How To's: Start With Food Storage Basics

Food Storage Basics

If you begin with the basics and throw in some canned or freeze-dried meats and your own fresh-grown produce, you will have well-balanced meals during any crisis.

When I first started collecting food for storage purposes, I seriously did not know where to start.

I had young children who I knew would not eat whole wheat for breakfast every morning. What would I do with pounds of wheat anyway?

So I started reading and talking to others who were more knowledgeable than I.

Some of the advice was useful — some not. Some books said to do it this way — others said to do it another way. I was so confused about what to do first, and what to do next.


So I decided to just START! I think I'm a fairly logical person, so following are the guidelines that I came up with — and they have worked well for me for many years.

Beginning with the statement at the top of this page, I first asked myself, "What WILL my family eat?"

The logical place to start was to . . .

Gather Favorite Recipes

I compiled a list of 7-10 of my family's favorite recipes. I laid them out on a table to look at the ingredients in each recipe. Then I wrote down which ingredients could be stored long term and which could only be stored for a short term.

For instance: If a recipe calls for fresh vegetables, meat, eggs, cheese, or milk, how many of those items can be stored long term?

Let's take sample food items individually:

Food Item Canned Frozen Dehydrated Freeze Dried
vegetables 2+ years 1-2 years (longer if vacuum packed) 25+ years 25+ years
meat 2+ years 1-2 years 25+ years 25+ years
eggs N/A 1-2 months 25+ years 25+ years
milk-powdered N/A N/A 20-25 years (not freeze dried)
cheese N/A 1-2 years (changes texture - is a bit grainy but tastes ok) N/A 25+ years

As you can see, the above ingredients can be stored long term. If your recipes contain rice, beans, pasta, or other grains, these can also be stored long term.

Storing a Variety of Grains in Your Long Term Storage

Storing Grains

Grains are the foundation of a wide variety of menus and recipes that you feed your family on a daily basis and should be a staple in your long term food storage plan. Whole wheat is usually the primary grain most associated with food storage supplies. But to prevent your family from getting bored eating wheat in every possible recipe, try storing grains of other varieties such as oats, brown and white rice, pearled barley, [...]

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Why Fats and Oils Are Difficult to Store

Storing Fats & Oils

Storing fats and oils long term requires defining "long term" - which I'll do in a moment. The problem with storing any fats and oils is oxidation - exposure to oxygen causes rancidity. Rancidity has been implicated as a cause of cancer (a carcinogen), heart disease, and atherosclerosis. On the other hand, fats are important for our health. They add taste and texture to our foods, as well as help our bodies absorb fat soluble [...]

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The Truth About Storing Sugar

Storing Sugar

Since there are several forms of sugar, all different in texture, color, and usage, we'll cover how to store sugar by the different types.

Whether sugar is good for us or not, is another topic. But for food storage purposes, it is an essential ingredient in many recipes, as well as a "comfort food". However, using it sparingly for treats in a time of stress or crisis, can be a comfort to children as well as adults [...]

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Why and How to Store Powdered Milk

How to store powdered milk

Milk is a basic ingredient for so many recipes as well as a favorite beverage. But if you're not able to run to the store for a gallon, powdered milk is handy and easy to use. That's why it's so important to include it in your food storage plans.

It's not inexpensive either, but buying it in the grocery store in 12 oz (or whatever) sizes is not the most cost effective way to purchase powdered milk for food storage purposes. Several people have ask [...]

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How to Use Powdered Eggs in Everyday Cooking

powdered eggs

Have you ever tried using powdered or crystalized eggs in your recipes? Well, I have and I was surprised that they actually taste good.

One of my favorite things about powdered eggs is that you always have eggs when you're ready to cook with them. No more borrowing from the neighbor or running to the store when you're half way though a recipe only to find that you don't have enough [...]

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Storing and Cooking Legumes (Beans)

Storing & Cooking Beans

The legume family (or beans to most of us) includes lentils, peas and peanuts. These foods are the richest source of vegetable protein and are a good source of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber.

