Storing food, say a month or two’s worth, is no longer the habit of a fringe group of Doomers. Everyday moms like me have an extra stash of food set away for those “just in case” events.
1. Don’t let “perfect” get in the way of “it’s good enough.” You don’t need freeze-dried food to have a decent food storage pantry. Cans of food, lots of cans!, will do just fine. Stay focused on stocking up on shelf-stable food your family will eat and stay within your budget.
VIDEO: “Don’t let the ‘perfect’ become the enemy of the ‘good’.
2. Do your best to protect stored food from the enemies of food storage. All of these will cause your food to deteriorate more quickly: heat, humidity, pests, oxygen, light and time. Heat is the worst enemy of all, so do everything you can to store the bulk of your food in the coolest part of the house.
READ THIS to learn more about the enemies of stored food. By the way, these enemies affect food in emergency kits, too.
3. Try a few new varieties of food from companies like Emergency Essentials, but first, buy the smallest containers possible for a taste test. With each purchase, check for flavor, fresh-looking color, and then use that food in multiple ways to see if it’s a good fit for you. My family loves freeze-dried corn and I buy it, knowing that we can use it in chowders, stew, my Mexican rice recipe, and a whole lot more. The more versatile a food is, the more value it has.
NEW TO FOOD STORAGE? Read my tips for placing your first order with a food storage company here.
4. Don’t stock up on foods that will disappear once the kids find them! At first, I stocked up on things like juice boxes and granola bars, only to find that they had mysteriously disappeared, leaving only the wrappers behind! My kids saw them and figured, “Hey, Mom’s finally buying the good stuff and hiding it from us!”
5. Buy what you actually like and will use and resist the temptation to stock up on something just because it’s super cheap on double coupon day! At one point I had about 15 bottles of salad dressing that we never used and 2 years later, they were all such a disgusting looking color that I threw them out.
6. Do keep your food storage area(s) free from pests. Diatomaceous earth, sprinkled around the floorboards of your pantry area is a good, non-toxic method for controlling pests. I also set out small containers of cornmeal mixed with borax as a safe way to kill off bugs. Given enough time, a really determined rodent can chew through the plastic of a 5-gallon bucket, so keep an eye out for rodent droppings.
7. Stay focused on buying food that can be used in multiple recipes rather than just-add-hot-water meals. Those quick meals are fine for short term emergencies, but you want a pantry that will contain healthy ingredients for delicious meals — more of a long-term solution.
8. Set a goal of collecting 12 new recipes that you and your family love that require only shelf-stable ingredients. If you already have a good start on a balanced food storage pantry, you’ll find that you already have many of the required ingredients stored. With fresh, new recipes, you’ll spare your family of food fatigue if you are ever completely reliant on that stored food.
READ MORE: My book, Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst Case Scenarios, has 2 full chapters that will help you decide which recipes are best for food storage purposes and how to calculate how much of each ingredient you’ll need.
9. Start rotating that stored food, if you haven’t done this already. This is simply the process of using the oldest food on the shelf and replacing it with new food. If you’re conscientious about food storage conditions, heat, especially, your food will stay fresher longer, but if you have food that is more than 5 years old, begin using and replacing it.
10. Stock up on comfort foods. If your kids love macaroni and cheese, buy macaroni in bulk and repackage it for longer shelf life or buy it from a food storage company that has already removed the oxygen and sealed it in a can. Buy cheese, butter, and milk powders, and you’ll be able to make that mac-n-cheese years from now without having to buy any fresh ingredients! Chocolate chips, jelly beans, and other candies are other comfort foods to consider.
LEARN MORE: Use a vacuum sealer, like a Food Saver, to repackage foods like nuts, chocolate, and more. Here are my video instructions:
11. Don’t get lazy when it comes to repackaging food! Rule of thumb: if a food comes in a cardboard or flimsy plastic bag, it must be repackaged. I have full details in this article.
12. Add a little something to your food storage every time you go to the store, even if it’s just a single can of store brand soup. It really does add up over time.
13. There’s more to life than food, so also include cleaning supplies (I buy a lot of white vinegar, baking soda, and bleach) and toiletry items. These categories lend themselves very well to coupon shopping.
When you stock up on food, you are buying it at today’s prices and planning ahead for a time when those prices will increase. Food price inflation is tricky because it isn’t always about the number on the price tag, but the size of the package and the number of ounces the package contains. When I compare cans of tuna for sale now with cans of tuna that I’ve had in my pantry for a few years, the older cans are noticeably larger — but the price is the same! Food price inflation is happening but most people aren’t aware of it.
More resources for you
- “A Round-Up of Food Storage Resources“
- Food Saver — vacuum system for storing food long-term
- Food Saver Mason jar sealer
- Food Storage for Self-Sufficiency and Survival by Angela Paskett
- Oxygen absorbers, 100 cc
- Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage by Gaye Levy
- The Preparedness Planner (Print this out and prepare a customized planner!)
- The Prepper’s Cookbook by Tess Pennington
- Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Emergencies and Worst Case Scenarios by Lisa Bedford