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By April 6, 2012 Read More →

10 Rookie Food Storage Mistakes

food storageAre you new to food storage?  Each experienced prepper began just as you.  Take advantage of their mistakes by learning the 10 Rookie Food Storage Mistakes that should be avoided:

  1. Having buckets full of grains, beans or wheat, but have never cooked them before.  Make sure to practice cooking with your food storage.  Also note that if storing wheat berries you will need to have a wheat grinder to make flour.
  2. Storing food that your family does not eat.  In a stressful emergency time, it will be such a comfort to serve familiar foods. Make a list of favorite foods then begin storing them.
  3. Not rotating food storage.  Even though some foods can go past their expiration dates, you should try to use your oldest food storage first.  A system of putting newer food toward the back of the shelf and rotating the oldest to the front of the shelf will help prevent food waste.
  4. Minimal variety of food for a balanced diet.  To prevent food burnout it is best to store a wide variety.  Try storing many varieties of fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, meats, seasonings and staples.  Also keep on hand foods that are freeze dried, canned, dehydrated, MRE’s, and prepared as instant packaged meals.
  5. Poor choice of storage containers.  Prevention of pests and rodents invading your food storage is key.  Using the right food storage containers also prolongs shelf life, nutritional value and taste. Food grade plastic containers, Mylar bags, glass canning jars, #10 cans and even buckets all help to maintain a longer shelf life. 
  6. Never put all your eggs in one basket. Store dehydrated and/or freeze dried foods as well as home canned and “store bought” canned goods.  These varieties will help to balance out your cooking options and even add a variety of textures and flavors.  Another take on this point, is to not store all of your food storage in one location.  Instead of having all of your food storage in one location, it may be wise to have other hiding locations.  False walls, under floor boards, another building on your property, at your emergency bug out location or even a storage facility.
  7. Forgetting salt, cooking oil, shortening, baking powder, soda, yeast, and powdered eggs. You can’t cook even the most basic recipes without these items.
  8.  Not storing water to cook the food.  Many food storage meals require water to rehydrate.  Pasta, beans and soups all need water for cooking.
  9. Forgetting to store spices, salt, oil and basic condiments that are needed for your food storage. How will your famous spaghetti sauce taste without Italian seasoning, salt, olive oil and that pinch of sugar? Beans are a great staple to have on hand and can be seasoned in a variety of ways using salt, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, soy sauce, ground red pepper and more. 
  10. Not having an alternative cooking source if the power goes out.   There are many alternative cooking sources such as the Kelly Kettle, Volcano Oven, Wonder Oven, Propane Camp Stove, Solar Oven and much more.  Research now to see which option is best for your family.

One last tip, don’t forget to store easy to prepare foods to help you get through on difficult days.  Even though they may not be on your list of required food storage foods, you may want to reconsider puddings, juice boxes, instant packaged foods, coffee, candy, muffin mixes, cake mixes, Hershey’s chocolate syrup (lasts a long time without refrigeration), brownie mix and other specialty comfort foods.

In this day and age, with the increase in gas and food prices, it pays to learn from seasoned prepper’s  mistakes.  Another words, learn from their past mistakes!


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75 Comments on "10 Rookie Food Storage Mistakes"

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  1. Barn Cat says:

    I don’t think storing buckets of grains or beans makes any sense. It’s simpler to buy your own baked beans. I’ve got about 200 cans. Storing grains makes sense if you know how to grind your own flour.

    • Highlander says:

      How many mals can you get from a can of baked beans? You can get 14 servings from a pound of beans. Grains of all types can be cooked like rice hence a pound of grain can give you a weeks worth of meals. Plus you can grind them into flour and make bread or pasta, Beans and whole grain keep almost indefinatly but once ground or cooked (even canned) have alimited shelf life. Just a bit of humble advice.


    • Thanks for the comment “Barn Cat”. I do agree that storing canned beans makes it much easier since they are already prepared. That would be a huge help when you need something to eat in a hurry. I am inclined to say that having both dried beans and canned beans would be ideal for food storage. Canned items typically do not last as long. Another fact is that you can also sprout dried beans and it increases the nutritional value. Wheat can also be sprouted, ground into flour to make bread and cooked to make a hot breakfast cereal. Wheat, if stored properly can be stored up to 25+ years. I personally like to have a variety my food storage.
      Great input to have more canned items in our food storage. Thanks for posting!

