Whether you are preparing for a large-scale disaster scenario, or a natural disaster, food storage should be one of your top priorities. The rule of three states we can go three weeks without food, but even if we must go three days, our physical and mental abilities will be severely diminished.
We spend far more on food each year than we do on electricity, gasoline, and clothes. Because of this, food storage is going to be a big part of your prepping budget. Having food in the house not only helps to maintain your health, it helps you maintain your sanity. If there is nothing to eat, it’s all you are going to think about, and it’s all your family is going to think about.
In the event of a small or large-scale disaster, the grocery stores might not have food available, or you may just want to avoid them altogether. You would want to avoid them because everyone and their brother will be ransacking the shelves. It would be like Black Friday, only people would be fighting for food, not televisions.
Depending on your situation, there are quite a few options for food storage. If you are just starting out, I recommend filling your pantry with shelf stable foods. Long term prepackaged food is great if you don’t have the time for inventory and rotation. It’s also convenient and an easy way to bulk up your food storage very quickly.
Here are a few ideas to bulk up your food storage. Our recommendation is that you have a few of these, and not all one type. This also doesn’t need to be done all at once. By spending a few extra dollars at the grocery store, or saving up for some long-term food, you will have a good food storage stockpile in no time at all.
This is the food your family eats on a regular basis. There are quite a few options when it comes to pantry foods, but remember to store what you eat, and eat what you store.
Canned Foods: With canned food, you can not only get a good supply of fruits and vegetables, you can also stock soups, meat, beans, sauces and ingredients for homemade meals.
Non Refrigerated Foods: Remember to get foods that won’t require refrigeration. In most disaster scenarios we will be without electricity, and the cold inside the refrigerator will only last so long.
Boxed Meals: A quick and easy meal solution is boxed meals like Homestyle Bakes, mac and cheese, and hamburger helper. You may not have hamburger, but there is canned beef, tuna, and chicken.
Noodles: Spaghetti and macaroni are great because they store for a very long time. With just a jar of spaghetti sauce and some noodles you have a meal the family will enjoy.
Drinks: Water will get boring so make sure you have some flavoring for it. Items like Mio, Kool-Aid and tang are great for a little variety. You may also want some powdered milk for cereal and breakfast.
Essentials: Storing items to make homemade bread is a great idea, but only if you know how to make bread. Learn to cook is a great skill to have, and will expand your food storage options.
Spices: Regardless of what type of food you’re eating in a grid down scenario, your going to want spices. I put pepper on just about everything (except ice cream), so I have quite a bit on hand. Salt is also important for several reasons.
Prepackaged Long-Term Food
There are quite a few options when it comes to prepackaged long term food, and also a few reasons it may or may not work for you.
Complete Meals: Some prepackaged foods like Legacy and Mountain House are complete meals. All you do is add water and you have dinner.
Ingredients: Some are individual ingredients like beans, flour, powdered eggs, powdered milk etc. These are great if you know how to cook and use them.
Easy Storage: Most of these prepackaged foods come in buckets making them easy to store. You could have a few months’ worth of food stored on the floor of a hall closet.
Long Shelf Life: Another great thing about long term food is that they have a shelf life from 5 to 25 years. This means less worry about spoilage and expiration.
More Expensive: Prepackaged foods are more expensive than pantry foods or DIY food storage, but they are much easier, the only work required is clicking the buy now button.
DIY Food Storage
When done right, doing your own long-term food storage can save you quite a bit of money, but make sure you know what you’re doing. If you don’t, you could just be throwing money away.
More Work: These require more work than the prepackaged long term food, but will cost you about half as much. When deciding between prepackaged and DIY you should ask yourself “what do I have more of, time or money?”
Buckets: You hear quite a bit about DIY food storage buckets because it’s a great way to store flour, beans, and grain in large quantities for a long period of time.
Dehydrating: With fruits and meats, dehydrating and even freeze-drying will expend their shelf life, although the machines to do this can get a little pricy.
Vacuum Sealing: This is a great way of expending the shelf life of food that already has a longer shelf life. Store bought spaghetti isn’t packaged to completely remove air, but vacuum sealing would. It’s also a good idea to vacuum seal vitamins and other supplies.
Canning: Learning how to can at home is quite possibly the best method of DIY food storage, but make sure you learn the craft. There are some dangers to improperly canning food, but if done correctly, there are few limitations to what you can do.
On the Go Food
When I say, “on the go food” I mean food that isn’t a full-blown meal you make for the family. Here are a few items to consider with on the go foods.
High Calories: When it comes to on the go food their main purpose is to be high in calories. This is basically emergency food for when your other options are not available.
Light Weight: Because you might be carrying this food it needs to be as light weight as possible, while packing as many calories as possible.
Bug Out Food: Tis is the food I consider “bug out food”. This is stuff that you keep in your bag, your car, or even at work. This is food that takes no preparation, and because it won’t be stored at home, it needs to withstand temperature changes.
Camping Meals: Mountain House makes some great camping meals that even the family will enjoy. My personal favorite is the ChiliMac, but make sure you test them out before you but 15 or 20 of them.
Ration Bars: There are a few different types of ration bars out there, and none are all that great. But they have a long shelf life, withstand temperature changes, and are packed with calories.
Trail Mix: Item like trail mix, granola bars and peanuts are great because they usually taste good, are easily stored, and have plenty of calories.
MRE’s: Military rations are not very high on my list because of a couple of reasons. While they taste ok, they are a little bulky, and a little expensive.
Something to Add?
This is by no means a complete list of long term food storage ideas for preppers, and if you have something to add to the list, leave a comment below.