Building up a well-stocked emergency food supply is crucial to being prepared. Hurricanes. Floods. Wildfires. Riots. Blizzards. Power Outages. Pandemic. Food Shortages. Job Loss. There are many threats to food security and many reasons to provide your family with food insurance – an ample supply of backup food to lean on when times are tough or crisis hits.
In these real-world scenarios, there may be little or no time to get to the store before you need to hunker down. That’s why it’s so important to prepare. Your long-term emergency food stores are your family’s survival safety net. Here are three top tips to consider for effective survival food storage.
1. Choose the Right Foods
Survival food characteristics include being long lasting, nourishing, and easy to cook.
Most emergency food stockpiles consist of a mixture of bulk items like bags of beans and rice, extras of staples and non-perishable items from the grocery store, and true-blue survival rations like MRE’s and survival bars.
While you’d likely eat anything if you were hungry enough, it’s smart to choose foods you and your family enjoy. If you’ve always hated Brussels sprouts, it’s safe to assume you won’t suddenly develop a taste for them when SHTF. It’s also wise to focus on foods that you’re used to preparing. Being familiar with your survival food (and how to cook it) can lend a sense of normalcy and help keep stress levels down in an already stressful situation.
It’s also important to include no-cook options like canned meat, beef jerky, trail mix, granola bars, peanut butter, and freeze-dried fruits and vegetables. These foods can help your family safely weather a power outage.
In the event of a sustained power outage or crisis event, you’re going to want a plan to cook without electricity. Have a method to safely cook food in doors. Many camp stoves CANNOT be used inside the home without ventilation because they produce carbon monoxide. Make sure you’re familiar with alternative cooking methods, and practice until you’re comfortable.
If time allows, add a fresh twist to your survival supply. Sometimes, like in the case of hurricanes or snowstorms, you’ll have advanced notice of an impending event and time to get to the grocery store.
Citrus fruits and apples have a long shelf life and are a great way to supplement non-perishable items with something fresh. Root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, beets, and onions also last a long time and are a good choice to buy ahead of a weather event to supplement your survival food stores.
Growing sprouts indoors is another simple way to supplement your survival food with something fresh, green, and highly nutritious.
2. Store Your Survival Food Properly
The proper storage environment is crucial for your food supply. Imagine how terrible it would be to discover your survival stockpile is spoiled when your family needs it most.
Foods like honey, salt, beans, and rice have an indefinite shelf life if packaged and stored correctly.
Enemies of food storage include moisture, heat, and light, so by contrast, your emergency food reserves should be kept in a cool, dark, and dry location. Fluctuating temperatures can also reduce shelf life, so if you’re able to, choose a climate-controlled environment.
Survival food should be kept off the floor in case of flooding or pests. Many preppers opt for heavy-duty shelving units, which keep food off the floor and can help in terms of staying organized.
It’s also helpful to store food in airtight containers like sealed buckets or plastic bins to maximize shelf life. You may also opt to use oxygen absorbers to extend the shelf life of your dry long-term food stores, but study up first – oxygen absorbers should only be used for foods with low moisture and oil content. If the moisture level is too high, you could risk botulism poisoning.
It’s also not recommended to store sugar or salt with oxygen absorbers because they’ll become rock hard.
3. Organize and Remember to Rotate
Keep your survival pantry organized and clearly labeled so you can rotate and restock your food inventory as needed. Keep like items together so you can keep tabs on expiration dates.
There are some genuine “set it and forget it” survival foods like freeze-dried meals, MRE’s and even our own Survival Fresh Canned Meat – all of which boast a shelf life of 25 years.
Otherwise, adopt a system of “first in, first out.” This commonsense tactic simply means using products with an earlier use-by-date first. When stocking multiples keep items with the soonest use-by-dates in front and farthest away expiration dates on the back of the shelf. That way you can use and replenish foods in the correct order and avoid waste.
Expiration dates are often printed in teensy tiny fonts, so it can help to highlight them or write them larger in permanent marker.
If a power outage or disaster should occur, move through your food resources in logical fashion, using fresh items first, then frozen, and non-perishable items last according to expiration dates.
Preparation is Key
By definition, emergencies are unexpected and dangerous. The only way you can stay ahead of an unforeseen event is by being prepared. Start building up your emergency food stockpile before you need it. It’ll give you peace of mind knowing you have it just in case, and if and when you do need it, it’ll be there to save the day and help your family stay well-fed and survive a crisis.