With the high price of everything nowadays, you have decided to get prepared for the unforeseen. Here are 15 food storage ideas that might just keep you alive.
The key to surviving any kind of national crisis is preparation. Adequate food storage plays a huge role in your and your family’s survival. Unfortunately, many of our neighbors go to the store, purchase what they need, and bring it home to consume. Should a national crisis happen, they will regret not being more forward-thinking.
There are many ways of storing food that can be implemented in creating an extended life food pantry. From prepping a place ahead of time to choosing the suitable staples to seal food in airtight containers, interested individuals can help to prepare for any kind of national doomsday scenario.
The last thing you want is for a doomsday event to happen, and your family has to scavenge for anything to eat every day. Not only could that be very dangerous, but time-consuming. If you are a newbie to the idea of storing staples, you might have many questions. Where is the best place to store items? What staples should you concentrate on at first? How long is the shelf life, and how do you create a system where you are rotating items that need to be used more frequently?
This article will help you with fifteen excellent food storage ideas that can help keep you and your family alive. Isn’t that the point when the bottom falls out of our world: to survive?
Make a Plan for the Right Storage Place
The first thing to decide is where to put your long-term storage site. You will need a dedicated space free of moisture, heat, and light. These factors can cause food to spoil, and you don’t want to discover that all your efforts have resulted in food your family cannot eat just when you need to depend on it in an emergency.
Free of Moisture
You should pick a room or dedicated space free of moisture where you can erect shelving. Moisture is a breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria, microorganisms, and fungi that love to grow and spread. This is why we do not recommend basements or garages, as they are often susceptible to moisture. (Remember that you may not have the power to keep a basement heated in a crisis). Choose dehydrated foods with low moisture content to help prevent any kind of humidity resulting from exposure.
No Oxygen Means Longer Life
Oxygen in the air we breathe is filled with nasty microorganisms that can affect food. You should plan on storing items in sealed containers (airtight mylar bags and jars are the best). In addition, oxygen absorbers (small packets of iron and salt) can be placed in foods to help soak up oxygen and make them last longer. You should plan on adding absorbers to any dry foods you are seeking to prep.
The Sunlight is not Good.
Direct sunlight allows for food's essential qualities to break down. Choose a spot that is free of sunlight (an interior closet or room might work best). In the older days of the West, many general stores sold items in darker glass containers to help minimize the rays of direct sunlight on foodstuffs during shipping from factories to remote stores across the plains.
Temperature is Key
You will need to store your items in a place that does not have varying temps. Too much heat and food can spoil. The best place to store foodstuffs is to keep them where you can control the temperature.
Security Could Be a Factor
You will want to secure the pantry from theft when a national emergency happens. While you would never accuse neighbors or family of doing illegal, desperate people sometimes do desperate things. A lock system could prove invaluable when the time comes. (You don’t have to install it just yet)
Make a Plan for Storing Water
The very first thing that individuals will need for survival is a water source. You are in good shape if you live on a property with a well (assuming you still have power to the pump).
Unfortunately, most Americans depend on their local municipality to provide adequate drinking water through the tap, but that water source could be compromised if a crisis occurs. We would recommend storing bottled water in your pantry as a safeguard. Water has a two-year shelf life. Anything more and the plastic from the bottles begin to break down, and chemicals will leach into the water. Many preppers store water in sealed mylar bags (think juice packets), which can be effective.
You should plan on storing a three-six months supply to get your family through whatever crisis happens. (Do not think that you will be able to go up to the local store and get enough water when the event happens - if it is one thing that hurricanes and other natural disasters show us, it is that bottled water empties off of the shelves first).
Make A Plan For Storing Food
The first thing to making adequate long-term food storage is to determine what kinds of food you plan on stockpiling. There are many choices when it comes to being a full-fledged food prepper. Here are some ideas about where to begin.
Foods on Sale at the Grocery Store
One of the best ways to start your long-term food storage is to bulk buy or purchase items you know you and your family will use. (This makes your food storage area a part of your daily family routine, which is what it will be during a national emergency. In addition, it keeps the storage area an ever-present reality, meaning you are constantly in the habit of using and replenishing it).
When you find a sale on cereal, rice, beans, or other commercially produced items, take advantage and purchase one for the home and another for the pantry. Pay particular attention to canned goods, which can have an excellent shelf life and store easily. These foods often have an expiration date, which is a quality date. (Can goods can last for years if there are no dents or signs of rust on the can). Food prepped by emergency prep organizations/companies
(if you have the money), is a wise investment. Our recommendation might be to purchase a 30-day starter kit of already prepackaged and prepped items. Many preppers use these items as a base for their long-term food storage. Most sites have guarantees for the length of storage and detailed instructions concerning usage. (You would be amazed at the variety of options). For a detailed look at these kinds of items, see Amazon.
Beans, Rice and Oats
These basic staples are good items to store. All are beautiful products filled with nutrients and vitamins and are relatively easy to prepare. (While dry beans and rice are said to have a two-year shelf life by the USDA, they can last forever if properly stored). Many food preppers buy in bulk and then create portions for storage in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers inside. Once adequately sealed, the mylar bags can then be labeled and stored in a dry place.
Packaged mixes like pancake and cake mixes can last for a couple of years. Do not put an oxygen absorber in with any kind of baking mix. The iron in the absorber can react with the baking soda and leavening agents and create issues. Dry mixes should be stored in airtight containers for maximum shelf life. Do not store pancake batter in the freezer as the baking soda tends to absorb odors, and your pancakes will end up smelling like a freezer burn or last night's meatloaf.
