You know that moment when you spend a couple of days in the house because you don’t feel like going out (or are forced to do so) and you find yourself without food or water? That is when you realize that having a basic food and water storage prepared for an emergency is not a crazy thing to do!
Now you have alternatives: go out and buy what you need or make the best with what you have around the house. Of course, when you realize there isn’t anything around the house that could constitute a nutrition source, you blame it on yourself for not shopping more carefully and you make a promise next time to buy at least the essentials in case this situation strikes again.
And I am here to help you with all that and share how to start your own food storage to be better prepared for an emergency.
We won’t get very in depth here for longer term preparedness – but simply starting up and knowing the basics will help you be better prepared for incoming emergencies and you will know how to build up that food storage. It doesn’t have to happen over night: just start working on it and after a week, a month or a year, you will be in a much better situation, better prepared to handle emergencies.
Many people thought that in these modern days, longer term emergencies are something that will never happen. Then 2020 came and forced us to stay locked inside our houses and go into a bit of a survival mode.
Sure, things weren’t too bad as we still had shopping and access to almost everything wee needed to live our lives as before, but this still proves that you should never take everything for granted and exclude the possibility that you’ll find yourself in an unexpected emergency.
Being too lazy to go out to buy food is considered a first world problem (as there isn’t in fact one, you just perceive it like this). But what if you wake up tomorrow in the middle of a real crisis and you won’t be able to go out and buy food, you’ll just have to live from your reserves?
This is no longer fiction, actually, as we already have been through that…
At this point, the imminence of a crisis (economical, political, health-related, etc.) is so big that planning at least a very few details, would do you lots of good.
So, let’s check out together a few basic rules when starting to think about storing food to ensure your survival, as well as your family’s well being.
Starting your food storage: basics
1. Think about quantity
You need to figure out the minimum amount of food your family needs for a year – if you manage to have this much stored, then you can consider yourself very well prepared.
But be warned – the quantities will be huge for such a large amount of time, and the larger your family, the more food you will need to set aside.
Now make sure you take into account periodically any changes in your household (new baby on the way, relatives coming to live with you etc). And only store food that you will normally consume.
Yes, those prepper-meals and MREs and other stuff like that are easier to store because they take less space… but you have to consider the fact that almost always you will be forced to eat the food you have stored in a non-survival situation (or throw it away, which would be just a waste).
So store foods that have a huge shelf life (beans, rice and so on), as well as canned food and everything that lasts long, but also things you normally it. You will have to rotate the food and consume the things that are about to expire and trust me when I say that you will get tired very fast with the bland taste of MREs…
If you’re just starting out, it can be overwhelming to just buy one year’s worth of food so stat low: first build up enough food to last you for three days in case of an emergency.
Then, after completing this task, move to food for 7 days. Then work for 1 month and so on until you reach the ideal 1 years’ worth of food for you and your family.
2. Think about diversity
Try and do this test: look everyday this week at what you and your family eat daily and think about how much of what you eat could be preserved.
If you realize you only eat things that cannot be preserved for more than a few days, you might want to start adding to your everyday diet products that you will be eating in a crisis.
This way, your body won’t suffer a shock when you switch to a completely new diet.
Now don’t go overboard changing your entire diet but get your body used to certain foods you might have ignored so far – it will probably do you good as diversity is an important principle when it comes to nutrition.
During the strange events of 2020, we found out that we were lacking many of the products that we normally consumed, the most important being fresh milk and other fresh produce. We are all used to eating a lot of fresh stuff, which is not going to be possible during an emergency, especially if it is longer term.
So get used to other foods as well – those which last long, if you’re not already using them regularly as part of your diet.
3. Think about a storage place
Of course, when starting to prepare and buying products, you will follow some ground rules – everything you choose must be easily stored, shouldn’t impose a lot of storage conditions and it should last for as long as possible.
That favorite sauce of yours might taste good, but it’s the stuff that doesn’t go bad after several years that you should consider in this case. And fortunately, there are lots of options out there.
You also need to determine a storage place in your house that is easily accessible. You will probably need lots of shelves and you will want to organize the food as efficiently as possible so it can be easy to locate.
You might want to prepare for a crisis with no electricity so no refrigeration possible. When choosing a place think about temperature, humidity, pests, oxygen and light: normally, for most foods, having a darker place that’s cooler and as dry as possible is best.
Also, storing food for a year is serious stuff: you will need a lot of space, so always think about choosing foods that use as little space as possible.
Cans and bags and bottles are great for diversity, but they take a lot of volume and don’t offer a lot in return. Rice and beans, for example, take a lot less space and are very good at feeding a family (basically, their quantity triples when cooked!)
4. Think about calories
If there’s ever a time I would recommend counting calories this would be it. You need to calculate the necessary calories input for each family member and take into account that some crisis might require physical effort, so you might need a bigger input.
Foods that you stay away from now, due to their high calories input will be your best friends in a crisis! Remember: you’re preparing for survival, not for a week-long vacation away from home!
This means that protein bars and other fatty, sugary foods, are good to be had around. They are easier to store since they pack a large punch and take little space. But don’t overdo it: they are still not healthy and you can’t survive long term on protein bars alone.
5. Think about cooking and recipes
If you already cook, you might try once a week to prepare a meal with the ingredients you find in your storage room.
Go to the next level and think about a crisis where you don’t have access to electricity or fire and try to plan the meals for a whole week using only the ingredients in the storage room.
This is the best way to figure out what you’re missing, what you need to add and what you need to drop.
You can also check you the government’s recommendations for safe food storage here.
6. Also think about vitamins and minerals!
This is something that’s usually overlooked, but which can be easily solved. Since your diet during an emergency won’t be too varied, you might end up lacking in terms of vitamins and maybe evebn minerals that keep you healthy.
Fortunately, supplements with various vitamins and minerals usually have a long shelf life (a few years in most cases), so make sure to have a few of those set aside. This does not replace a varied diet, but they can prove extremely helpful during an emergency – be it short term or longer term.
7. You need water, too!
I know that this article is about “food storage” but water has to go in here as well. Because, you know, you can live longer without food than you can without water!
And storing water is by far the most difficult thing to do, because you need a ton of it. Usually, most people agree that the amount needed is about 1 gallon per person per day. For extreme survival mode (only drinking water), you could do with just half that amount.
So have at least half a gallon per person per day put aside – and as much as possible. It will be difficult to store such large amounts for one year (especially with rotation in mind), so here it is best to prepare for collecting water.
Set some aside for emergencies, but also have a plan if things really go South: how will you get water and how to purifty it? I will write more about this topic in a future article, but until then you have some food for thought.
And this would be it from me today. Do you know any other recommendations on how to start food storage? Let us all know by sharing your opinions below!