How To Store Emergency Rations: A Guide To Pest-Proofing Your Food | Build a Stash

This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

When stockpiling food items, many preppers fail to consider the pests and small critters that can invade. How do you store emergency rations to keep pests out?

The last thing you want to do is to spend good money developing a long-term food strage area just to find it is attracting all kinds of insects or little critters. Are there ways to pest proof your storage area to prevent this from happening? What kind of materials do you need? What is the shelf-life of properly stored goods? As you can see, there are lots of questions and too few answers.

The best way to ensure that your emergency rations are free of insects and pests is to ensure that your storage area is dry and clean, and free of debris. All foods should be stored off the ground in air-tight containers. Do not allow moisture of any kind to come near your supply.

There are many things to think about when planning an emergency food storage program. From the itens to store to how to store them correctly, you want to be sure that you are doing everything you can to be prepared. With all the chaos happening in the world around us, if something happens and you are forced to live off the grid for a while, you want your family’s chances for survival to be a good as possible.

This article will discuss how to pest proof your dry good in your emergency stash. By following these helpful tips, you can keep pests away and emsure that you have plenty of dry goods to use when the time comes.

Table of contents


How To Store Emergency Rations

One of the biggest threats to dry food storage are insects and pests. While it may be impossible to eradicate every pest that makes a run at your dry goods, there are several things that you can do to iminimise the possibility of contamination.

Make Sure the Area is Dry and Temperature Controlled

Insects and rodents (mice) love moisture. In fact, they love dark, damp places. Make sure the area you begin to store food in is well-cleaned at first. In other words, don’t just toss a couple of shelves up in the laundry room and expect that to work. A garage, basement, or laundry room are generally areas of moisture or subject to temperature changes (just think of the heat your dryer puts out, or the moisture the washer uses).

Thoroughly clean the area you plan to use. Make sure this nothing cluttering up the room or that you intend to use the space as a catch all for other things. Insects like spiders and nats and rodents like mice prefer the shadows. If you already have a pest issue in your home, then you will need to be even more vigilant.

In food storage, extreme heat and cold can be the enemies of long-termlife of food.

If you happen to live in an area prone to these kinds of temperature changes, consider storing your emergency rations in a place where their is little fluctuation (inside might be better).

In addition, sunlight can break down the nutrients in long-term storage. The rays of the sunlight will heat up the unit, and cause it to sweat and develop moisture condensation, and as we have mentioned pests love moisture in food.

Use Air-tight Containers Wtih Oxygen Absorbers

While almost no material will keep insects that have already laid their larvae during the milling process from hatching inside your dry goods, oxidizers can keep larvae from hatching and kill any adult insects. For an oxygen absorber to work, the container must be airtight. Many preppers store dry goods like flour and rice in mylar bags for portion control, and then stored in larger number #10 cans or sealable plastic containers with oxygen absorbers.

Mice have been known to chew through anything, plastic and even metal containers, but they really paper or cloth bags. If you think that you can just store your flour, sugar or rice in the paper or thin plastic bags they come from the store and have no infestation, you’re probably going to regret it. The cardboard boxes that hold pasta, rice or mac and cheese are worthless against a hungry mouse.

There are a variety of containers available for use in food prep that are good deterrents to pests. Mylar bags can filled with dry goods like flour, or rice (they come in various sizes), and an oxygen sensor dropped in before sealing. This allows all the oxygen to disappear and prevents any larvae that might have come from the milling plant to be killed.

Number 10 cans are the large metal bulk supply cans that you often see in the grocery store. They can be good outward protections for the storing of mylar bags. Place the bags inside the can or inside a sealable plastic container so that you will have a double barrier against mice or other critter pests.

Plastic Tubs that are sealable, like five gallons buckets that are often used in commercial operations, like restaurants, are a great way of storing goods. The downfall is that the larger the container, the more space you may need.

Glass containers are also excellent barriers against mice. The glass jars are a bit more expensive but as long as they are sealable, can be used for storage. Many families like to stock their emergency rations with home canned goods like tomatoes, pickles or fresh fruits. It is always a good idea to mark the origin date so that goods stored in this manner can be used before spoilage. For an example of glass storage, see this website

For an example of the various kinds of storage containers available - see (Many companies sell prepackaged supplies of emergency rations that are already sealed in pest proof containers).

Store Food off the Floor

Mice prefer the floor, and if you place items on the ground you are just making it easier for these rodents to have a field day. If you can store food even a few inches off the ground, that will make it harder for the mice to chew their way to your food. Prepare shelving so that goods are not directly touching concrete surfaces which can create moisture. Storing goods off of the floor also prevents spoilage should water get into the pantry floor for some other reason.

Inspect Your Food Area Regularly

One of the biggest deterrents to pest infestation is to keep your pantry cleaned regularly and while you do, inspect for pest infestation. It isn’t necessary to open sealed containers, but it you happen to spot a worn area or chewed off corner to a bag, be sure to deal with it. Remove the tainted item from the other food stuffs and dispose of it immediately. (The reason is that mice love to leave their excrement behind on the food that they are consuming and the last thing you want is to make your family sick).

Another thing to inspect is smell. If you smell a dead mouse or foul smell coming from your pantry area, you better investigate.

True Story - (I worked for a company that used to make popcorn for customers to eat as a treat. They stored the huge bag of popcorn kernels in a closet in the original brown paper bagging, and as you guessed it, the mice descended. One of them ate his fill, waddled back into the woodwork only to have the popcorn pop in his stomach. Tthe rotting guts of a dying mouse made the office unbearable due to the smell).

Rodents don’t just have to be mice. Other creatures like snakes, squirrels or racoons can be as much of a problem as their little woodland brothers. If you store your dry goods in a place with an opening.or accidentally leave a garage door ajar, you are inviting more than just mice to wander into a full course buffet. Remember, snakes love to eat mice, so this is another reason to make sure your pantry is pest-proof.

Use Your Emergency Stash Regularly, even if there’s no Emergency

When a national or regional emergency happens, you will need to draw on your food-suplly so that your family will have something to eat. If you begin to use your pantry regularly, (every now and then prepare a meal from the food supply) you will acclimate your family to the food. There will be less of a conflict when the emergency time comes.

Yet, the constant use also helps you stay on top of the pantry. You can use these times to inspect the pantry for any signs of pest infestation, and keep any goods on shorter expirations rotated. Since most emergency rations can be stored for over 25 + years, anything in your pantry that needs to be reshuffled can be. Using your emergency rations regularly, will also force you to replenish the stockpile, which only extends the life of your emergency rations.