Depending on your situation, you might need to store food at more than one location. What we’re getting at here is, if you’re committed to being truly prepared and have the resources to achieve a level of emergency preparedness, then you’ll likely have a bug out location to consider.

While the average person might think that throwing a few cans of beans in the basement of their home is enough to be ready for the apocalypse, you know better. Having a safe location to go to with a healthy amount of buffer space is a massive advantage when things get tough.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a spot like this, you’ll need to make sure your long-term food storage plan takes that into account. There’s no point in stocking up your home with food items but leaving your bug out location without any food supply!

This means having an understanding of how long you can store food before it needs to be replaced. We also recommend checking on your bug out location food stock from time to time as well. This will help you avoid the nightmare scenario of arriving when SHTF and realizing you have nothing to eat.

We also advocate stocking up your home as well. There are plenty of scenarios where you might not need to leave your home but need enough food to last you a few days. You need to be prepared for all scenarios.

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The Phases Of Food Storage

When it comes to prepping, food storage can be broken down into two main phases (short term and long term). This is something a lot of people don’t understand at first, so it’s worth explaining a bit before we get to the details.

There are different types of food suitable for different kinds of scenarios. Therefore, you’ll need to rely on different methods and sources of food depending on what the situation is.

Here’s an example:

If an SHTF scenario occurs during winter and you live in a cold state, your awesome outdoor garden won’t be an option. This means you’ll need to rely on things like canned foods, MREs, dehydrated foods, and more.

However, if you have a great place to escape the chaos and it’s nice and warm, then farming might be a viable option to supplement your stockpile.

This is why all the best preppers break down their food storage plans into two buckets: short-term and long-term. It does not only make things easier to organize, but also it helps you cover your bases.

Short Term

Short-term emergency food storage is the kind of thing you hear people talk about all the time. This is stuff like canned foods, sealed foods, MREs, and meal bars. Stockpiling these is fairly simple as you can find them in the nearby food store or grocery store, so there’s no reason why everyone shouldn’t do this.

Some common short-term foods are canned or dried fruits, meat, veggies, fish, and poultry. You can get a lot of nutritional value out of these and it will allow you to stay fueled up during those crucial first few days.

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Quick Tip: A lot of new preppers think that it’s ideal to try and ration themselves early on in an SHTF situation for the sake of saving resources. The opposite will likely be true.

You’ll be burning a lot of energy in the first few days and it’s important to keep yourself nourished so you can ensure the safety of you and your family. Once you’re safe and things are more stable, then you can start tapering your intake a bit.

Depending on your setup, this will also include perishable foods. Once the power goes out, the clock will start ticking for these foods to meet their expiration dates. Being aware of the shelf life of your emergency food supply will allow you to eat what you can so things don’t go to waste.

Avoiding waste and getting the most out of your resources will have a big impact on your survival chances.


When we talk about the long-term phase of prepper food storage, it’s a bit different. This is a blend of beginning to eat different foods that you’ve stored in advance as well as beginning to put sustainable food options in motion.

At this point, you’ll be starting to eat any dehydrated or freeze-dried foods you’ve tucked away. These require water, which is why it’s something you don’t want to rely on early.

Once you have water, though, they are incredibly effective. Not only are they great sources of fuel and nutrition, but also they will have a long shelf life if stored in the right conditions (10-20 years depending on what it is).

The great thing is this kind of food is very easy to acquire and buy in bulk. You can order a large quantity and keep them in your home or bug out location without much hassle.

Depending on the packaging, we recommend seeing if you can find a more space-efficient way to store them instead of cramming a box of them in the basement. Every extra bit of space you can save is room for more food or supplies (like a prepper first aid kit).

If you plan properly, this food will help you get to more sustainable options to help you survive for the long haul.

At some point, you won’t be able to rely on the food you’ve stored since it will run out. This means it’s going to be on you to acquire and store food on your own.

This sustainable phase of your prepping food storage plan will involve some element of growing and farming. While we won’t cover that in this article (there’s a lot to talk about), we will cover a few of the methods for storing what you make.

Using products like food dehydrators and savers you can plan your food storage strategy accordingly. Food like grain, cheese, and meat are all things you can cultivate yourself and store for catastrophic conditions (if things do get worse) or the cold months.

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There are also creative ways you can preserve your garden harvest. Some foods will last longer than others by nature, but you’ll want to do what you can to keep them around as long as you can. Fruits and vegetables are a necessary source of vitamins and nutrients that you’ll need if you want to stay healthy and maintain energy to keep you and your family safe.

Freezing is a solid option if you have some sort of power setup. Another method is to dry, pickle, and bottle them. We personally recommend a bit of both if you have the tools and skill set for it. It will ensure that all your eggs aren’t in one basket in the event of an accident or power loss.

How To Store Food Efficiently: Basic Principles

There are some basic principles that you should know when it comes to prepping for survival food storage. These should be your guidelines when thinking about preserving and storing food, no matter what setup you have available to you.

First, you’ll want to reduce moisture as much as possible. Think of it as enemy number one.

Not only will moisture cause food to go bad quickly, but it can also deteriorate the materials you’re using to store your food. Metal will rust and wood will weaken.

