On a past post, “Ask a Mormon Woman: Why do Mormons store food?” someone asked a question in the comments that we thought others might have as well. Following is the response from Michelle.
Q: Does the LDS church have guidelines for storing non food items, i.e. soaps, paper goods, etc. like they provide for basic food storage items?
A: There is nothing in the official material on providentliving.org or on lds.org (at least not that I could find) about storing non-food items. That said, many Mormons do apply the principle of being prepared through food storage into keeping non-food items on hand.
I’m one of those people, so I will share my personal approach and perspective on this.
I find a great deal of practical value and personal peace in adding non-food items to my home storage. I try to apply the same principles of building up a food supply (aiming for at least a three-month supply on most things, and trying to store what we use and might need if we didn’t have access to a store or money to purchase items). I include first aid supplies, including both wound/injury care and over-the-counter medicines for various illnesses, for example. (That comes in handy for the inevitable illness of a child in the middle of the night!) I also include toiletries (shampoo, soap, deodorant, toilet paper, toothpaste) and paper goods (more below on that).
I have gotten to the point where I know what we use and need, and I keep my eye out for sales and coupons. I think overall, I save money because I go to the store less, buy on sale, and save time and energy by not having as many of those urgent, “Oh, no! I’m out of _________” shopping trips.
You can build gradually. Maybe start by keeping track for a week or two of how much of these things you use (soap, shampoo, toilet paper, etc.) As you do this with different items, you can start to get a feel for how much of each item you need. And along the way, you can watch for sales. Or build your supply one item at a time, or budget a little each month to add a few extras of these things — the same types of approaches that can be used for gradually building up a food supply can be used for nonfood items. Find what works for you, your needs, your budget (we are counseled not to go into debt for food storage), and your personality.
I also like to store things like paper plates and plastic utensils…thinking about times when water access might be limited or cut off. It’s also nice to have for times when I’m sick or life is crazy or we have company over and want to do something quick and easy without lots of dishes.
So, the short answer to your question is no, the Church doesn’t have any specific guidelines for non-food items. The focus is on food, water, and emergency funds for the sustaining of life. But I personally think the principles of preparedness can be applied to also including non-food items if that is something you feel you want to do.
Anyone else have thoughts on this subject? What non-food items do you like to have on hand?