Food storage is an important and sometimes challenging part of emergency planning. Families should have enough survival food stored to last each person at least 4 days at a minimum. To be on the safe side, storing enough food to last a few weeks to a month should be sufficient for most people, but is ultimately up to you and your situation.
The mistakes most people make when storing food are usually things like choosing the wrong types of food that don’t have a very good shelf life, or not storing them in the right conditions and the food stocks go bad and become inedible. The trick for proper food storage is to not only have enough food to last the duration of the emergency but to have a well balanced selection of nutritious food that is properly stored and has a long enough shelf life to still be good when the time comes that you may need to rely on it. Here are a some things to consider when choosing how to store your food.
Best Types of Food for Storage
The biggest hurdle to food storage is making the food last long enough without going bad. The best way to do that is to start storing food that naturally has a long shelf life on it’s own. Look for canned goods that have an expiration date of at least 2 years from now. Many of these canned foods will last much longer than the expiration date if they are stored properly in cool conditions and could probably last up to 5 years.
Here is a list of foods that are tasty and nutritious, have a great shelf life, and would be ideal for long term food storage.
- Canned meats such as tuna, salmon, stews and spam.
- Any type of canned vegetables or fruit.
- Freeze dried foods.
- White rice, oats and flour.(Brown rice does not last as long because of its higher oil content.)
- Dried beans and lentils.
- Peanut butter and cooking oils. (Freeze to prolong shelf life or rotate often)
- Powdered drink mixes such as milk, cream, coffee and fruit juices.
- Sugar, salt, spices and seasonings.
- Water. (Replace stored water at least once a year)
- Treats such as energy bars and candy.
How to Properly Store Food
The biggest enemies to food storage is heat, oxygen, moisture and pests. Heat and oxygen is what will make your perishable items degrade and go bad. Moisture can cause foods to go bad quickly and cause other problems such as mold. Pests carry disease and will make your food unsanitary if they contaminate it. Your ultimate goal in food storage is to protect your food from these 3 things.
The place where you decide to store your food should be cool, dark and dry with as little temperature fluctuation as possible. An unheated basement or closet would be ideal to store your food.
To protect your food that isn’t canned or in a jar from oxygen you should put it in sealed mylar bags. Even if your food is already sealed in its original plastic, oxygen will still be absorbed through the plastic and cause your food to deteriorate. Mylar is the only packaging that will prevent oxygen from getting at your food. It’s also a good idea to buy oxygen absorbing packets and put them in the sealed mylar bags to absorb any oxygen that is already trapped in the bags.
Finally you would place all your bags of food inside some food-grade buckets as a final protection barrier from moisture and pests. Do not use buckets or any other plastic container than is not designed for food, especially ones that have contained any kind of paint or other chemicals.
All stored food should be dated and rotated frequently. Don’t simply store your food and forget about it or you will probably ending wasting a lot of food when it expires. You should be constantly eating the oldest stored food and replacing it with new food. This way your survival food storage will always be fresh and you won’t be wasting your money every few years replacing all your expired items.