Long-Term Food Storage Techniques – Ultimate Step By Step Guide
The human body works like a well-oiled machine. Within a few hours of you not eating, the brain is affected.
Judgment definitively becomes impaired, and in any emergency situation, there is absolutely no room for error. Simply speaking, in a disaster scenario, food storage prep-work can mean the difference between life and death.
FEMA and the Red Cross recommend having a two-week stash of food and supplies at all times. So the question then becomes, “Have I adequately prepared for my family’s safety and well-being in a time of crisis?”
Step 1: How much do you need?
Before you go around purchasing your emergency food supply, you’ll need to know how much food will be required. Honestly, the answer will depend largely on what’s going to give you peace of mind.
Once you’ve decided on your duration, you then need to figure out an approximate daily combined household calorie intake. Knowing this will help you avoid shorting yourself on food or even overdoing things by spending unnecessarily.
According to WebMD, based on my “moderately active” family of 5, I would need to store ~10,000+ calories per day.
- Option #1. You can estimate your family’s total daily caloric intake based on this chart below and you’ll actually be fairly close.
- Option #2. If you want to know the precise numbers, visit this step by step daily calorie calculator.
Step 2: Which food is recommended?
OK, this is the fun part. In Step 1 you did the math to figure out how much food you’ll need. Next, you’ll generate a shopping list, and the best part is being able to fully customize it to your taste.
I have broken this down into 4 different options plus another additional category for mandatory supplies.
Option #1 is Factory-Ready Food Items.
Canned fruits, vegetables, and meats fall into this category. They are readily available at grocery stores or if you want to stay low-key, it’s worth looking into Amazon Pantry.
Option #2 is Bulk Food Items.
Examples include large bags of rice or grains that can be purchased at your local Costco or other wholesale store. Another option is making bulk orders through Amazon’s Restaurant & Bulk Food Supply.
Option #3 is Emergency Food Buckets.
These are becoming extremely popular mainly because of their convenience. We’ll talk more about this shortly in an in-depth review I’ve conducted.
Option #4 is Meals Ready to Eat (MRE’s).
I’m sure you have all heard of these. They have been around for years and have the stamp of approval from the US military.
These are items such as utensils or a small propane camping stove. They’re the products you’ll use to support cooking and eating your food supply when SHTF.
Option #1 – Factory-Ready Food Items
These products boast an extremely long shelf-life, and they’re already suitably packaged to add straight to your stockpile system.
- Canned Salmon and Tuna
- Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Spam and Vienna Sausage
- Nut Spreads (peanut or almond butter)
- Beef Jerky
- Assorted Nuts
- Cooking Oils (olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil, etc.)
- Canned Fruit
- Canned Vegetables
Food items to boost morale:
- Dried Milk and Coffee
- Sugar and Spices
- Chocolate Bars, Hot Cocoa, Cookies
Option #2 – Bulk Food Items
The following list contains products that are easily repackaged before being added to your emergency supply.
- Dried Fruit
Option #3 – Emergency food buckets
If you aren’t so keen on the effort required to package your own stockpile, there are much simpler options. Emergency Food Buckets are quickly becoming the go-to choice in the prepping community. They are prepackaged and ready to add straight to your inventory which is a huge time saver.
The meals are dehydrated food which is individually packaged in either plastic or Mylar bags. They are very convenient since they are ready to consume within 20 minutes. In order to prepare most of them, you’ll need clean, potable water, a pot or saucepan and a heating source.
These are examples of different meals that you’ll find in one of these buckets.
- Various Meats
- Various Soups
- Mixed Vegetables
- Instant Potatoes
- Cheddar Cheese Sauce
- Cheddar Broccoli Rice
- Vegetable Stew
If you’d like an in-depth review on 4 buckets that I purchased on Amazon, follow this emergency food bucket review. I took the top most popular emergency food buckets and put them to the test.
Option #4 – Meals Ready to Eat (MRE’s)
Due to their popularity, the military has put them to the test and still use them until this day.
All MRE’s conveniently contain everything you need to cook and consume your food. Although they are a little on the pricey side, what you are actually paying for is convenience.
- Water Storage Containers
- Pots and Pan Set
- Plastic Plates, Bowls and Utensils
- Kitchen Knife Set
- Propane Camping Stove
Step 3: Where do you store the food?
Where you store your supplies is crucial. This is the criteria we use when deciding on the location(s) of my family’s food supply:
Make sure it’s somewhere that will be easily accessible in an emergency “Panic!” situation.
There will be enough things to worry about when a disaster happens. Ensuring your family has evacuated from immediate danger and has mustered in the Safe Room should be your top priority. This location is where you agree to hole-up during an emergency; it’ll also be the storage location of your food.