Next up, you want to try and keep things as cool as possible. The warmer the food, the less time it will last. Think about this when putting together your food storage and its location. For example, you wouldn’t want to store food in the same area where you’re growing crops indoors since it will be warmer and there will be humidity.

You should also try removing oxygen from the equation when you start storing your food. A well-sealed container or bag can make all the difference when it comes to protecting your food. Don’t get lazy with this piece of the puzzle because it can undo a lot of smart prep work you’ve done.

Lastly, make sure your prepping food storage location is nice and dark. Light can have a negative impact on the food you’re trying to preserve. This isn’t something that should sneak up on you, because in an SHTF situation you’ll probably be monitoring power and resources anyway.

What to Look For in Prepper Food and What to Avoid

Whether you are prepping a one-year supply or a storage supply that will last you for only a couple of weeks, there are certain criteria you should look for in the content of your storage. We have already mentioned them above: they should be shelf-stable, pack enough nutritional value to keep you fueled during times you need to spend energy, and they shouldn’t be too much hassle to store, prepare, or eat since you might not have either the time or the means to properly cook in case of an emergency.

Bearing these in mind, let’s have a closer look at what you want to store and what you want to avoid storing.

Essential Food for Your Prepper Food Storage

Okay, the food items we are going to list below may not exactly appeal to your taste buds, but they are the best food and nutrition supply you are going to get in an emergency case where refrigeration or even access to hot water might prove difficult. As long as they are stored well, meaning that they are hidden away from heat, light, oxygen, and pests, they will have at least a one-year shelf life and keep you energetic and full.


Dried beans, pinto beans, and lentils, or whatever other kind of beans you can think of and purchase are good sources of protein and fiber. Both are essential if you do not want to lose your muscle mass, and we believe muscle mass is quite crucial in the case of an apocalyptic event. They are also versatile enough to provide you with different kinds of meals given you have the means. However, you shouldn’t worry if you don’t, since they are quite easy to prepare and consume as long as you have decent water storage. 


Cornmeal and white rice are other items you might want to include in your emergency storage. Similar to beans, they pack plenty of nutritional elements, and they might even give more of a sense of fullness to your stomach if that’s what you are looking for. Moreover, they are quite versatile and might even store better than beans. However, we should warn you to stay away from whole grains (and whole wheat, for that matter), since they are not as shelf-stable or easy to prepare as the ones we mentioned. Still, if you want to store whole grains or whole wheat, make sure that you have a grinder in your storage as well.


If you care about your diet, fats might sound a bit alarming to you, but we think that peanut butter should be at the top of your emergency shopping list. They are not only appealing for taste buds but they also pack enough protein and have a storage life of at least a year. Furthermore, other items that feature fats such as olive oil, lard, or, if you want to go fancy, coconut milk, will be essential for cooking and giving you and your family a sense of fullness.

Fruits and Vegetables

Of course, if cultivated in organic circumstances, fruits and vegetables don’t have much of a shelf life. However, dried fruits and vegetables might last you until the next season’s crop, if there will be any. Also, they are an amazing source of vitamins.


Even if you have avoided gluten all your life, you’d never know what you might miss from the way things were in case of an apocalyptic event, and although the image of you baking bread when the whole world is in shambles has a comic quality to it, it’s still worth being… prepared. Therefore, if you find the idea somewhat tempting, make sure that there is powdered milk, baking powder, baking soda, flour, and yeast in your storage.

Quick Tip: If you want to achieve a variety of tastes with the food in your emergency storage, make sure that you store as many spices and condiments as you can. They have a long shelf-life and will save you from the overwhelming boredom of eating the same thing every day.

Food You Might Want to Avoid Storing

We don’t need to tell you that you might want to say goodbye to some of what you love because if you are prepping, you already know that. However, we can still tell you what food to avoid storing.

For example, you should stay away from food that has more moisture content than ten percent if you are aiming for long-term storage since they are very easy to spoil. Similarly, food that has too much oil content such as brown rice or beef jerky will easily go bad. The jury is still out on brown sugar as some declare that it goes bad earlier than it should and some say that it doesn’t spoil but just hardens, so we may as well leave that decision to you.

Items That Will Help Your Prepper Food Storage

There are certain items crucial for storing whether you are planning for the short or long term. These items will not only keep your food neat and tidy but will also help keep it fresh. Yes, we are talking about storage containers.

Mylar bags you can get from the nearest Costco, 5-gallon buckets that are food-grade and that you can find anywhere, and glass jars which can be sealed so that no air escapes in or out are essential to safely store your emergency food. Moreover, you need oxygen absorbers that help prevent spoilage.


You should now have a solid understanding of how to put together a general prepping food storage plan. Getting it right is an absolute must, but many people are underprepared when it comes to their setup or skill set.

Living a prepared life is something that requires commitment and discipline. While doing the steps above might not seem like the most fun when everything is working, you’ll definitely be glad you took care of it when things take a turn for the worse.

In the future we’ll be exploring some of the more detailed pieces of prepping and food storage, so stay tuned. There’s a lot to cover.

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