How to prepare your family to survive and thrive in todays uncertain world

A Few Food Storage Fundamentals

Some of you have recently asked me about making the “step” from short and medium term food storage to long term storage.

For me that means going from three to six months of stored food to having a year or two.

There’s really a couple of routes to go down here. One is a low maintenance higher expense one, and the other is one that is a bit more work, but dramatically less money. Neither one is good or bad, it’s highly situational.

Path one is going the “All Mountain House, All The Time” route. This is where you buy lots of prepackaged stuff with a heavy focus on freeze dried foods as well as bulk staples. Obviously this is a bit more expensive up front.

Path two is similar to path one with the bulk staples part of it, but most of the stuff you’ve got stored is preserved from your own production, or from stocking up on things during the cheap part of the year. Think canning, drying, fermenting, and so on and so forth.

So anyhow … details …

The foundation for any long term food storage plan are your staples. For most folks this means wheat, rice, beans, sugar, salt, and long term shelf stable fats and oils. I’m not going to go into the “how” of storing this stuff now, but you can get them prepackaged or get them in bulk and package them yourself.

Since most of the time prepackaged items are pretty expensive, I generally recommend going the self-packaging route either way here. Food safe buckets are $5 at Home Depot for the five gallon round ones, free at your local bakery, and if you’re lucky you can find my favorite, the four gallon square buckets.

For your reference, a 25 pound bag of wheat or beans fits great into a four gallon bucket…

Once you have this foundation set, you need to decide what to do for the other stuff. The non staples…

Like I said, one route is to go the freeze dried prepackaged route. Nothing wrong with this, and most of this stuff is pretty good. I heard rumblings over the weekend that some brands aren’t pulling enough oxygen out of the packaging, but I don’t know for sure, so no pointing fingers. In any case, I think you’re pretty safe with any of the major brands here.

There’s such a huge variety of stuff available in freeze dried form that you can really fill out your storage with stuff that will keep your meal plans from getting bland in any sort of disaster situation. In many cases you can eat these things straight out of the can … freeze dried strawberries anyone?

The other route is to take the extra production from your garden, from fishing and hunting, or from your local farmers market or butcher shop (when its on sale). And then preserve it … yay! Canning is one of your best bets here, and there’s lots of options for you to store in multiple ways, especially with fruits.

But don’t forget about dehydrating, making jerky, and other things that will give you reasonably shelf stable foods. In most cases you’re not going to get super long term storage lives for stuff you preserve yourself, but when your goal is year over year, and you’re already eating this stuff anyhow, it makes a ton of sense.

All of that said, I’m going to recommend the super secret path three … all of the above.

Turn your plan into a mixture of both, get variety, and get local foods as well. Get super long term shelf lives through freeze dried, and one year shelf lives through canning. And so on.

This aint rocket science. Just remember … store what you eat and eat what you store.

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9 Responses to A Few Food Storage Fundamentals

  1. well i have already gone the super secrete path here.. 😉 i extended my food storage with mre’s, feez dried food, and storing in 5gal buckets with 1 gal mylar bags.. i also order from the lds web site and get #10 cans of staples like rise beans and such… they are decently prices and free shipping its a good way to round things out for me…. my garden is coming in this year and we are going to start canning vegies we already store extra in the freezer when we can get them.. i dehydrate meat aka make jerky with beef and venison but im looking for a better way to store them so i can get longer storage time…im looking for better than 1year still havent found it yet……

  2. I can meat 10 months of the year when it’s on sale. Shelf life: years. I have freeze dried and dehydrated fruits and veggies. I stock pile flour, rice, beans, sugar, and baking staples in 5 gal. pails.

    Rudy – some pails are not food grade from Home Depot. I recommend the consumer to call the telephone number on the bottom of the pail and the company can tell if the pail was made with food grade resins.

    Walmart paint department has white five gallon pails with cover for $4.00 and they are food grade safe. (I called the company.) They publish a 52 week plan for purchasing basics.

    Good Luck!

  3. I am amazed at the number of people I come into contact with who talk about storing food for any length of time especially when they talk about freezing it.

    In any time of crisis mains electricity is usually one of the first things to fail. Please do not tell me of the generator or fuel you have as there are better things to be spending your money on if you are serious about long term survival. Electricity is not a necessity it is only a convenience.

