Monday, February 7, 2011

What is the 'food storage analyzer' button?

This is a really neat tool. You can create an account with minimal personal info. Sure, the business would like you to use it to buy stuff from them, but you do not need to do that to use the tool. The first time or two that I used it, I did not set up an account. Fine, but when I closed it, all my info disappeared. The third time, I set up an account. All I needed was a user ID that I made up, a password and to give them an e-mail address. If you are uncomfortable with that, consider getting a GMail or Yahoo account to use for such situations. These are free and also require little personal info.

When you first enter the tool, it will ask you a few simple questions, like how many people in the household, their ages and sex. The calculator uses this to form the baseline of how many calories are needed to feed the household each day.

Once into the main part of the program, you can choose to enter your food storage items to see how long your stored food will feed your brood. You can choose from the drop down to go to categories like dairy, fruits and vegetables, etc.. Once in a category, you enter your quantity of #10 cans, pails or other measurement units of staples, like wheat, dry beans and dry milk. There are also some pre-loaded grocery-store items. For all of these you enter your quantity on hand. There is also a spot where you can enter your storage items that are not already on the list. You will need to have the item at hand, as you will enter the nutritional info from the label on the product.

Each page has a 'calculate' button at the bottom. When you calculate, it tells you several things in a panel near the right side of the screen. First is how many days' worth of food you have. Then it shows the major nutrients -- carbohydrates, fats, protein AND some of the really important vitamins and minerals, like calcium, Iron, vitamins A and C. Some of the nutrients become limiting factors. If you have a month's worth of protein but only a week-worth of fats, it will not show as a month's worth of food. Anything below about 75% of the requirement could limit the # of days' food until you address the shortage.

When I first used it, I discovered my supplies were very low on fats, calcium and vitamin A. I used the 'next order' feature to see what I would need to bring these nutrients nearer to 100% of the recommended daily value. I did buy some of the items from this company, but bought the ones I knew were available from the LDS warehouse during the next canning session. I also bought a 5 gallon jug of peanut oil and a pail of lard from the local grocery store (on sale and 10% off for being a Senior on the first Wednesday of the month).

What I like about this analyzer is that it is essentially anonymous, FREE, and takes some of the guess-work out of knowing what you have set aside and whether you will get the basic nutrition you need when you use it. It would be terrible to lose a job, feel safer because you have a couple of month's food stored, and then find there isn't enough protein or calcium to keep the gang going!

Preparation is about doing things right and doing the right things. As I learned the hard way recently, we can all use a little help in making sure we have all the basics covered. Learning it without hard lessons is better than learning through hard lessons, but hard lessons are better than not learning at all!!

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