Tips For Food Storage

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Food storage sounds simple doesn’t it. Store up some food to last you and your family a few months. I mean, heck, all you have to do is just throw back a bag of beans, rice and some canned goods and you’re there. Right? Unfortunately that’s the mindset of many people who start thinking about long term food storage in case of an emergency or disaster. These are the people who find out the hard way that there is more to storing food than a few bags of beans, rice and canned goods!

Have a Food Storage Plan. Work Your Plan

Yeah, I know the word ‘Plan’ is just about as bad as the word ‘Budget’ but having a food storage plan may save you from going hungry in a crisis. And it’s not that hard.

This is the way I work my food storage plan.

First up, I make sure I have 3 months of food on hand for short term emergencies. This is the normal food my family and I eat every day. I just make sure I have enough of it to last 3 months. You don’t need fancy or expensive freeze dried food for your 3 month plan. Most food on your Supermarket shelf has a life span of a few months. Just make sure you check the date before buying. Also keep in mind that once you open the container, the clock starts clicking on the shelf life of the food inside.

I rotate this food out, fist in, first out. Here’s just a sample of the things I put in my 3 month storage.

  • Normal canned goods we eat on a regular basis, ie; Corn, Peas, Tomatoes, Soups, Stews, etc.
  • Frozen foods such as Meat (bought on sale), vegetables, Jerky, Prepared Dinners (we fix up large meals of food like Gumbo, Stew, Pasta, etc and freeze the rest in meal size containers or bags).
  • Flour, Sugar, Box of Salt, Spices
  • Pasta, Pancake/Flour mixes
  • Drink mixes, ie; Kool-Aid, Gatoraide, Coffee, Tea
  • Cooking oil, Crisco
  • Desert/Cake mixes

You get the idea. Stuff you normally eat, just buy more of. Don’t scrimp. Even if you think you’ve done well on your 3 month storage plans, put some more back. You never know when you’ll have unexpected company. Plus in stress situations, you’re likely to burn more calories and require more food.

Longer than 3 Months

If a crisis last longer than 3 months, you’ll soon find the weak spots in your plan. A crisis lasting longer than three months is a real crisis! This is where my long term storage plan comes into play.

For long term storage, we’re going to need food that stores well for long periods of time. This should go without saying, but you’d be surprised at how many people never look at the dates on their food.

Here’s a partial list of my long term food storage.

  • Buckets of dried grain stored in sealed mylar bags, ie; Wheat, Beans, Rice, Corn, etc. Don’t forget to use oxygen absorbers and remember to have a grain mill on hand that will ground up Wheat as well as Beans and Corn. This has a shelf life of 10 years or more.
  • Freeze dried food. I have a good supply of freeze dried food such as the Mountain House food that comes in #10 cans. This food varies from dinner entrees to powdered eggs and deserts. Shelf life on most is at least 15 to 20 years, sometimes longer.
  • Canned goods. This is canned food like you’d buy at a Supermarket. Most canned goods will last at least a year and half, most last 2 years or more. This includes staples like vegetables, stews and fish.
  • Home canned goods. This is stuff I’ve canned from our Garden. This has a shelf life of 2 years or more most of the time, depending on what it is that has been canned. We put up things like Corn, tomatoes, meats, stews, sauces, etc.
  • MRE’s. Yeah, I have several cases of MRE’s. Most of these have a shelf life of 5 + years, most around 7 years or longer.

These items keep for a long time so I’m don’t have to worry about rotating them out for a while.

Variety Is The Spice of Life

This is really hammered home in a survival situation. I laugh every time I read some easy chair survivalist state that he/she has buckets and buckets of beans and rice stored up and that’s all they need. Hey, I love beans and rice also but after about a week, it’s going to get old real quick!

Instead, try to plan on storing a variety of foods to keep your meals interesting. As stated above, I put up a lot of ready to eat meals. Sometimes my Wife and I just don’t feel like cooking. It’s really nice to be able to take a bag of precooked food from the freezer and whip up a quick meal of Homemade Gumbo or Beef Stew.

Recently I found a site that has freeze dried food that contains deserts and mixes of all types. I bought some powdered pudding mix, brownie mix as well as cans of other sweet stuff. This goes in the long term pile because I already have the everyday mixes in my short term pile. These came in #2.5 and #10 cans and will keep years until opened!

The best thing you can do is write down everything on your short term storage and your long term storage. Then each week when you go to the store, but extra and mark it off your list. Read the dates and get the one furthest out. Many times if you’ll reach back in your stores shelves and get the cans or boxes at the very back, you’ll get the fresher food.

You should work on your short term storage about 75% of the time and buy stuff for your long term storage the remaining time (this is the plan I follow, your mileage may vary). This way you’re putting back for both. However, if you run out of your short term food inside of 3 months, you won’t hesitate to dive into your long term provisions. This should be avoided by making sure you have enough on hand. You can do this by writing down your food storage plans!

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