Hearing the term food storage is easily misunderstood by many until they take to learn more. There are many different ways you can get started with food storage.
Using a multitude of food storage methods is the best way to ensure a perfect balance in your home. The five types of food storage are dry foods, frozen foods, freeze-dried foods, canned foods, and dehydrated foods. The easiest way to get started is with dry or canned food storage.
It is difficult to say exactly what the perfect food storage method is because there are many determining factors based on a specific household. After you take the time to list the foods your family likes, your storage capacity, and your budget then it becomes easier to make a plan. However, starting with canned food or dry food storage is easy and can be down on a low budget as a first step.
We have plenty of experience building out different types of food storage pantries and assisting other families in doing the same. All five types of food storage are some we have extensive experience handling on our own and we would love to help you get started too. Use this guide to become an expert yourself and take the leap into food storage for a more prepared future.
What Are The Different Types Of Food Storage?
There are five primary food storage options: Dry, frozen, freeze-dried, canned, and dehydrated. At first, you might be overwhelmed, but we are here to simplify everything for you. Some processes require more startup costs and preparation that can be difficult for a beginner without some guidance.
Every circumstance will determine what the best method truly is for your home. We aim to show the pros and cons of each method and allow you to see exactly how each one could fit best into your everyday life.
Dry Food Storage
Dry foods consist of the most basic, necessary items included in your storage area or pantry. These items are typically low cost, but they can be bought in bulk if you prefer and they store just about anywhere in your home without risk of spoiling anytime soon.
The estimated time that these foods can last is up to 30 years depending on the way they are packaged and the elements they are stored in. This is the longest-lasting aspect of your entire food storage. You can include plenty of vital nutritious items that are critical to your diet in this area of storage.
Some of the most notable dry foods include soft grains, hard grains, oats, flour, dry pasta, dried beans, and many more useful items that you will enjoy. It’s worth noting that these foods tend to be the heaviest of any other, especially when you buy large enough quantities, but with bulk pricing, they are usually had for affordable discounts.
- Foods bought in bulk can be very cheap.
- Plenty of food options to include.
- Dry staples typically don’t need heat or power for prep.
- 25-30 year shelf life.
- Diet can be bland if you only rely on dry foods.
- Foods can be heavy and require larger spaces for storage.
Frozen foods typically have the shortest shelf-life, but this is the place where you can package and store some of the most nutritional foods available. The estimated shelf-life is between 6-12 months, depending on how well the food is packaged and the exact food type.
The main concern with frozen storage is that you are left without a way to keep your foods cold when there is a power outage. This will lead to spoilage within a day or two and cause you to waste all of that food. If you can afford the investment, a small generator can solve the problem.
A generator can be hooked up directly to your freezer to only power it and other small but important items in your home to keep everything frozen and in good condition.
Freezer food pricing can vary greatly from $1 to $20 for different types of meats. The list of foods is very diverse, so you have plenty of options to consider for freezer storage. The best part about frozen storage is that preparation is simple, and the foods pack the most nutritional value of any other storage method.
Some of the most popular frozen storage foods include fruits, vegetables, chicken, fish, steak, and soup. All of these foods need to be thawed out for about a day in the fridge for preparation afterward.
- Plenty of nutritional foods that you can store.
- Works better with your daily life than any other method.
- No additives or preservatives in your food.
- Low time investment.
- Shorter shelf-life.
- Requires power to keep food frozen and safe.
- More expensive food options.
- Thawing foods can be messy.
Freeze Dried Storage
If you are brand new to food preparation and storage, freeze-dried food storage may sound completely unfamiliar to you. The process sounds complex initially but can be performed quite easily in your own home to give you another awesome method for storing foods effectively.
The process is known as sublimation. Food is frozen and then placed in a vacuum sealer where the water gets removed. However, rather than just removing the water, it gets turned into a gas to prevent the loss of the water-soluble vitamins in the food.
Freeze drying is the most effective way to remove water from food. It is estimated that 98%-99% of water is completely removed from food to create a long-lasting item for storage. It allows freeze-dried foods to last for 25+ years when stored correctly.
The nutritional value in all freeze-dried foods is extremely high and ranks as one of the best ways to keep foods stored. When you freeze food, you preserve the nutrients from spoiling. But with freeze-drying, you remove all of the oxygen, too, so the loss of nutrients is nearly impossible.
If you are committed to using this in your home, you can even buy a home freeze drying machine to simplify the process for you in your own kitchen. The initial cost is high, but it will keep your costs and time investment lower in the future because it can handle the entire process with ease.
Some foods that you can freeze dry include fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, desserts, and other pre-made meals.
- Turn shorter shelf-life foods into long-term storage options.
