time. And everyone would be happy. Or something.

  21. Amanda says:

    oh my! that was definately my laugh today. When I start to bring up the subject of food security I get the look, followed by…you shouldn’t read the doom and gloom site so much.

    I just finished your book Depletion & Abundance, I loved it. My sister gave it to me for Christmas, and for my birthday she has already pre-ordered your next book….now if I can just get the family to read it…..

  22. ogg says:

    Go ahead and eat your ramen noodles. Scramble for that last stale cracker and pasta noodle. The banks, government have you where they want you now. Riot away at your keyboard in the cold…..

  23. Heather says:

    Hm, and then there’s the lacto-fermented version of zombie paste… goes well served on a bed of noodles (your choice of homemade or Ramen).

    On the storing dried goods question, it depends on how long you want to store them for. If you’re just talking up to a year, most anything that closes well works — tupperware/gladware-type stuff and used yogurt or deli containers, for instance. My SIL Doris switched to a different system so I got most of her tupperware-like stuff. I also use glass containers, like the old wire bale canning jars that you aren’t supposed to use for canning anymore — using modern ones is okay too of course, just I usually use those for canning.

    I like to store the bulk of a given good, if I keep a LOT of it, in a large container, and then put some of it in a smaller, more manageable-for-daily-use container. That way the bulk of the food (rice or oats for instance) isn’t exposed to the air very often so it keeps better.

    We keep our rice, oats, wheat, and some of the beans in mylar bags inside of large plastic buckets. The buckets are air tight, but as the supply gets lower in the bucket, being able to roll the mylar down to slow down air penetration to the remainder is helpful. Walton Foods has buckets and mylar bags. Of course you can get buckets other places too, but I haven’t done an extensive search on those or the mylars.

  24. Mary Campbell says:

    With respect to getting my partner on board- I read him a couple of the chapters that I thought would be easiest for him in the car on our way home after the holidays. He says it’s all probably true, but it makes his stomach hurt so badly he can’t read the book. He offered that I have fed him well for years and that I can do anything I think we need wrt storing food and water. He likes the ideas of a winter garden and rain barrels., and got me a solar oven for my birthday.
    I am lucky enough to live in a neighborhood with a women’s book club. We rarely discuss the book (I feel no obligation to read something depressing). We do discuss heating and insulation and gardening. My yard is sunny from late sept until april and could only support a winter garden, so at the last meeting I asked if anyone knew of community gardens within walking distance. Joyce (older, living alone, less opportunity for conversation than the rest of us) said that her lot was four houses deep and sunny. I proposed gardening her yard and feeding her, too. When I asked if anyone had experience growing food, I was surprised to hear how many had a thing or two in the back yard. We got into pest management. If nothing else, I think we legitimized growing vegetables in our sunnier front yards this summer.
    I’ve signed up for the county Master Gardener class with a vision of a neighborhood wide growing group, so that Rowneys wouldn’t have to plant their tomatoes in the same place every year. Book group verbalized that our mostly male SOs all worry that it’ll be too much work for them. We may bill it as a garden party, perhaps with picnic lunches and (my sleazy idea) a keg of beer. Nothing says party like a keg. I once got a three room apartment painted for two sixpacks and a homemade pizza. Reread Tom Sawyer on painting the fence.
    Two big ideas on making money on food while fostering community. Eating clubs. When I was in medical school, six of us women decided the cafeteria sucked. We put money in a kitty and each cooked one meal a week on a two burner hot plate, which we ate sitting on the floor of a dorm room. At the end of the semester they said they had decided I should do all the cooking, because I made the cheapest meals-and they were delicious. I was reluctant until they offered $25 per week per person and help with the last half hour of prep. I had enough money to rent an apt with a four burner stove and a kitchen table that sat six. I developed a relationship with Nicky Ciccione, who had a stall at the Northeast Farmers Market. He saved me all his “Eat today” (half-rotten) produce, and I’d pull my cart the six blocks there and pick up a bag for a couple bucks every night after classes. We ate well and had a good time. I packaged any leftovers for lunches the next day. I was gratefull not to be drawing blood at 5am to finance my education.
    My accountant says I should not mention this to anyone until it has made my fortune. After school programs are huge here. A friend has one that focuses on art for children. My idea is “After School Gourmet”, wherein each participating child makes dinner for their own family. A pan of lasagna, a salad. Bean soup and muffins. Pizza. You get paid for after school care, ingredients, etc. and each family gets a meal. Much cheaper than after school care and a restaurant. And kids enjoy eating odd things if they’ve cooked them. The one who runs it does the shopping and the planning and the things that need to be done ahead of time-defrosting, soaking the beans, etc. Most programs like this have a different set of kids each afternoon-could tailor the program for different days-vegetarian, carnivore, kosher (Sharon’s would feature challah). Would include learning about gardening, nutrition, money. I live a block from a grade and middle school, yet my energies are elsewhere. But it’s too good an idea not to have someone do it.

