When my husband, Brian, was a graduate student, we worked hard to stretch his small income so that I could stay home full time with our children. During one semester, unexpected school expenses significantly depleted our savings. We approached the birth of our second daughter with little more than condiments left in our refrigerator. Anxious about the future and unsure of what to do, I prayed.
As I prayed, my feelings of concern gave way to a calming reassurance that the Lord would provide. I’m not sure what I expected, but what the Lord sent was an idea: I recalled that my mother-in-law had given us some food storage a few months earlier. I searched through recipes, and the Lord inspired me with ways to use the canned goods to make tasty, nutritious meals. Although it took some creativity, our food storage sustained us over the next few months until the end of the semester.
That struggle helped me realize the importance of family home storage. My husband and I resolved to make a conscious effort to acquire more food, water, and savings for our growing family. For us, the best way to accomplish this was to find small ways to make family home storage a part of everyday life.
Over the next several months, I began to gradually build our home storage. Before each grocery shopping trip, I checked my list for items that would keep for at least three months and purchased additional quantities of those items. I made sure to buy food that was part of my family’s normal diet, which made it easier to rotate through it on a regular basis. Every few months, I bought wheat, rice, flour, and oats until we had built up a long-term supply. Our parents and others saw our determination to gather food storage, and they gave us some of their surplus. I frequently experimented with the storage items, using them to make homemade tortillas, bread, pasta, seasoned rice, and granola rather than purchasing these products from the grocery store. I also learned how to make my own yogurt and cheese using powdered milk. Whenever I wanted to make a certain recipe, I would consider whether I could make it from scratch and substitute ingredients that I already had in my house rather than purchase ingredients from the store.
Because we had limited space, we had to be creative. We kept our food storage under the bed. We also covered boxes and buckets of supplies with tablecloths and used them as decorative end tables.
Reestablishing our savings—our “financial storage”—was also important. Instead of dwelling on the limitations of our small earnings, we focused on making saving a regular practice. With every paycheck, we paid our tithing and then designated a percentage of the remaining funds to deposit into our savings account. Anytime we happened to receive extra income, we put the money in savings rather than use it to buy new furniture, fancy electronics, or other unnecessary items.
We made an effort to live on less. We separated our wants and needs by determining if items were essential or simply nice to have. Essentials included tithing, food, and shelter. We also decided that a phone was a necessity, but we chose a more basic option rather than the latest technology. We had resolved early in our marriage to not incur credit card debt. When Brian or I were tempted to buy something beyond our means, we helped each other maintain perspective.
As we took small steps, our savings and food supply grew at a steady rate. Within a year we had a long-term supply of grains, a three-month supply of food and water, and several months’ worth of savings. Living on less was hard, but it enabled us to build our home storage and be better prepared for the future.
Having met our home storage goals, we enjoyed a sense of security—for about a month. Then one morning a police officer called and asked me to come to the hospital emergency room right away. Brian had been in a bicycle accident on his way to school. Even though he had been wearing a helmet, he had sustained a traumatic brain injury.
When I got to the hospital and saw him in a coma-like state, I was scared. I was afraid that he might not live, or that if he did, that he might not be able to talk, read, or lead a normal life. Would he be able to continue his schooling? I felt anxiety not only about him but about our family’s future.
The doctors could offer no assurance that Brian would recover. But that day he received a priesthood blessing in which he was promised that he would fully recover and that his brain would function properly again, according to his and my faith. At that moment the Spirit whispered comfort to me and confirmed that the promises in the blessing would come to pass. With resolve, I chose to have faith and dismiss all doubts.
When my mind turned to how we would get by in the coming months, I was grateful that we had gotten our home storage in order. I knew that our family’s immediate needs would be taken care of for several months before I would need to consider obtaining employment.
Because our basic needs were met, I was able to focus on supporting Brian during his recovery while also remaining at home to care for our two girls. Priesthood blessings, prayers, and special fasts helped Brian recover quickly. He spent only five weeks in the hospital. Only three months after the accident, he was ready to go to work and school part time.
Moving Forward with Faith
Brian soon recovered his health enough to work full time, but by then the worldwide recession had hit. Most of his co-workers had been laid off, and his former position was no longer available. While Brian searched for adequate employment, we lived off of our food storage and savings. Through some temporary jobs, kind help from friends and family, and the blessings of the Lord, we did not have to go into debt, even though Brian’s search for employment went on for months.
When more than a year had gone by, we had very little left in savings and our food storage was running low. Although our circumstances seemed bleak, we had faith that the Lord would provide. Just in time, Brian was offered a position with income that was more than sufficient to meet our expenses. As soon as we were able, we recommenced our efforts to build our savings and food supply.
For us, home storage has become more than an item on a to-do list. It is an important part of Heavenly Father’s plan to provide for our families. Having our three-month supply helps us feel empowered and secure even during troubled times. We have reaped spiritual and temporal rewards by following the Lord’s counsel. When we are doing all we can to provide for ourselves and our families, He makes up the difference. He loves us, and He’ll make sure that our needs are met. We take comfort in knowing that as we move forward with faith, our family is prepared for whatever lies ahead.
Start Establishing Family Home Storage Today
Here are some helpful tips to start establishing food storage and a financial reserve:
Designate an area in your home where you can keep your food storage.
Each time you go grocery shopping, pick up a few nutritious items that will store for several months to add to your storage.
Stock up on items when they are on sale, and buy in bulk when practical. Be sure to check expiration labels before you make the purchase.
Buy only items you know you’ll use so you can easily rotate through your food storage.
Store water in sturdy plastic juice or soft drink bottles that you have emptied and rinsed.
Order basic long-term food items such as wheat, flour, and oats from a Church home storage center or other trustworthy organization.
Designate a percentage of your monthly budget for food storage.
Start putting a percentage of your income or a certain dollar amount in a savings account each month.
Help others establish home storage by giving food storage items or money for savings accounts as gifts.
“We encourage Church members worldwide to prepare for adversity in life by having a basic supply of food and water and some money in savings.”
The First Presidency, All Is Safely Gathered In: Family Home Storage (2007).
“With careful planning, you can, over time, establish a home storage supply and a financial reserve.”
The First Presidency, All Is Safely Gathered In: Family Home Storage (2007).
Recipes that use food storage basics
Food storage under bed
Extra food storage disguised as a decorative end table
Additional food storage purchased during regular shopping trip
Money reserved for savings account
Budget allocating money for food storage and savings