Ensuring that you and your family have enough food in your house to make it through several weeks without having to go out to a grocery store is an essential component of being prepared.
The chaos that was 2020 taught us this, did it not?
For all of mankind’s history, we’ve kept enough food stored up so that we could last through the winter months – the times when there was no harvest.
Withing the past 60 years or so, we’ve come to the conclusion that we no longer have to store food. We can just go to the grocery store anytime we dang well please and pick up a frozen dinner or two.
According to the Census Bureau, a little over 80% of Americans have roughly three days’ worth of food in their house at any given time. And just over 50% have three days’ worth of water for their family.
This means we have roughly three days post-disaster before society begins to break down over resources.
History has proven that it often doesn’t even have to be that long.
Power outages in New York City in the 1970s resulted in massive lawlessness within the span of only a few hours.
So, to insulate ourselves against disaster and ensure our families remain well-fed, nourished, and safe, we need properly stocked food.
But what does that mean and how do you do store food long-term?
We’ll cover what kinds of food can store for long periods of time and how to ensure your food doesn’t go bad.
Stick with us to learn more!
Table of Contents
What Food Should I Store Long-Term?
You already know you can buy barrels of milk at Sam’s Club…but it’ll go bad within a month’s span.
So, we have to buy food that lasts. What does that look like?
The most economical option can be found at your local grocery store.
- Dry Beans and Lentils
- Pasta, Macaroni and cheese (in the box)
- Ramen noodles
- Refined white flour (the whole wheat stuff goes bad quicker)
- Dehydrated fruits/vegetables
- Canned food
- Dehydrated milk
- White rice (brown rice goes rancid pretty fast)
- Salt (non-iodized for meat preservation.)
- Anything freeze-dried
- Potato flakes
You can build a rather impressive stock of the aforementioned items and better yet, they keep for a while. (In some cases, years!)
AND you’ll have an arsenal of recipes at your fingertips with just these basic ingredients alone. You can check out some of our favorite DIY MRE recipes here!
If you prefer to make your own MRE concoctions, it’s worth noting you will need some kind of vacuum sealer to do it.
Oxygen is the enemy of preservation so sucking all the excess out keeps things fresh for longer.
I prefer MREs for their sheer convenience. Toss them into a BOB (which we show you how to make!) or put them in a workplace disaster kit and forget about them until you need them.
They include a complete meal, just open up the MRE and eat.
That said, pre-packaged MREs often come at a higher cost.
If you’re interested in going this route, I highly recommend you check out our analysis of the Best MREs on the market so you know what’s worth your money.
How Much Food Should I Store?
There’s a lot of debate on the proper answer to how much is enough within the prepping and disaster mitigation world.
But, I believe that one to three months’ worth will ride you through most disasters.
If you’re just starting out that may sound like a lot of food, but you can easily store that out of sight, even within a cramped single-bedroom apartment.
The National Outdoor Leadership School breaks it down like this. An average person who needs 2,500 to 3,000 calories per day needs 1.5-pounds of food a day.
So, a family of two needs 90-pounds of food to make it a month.
While that sounds like a lot, you could do that with about $100.
A 25-pound bag of rice from Sam’s Club, 12 boxes of spaghetti, a dozen cans of spaghetti sauce, 7-pounds of dry beans, 60 cans of fruits and vegetables…and you’re real close to that goal.
It’s that simple.
Everyone I’ve ever convinced to start storing food told me how surprised they were at the ease of the process.
If you need tips on how to properly stockpile without filling up several rooms of your house, check out our guide on How-To Stockpile Food & Water.
How To Store Food for Years
Alright, so you know why you need to store food, you know what to store, you know how much…now you need to know how to actually store food for the long haul.
Thankfully, this step is easier and less complicated than it may initially seem.
The bottom line? Keep it dry and cool.
Seriously, that’s all there is to it.
This protects your food from pests and moisture while simultaneously keeping things organized.
If you opt for the 5-gallon bucket method, pick up Gamma Seal Lids. These screw-top lids seal moisture out of your buckets but also make food easier to access when it comes time to eat.
Make sure that you get the packets…not just a collection of beads in a bag. You don’t want them getting mixed up in your food since you can’t eat them.
A packet keeps moisture at bay and proves easy to remove from the situation when it comes time.
If you’re storing canned goods, just ensure you keep them safe from rust and dents. If either of these happens, the food inside can begin to grow some particularly nasty toxins you don’t want to eat.
Coating a can with varnish can also help protect it from rust.
Provided that you’re doing everything you can to keep moisture and heat at bay, you’ll do a fantastic job of keeping your food safe to eat for the long haul.
Where Should I Store My Food?
Now that you have your food supply all neatly organized, the next step is to stow it away.
For starters, I recommend packing your kitchen.
Your cabinets and pantry likely have a lot of unused space in them already. Pack all of those spaces as much as you can while simultaneously remaining organized.
A hanging shelf system for my pantry door allows me to stow another 25-pounds of food in my pantry by just taking advantage of empty space.
But what about those pesky buckets? What do I do with those?
Best option is to put them in a closet where they will be away from extreme heat and humidity.
In an apartment, they can easily store in the back of a closet behind hanging clothes.
If space permits though, I recommend a basement with a dehumidifier. Food safely store in such a space with little fear of premature rot.
The places that I don’t recommend storing your food are in your attic, a sunroom, or in a shed out back somewhere.
Those places expose food to a lot of pests, heat, and humidity. The end result? Food only lasting a matter of months.
What Other Items Should I Store Long-Term?
While having food stored is great, you need a few other items on hand as well.
A gigantic sack full of rice is awesome, but unless you have the means of cooking it, you’re somewhat out of luck.
Here are some other items you want in place:
A properly stocked food supply can mean the difference between nourishment and starvation.
So please, do what you can now to protect yourself. Start building your food supply. It’s cheap, it’s easy, and it truly doesn’t take up that much space.
Are there other tips we didn’t cover ? Let us know in the comments below! Want to learn something else you can prepare to protect your family? Learn how to Build a Family Bug Out Bag or a Family Emergency Plan.