When you hear someone say food storage you probably think of a large-sized room packed from floor to ceiling with cans and containers of food that could feed your family for the next 10-15 years or so. This image is what makes many people — maybe even you — think that starting and having food storage is just not possible.
Well guess what? It’s totally possible. Whether you’re single, recently married or married with kids, you can have food storage for everyone in your home. Food storage isn’t just necessary preparation for a natural disaster. It’s also good to have in case some unexpected family emergency comes up, someone losing a job or having to buy a new car. And you’ll be the most prepared if you have short-term and long-term food storage supplies.
Here are some basic tips to help get you started with your food storage:
- Start now! Begin buying a little extra of food items you know you will eat and can store, especially when they’re on sale.
- Begin a supply for both types of food storage. Don’t just have one or the other.
- Have a good variety of food items so you get a balanced nutrition from your food supply.
- Store your foods in the proper conditions. Storage life of your food items is greatly impacted by certain storage conditions, like temperature, light and moisture.
- Label the front or top of your food items with their expiration dates so you know from a quick glance whether something is good or expired.
Now that you know some things to do to get started, it’s time to learn what kinds of foods you should store for your short-term and long-term food storage supplies.
Short-Term Food Storage
Your short-term food storage should have a food supply that lasts you between 3-6 months. When you think of this category, think about the foods that you and your family cook with and eat on a regular basis. Make a list of these foods and then decide how much of each food item you’d go through in a 3-6 month time period. Keep these foods in your pantry or some other food storage area, and then use and rotate them in your daily cooking. Restock these items when they go on sale and as your supply gets low.
Some of the foods to buy for your short-term supply that need to be used within 6 months or a year include:
- Canned fruits and vegetables (from the grocery store and ones you’ve grown and canned or preserved yourself)
- Canned condensed meat
- Canned vegetable soups
- Canned nuts
- Compressed food bars
- Macaroni and cheese
- Peanut butter
- Ramen noodles
- Vegetable oil
- Boxed powdered milk
- Prepackaged drinks
Each person’s short-term food storage is going to vary. Some items will be the same, but your complete list is going to depend on what you and your family consistently eat. Here is a sample 3 month food storage plan that lists the amount of foods needed for 1 adult person, as well as toiletries, cleaning products and paper and plastic products.
Long-Term Food Storage
Your long-term food storage supply needs to last, well, a long time. Many people like to be prepared for 3, 4, 5+ years, so they buy items that have a long shelf life and are multi-purposeful. Many food items used in long-term food storage can last 20 years or longer.
Below are some of the common food items to include in your long-term food storage supply:
- Baking soda
- Bouillon products
- Cooking oil
- Dehydrated and freeze dried fruits and vegetables
- Dried corn
- Dry beans (black, white, pinto and soybeans)
- Potato flakes
- Rolled oats
- White rice
- Instant coffee, cocoa and tea
- Nonfat dry milk
- Non-carbonated soft drinks
One thing to take note of is that sometimes stores exaggerate just how long the food items they sell can last, so make sure to do your own research to know for sure how long food items last before you buy them. Items containing fats, oils or higher moisture content have shorter shelf lives than those without.
You may think you’re done after all those food items, but you’re not. You can’t forget water. Your food storage must include water! You can’t live for more than 3 days without drinking water.
The recommended amount is 1 gallon of water per person. But, that is only for drinking. It doesn’t include the needed water for hygiene and cooking, or if you live in a hot and humid environment, so as you’re gathering your water supply, be sure to take all that into account. Young children, elderly people and sick people also need more than 1 gallon of drinking water a day.
The easiest way to store clean, drinking water is using your leftover plastic bottles that used to have juice or soda pop in them. Once empty, clean these bottles out with hot water and soap, and then fill with clean tap water. Seal these bottles tight and store in a cool, dark place.
No matter what your current situation is, you need to have a short-term and long-term food storage supply. And if you haven’t started yet, don’t put it off any long. Start now!
Author Bio:Rob Spangenberg is currently attending the University of Utah working on his Bachelor’s of Finance. He loves all thing outside, exotic foods, and was fortunate enough to be able to combine the two and backpack all over Asia this past summer. You can check him out on Twitter @robertspangey.