Dried fruits are easy to prepare and easy to store. Because fruits are filled with nutrients, these items have become an excellent staple in many food prepper pantries. While they might not last as long as rice and beans, they can last a good long time.
Pasta can last a long time in a food preppers pantry without being prepared and eaten. They are an excellent choice in carbohydrates, which can provide energy and needed sugars for the human body. They may not last as long as other items such as rice or beans, but they don’t spoil quickly, and as a result, they have become an essential part of many preppers' storage areas.
The secret to surviving a national emergency might just come down to how self-sustaining your family can be. Homegrown gardens can produce ample vegetables and fruits for sustenance. When I was growing up, every summer, my mother canned tomatoes, green beans, and apples or peaches for our pantry. If you want to be fully prepared for any future event, learn to grow and preserve your stuff. It could make a difference down the road.
Many gardens can be started with a minimum of work and time. While canning might take the investment of some mason jars and a pressure cooker, these items could prove essential, particularly if you already have a couple of fruit trees on your property. For an excellent examination of the canning process, see this basic primer from the USDA website.
Freeze Dried Meats
Meats that have been adequately freeze-dried or vacuum sealed can be stored indefinitely. Freeze-dried products can be thawed and used as they would typically, baked or grilled. Chicken, beef, and turkey are the best meats to be stored this way.
Make a Plan for the Right Containers
Depending on what you want to store, a wide variety of containers can be used to build a food prepper's long-term storage area. Here are some examples and the pros and cons of each.
Resealable Freezer Bags
The cheapest and easiest storage idea is to use resealable plastic bags with a seal at the top. While these bags are perfect for the freezer (they can hold meats and sauces and other items that can be portioned, dated, and used as needed), they are not considered ideal for dry storage of items. The problem is that resealable bags like the ones Ziploc makes do tend to trap oxygen inside, which can lead to the eventual spoilage of items.
Canned goods you buy at the grocery store can be kept indefinitely as long as there are no dents or signs of rust on the can. Even though some canned goods last longer than others, staple items like canned meats, spam, soups, fruits, beans, and other vegetables can be stored for a couple of years past their “best by” date. The expiration date is usually stamped on the bottom of the can and is two to five years from the manufacturing date. (Many food preppers go through their inventory a couple of times a year and toss anything past the expiration so that they do not have to worry about spoilage - whichever approach you choose is up to you).
We recommend buying canned items that are not cream-based. Stick with broth-based soups like vegetable beef or chicken noodle. If you set up a system where you are using your canned goods on a FIFO (first in, first out), then you will never have to go through all the cans trying to find the one you should use. Many preppers use specially designed racks that help with long-term usage like the one shown here on Amazon.
A mylar bag is made of plastic and aluminum, providing an excellent barrier to moisture, light, and temperature control. (Mylar is the same things that most commercially produced drink packaging comes in). Once properly sealed, mylar bags can increase the shelf life of dry staples. Many commercial survival groups use mylar pouches as a way of protecting the foods that they sell. NASA and the Military have also found mylar a great way of distributing MREs to their crews or troops on the front line.
These cans are what you purchase when you are prepping for a large group (every grocery store has a section where they sell green beans in a large #10 can). These cans can also be used for food storage (not the ones that already have food, but new, unused ones with seals). While the cans can be expensive to purchase outright (if you can find them), it is easier to buy the product already sealed in a #10 can. Here is an example of some of the food supplies that Amazon offers in larger size cans
Many preppers buy in larger quantities in sealed buckets, and others use these buckets to store dry staples like beans or rice. This kind of container is found here on the Amazon website.
The advantage of large buckets is that they can store a lot of food and are stackable. Still, the disadvantage is that they are bulky and heavy, which might be the best thing if the national emergency is a widespread pathogen that makes everyone sick and weak.
Mason jars are a staple of canners and food preppers everywhere. Used for homegrown foods and fruits, these one-time use jars can store other things as well. While canned fruits and vegetables should be eaten within two years of production, these items can be an excellent addition to any food prepper's long-term storage. Mason jars can be used to hold dry goods in smaller portions like rice, beans, etc.
The drawback to mason jars is that the seals are used only once. The jars can be used again once washed and appropriately dried, but it is always best not to try and reuse the sealable tops and rings.
Mason jars will stack on top of each other, but a best practice is to put a piece of thin plywood on the top of each row of jars. This prevents any jar that has not been sealed correctly from exploding and getting tomato puree all over the place. In addition, it provides more stability should the shelving get bumped or rattled (think earthquake, a shockwave from a natural disaster like a tornado or hurricane).
Make a Plan for Frozen Items
Meats and the like are best stored in a freezer. If you have power, then it might be a good idea to invest in a chest freezer that can be used to store meats, soups, and other high-perishable items. (While there is no guarantee that power will be available during a national emergency, the grid could still be up and running - which means that any game you hunt or meat you can produce will need a place to be stored).
Make a Plan for Power or Heat
If you have a fireplace or fire pit, you have a cooking heat source (assuming you can find dry wood to make a fire). While the electricity might still be working in a crisis, you should plan on having to resort to more primitive means. That means cooking over an open fire or having a generator to keep the lights, stove, and furnace running. Many preppers move from food storage to figuring out how to run power to their home so their family can have a safe place to stay should they need to keep warm. In addition, being able to keep pantry items at a controlled temperature can mean the difference between just surviving and thriving.
About THE AUTHOR
I have over a decade of experience in food and beverage management, including a ServSafe food safety qualification. As part of this qualification, I have been professionally trained in safe food storage.Read More About Mark Walker