      • I buy dry beans and can them myself. I know it sounds like a lot of work but its super easy and MUCH cheaper than store bought canned beans. I tend to have some empty canning jars so to keep as many full as possible I fill the empties with beans and have even canned water. An empty jar is just taking up space and provides NOTHING. The dry beans are good for long term and the self-canned are great for quick meals. The best of both worlds!

    • KatrinaB says:

      Experation date of beans in a can while dried beans and grains go for ever….

      • a says:

        Cans contain harmful chemicals, so do plastic bags that store dry beans. But more importantly 1 pound of canned beans is 4 servings, 1 pound of dried beans in 8-10 servings.

        • David Lilley says:

          Try using Mylar food storage bags they cut the price of storing food in half as well as a long shelf life

          • Shadowing Prepper says:

            Hey David,
            The mylar storage bags sounds great. By any chance do you know where I can find large mylar bags. More along the lines of 30-gal to 55-gal? Thanks for your time in this matter.!

  2. Barn Cat says:

    And don’t forget to store enough pet food.

    • Smooth says:

      Pets are food.

      • Cindy says:

        wow, I would really have to be hard up to eat my pets. Seriously, you go after my pets as food and we will be eating YOU.
        My pets are not just my pets, they are my family and I have made sure that they have food and water too.

        • Carolyn says:

          Agree completely with you Cindy; Pets are members of the family and no way are they to be eaten but cared for.

      • Pets can also be part of your security. Our mutt protects our hens. She has killed two possums who got into the chicken run and a fox that was attempting to dig it’s way in. She is also an excellent alarm system. Our hens aren’t pets so eventually they will be food after they egg laying days are over with. Our cat is an excellent mouser and seems a little perverted since she seems to enjoy it to the point of ignoring all else when she senses one in the house. The only pet we have that I consider useless is the Quaker parrot. The rest of them we plan to store feed for.

        • John Potts says:

          We have a fourteen year old Yorky mix.  Anyone comes around during the day she barks, we praise her.  At night, however, she justs emits a low growl to wake everyone up.  We are sailors out of Alaska.  On this trip I am sure we would have been boarded at least twice in the last four years if not for Mollie.  When we move ashore we will have another small, intelligent dog backed up by a War Dog , or two.  I know one old boy that if he were to give the word, you be dead.  My brother’s dogs will all begin barking on command.  He has a good mix of dogs.

  3. No doubt I could have checked off most of your list not too long ago! Thanks for the reminder and hopefully beginners can learn from these mistakes.

  4. Kimberly Martin says:

    What about storing freezer items? Meats and so forth. I have heard people say its a waste to stock up because if the power goes you lose it all. What say you? Generator? Bad idea?

    • Hello Kimberly. Thanks for your post. For me personally, I think that it is best to store a variety of foods and food types. Examples: dried items, dehydrated foods, canned foods, refrigerated, frozen, home canned foods, foods stored in mylar bags, stored in 5 gallon buckets and more…
      If you have a plan to be able to cook up the food quickly that you store in your freezer, then I think that it would be alright to have some food storage in a freezer.
      If you are going to freeze meats, you may want to have some way to cook the meat quickly, be able to can you meats or have a way to make jerky in case the electricity is not working. Of course, you did mention a generator, so this would give you a bit more time to accomplish this task.
      It seems that we all have our different methods and ways of doing our food storage. It is just important that we all are working towards an emergency food storage for our families. Let us know what works for you.

      • a says:

        You need gas to power a generator!!!

        • Wanda Hoover-Tyler says:

          We thought about the generator / gas dilema for our filled 2 freezers, and decided to start our venture into solar with generating enough energy to run those. So far so good.We know that as long as we can run them for 12 hours a day, the food inside stays well frozen and safe. New England winters are cold enough at night that it keeps the garage cold where the freezers are, so thats a help. If we only open the freezer long enough to take out enough food for a few days, they can thaw in the fridge and that helps too. I love my freezer, lol.

