How To Build Food Storage | Build a Stash

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Did you know that the average person can survive for three weeks without food? However, it’s not recommended. So instead, let’s learn how to build food storage.

There is no correct amount of food to have stored, but the average number we see is three months to one year’s worth of food and water. So, to get started, focus on creating the proper plan, identifying the appropriate foods to store, and the perfect storage method for your home. 

It is important to note that building long-term food storage requires patience. The best way to start is by initially creating a three-day supply for all members in your house. This includes food and water and any unique options if there are pets or babies in the house.

Many think it is a bit extreme to have such a large food storage supply. But during the Covid-19 pandemic, we saw mass shortages of critical supplies, and people were forced to stay quarantined at home. So this is a perfect example of why having reliable food storage can be such a helpful strategy.  

Table of contents


How Do I Get Started?

Getting started requires a plan. It’s impossible to build practical food storage without knowing what you need, what works best for you, and how to make it happen.

For those who are just starting, building a long-term storage supply looks like an excessive task. But with our help, it won’t be that way.

Consider the following when just getting started.


Don’t worry. Food storage can be a budget-friendly adventure that requires only a small investment every week to make it possible.

The initial purchase should be fundamental essentials like water and non-perishable shelved foods that don’t require any complex packaging to store. We don’t want to overwhelm you right away.

Start by acquiring a few days worth of goods. Then continually add once per week with the amount of money you can afford. Before you know it, you will have a well-prepared food storage collection for any potential emergencies that could occur.    

Storage Location

The most popular and efficient areas for your food storage are a panty and shelving in a basement.

The pantry serves as the better option for short term food storage with quick access to items. Consider storing just-add-water meals and ready-to-eat meals in the pantry. These are pre-packed items that can be eaten in the event of power outages.

You will most likely need more space for long-term storage than a pantry to build out a full-capacity food storage system. We recommend buying or building a shelving system in the basement where it remains cool to store your items.

There will be plenty of space for water, canned goods, and other packaged items in buckets for maximum shelf life in the basement.  

Dietary Preferences

We always recommend starting by making a list of foods that fit you and your family’s diet best before moving onto the next steps. The last thing you need is to build up your storage with foods you hate. That would defeat the entire purpose of your emergency preparedness.

Consider the different types of grains, rice, canned foods, and other dried foods that you enjoy eating. There are plenty of options available, so do not be fooled and think the selections are slim.

Some popular foods with long shelf life included peanut butter, pasta, wheat, corn, and soda. These options can all be stored efficiently with long-lasting ability, especially when stored in cooler room temperatures.    

What Foods Can Be Stored Best?  

There is a long list of food you can place into your food storage without requiring complex storage techniques. These foods are either dried or canned items.

Many foods have nearly lifetime long shelf lives. They cover the basics such as rice and other grains but canned, and dried foods are alternative options with plenty of usefulness in your food storage.

Food Type Shelf Life
Dried Fruit 1 Year
Dark Chocolate 1-3 Years
Oats 1-3 Years
Oils 1-3 Years
Ramen Noodles 1-3 Years
Jam/Jelly 1-3 Years
Pasta (Dried) 1-3 Years
Canned Tuna 3-5 Years
Pickles 3-5 Years
Canned fruit 5-10 Years
Grains 5-10 Years
Rice 10+ Years
Popcorn 25+ Years
Liquor 25+ Years
Vinegar 25+ Years
Sugar 25+ Years
Beans (Dried) 25+ Years
Salt 25+ Years


All of these foods can be kept in your pantry. Expect these shelf life estimates as long as you keep them at room temperature. When foods are exposed to warmer temperatures, they can go bad much quicker.

We always recommend shopping for your pantry first when beginning to build your food storage.

Steps to Build Food Storage

Now that you understand food storage and why it is essential, let’s discuss the best way to build it. Don’t be overwhelmed. The process is simple and even more accessible with a step-by-step guide.

1. Create Your Budget

Start by determining a budget. Write it down and be strict with this budget because it will be a determining factor along the way. When developing your budget, keep in mind what type of food storage you are trying to build.

If you plan to build a year’s supply, decide on a fixed amount of money per week that you can afford to allocate towards your food storage. The budget will change based on the amount of time you plan to build out your storage too.

2.  Plan Your Menu

What do you like to eat most? What about your family? This entire process becomes less stressful when working with a menu of foods that you and your family enjoy. So often, the assumption is that the only foods you can buy are bland canned goods.