Because they are nutritious, easy to store, and can be "problematic" [...]

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Round Out Your Basic Food Storage With Fruits & Vegetables

Fruit & Vegetable Storage

Fruit and vegetable storage not only adds variety to the basics of wheat, oats, and rice, but provides the nutrition needed for a well-rounded food storage program. Fruits can also satisfy that sweet tooth without the calories and sugar contained in most desserts.

Three ways to add produce to your food storage:

  • Grow your own
  • Purchase produce in bulk from a local farmer or market
  • Purchase commercially preserved fruits and vegetables, either canned, frozen, or [...]

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'Spice' Up Your Food Storage

Shelf Life and Storage of Spices and Herbs

Shelf Life of Herbs and Spices

The quantity you store of herbs and spices will depend on how much you use. How often, for instance, do you need to buy salt, or pepper, or oregano? Salt is the most used "spice" so you would need much more of that. For instance, a family of two adults uses approximately 8-10 pounds of salt per year.

As for other spices and herbs, they will lose their color, taste and [...]

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Recipe Ingredients for Food Storage

Recipe Ingredients for Food Storage

It is always nice to have recipe ingredients on hand whenever needed. If you are working on your 3-month pantry supplies, these items will round out your menus. These are recipe ingredients that you will use on a daily basis as you prepare meals from scratch. Using them regularly will keep them rotated. Buying extras when these items are on sale and rotating them through your stored supplies can save [...]

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How To Prepare Whole Meals From Your Food Storage

Cooking With Food Storage

Whether you are well into food storage or just starting out, you may be wondering about how to cook all those freeze-dried, dehydrated, bottled and canned foods and integrate them into your daily menus.

You may soon realize that "cooking from scratch" is required in order to use the beans, canned vegetables, pasta, rice, dried sauces, dehydrated or freeze dried butter, cheese, or eggs.

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Learning to Make Bread Is Not Difficult

Learn to Make Bread

I believe that learning to make your own bread is a necessary survival skill.

There are plenty of recipes out there for using stored wheat, but nothing is as delicious and wholesome as whole wheat homemade bread.

I learned how to bake bread as a young mother with small children [...]

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Don't Forget the Comfort Foods

Comfort Foods in a crisis

And why have them? Comfort foods are basically "treats" that you usually give to your children after school to hold them over until the next meal, to keep them occupied when you're busy or . . . just because you love them.

During stressful times, these types of foods can psychologically "comfort" children — and adults too sometimes. They are not necessarily "life sustaining" foods, but I would consider them to be [...]

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Freeze-Dried Food is Food Insurance

Freeze Dried Foods

There is almost no end to the kinds of insurance we need or are required to buy: auto, health, life, accidental death and dismemberment, long term care, home owners, flood — and the list goes on.

But do you have food insurance?I consider canned and frozen foods as short-term food insurance - because of their relatively short shelf life. But freeze-dried foods? Definitely long-term food insurance.

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SAVE $$! Buy Dehydrated Foods in Bulk

Bulk Dehydrated Foods

There are many valid reasons for purchasing bulk dehydrated or dried food.

I'm talking about common foods that we usually buy often, such as rice, beans, sugar, oatmeal, pastas, instant milk, wheat and other grains.

There are even buckets of cold cereal available such as Honey Oat Clusters, Corn Puffs, Berry Crunchy, Toasted Cinnamin, Fruity O's, Cocoa Crunchies, Mini Frosted Squares, Frosted Flakes, and Honey Nut Cereals [...]

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Easy-to-Store Non-Food Items

Storing Non-Food Items

Storing non-food items is nearly as important as storing food products. No, it's not life or death without them, and you could improvise. Ever used leaves for toilet paper? Or ripped up clothes for diapers for your little one? Yes, you can make your own soap (and I suggest you learn how if you want to be really self reliant). But the message is, don't forget to store non-food items [...]

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