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

How To Get Started With Long Term Food Storage

(Note:  This is a guest post by Vic Rantala from Safe Castle.)

More and more families are coming to the realization that the good old days are probably not coming back anytime soon. We are all vulnerable to economic and social conditions beyond our control, so Americans are increasingly apt to embrace crisis preparedness—a systematic approach to our future that does allow us a solid sense of control and peace of mind.

Emergency food storage is the foundation of any serious household preparedness effort. How much to store for your loved ones is a matter that you must determine based on a number of factors such as budget, storage or pantry space available, number of mouths to feed, and length of time you want to be prepared for in case the grocery stores become unreliable sources for resupply.

The Basics

  • Budget–obviously a key. People may not have the discretionary funds available to quickly assemble a 3-month or 6-month or 12 month larder. So whether you can acquire a supply of stored food all at once or you need to do it incrementally, you do want to do it within the framework of your ability to afford it.

    In other words, don’t panic and go deeply into debt to fill your basement with food. Embark on your program logically and with a plan in mind. It’s worth considering that food price inflation is expected to remain a major concern in the foreseeable future, so quality, long-term storage food can actually be appreciated as a good investment (one that you CAN eat if need be)

  • Nutritional value–nutritional value and caloric requirements are often not knowledgeably considered, strangely enough, by some who put food away for a rainy day. If you want to eat like you’re used to, you may need to store enough to eat about 2800 calories a day. Of course you really don’t NEED that much food.

    Americans should have a minimum of 2000 calories a day stored away to sustain themselves in a healthy fashion over a long period of time. So whatever food you put aside, calculate 2000 calories a day per person. Protein is also very important—one to two ounces per day per person is roughly the dietary allowance, based on age and gender.

  • Variety, ease of use–perhaps the most important rule of all in food storage–“Store what you eat, eat what you store.” In times of stress, it’s important you have food that you are familiar with, that you enjoy eating, that you do not have food allergies to.

    Beans, rice, and wheat serve a purpose in most food storage efforts, as they are cheap and high in caloric value. But if that does not define your diet now, then you should be sure to also have on hand the kinds of foods you DO eat regularly–meats, pastas, stews, etc.

    And you should be comfortable with how your storage foods need to be prepared. Freeze-dried and dehydrated foods, you need to add water. Staples require more processing and cooking.

  • Shelf life–most foods at your local grocery store are good for only months to a couple of years on the shelf. 50-pound bags of staples you might buy locally or online should be stored away in vacuum-sealed buckets to maximize storage life–as long as 10 years for many of those staples if done properly.

    MREs are good for a few years only, and as with most foods, they are very sensitive to storage conditions. Wet-packed meats, canned cheeses and dairy products canned for storage are often going to be good for 10-15 years. Freeze-dried foods and dehydrated foods will be good for 15-30 years. There are a few notable brands such as Mountain House Food, Yoders and American Family Supply.The longer the shelf life and the better the storage conditions (consistently cool and dry are the ideal), the less you will need to rotate and replace the stocks.

Bottom Line

Today, it’s easy to get top-flight long-term storage food with reputable online dealers. But it’s also easy to be taken for a ride. Beware of some sellers’ packages out there marketed as being a “One Year Survival Package” or something similar. If the price is considerably less than what you would expect to pay for your everyday grocery bills over that period of time, then you need to question what you are actually being sold.

Verify that any time-period package you consider purchasing is based on 2000 calories per day. There is much more to a good and effective food-storage program than initial price. If you consider all the factors above for your personal situation before you make your emergency food purchases, you will arrive at THE best true value. And THAT is what will result in peace of mind and real security.

Safe Castle is based in Prior Lake, Minnesota. Safe Castle is a leader in supplying invaluable resources (survival gear, freeze dried foods, knowledge etc.) for the preparedness industry. Safe Castle is also an active member within the preparedness community.

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10 Responses to How To Get Started With Long Term Food Storage

  1. I have stored foods from grocery stores for a lot longer than many months. They put an expiration date on them, but that does not mean they are not good to use. As long as the can is not dented, rusted or smell bad when you open it, there is no reason to think the food has gone bad. My own home canned food last for years, so why wouldn’t the store bought canned foods? They make have the “can taste” but they are good otherwise.

    Very good post!

  2. Hi Rudy
    I have been researching the web for a while for food storage information with little success. Your site has been a GREAT resource!!!! Keep up the great work!!!!

  3. This is a good forum with lots of info. I am just starting my food storage program and temperature is going to be a HUGE problem for me. Upstairs gets to 90 in summer and downstairs hovers at about 80. Outside is 110 in summer. Garage and barn not an option and there is no basement. I am thinking I should get a couple freezers and put everything I can vacuum sealed (like rice beans and dehydrated stuff) and if/when IT hits the fan and the power is out I can move everything in the house. Thats the best I can come up with. It looks like shelf life on so many things is like 6 months or a year…I do NOT have the kind of funds I can buy a bunch of freeze dried stuff either. I have an extensive garden, 12 fruit and nut trees (although they are only 2 years old) chickens and goats. I CAN the garden in the fall. That stuff only lasts a year in jars. Any input? Should I do something differently? Ive just had some folks tell me you can just dump rice in a bucket and it will last a loooong time. I dont trust that advice. Please advise.

    • Shelf life can vary pretty significantly. Commercially canned stuff will last quite a while.

      Seems like you’re doing pretty well between garden, orchard, and livestock. As long as you keep a fair amount of it around you’re probably ok.

      An option for cooler storage would be to build a root cellar, even just off to the side of the house.

  4. I like your idea for using freezers. The insulation may keep the heat down and you could keep them in your barn. I read a suggestion to store canned food behind the books on bookshelves. Do you have any in your downstairs? I really feel led to find resources for friends with different storage situations and challenges.

    • We definitely split our food and supplies in multiple areas around the house. You never know what could happen to any given one of them.

  5. Hoping that someone can help with this question, as I have yet to find a good answer? How long can unbleached flour be kept if placed in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers? Is unbleached flour the right type of flour to store for long term?

    • A year or so. Anything longer you’ll want to grind your own.

      For long term, you want to store whole grains and grind them.