          • My family fashioned an outdoor kitchen under a shed in our backyard with a simple gas stove that we got free, along with a laundry sink, through Craigslist. We have a propane tank from a gas grill connected to the stove and a connection for a water hose for the sink. We even found an old kitchen cabinet for storage and counter space. Throughout the summer, I use our outdoor kitchen for canning parties, picnics and cookouts. This outdoor kitchen is a nice alternative to the heat canning creates in my house. Additionally, I feel secure in knowing I’ll be able to use this kitchen to preserve some of the food from my freezer rather than lose it all during a long-term power outage. 

          • Nancy Moore says:

            we lived thru the 2 years of hurricanes in florida with a freezer full and a small generator. we ran the generator for 1 hour every 4 hour. as long as we kept the freezer full and stayed out of it it kept everything frozen quite well. we prefroze old milk jugs for water to fill any empty spaces and drank them as needed.

    • I can a bunch of meat. I stock up when its on sale then freeze and when I have a slow day (lol) I thaw it and start canning. It is SO much cheaper than canned chicken or beef from the store!!! I also have a generator for my fridge and freezer so if we were going to be with out power for long my plan is to start canning as fast as possible. You can also dehydrate fruits and veggies that you would normally freeze (berries, spinach, almost anything) but that would need to be done before the outage of course.

    • Kimberly – In an electrical power failure you probably have three days. If this is purely local outage then a generator is no problem. If it is a large event with scarce fuel available like hurricane Sandy, then that could be a problem without alt.fuel. If you only had 3 days you could yank meat out and cook it if you have non-electric cooking sources. I wouldn’t depend on more than 20 lbs of meat being useful after electricity failure. Is saving frozen meat beyond what you could cook immediately worth the expense of the generator, fuel, maintenance, etc. in a long term outage?

      • Teresa says:

        Any bulk meat I have set aside is canned. If I find a good deal on chicken or even hamburger I can it.I don’t have to worry about a power outage and the loss of a very expensive food item. I know canning isn’t for everyone but the convience of going to the pantry and grabbing a jar of chicken for a salad already cubed and fully cooked has made it all worthwhile. A couple weeks ago I found several packs of italian sausage at the store marked down because it had one day to expiration. I bought what they had, several green peppers, a couple onions. I now have a meal in a jar. All cooked ready to go. throw em in a pan to brown them and warm it all up. Sandwich ready

  5. heather says:

    Storing beans makes sense if you like cost-effective, quality beans prepared a certain way. I rotate through my stash and home-can them. I put up 14 half-pints of black beans yesterday but the family ate them so fast only one is left!

  6. Hugh Vail says:

    I personally enjoyed this article, and want to publicly express such to Cindy for helping the “greenhorns” as well as providing an excellent reminder for the veterans of preparedness it is always good to review the basics.

  7. Craig "the solar guy" says:

    Great article Cindy;

    “store what you eat; and eat what you store”

  8. Ryan says:

    Good information! Learning to garden, but not that easy sometimes. Took a class with our states farm bureau an learned quite a bit about canning. Rotating stock is good advise for everything you have.

    • It is hard learning to garden. I just put in my first huge garden a couple of years ago. One thing that I did learn…. is that there are many different ways to garden. There are many books at the library about different types of gardening and of course the internet has a wealth of knowledge. Everyone of course, thinks that their way is the best. Good luck with the garden.

  9. Ryan says:

    Forgot this, what about vacumm packing already packed food, will this prolong shelf life even more?

    • Hello Ryan. My experience has been that the more that you can keep air (oxygen) away from your food the longer the shelf life. I like to seal packaged food into larger mylar bags with an oxygen packet, then I seal the bag. I store these mylar bags in a 5 gallon bucket with lid. Wal Mart has these buckets for sale that cost $2.97 and the lid is $1.12. I personally like having a few barriers between my food and mice, bugs…etc. Let us know what you decide to do!

    • Kimberly Martin says:


      What section of Walmart are you finding these buckets? That is an amazing price!

