We live in a world where a disaster is bound to hit us sooner or later. Food storage is one of the basics of emergency preparedness and it requires proper planning. No matter how you look at things, food will always become your number one priority during a long-term disaster.
Having a well-equipped pantry doesn’t necessarily make you a prepper. It has become a requirement of the times we live in. Food storage will make survival possible during an emergency scenario, may it be regional or national. Regardless of what your feelings towards preparedness are, you should at least have a week’s worth of food in your home.
For those planning for a long-term disaster, the food storage requirements are much more complex. There are a few things that need to be covered in order to make sure the food is still edible a few years from now. Here is what you should keep in mind when it comes to storing food.
10 Essentials for long-term food storage:
Keep it cool
Storing your food in a place that is prone to temperature variations must be avoided. Heat accelerates bacterial activity and enzymatic processes. These are known to cause food spoilage regardless how you packed your food supplies. Food storage requires a space where heat sources shouldn’t be present. Many people store food in their basement and they forget to notice that even a water heater can raise the temperature in the entire room.
Light is another element that can compromise your food storage. The light energy will break down proteins in food, but it also heats it. Heat forming inside the canned goods allows the air in the headspace to expand. It will break open the seal, allowing microorganisms to contaminate the food. Some containers, depending on their food content, may even explode. Besides contaminating the other items from your pantry, you will also have to do a lot of cleanup. In foods that contain fats or oil, sunlight may accelerate rancidity
Keep it airtight
If your food is exposed to oxygen it begins to break down and nutrients degrade rapidly. Fungi and microorganisms need an oxygenated environment to thrive. Leaving behind an environment without oxygen will make it impossible for bacteria and fungi to occur. Oxidation will cause rust and your cans will degrade causing leakage. Use a vacuum sealer to seal food tightly in plastic or mylar bags.
A must read: Civil War Era Foods you can still make today
Think about what your family eats
If you think about it, five hundred pounds of grains look great in your pantry, but that’s pretty much it. Eating only certain types of food can get tedious in the long-term and it will create appetite fatigue. This is the most common mistake and most people don’t have enough variety in their storage. Food variety is essential when it comes to storing food and it’s better to know the eating habits of your family members. Make a list with what your family likes to eat and store the ingredients that are needed to cook those tasty meals. In time you will learn what items you need to store and you will discover what’s missing.
Always rotate your stock
Food storage implies you should feed your family with the foods from your pantry. You should do so regardless if you’re facing a crisis or not. People are storing foods without knowing what to do with it. You should put your pantry to the test and I suggest you do it sooner rather than later. Try to live one week with only what you can prepare from the items available in your pantry. Write down what went wrong, what you are missing and how the overall experience was. Make sure your replace what you eat to keep a constant food storage.
Buy cheaper and spread the cost
When it comes to food storage, preparing a food stock for the entire family can be quite expensive. If you have like-minded families in your neighborhood, try to work together. For example, you could buy large quantities of food in bulk and take advantage of sales. You could divide the costs and the items between buyers and it will cost you less than prepping on your own. Another good idea would be to split the cost of freeze dryer between neighbors so that everyone could benefit from freeze drying their own food. This food is a must when it comes to food storage and it is much cheaper to freeze dry it at home.
Store spice and seasonings
Your food storage plans should include dry seasonings. For example, dry herbs have a long shelf life if stored properly. It is important that you store flavorings such as tomatoes, bouillon and onions. Make sure you also include a good supply of the spices you like to cook with. These can make a world of difference when you are forced prepare bland foods. They help young ones and old people to better deal with a restrictive diet and can change their mood if used properly.
Related reading: How to dry herbs and spices
Don’t make it a one man effort
Learn how to get all your family members involved into your food storage plans. Everything can be done easier if you have moral support and if others are giving a helping hand. For example, drying jerky with the kids can be a fun and educational experience. Involve them into checking the pantry’s temperature, cleaning it, rotating the food, checking and discarding compromised food items, etc. If you have kids you can do it together or ask them to do it, once they get the hang of it. It will make them more responsible and it will keep your pantry safe.
Think about water as well
When people plan to stockpile water they fail to realize that the content of their pantry will influence their storage numbers. Dehydrated foods requires to be reconstituted in order to eat it. Making soup requires water as well. The way you cook your food and the items you stored may require for you to recalculate your water supplies. Food storage goes hand in hand with water storage. Once you decide how much water you should be storing, take a good look at the items inside your pantry. I guaranteed you will have to supplement the initial stock with at least 10% more.
Always have a backup plan
Another aspect that is neglected when it comes to food storage is not having a plan B. What will you do when the food runs out or when your home is raided? These are questions that you should have an answer for. Some people have all sorts of food production methods while others stockpile items for bartering. There are also those that form communities to pool resources and accomplish more than they might on their own. Regardless how you look at things, you should implement a backup plan. After all, we hope for the best and we prepare for the worst.
Food storage requires a lot of careful planning and investment. You will not be able to survive a long-term disaster without having the basics covered. Food storage becomes a main concern when you are preparedness like-minded. The requirements listed above will help you keep your pantry safe and will make sure your food lasts.
Other Useful Resources:
The LOST WAYS (The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us)
Drought USA (Secure unlimited fresh, clean water)
Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)