Food Storage 101
Below you’ll find some common answers to food storage questions. I wrote it in the Q&A format so that it would be easy to read and you can easily take action on each task. If you’d like to learn more in depth about storing food and water for emergencies and disasters, please check out this eBook.
What type of food should I store?
Store what you eat! If you don’t eat beans and rice, then don’t store beans and rice. There is no right or wrong food to store. Well, you should make sure to store nonperishable foods or foods that can last at least a year without having to refrigerate or freeze.
It really is okay to not store beans and rice. You can store foods that last only a year and rotate it out every year. You already eat that food so it works out. Add it to your regular meal plan and replace the old with new.
You can store freeze dried foods, canned foods, packaged foods, MRE’s, whatever your heart desires. Just make sure you regularly eat those types of foods. If you store mainly MRE’s but don’t eat them, then when it comes time to eat them, you’re going to be hurting as MRE’s can be rough on the stomach. But just be aware of that.
Personally, I like to mix up my food. Some freeze dried, some MRE’s, some canned, etc. Since we’re getting prepared now, we can have variety. Variety is the spice of life!
Speaking of spice, don’t forget spices, sugars, flour and other items like that so that you can make foods.
How can I properly store the food?
I would suggest storing food indoors, in an area where you can manage the temperature. Even canned foods can go bad if they’re stored improperly.
You don’t need a bunker or even a pantry to store your foods. You can buy a big 50 gallon bin and store your food in there. Or maybe you have an extra closet. There are many options, look around your house/apartment and figure out where would be best.
If you are storing beans, rice, etc, it might be a good idea to vacuum seal portion sizes and/or portion out and put in mylar bags.
Can I store food if I’m on a strict diet?
There are many reasons why someone may be on a specific diet. It could be medical related, maybe personal choice, religious, whatever. The reason doesn’t matter. The fact is, you can store food no matter what type of diet you’re on. Whether you do paleo, keto, whether you’re a diabetic – whatever the case may be, you really can store any type of food. I wrote a very extensive article that you can find here about the different types of foods for a variety of diets. I didn’t go into every single diet, but do some research and figure out what type of nonperishable foods can be stored based on your needs.
For instance, if you’re on the keto diet, that means very low carbs and high fat contents. So with keto, rice and beans are 100% out. Sure, maybe in an emergency or disaster you wouldn’t be able to be so strict with your specific diet, but because we’re preparing now, we have the option to store whatever food we can. So go ahead and store for your current dietary needs.
How much food should I store?
I know it seems tempting to want to store a years worth of food, and everyone always suggests that, but some of us don’t have the money, space or desire to store that much food. That is A LOT of food, even for just one person.
It kind of all depends on your disaster plan(s). For us, a few months is good. After that, we’d need to start considering other options such as gardening, hunting, fishing, etc. Many people will tell you that these options won’t be viable in an emergency or disaster, but again, it really depends. I wouldn’t completely count them out. Be prepared for being able to have the option(s).
How can I know how much food to buy for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks for everyone in my household?
The easiest way to calculate how much your household will need is to write out a menu. Write out the foods that you have stored and what will be eaten for breakfast, what will be eaten for lunch and what will be eaten for dinner. You know your family the best and how much they usually eat per meal.
For example, can your family consume 1 can of spam per meal? Well, if you’ve planned to eat spam 3 days out of the week, then you’ll need to store 3 cans per week.
Physically writing out the meal plan will help to ensure that you have the appropriate amount of food by physically seeing all of your stored food right out there on the menu. It really truly helps as I do it.
I would suggest printing out the menu and keeping it with your food storage.
A menu also helps prevent you from eating too much of your stored food so if you’ve stored enough food for 3 months, then you really have enough food for 3 months because you’ve planned out all the meals.
How do I inventory my food?
Inventorying is very boring but a necessity.
When you put your food storage together, you need to write down everything you have.
Let’s say you keep all of your food inside of a bin, you’ll need to write down everything that’s in that bin and stick the list inside of the bin. If you ever take anything out or add anything, you’ll need to change that list.
It is best to have a physical list. You can write it on the computer and print out a new one each time something is added/taken, or you can physically write out the list. It’s up to you.
Be sure to write down expiration dates next to each food item.
When you inventory, you’ll be able to look at the list and see what needs to be rotated and what doesn’t.
If you’ve chosen to inventory and rotate automatically once a year, then the list will come in handy to hold everything accountable. You’ll take everything out, make sure it’s on the list, check it off the list and add it to your regular food supply to be eaten.
You’ll then write a new list for the new items you place in your bin.
Should I plan on rationing my food?
It really depends. Rationing usually isn’t recommended, as you need your strength to keep thriving in an emergency or disaster. But there may come a time when you may need to consider rationing. It just depends on the situation.
What sort of other items should I store?
You may want to consider the following along with the food, these are just ideas and suggestions, not mandatory:
Cleaning items such as soap and sponge
Cooking utensils such as spatula, spoon, etc.
Alternative cooking method(s) such as propane/stove/jetboil/etc