      • Nancy Moore says:

        if you go online and look up plastic buckets you can get them even cheaper. in ohio i get mine from an ohio company for wholesale price shipped to my house

    • I found the buckets at Wal Mart on an end cap. They are near the hardware and paint sections. You may also check the online Wal Mart. I am not sure if they have them there, but I was told that they will order things and have it sent to the store for pick up. Worth checking out. I have been buying a couple of buckets every few weeks… and my store of buckets is increasing.

      • a says:

        Walmart is going to be one of the reasons there will be an economic collapse, you’re spending all your money on Chinese made goods.

      • Teresa says:

        Ask in the bakery for the empty icing buckets, our store charges a dollar a piece. Just make sure the lids fit right, lately we have been getting buckets that have different lids that once opened no longer seal. I am going to try replacement lids for them.

    • Kimberly Martin says:

      Thanks! I will make sure to look next time I am there!

    • Jay Morgan says:

      I guess I have been taking a longer view. Any disaster will shut down delivery to stores so all fresh greens will stop. I remember that during the same period in history the Polynesian sailors were able to stay out at sea much longer than European sailors and didn’t know what scurvy was. They used bean sprouts to supplement their diet. Last Christmas I asked my wife for a bean sprouter. It has been a lot of fun playing with, eating and learning to work with a multitude of seeds. One interesting fact was that wheat sprouts have an interesting sweat taste. This got me gathering information about what makes good sprouting seeds and it seems that fresh and non-treated (as usually done by our commercial world) is the critical factor. It was about the same time I learned that one of my nearby farm friends has a crop of winter wheat being harvested this July and would have no problem giving me a 5 gal bucket. (@ ~$8.00 a bushel) So I started looking for a food grade bucket and learned that both Jewel and Dominics (grocery stores) go through a number of 5 and or 2.5 gal buckets weekly or daily, (labels usually describe cake icing) for free. Sometimes I have to clean the remnants out, but that’s not to hard and the price is right and they are food grade. I am excited to have fresh wheat and two uses for wheat. Opps I still need to get a flower mill. One step at a time. I have the buckets now.

  10. Thomas Kemmett says:

    I’m dehydrating mushrooms right now. I bought 3lbs. for $4.00 at the market. After I dehydrate them then I vacuum pack them. I did 5 lbs. of green beans yesterday. Good article.

    • Thanks for the comment Thomas. Just curious, how do you cook with your dehydrated mushrooms? I like to use frozen vegetables and dehydrate them. Frozen carrots that are cut into the circles dehydrate down to about the size of a pencil eraser. They plump up nice when rehydrated and you can’t tell the difference. Some veggies seem to work better than others.

  11. Thomas Kemmett says:

    Stews, soups, rehydrate in beef broth and use with eggs or on burgers. Anyway you would use dried onions or such. I use the big mushrooms, 1/2″ sliced.

  12. Frances says:

    These are all great tips and many I have just practiced as a way of life. Living in rural areas with horses (we don’t refer to horses as livestock lol), l we always have to be prepared to stay where we are sometimes for a month. When that happens it is an experience if the power is out but we get by just fine. Power is always turned on in the cities first with natural disasters. Water is always the biggest concern to have a fresh supply for our horses.

    NOTE: Always freeze flour before storing this keeps the bugs out of the flour. I learned the hard way!

    • Jay Morgan says:

      Over the years we have had a number of weevil infestations in our pantry. I finally had the county entomologist share with me that they tend to be in most commercially packed grains and that all you can do is to go through what you buy fast enough to keep from having a full weevil life cycle get out and into your pantry. I have heard of your suggestion to freeze flower and have been told that this only delayed the start of the insect life cycle to when you took it out of the freezer. (The implication was that your freezer couldn’t get cold enough to kill them but only make they go dormant.) I am looking for information about generating CO2 to replace the air in your packing containers and this would either kill them or keep them dormant the entire time you ore storing them. I have seen one description of using a coin size piece of dry-ice inside the mylar bags before final sealing. The dry-ice idea would not be available after the event. There has to be a simple lime-stone and acid in a mason jar with a piece of aquarium tubing????? (Looking for details on this!???)

