Friday, August 7, 2015

Squaring the Lean Process, Food Storage, and my Life

My dad, for a living, teaches companies about the Lean process. Specifically with manufacturing but also helps non-manufacturing companies apply it to their output.
I don't claim to know a whole lot about it. I know he is good at what he does and is passionate about it.
Now one principle I do feel I understand and felt it could help everyone is the idea of eliminating waste through excess inventory. For example you always have one extra on hand. For example, I will use peanut butter- if you have one you are using, you then have one in your cupboard or if you don't have that one more extra you have one on order or on your shopping list. With this process you never run out of what you need and you never waste things just sitting there.
I am sharing this because I felt it is a great method, an easy method, for running our kitchens. I have been using it to help rotate items in my kitchen.
Once you get to this point of having the one in reserve, it is easy to think about, each time you pull a new one out of storage, you add it to your shopping list.
This works well when you start to stock up for a "year supply" or a "prepper" storage.
Sometime when there is a sale price you add another to your rotation. So then you have the one being used, the one in the cupboard, and now one extra. In order to build up an actual year supply of things you are rotating you then continue to add it to your shopping list every time you pull one out of storage. With items you use a lot- like cans of soup, you can keep a tally of how many you need to replace.
I am not perfect at this method, and it is really easy to do when you have only one item in your storage. It is still easy to keep tract of when you have two items in the storage. But it is harder to rotate perfectly when you have lots of items. The more of one item I have I use a pallet rotation (a box that holds about 12 or whatever a bulk purchase came in), I use that at a time, and when it is used up and I start a new one then I add x (the set) to my shopping list. This helps with items that I go through a whole set each month.
The real key to having a food storage is having items that you actually use and can rotate. Sure having dehydrated food in your storage is a great way to fill out your year supply, but they only have a 10 year shelf life and if you don't use it ever in your cooking then it will go bad and eventually become unusable. Yes it is still food, and if it came down to it you're going to use it (see post on Lessons learned from using 30+ years old Wheat). But there is a point where it is no longer usable and no amount of "it is food" is going to change the fact you can't eat it because it isn't safe to eat anymore.
So if you're trying to get started with a year supply- start building a supply with things you'll use. Then start learning how to use more traditional items in your storage. Start buy purchasing the smaller amounts at the store. Then when you've learned how to make meals with those items, buy them in the bulk storage items. Plan meals that incorporate items from your food storage so that you can start to rotate it. Make sure to use the Lean process of knowing when to order more so you are keeping a storage and not just depleting. Yes in times of plenty you don't have to use a lot of your food storage. But at least one meal a week should incorporate food from your long term food storage. Here is a great list from BYU's website that lists what is the minimum you should have for each person in your family.
Lately I have been learning how to use beans- pinto, black, kidney, chick...
Beans are a great long term food storage item, but up until recently I have not been successful in using dry beans to cook with. They never seem to taste right, and always seem to be too hard still. It hasn't seemed to matter how long I actually pre-soaked the beans for. Using dry beans isn't only a good way to rotate your supply but is also a great way to save money too. Dry beans are so cheap compared to the cans. I recently have been trying "re-fried beans" made in the crockpot. I am learning and the more I learn, the more I incorporate less can beans into our food storage and more dry beans. 

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