The location must be somewhere unlikely to suffer damage in the event of a storm or flooding casualty.
A basement, for example, might seem like the ideal location for certain situations but would never work for others. Living in an area that’s prone to flooding could cause your food supply to be wiped out in an instant. In this specific case, a 2nd floor or loft might be more practical.
It must be hidden from “outside prying eyes”.
There are several survival scenarios in which you don’t even want your next-door neighbors knowing what supplies you have. Routinely walking back and forth from the garage to the house to restock supplies could lead to trouble.
The fact of the matter is anywhere you go, there will always be people who weren’t proactive and didn’t prepare. When they run out of food and supplies, be certain that they will come knocking on your door.
Step 4: How do you store the food?
Now that you’ve accumulated your stash, you’ll want to assure that your money and hard work won’t go to waste. Before I discuss how to store your food, let’s talk about food fundamentals. The primary reasons for food spoilage are attacks from bacteria and yeasts which thrive in moisture-rich environments.
To prevent this, it is absolutely critical to ensure your food stock meets the following criteria while stored:
- Oxygen and moisture-free environment
- Sealed, air-tight containers
- Out of direct sunlight
- Durable containers, secure from rodents or insects
- Clearly labeled, dated, and organized
- First In First Out method (FIFO)
Achieving the above with canned products is obviously not an issue since it passes rigorous quality controls at the factories. The trade-off is that canned goods are extremely expensive.
If you want to significantly save some hard-earned money, I recommend buying in bulk then packaging your own custom-sized bags. To achieve this there are several methods to choose from, but typically most preppers stick to 3 standard choices.
The Food Vacuum Sealer is an extremely versatile tool used for repackaging bulk items into smaller bags.
According to Food Saver, studies have shown that vacuum sealing food will extend its life up to 5 times. This is a no-brainer since the amount of money you save on food will pay itself back in no time.
I have personally been using the Food Saver brand vacuum sealers for almost 10 years now. This is the newest version they have come out with, and there is currently a price reduction.
A vacuum sealer bag roll of 11 inches by 50 feet will run you approximately $25. To save some money, DIY preppers have discovered a way to use standard Ziplocks instead of the Food Saver bags.
Mylar bags are a prepper’s choice when it comes to quick and clean bagging.
There’s no need to break out the heavy vacuum sealer. Just put the food item and an oxygen absorber into the bag then heat seal using an iron.
This is the best deal that I’ve found so far, and it comes bundled with bags and oxygen absorbers.
The FDA recommends using nothing thinner than 5mm Mylar bags, which cut down the breathability of plastic to almost zero. As we discussed earlier, oxygen is a huge food-killer so oxygen absorbers go hand-and-hand with the Mylar bag route. Here’s a video on how to properly store food using this method.
Because bags are not puncture resistant, there is an upgraded option to consider.
If you would like extra assurance in order to guarantee your supply is safe, you’ll need food-grade plastic containers.
As far as plastic food-grade containers go, the Vittles Vault is top of the line in my book.
Due to their patent, no other food-grade plastic container is even competing in the same league. They’re FDA approved and BPA free so I’m 100% comfortable using it for my family.These containers are great for storing bulk food items that you plan to use regularly. The greatest features are that they are stackable and the spout angles out at 45° to make for easy scooping. Furthermore, they’re fitted with an air-tight gamma lid, and because you’ll open it often, I recommend purchasing some oxygen absorbers.
Vittles Vaults are marketed in “Pet Supplies”, but rest assured, my family’s been using them to store food for years.
Step 5: How do you maintain the food?
By far this is the easiest step, but in my opinion it is actually the most important. This is where labeling and dating your food will allow you to remain organized.
As far as our family goes, we consume and also restock our food storage regularly. To ensure our food lasts the longest, we arrange it so the ones expiring soonest will always be in front.
Arranging your bags and containers in a way that can be easily accessed and rotated is the general idea.
Step 6: Relax!
Now you have done what thousands of others might someday wish they’d done too. You can give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy the peace of mind your hard work deserves.
Benjamin Franklin once said,
“By failing to prepare, we are preparing to fail.”
By following the above steps you can greatly reduce the risk of failing your family when it matters most. I know it seems like a lot, but our chances of surviving any disaster multiply exponentially when we are prepared. One of the key elements that will make us great is learning to improvise, adapt, and overcome.
I hope you have enjoyed this guide. I do this for free, for you, The People. In return, I would greatly appreciate it if you shared this on your social media accounts. Please, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to leave a comment below and share this article to help me keep writing free posts :o).
I wish you all the best on your prepping journey.
Stay safe and take care.
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If you’d like to get in touch with me or anyone on my team, please contact us here.
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