Article Contest Entry: Copy Canning 101

Thanks to Laura from MO for this sound advice!  Anyone interested in entering the contest just drop me a line!

I first heard the term “copy canning” in 2000 or so, just after the Y2K computer crash never happened. It orginates as far as I can tell with an article by Karen Hood (her and her husband are pretty famous in the survivalist community).  I’ve never read it on this blog, though what the owner advocates is basically the same thing.  I guess common sense is common sense. 

The biggest question I get from my non-prepper friends and family is “How do I start?  I’ll never be able to afford a years worth of food”.  Well, other than “are you crazy?”  Copy canning has become my easy answer and a way to introduce people to food storage without the buckets and mylar (no offense) or the crazy-expensive freeze-dried or dehydrated foods.  I simply tell people:  buy what you regularly do, just buy a little extra.  It works best with canned goods, but it certainly works with almost anything you might regularly buy, except for perishables such as fresh fruit and vegetables or meat. 

Inevitably, copy canning becomes addictive.  I’ll hear a friend say “The fruit salad was on sale and we’re going to eat it anyway so I bought 10.”  Usually followed by “Do you have any extra space at your house?”  So the next step in the process is to teach people how to start organizing it and understanding how much food they actually have on hand and setting a goal of how much they want.  If a family eats 45 cans of vegetables per month and they now have 120 in the basement and 15 more in the pantry, they have 90 days of vegetables on-hand.  That doesn’t necessarily equate to 90 days of food, just 90 days of that particular item they regularly eat. 

So my advice?  Follow a few simple steps, and then a few more, and you will be more prepared than 80% of people in the world.

1)  Start copy canning today – buy 1 extra item of any item you buy when you go grocery shopping, except for perishables.  You can set a goal of how much food you want on hand later, the important thing is to actually start!

2)  Keep your ‘extra’ cans separate – Don’t put them in the pantry with the rest of the food.  Why?  Because if you do, you will likely eat it all before you buy any more, counteracting what you want to accomplish.  Many people buy racks to store food, but I’ve seen some with limited space store flats of cans under beds, in closets, and in their garage.  My suggestion is if you have to store in the garage, rotate your food more often, because the temperature extremes will lower the shelf life.

3)  Rotate your food – If you eat a can of beans, add it to your grocery list, go get one from your storage area to replace in your pantry, and buy it when you next go shopping.

That’s really all there is too it.  I sometimes laugh when I see hundreds of blogs and websites about food storage, when all it really takes is some common sense.

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