- Maintains nutritional value in foods.
- 25+ years shelf-life.
- Wide range of foods you can use.
- Freeze dryer machines available to simplify the process.
- Higher upfront cost to get started.
- Bigger time investment to begin.
Canned Food Storage
Canned food storage is an interesting method, and there are actually two ways this can be accomplished. The first and most basic way is to buy commercially produced canned foods from the store. The other method is to can food in your own home. However, it requires a bigger time commitment along with extra materials.
Buying canned goods gives you an estimated shelf life between 2-5 years, depending on the type of food. Commercially canned goods provide an average nutritional value, and the variety of options give you a chance to stock up on different food types.
The cost of commercially canned goods is unbeatable, with a single can selling for as low as $0.50/can for some vegetables or soup. You can really stretch a dollar when you start using canned foods as a foundational method to your food storage plan.
If you prefer the home canning method, expect a shelf-life of around one year. Some foods can last longer, but the general rule of thumb is one year of shelf life. With materials included, the price jumps to over $1.00 per can, and you can expect to spend around 20 minutes per can in preparation.
However, there are benefits to home canning too. You significantly increase the nutritional value of the types of foods you have in storage. You can remove any preservatives or ingredients you want to avoid and make healthy meals.
If you are not sure what to choose, consider the time investment you are able to make. If you are committed enough to spend the time to can at home then it can be extremely beneficial. But using a little of both is the best way to see what works for you.
- Low-cost investment.
- Small packaging that is easy for storage.
- Wide variety of food types to include.
- Above-average shelf-life of 1-5 years.
- Ability to control your ingredients in home canning.
- Limited nutritional value in canned goods.
- Requires power/heat for preparation.
Dehydrated Food Storage
Dehydrated foods can be bought commercially or prepared at home, similar to canning. Commercially dehydrated foods will hold a longer shelf-life between 5-10 years depending on the packaging while dehydrating your own foods will only last for about one year.
Commercially dehydrated foods are relatively low in cost at about $1.50 per cup of food and they provide plenty of different food options and brands to choose from for an excellent variety. Meanwhile, doing this process at home is one of the most difficult ways to execute food storage.
The time commitment and materials needed do not appeal to us to using home dehydration as a preferred method. We suggest avoiding this and sticking to commercial options because they still give you excellent shelf-life.
The nutritional value is average for commercial foods and you lose control over the ingredients you are buying, but sticking to specific brands will still give you enough high-quality options to make it worthwhile.
The types of dehydrated foods you will find available include pasta, dried beans, powdered milk, jerky, and rice. All of these are excellent options to consider.
- Easy to get started with commercially dehydrated foods.
- Storage is easy.
- Relatively low-cost food options are available.
- Less variety in the types of foods you can use.
- Lower nutrition value.
Types of Foods
Food storage can be an awesome hobby as well as the best way to prep your home for future emergencies or disasters. It requires an initial time commitment to get started, but if you take your time and do it right, it pays off well in the long run.
There are three primary food types that you need to consider when looking into the types of food storage for your home. These food types include perishable goods, semi-perishable goods, and staples or non-perishable goods. All of these foods require different storage methods to maximize shelf-life and make them a worthwhile investment for your home food storage.
The most vulnerable foods are your perishable goods. These can go bad the quickest, but by freezing these foods, you can extend the shelf-life. This is a popular way to include some perishable items in your food storage.
Examples of perishable foods are fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, eggs, and any pre-made or cooked foods.
Semi-perishable foods are more resistant to spoiling, but they still require the perfect elements to last longer. Putting these in the right storage areas and handling them with care maximizes their shelf-life. You can use a vacuum sealer to make semi-perishable foods last much longer too.
Examples of semi-perishable foods are flour, dry fruits, dry mixes, bread, and potatoes.
The staples are non-perishable items that are vital elements to reliable long-term home food storage. These foods have a shelf-life of up to 30 years when stored correctly. Keep these foods in a cool, dark area away from sunlight and violent temperature fluctuations, and 30 years of storage should not be a problem.
Examples of staple foods include dried beans, spices, canned foods, and coffee grounds.
What’s the Best Type Of Food Storage?
Deciding exactly what the best depends entirely on your needs as a family and what type of storage you can handle. We believe every home should include dry storage with your staple foods.
It is also helpful to use your freezer to build short-term food storage as a backup plan with plenty of nutritional items at your disposal.
Adding canned goods to your storage gives you more variety and an easier preparation option whenever needed.
The most efficient option overall is the freeze-drying method to turn perishable items into key staples for your food storage. Take some time to determine what you are hoping to accomplish and use these tips to build your own storage today.
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