The Long Term Food Storage Guide
Build a simple, cost-effective food storage plan with these easy steps.
So you’ve decided to begin building up your long term food storage? Bravo! You probably have some questions like, how much food do I need? How much should I spend? What types of food should I get?
All these questions and more are answered here in our long term food storage guide.
Do you know which foods you should store?
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Preparing Your Long Term Food Storage
Establishing your long term food storage is incredibly rewarding, but can be a little overwhelming sometimes too. With every aspect of food storage, there are a million different opinions, and different ways of doing things. Essentially however, there are 3 major components to your emergency food supply: Planning, Building and Using.
How to Plan Out Your Emergency Food Storage
When you first begin your food storage, you need to think about it in 1 way: a 30-day grocery store in your house. Thinking about it like this makes it so easy it’s not even funny. It doesn’t involve you buying a bunch of pouch meals from Mountain House, or other food that you wouldn’t eat.
All you have to do is buy 1 more of whatever you’re already buying at the store. If you’re getting 2 cans of tomato sauce already, buy 3 and put one in the “home grocery store”. If you’re buying 1 bag of dog food, buy 2. Turn 4 boxes of cereal into 5. The simplest way to do it is to make a giant shopping list, and then do a little multiplication. If the food from a typical shopping trip typically lasts you 2 weeks, than doubling it should put you at roughly a month, quadrupling at 2 months, etc.
Now obviously, there are things that can’t be stored, like produce. Or if you don’t have a stand-alone freezer, it could be tough to store more than 2 pot roasts. That’s fine. Don’t do anything about these foods for right now. Once you have a 30-day supply of everything that you CAN store, make notes of where the holes are, and then see what substitutes you can come up with.
There are PLENTY of produce and meats available in canned varieties. Dairy can be another tough one, but there are soy milks, and evaporated milks that can last months or even years on the shelf. There are also some pretty decent tasting powdered milks these days that will keep for a REALLY long time.
As a smaller sub-section of this, you’ll also want to keep a 30-day supply of some key non-food hygiene items as well. Toilet paper, soap (dish soap, bath soap, etc.), feminine supplies, paper towels, trash bags, and Clorox wipes. These are things that just keep the house running (and become critically important in emergency situations).
Obviously, you’ll have to take into consideration that you won’t likely have the same produce and perishables that you do now. Planning your food storage in this way, ensures that you won’t be tossing the dice on purchasing food that you might not like or know how to cook with. Everything that you buy will be items that you purchase normally.
Another major part of planning out your storage is to figure out where you can realistically store your food. In a large part, this will determine how much food you can actually store. The good news is, that if you’re willing to be a little creative, there are a lot of ways that you can increase the space you have available to you.
The final piece of the “planning” puzzle is to incorporate your emergency food into your budget. There are several ways to do this, but most preppers agree that setting aside some kind of regularly-occurring budget for food storage makes if feel less like that money is being taken from somewhere else, every time they go to purchase long term food.
Building Out Your Emergency Food Supply
With the beginnings of your food storage rolling, it’s time to start scaling things up! In Phase 1, you began your own “grocery store”, by purchasing duplicates of the food you normally get for an additional 30 days.
Now it’s time to continue that same pattern until you have enough for 3-6 months. If you have already been in the system enough to build up 30 days’ worth of food, it should be relatively easy to keep doing this.
As you begin to acquire the items on your list, you may also begin to notice that stores are offering discounts or bulk deals on selected brands and quantities.
This is exactly why many preppers try to incorporate some version of couponing into their shopping trips. It makes sense that if your ultimate plan is to have 10 cases of beans, you might as well get them while they’re on sale. A quick Google search will reveal that there are some great tools and helps available for those wanting to dip a toe into the world of couponing.
When you return from the store after your food storage shopping trips, it’s a good idea to take a few minutes and date your food with a black permanent marker before putting it way. This will ensure that you keep track of which foods should be eaten first.
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Once you have a 3-6 month supply of food, replenishing is the name of the game! When you go to the store, you simply tally the missing food from your storage, and replenish that.
Remember, even as somebody that produces part of what they eat, the importance of food storage still cannot be overstated. The reality is that no matter how much you produce, there will always be SOME gaps to be filled by stored food.
The tri-fecta of food self-sufficiency is equal parts:
- Learning to produce the things you like to eat
- Learning to like to eat the things you produce
- Taking some stress out of the production by building a significant reserve of stored food
Using Your Food Storage
As weird as it may seem, USING your food storage may actually be the most neglected and forgotten piece of the equation. It’s important to remember however, that once you have several months of food storage built up, you have made a significant financial investment that you’ll want to protect.
If you have followed our advice, and purchased foods that would be on your normal shopping list, you shouldn’t have any trouble knowing how to cook with them. But to simulate an emergency, it’s a good idea to learn how to prepare foods without traditional power, or in some cases, even raw.
When cooking up your food storage, always use the oldest food you have first, so that the remaining food always has as much shelf life as possible. If you’ve dated your food when you purchased it, and/or organized it on the shelves with the newest food in the back, this should be a cinch!
Above all, be realistic about how you approach your long term food storage. If you go overboard or try to initiate a bunch of drastic and uncomfortable changes all at once, the odds are you won’t stick with it. Pace yourself and have some fun with it!