  25. Sharon says:

    Mary, the “afterschool gourmet” idea is brilliant!


  26. Fern says:

    Wow, Mary, the ‘value added’ of family food along with after school care ROCKS.


  27. Brandee says:

    I’m adding zombie paste to my hubby’s PB&J’s!

  28. Ceredwyn says:

    I got my hubby on board 10 yrs ago. Before 9/11. before Katrina, there was plain ol’ weather. We were in Shreveport and I remember watching a massive ice storm march across from Dallas on the Weather Channel.

    I said to husband, “I think I will get some extra stuff in case we lose power” Hubby hurrumphed and asked me not to spend too much out of paranoia. I bought a 72 hr supply of water and noncook food and a supplemental heat source (I actually left it in the trunk of my car, cause I figured he’d be annoyed at the amount I spent).

    The next AM I woke to him frantically filling every container in the house with water. The electricity had been knocked out for half the city. Including the water pumping station. 3 inches of ice coated the streets. We were without water for 3 days and electricity for 10 days. He apologized profusely for ever thinking I was paranoid. Since then he is happy to store food and water “just in case”

  29. AnnMarie says:

    Did you hear that the zombies have arrived in Austin, TX?,2933,484326,00.html

    I thought of you immediately. LOL

  30. Chile says:

    Sharon, that was a great one!

    Here’s some irony for you: my friend, who has been unemployed for MONTHS just canceled our scheduled weekly walk this morning. The reason? She has a job interview at DES because they need to hire more staff to deal with the massive number of people coming in for unemployment assistance!

  31. dewey says:

    I have ordered a lot of food storage, including three buckets of lentils and beans that we will open and eat from, and four buckets of grains and flours that I plan to keep sealed for longevity until/unless I cannot afford to replace those things at the store. With shipping and handling [yow, be ready for that - it adds almost two-thirds to the price] this was a significant investment, but my DH didn’t blink when I brought it up. He said immediately that he trusted me and I should do whatever I thought was best. That was really heartwarming. It means I have been forgiven for the Y2K Tuna Stash.

  32. Friday Favorites :: 1/30/09 Edition « Two Frog Home says:

    [...] Anytime honesty, humor, and food storageare combined into one post, you can bet it will make my Friday favorite list. [...]

  33. Safira says:


    I grew up in the snowbelt. I’ve always wondered about people who have to hit the grocery store before an impending storm. Doesn’t every sensible person keep at least enough food on hand to ride out a GOOD blizzard or ice storm, making sure some of it is edible cold or easy to heat up on the wood stove or the Coleman stove or gas grill one also has “just in case”?
    Oh. Wait. “Sensible.”

  34. Leila Abu-Saba says:

    Dang, most of Kentucky is without power and it’s been three days:

    Thousands of college kids from dorms sent to shelters, parents don’t know where they are, utility company overwhelmed, water supply uncertain because pumping stations out of power, etc.

    Compelling, current events reason to be prepared with backup plans for heat and water as well as food. Clip this one for your friends, neighbors and relatives.

  35. name says:

    Good mornin to all of you..,

  36. Friday Favorites :: 1/30/09 Edition | Two Frog Home says:

    [...] Anytime honesty, humor, and food storageare combined into one post, you can bet it will make my Friday favorite list. [...]

  37. Bernie Casale says:

    Good information here. Still looking for additional ideas on natural health and would very much appreciate any advice. Thanks a lot!

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