      • a says:

        Can you bring flour up to temperatures that will kill them like 149 degrees F? I don’t know if it will change the composition of the flour, as in will it still rise..

      • Kat H says:

        I don’t care if freezing doesn’t kill the bugs. The flour will be used to cook something. It will go into a baked item or be used to coat something for frying. Now I am not saying we shouldn’t take precautions against infestation. What I am saying is there has to be a balance. At what cost (in money, time and effort) is it worth it to make something absolutely safe? Personally, I don’t want to lose focus.

      • usafsam says:

        I was watching the show on Nat Geo and one guy had a great idea to get the oxygen out of the food storage container and to kill all bugs. Throw a hand warming unit into the air tight container and seal immediately. The chemical reaction of the unit as it heats up will use up the oxygen in the tightly enclosed space without contaminating the food.

  13. KVA says:

    Thank you for the excellent article. We used a very simple idea: What would a Cowboy Chuck wagon look like going across the prairie? It may sound very simplistic but it’s always been my experience that simplicity doesn’t forget stuff.

  14. Norine Blankenship says:

    I see folks storing tons of canned food items on open shelving. Yes it looks nice and everyone can see you are prepping hard. But what about an earthquake?. I am speaking from experience they rattle off the shelf and shatter.We store ours in ice chests, and square buckets. Not only are they earthquake sake but also grab and go ready!

    • Great idea! Yes, I have always been worried about that too. I put a small strip of molding across my shelves to help prevent the cans and mason jars from crashing down to the floor during such an event. I love the bucket storage idea. I suppose that you could even use the regular 5 gallon buckets for the smaller canned goods. Thanks!

    • Thomas Kemmett says:


    • Jeff Toney says:

      Light breaks down the food faster, as well. The jars usually come in nice divided boxes. I just put the filled jars back in them. A 2″ lip on the front of the shelf should keep them in place for all but the kind of earthquake that will bring the house down anyway.

  15. a says:

    I would first off go through lists of super-foods, these foods are packed with nutrients. 1 Tablespoon of spiralina powder might have the nutrition equivalence of 2 cups of dried kale/spinach. You have to think about space and weight, as you may end up physically carrying these foods or have limited space. If you are fleeing town, and your car will holds “X” amount of space, you are certainly better off with a light load = use less gas = go farther away from disaster zone.

  16. We felt we would be okay with a few cases of food but after this past election; there is an emergency to stock up but want to buy the correct foods and store properly.

  17. michelle_williams says:

    Restaurants are also an excellent source for five gallon food grade buckets.  Many just throw them away!  Fill your bathtub with hot water and a little dishsoap and place the buckets in overnight.  In the morning you will find the labels have slid right off!  If it’s FREE, it’s for me!

  18. Darla White says:

    Don’t forget a small stash of your favorite comfort foods to store in the buckets also. Like candy, chocolate, coffee, fruit drink mixes (to make OLD water taste better). I also store the left over fast food restaurants tiny packets of (salt, pepper, ketchup, salsa, taco sauces & other tiny things like–shampoos, soaps, etc.) for bartering in the event of a SHTF scenario. Keep it high up or under lock & key from your ever hungry children. Lol

  19. Sam Martin says:

    Briefly microwave flour, beans, rice. It kills the bug’s chances of ever hatching. Then vacuum pack and seal and put in buckets.

  20. Good Article.  My only comment now would be to avoid storing white flour in #10 cans.  I did that and 8 years later, the flour has a “tinty” smell and taste to it.  I think Mylar bags or buckets are better for flour.

  21. RamboMoe says:

    Good list. #7 in particular is something I hadn’t thought much about.

    • N2Trouble says:

      As for #7, yeast and cooking oils have short shelf lives so they are something I do not stock up on. Salt is a must have.

      • Prepper Food says:

        What we like to do is rotate those older cooking oils out of storage and into the kitchen. That way when we stock up our newest cooking oils are always in food storage.

  22. Kevin McBee says:

    Are there dry yeast that will keep.