There are plenty of tasty options that will last for a long time in your food storage supply. Check out the foods list we mentioned to pick out a few that you love and work from there.

3. Figure Out How Much Food You Need

The answer to how much food you need depends entirely on a few critical questions.

First, how many people are in your household? Do you have any pets? How about any toddlers or babies?

All of these questions play a significant role in your food planning. A family of four with a baby and a puppy must shop accordingly.

We recommend documenting the food usage on a typical day in your household as a trial run to get a firm idea of what you need.

4. Decide on the Location for Your Food Storage

Finding the optimal location for your food storage will depend on how you answered some previous questions. The amount of food, the length of food storage you are building, and the style of home you live in are all important.

We recommend keeping a pantry for shorter-term storage options and building out a long-term supply in a basement if possible. The basement option provides plenty of room to accumulate a large amount of food while properly storing it in a cool, dark area.

5. Build Your Storage

This step could involve some craftsmanship, depending on how you plan to approach it. A few popular methods include a DIY canned food dispenser, food storage shelving, mylar bags, jarring, and buckets.

Each method requires its article to detail, but we will explain a few DIY canned food storage techniques. They continue to grow in popularity and provide the most optimal storage space at a low cost.

6. Continue to Add Foods

Be consistent with your food purchasing. It cannot all be done overnight, so you should be prepared to add a few items per week until you reach your goal.

Shopping at membership stores that sell items in bulk is an excellent way to make faster progress. However, keep an eye out for things that are on sale too.

How to Store Canned Foods

Some of the best ways to store canned foods can all be done with your own hands in creative ways. The internet has provided us with the ability to share our creativity with others, and that is exactly what has happened in the world of canned food storage.

Magazine Holders

This is a simple but effective option. Simply stack some old magazine holders on your empty shelves and fill them with canned goods. They can act as a perfect storage method for many items, but we especially love how well they can organize canned goods.

Empty Soda Boxes

I bet you didn’t think of this one. If you are a soda drinker or have any old boxes in your home, don’t rush to recycle them right away. Instead, take the hollowed-out boxes and fill them with canned goods and store them on your shelves.

This is an easy to execute process that requires zero setup costs.

Old Wire Baskets

If you have a lot of closet space, but the shelves are full, consider hanging wire baskets on the back of doors and filling them with canned goods.

Even if you don’t have the option to hang, they are an excellent option to place in the corner of your closets too and fill up neatly. In addition, they are an affordable product to add to your storage to optimize your space efficiently.  

Canned Good Dispensar

This method will require some craftsmanship, but we absolutely love it. This is a way to mount your storage onto the wall physically.

You will need some wood, wood glue, a saw, and some other carpentry tools, but we promise it is worth it.

The process begins by creating a box shape on the wall with the food and creating four equally sized columns with a piece of wood between each. The measurements need to be just right for the cans to fit into the columns seamlessly.

The final step requires an organization to be added to the invention to allow the cans to stay in place. Then, simply pull from the bottom anytime you need something, and the cans continue to flow.

If this seems a little too complicated for you, we understand, but it provides the most canned good storage without taking up any physical space.  

Benefits of a Home Food Storage

Long-term food storage is an essential element for your home. There are plenty of benefits to consider when determining if you should build one and how to make it happen.

Saves Money

Because you can buy foods in bulk and shop less, you save money over time. There are no short trips to the store where you pay top dollar for a single item. Stores are known to sell the bare minimum items for top dollar, and prices decrease as the quantity does.

Home Safety and Security

Having reliable food storage in your home provides extra safety and security for your home. Also, if times get tough with money, you know that you have a large enough pantry you can live on for months at a time. This can help eliminate costs for a bit during financial hardships.

It also allows you to implement a dietary ritual for your home. Everybody can eat healthy based on what is in storage to live healthier lives while accomodating everybody in the house’s favorite meals.

Saves Time

When your food storage is fully built and stocked up, it saves you plenty of time in the long run. If bad weather or any other instance is occupying your time, you can simply walk into the basement or the closet to find the meal for the night.

You can also avoid any future quick trips to the store that would ultimately be useless now that you have everything stored under your roof.

Peace of Mind

While many people believe it might be over the top to build a food storage plan, the tone could change quickly when the time came that it was needed. 2020 was the perfect example of this situation.

Knowing that you and your family are protected in the event of an emergency is more than enough of a reason to get it done.