    If you want a good food source have an all year round vegetable garden and make sure you grow a variety of legumes for drying as they are a great source of protein.

    Too many people appear to be spending too much time, money and resources on food that they cannot grow to put in their storeroom and the reality is that it will only last for so long if you are unable to source food from elsewhere. The time that your stored food will last you, your family and any other freeloaders is the amount of time you will have in times of a real emergency to get your own garden into production, at least 12 to 18 weeks if you have a suitable area, climate, water, tools, seeds and the labour to do the work.

    If the current system were to fail for any great length of time we will all have to alter our diet as much of what we now consider staples will become unavailable and many of them we will be unable to grow in the home style garden.

    • I don’t disagree whatsoever on your point with the garden. That’s something I preach about regularly as well.

      However there’s nothing at all wrong with having plenty of food in the freezer. If you look at disaster probabilities, in most cases where you’re going to be home, power isn’t going to be much of a worry. And dealing with a freezer or fridge during a longer term outage isn’t very complicated or expensive.

      Would it be gone and/or wasted if the grid went down for good? Yup. But the likelyhood of that happening vs a storm, a pandemic, or as I personally just experienced, a job loss, is pretty remote.

      It’s important to not fall into the trap of focusing on the heavy hitting disasters (EMP, Mad Max, etc) to the exclusion of the more likely…

      • It’s also possible to use a lot of freezer food if the power goes out longterm. In a packed freezer, food will thaw slowly and can be used as long as it is still partially frozen. A large quantity of food that thaws at once can be cooked up to share with neighbors. If you have a non-electric stove for your canner, you can actually can frozen food. It will lose a little quality but still be nutritious.

        I’d recommend that everyone be familiar with food safety regarding power outages, refrigerators, and freezers. I would look for a scientific research-based guide like a publication from a university or extension service. Here are a couple:

        Practically speaking, I personally like the idea of preserving food by canning, dehydrating, AND freezing so I wouldn’t chance to lose everything if the grid went down. Even meat can be pressure canned or dried into jerky.

  4. My question is can you recan a big can of food into pint jars? Pizza sauce, vegetables, etc. Thany you for any tips I recieve!

  5. I read an article on the net (I don’t remember where), about a family that tried to live off of nothing but Mountain House food. They only made it a few weeks before it became totally unpalatable. Freeze dried pouches and cans should be a nice addition to a food storage pantry, not the foundation.

  6. Just another comment on the types of food that is being stored in freezers.

    The frozen MRE’s that many people are storing for the inevitable rainy day are not something that should be eaten on a regular basis. Ask any soldier that has eaten them and they will tell you that they play merry hell in ones insides and there are a number of blogs relating to the problems they cause.

    My argument about storing food in freezers stands regardless of the frozen MRE’s. There is plenty of dried and canned food readily available that needs no energy to store and is better suited to day to day needs as it has less chemicals in it and therefore does not upset one to the point where several trips to the toilet are required to get rid of the problem.

    We live on totally off the grid and for some time our solar power system has not been working the way it was designed to. I had a friend (an ex military electronics specialist) come over and he found that two circuit boards had failed and although they only caused me minor irritations by not allowing the system to work as it should they had the potential to drag the entire system down. If any part of the governing system as we know it were to fail for any reason and electricity and energy became erratic in its supply or too expensive then it is pointless having quantities of food stored in freezers. If you want to store food for after the day of reckoning then store it so that it does not require energy and is more aligned to what you would normally eat.

    We only freeze what is excess to our immediate needs in the way of home slaughtered meat and home grown vegetables but the essential items in our long term food storage are either dried, canned (commercially) purchased, preserved (home grown) or fresh from the garden and orchard.

    We have friends who live on the grid who most years throw out food from their refrigerators and freezers due to power outages. A backup generator is great to have on hand but they have limitations due to their initial cost and running expenses, in many situations their noise can be a problem and worst of all just when you do need them they can break down.

    I suppose the message I am trying to get across is that if you want to prepare for long term survival do not rely on refrigeration/freezers or the types of food that I hear that many people are trying to store in them.

  7. First off, great site!! I have seen some good advice. One thing I would like to add here for those that garden but do not have a lot of storage space. Think about buying seeds and using hydroponics as part of a long term food solution that can be replenished from harvested seeds year round. A solar panel and converter will power your pumps and other items when power is a concern.