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.