The Challenge

At the beginning of Relief Society (and Elders Quorum, etc.), we were read a letter from the stake presidency.  Starting today, every member of the stake is requested to live off their food (and other necessities) storage–i.e., no more shopping trips until May 19th.  That’s both grocery shopping and general shopping.

Our guidelines (verbatim):

No shopping for the next two weeks.  We encourage everyone to take their lunch from home for school and work.  [No concerns there–that’s the cheapest for us anyway.]  Keep a list of everything you use over the next two weeks.  Keep a list of things that you went without that you wish you would have had.  Keep a list of the things that you did have to purchase in case of an emergency.  No eating out with the exception of business or an emergency.  [This got a lot of unhappy comments/murmurs because the “drill” overlaps Mother’s Day.]  No shopping except for emergencies.  Before you consider going to the store, consider calling another member of the Stake [sic] to see if you can barter for the item you need.  Bartering is allowed.  Bartering is only for food and other living essentials, not for services.  Keep a list of items for which you bartered . . . .

Remember, this is only a drill.  However, it is important to take it seriously.  We are commanded to be prepared for any type of emergency, whether it is financial, unemployment or a natural disaster.

Why this request?  Our stake presidency wants to get an idea of the state of food storage in our wards.  At the end, each person who participated will fill out a survey that will then be turned in to the ward food storage specialist.  The hope is that by doing this, we will more clearly see where we need to focus our improvement efforts.  And by including all shopping, the stake presidency hoped to highlight some personal things that may have been overlooked when stocking a food storage–such as toothpaste (not a food, but definitely something you’d like to have around!).

Honestly, my first reaction was shock.  Starting today?  No preparation?  Well, OK, if there was an emergency we wouldn’t likely have “preparation time,” but it still seemed extremely sad, especially since I was planning to do a large shopping trip tomorrow.  (By the way, the wives of the stake presidency–at least the one who spoke up in Relief Society–were also surprised and not so happy with their husbands for not telling them.)  I also thought of a lot of “reasons” why this didn’t have to apply to us (and, in fact, the letter did mention that those with small children or special medical needs can make adjustments needed to participate)–most members of our ward tend to be fairly well-off and probably have more room for food storage anyway.  We’re just poor students… but, then again, poor students have to deal with emergencies, too.  In the end, I really couldn’t think of a good excuse to get us out of this.  So, it looks like we’ll be eating from our “food storage.”

Actually, this isn’t too alarming a thought when I actually think about it rationally.  I am a bit of a pack-rat and am obsessed with buying things at the best price possible.  Which means that I tend to stock up when the price is right.  A lot.  Which means our pantry and cupboards are quite full.  We have only a few cans of “traditional food storage” things (which we should probably be making use of in the near future anyway since we received them for our wedding… maybe I should check for expiration dates), but I really stock up on the non-perishable items that we use regularly.  As an example, we have at least thirty boxes of breakfast cereal (we do go through that a lot).  Plus, we currently have about two trunk loads of bagged food sitting on our garage floor (mostly cans), waiting for us to put up the heavy-duty “food storage” shelving rack Bryan bought on Saturday. 

And when it comes to hygiene items, I’m even less concerned.  Again, I stock up.  We have enough toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo/conditioner, soap, etc., to last us a couple months at least–perhaps a year or more.  In fact, we have at least one back-up of nearly every hygiene item we’d need.  We also have at least a couple months’ worth of tissues, paper towels, laundry and dish soap, toilet paper, and cleaning supplies.  Yeah, our cabinets and shelves are stuffed.  I think this is sometimes quite annoying to Bryan (“Another set of shampoo/conditioner?  Don’t we already have 5 or 10?”), but he said that today he felt very happy to be married to me–no worries about running out of these things in the next two weeks!

I do have some confessions, though.  We will not be following this exactly.  I already know that we do not have powdered milk or egg substitute or cheese, and I’m OK going ahead and getting those.  We’ll just make sure not to make them the centerpiece of a meal for the next two weeks (so, no eggs for breakfast, I guess, though I won’t feel guilty about putting milk on our cereal–in a real emergency, we’d probably just eat it dry anyway).  We’ll have to see on the fresh fruits and vegetables–I’ll try to be good, but I tend to crave those when I’m pregnant.  :)

The other confession–I will not give up shopping.  In keeping with the spirit of the drill, I’m OK with setting aside those things I may buy in the next week, but I do not consider it wise to just not do it.  Why?  Because, as I said, I shop the sales.  If, in the next two weeks, there are some really good sales on food and/or hygiene items that I would normally use to stock up, I am definitely still going to stock up!  To do otherwise would actually be detrimental to the long-term goal of being prepared (and pinching pennies). 

And thus you have my confessions.

Wish us luck as we embark on our (not quite as hard as was requested) challenge!

4 Responses to “The Challenge”

  1. OK, so make that 40 boxes of cereal. I counted today as I made a full inventory of what we have (as I’ll need to be planning meals around it completely for the next little bit). I love “buy one, get one” sales! :)

  2. I am going to admit that Mark and I would probably not make it through this challenge. As I watch the news recently I have felt like I should get on the ball with food storage but then justify that we are in an apartment and really do not have room. We already have shelfs in our bedroom for food that won’t fit in the kitchen and there is no pantry. I like your idea of stocking up when there are sales. I admit we probably could not get a whole year supply of food to fit in our apartment but we could definitely prepare more than we are. The funny thing is that we actually do have a year supply of toothpaste, shampoo/conditioner, toothbrushes and soap. I guess I need to get my priorities in order.

  3. wow! what a challenge. I dont think I could do this. we probably have enough food to do that with but that might be all. I need to be a little better at keeping a food storage too! but then that one little problem does show up…Where do we put it. our home is only 2 bedrooms… :)

  4. Wow! That is quite the challenge! I don’t know if I would be able to make it! Way to take the challenge on! :)

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