PROVO, Utah -- The concept behind Marie Ricks' food-storage system is simple: Put your grocery store in your home, not down the hill in the store.
The method, however, takes research, planning and a system to get a year's supply of food as taught by leaders in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Ricks presented her ideas during Campus Education Week at Brigham Young University under the heading "Home Organization: The Better Way to Live -- Organizing, Housecleaning and Food Storage." A professional home organizer, author and motivational speaker, Ricks is also a homemaker, teacher, newspaper columnist and former radio-show host.
The key to living the principle of food storage is to first decide to live it, she said. Getting started is really not that difficult."
Always buy double," she said. "If you need one, buy two. If you need two, buy four, if you need four, buy more."
Ricks eschews buying food family members won't eat and jokes about the plethora of wheat stored in many Mormon homes.
"Eat what you store and store what you eat," she said.
She also advises against storing food or other items that produce mold or dies. As for milk, that's not a part of the food-storage ritual. If folks want to store powdered milk she suggests using it just for cooking.
The first step in getting started with a food-storage project is to inventory all food items in the home. Then review shopping receipts over the next four weeks to get an idea of what the family will need for a year, and anticipate other needs, she suggests.
Once the inventory list is complete, determine what each item costs, then decide how fast you can purchase the items until you have a year's supply, she said.
As items come home from the store, date stamp everything with permanent ink, then decide where to put it. Some people hold off starting their food storage because they don't know where to store it, she said.
She doesn't accept that.
Some ideas: Replace the box springs and bed frames with storage boxes for bulk items; use the back six inches of the cupboard where items get shoved back and forgotten.
"Buy first and worry about where to put it later," she said.She also suggests putting bulk items, such as rice and wheat, in 4.25-gallon round containers. The lids seal better, and they are not too heavy for the average woman to lift.
She also suggests doing food-storage shopping twice a year."It takes only three rotten days two times a year," Ricks quipped. "It's good to do this before your husband knows the money's gone."She suggests "cherry picking" with three favorite stores.
On day one take your inventory list to the stores and price the items. On the second day, after evaluating prices, go back and buy the items. On the third day, put it away.
Don't worry about sales, Ricks said. Although sales save money, the time, struggle and gas can make them irrelevant.
Some folks watch sales for a month, then buy and get it over with for the next six months, she said.
Some other tips:
Use care in shopping. "Too much choice destroys us."
How to get teenagers to stay out of the food storage: "We have a two-letter word -- no."
To keep husbands out, "put it under lock and key."
Potatoes and onions store best in a container with slightly moist sand.
Food that becomes questionable: put in a bucket and label "do not eat unless you are dying."
Don't worry about bugs, she said, because you're storing only for a year.
For nonfood items, Ricks suggests the same method: inventorying first, then "guesstimate" what you'll need for a year, research prices, then buy.
She suggests an ample supply of toilet paper."It is the most secure thing you will ever buy. No TP is miserable," she said.
Finally, keeping the commandment of having a year's supply on hand will reap blessings, she said.