Please consider supporting our efforts.


Food Storage

Sunday, 03 June 2012 21:55 Written by 

Building a food reserve should be near the top of your prepping list. Let’s face it, we will always need food, and if going to the grocery store is not an option, then it would be best if you had a large supply on hand. How large of a supply is up to you, but most hardcore preppers feel a minimum of six months per person is need. If ever faced with a long term survival situation, most of us do not have the land to grow a large garden that will support our needs, or we do not have the experience to garden year around.  And, we have not even covered securing your garden from pests and people, chances of crop failure, and inexperience with animals. My recommendation is to store food, and the more the better.

General Considerations

There are varying principles that you should account for when developing a food storage plan. These change by what types of foods you plan to store, and your experience processing and packaging foods. So, let’s first look at the most common types of food storage items. 

    1. Canned Food – Can be purchased at any grocery store or can it yourself. Canned foods usually have a shelf life of 1 to 5 years. If purchased at a store, make sure to check the expiration date. If you canned the food yourself, you should be able to identify signs of bad food. Botulism can kill you. 
    2. Dehydrated / Freeze Dried Foods – Dehydrated in your home or purchased, and usually lasts between 5 to 20 years depending on the item and storage method. I do not recommend dehydrating meats on your own for long term storage. The average shelf life for jerky and other dehydrated meats is only a few months. 
    3. Grains – Shelf life depends on whether it is ground or still whole, but usually last between 5 to 20 years (or longer). 
    4. Salt/Sugar – Sugar has an indefinite shelf life, if properly stored. Salt itself has an indefinite shelf life, but the additives in iodized and seasoned salt do. If storing iodized/seasoned salt plan on 1 to 5 years. 


One of the most important considerations, and the one that is commonly overlooked, is the location you store your food items. The optimal storage location is one that is free of pests, dark, dry, and remains at a cool temperature. Your items will last a much longer if these factors are controlled. If your location is moist, it can encourage mold. If it is bright, UV lights can deteriorate the quality of the food. Pests, well they will eat it, and high temperatures decrease the amount of time food can be stored. If you have any questions about the longevity of a product, contact the manufacturer. 

My Take on Food Storage

When I started prepping, I consumed myself with books and forums to determine the best ways of storing food. I soon realized that food storage methods are a matter of preference and budget. There are several ways to get into food storage, and most have some upfront cost. Other considerations include available space, food storage experience, equipment, and the number of people that eat your food. The ultimate solution is the one you feel most comfortable with. 

The easiest option, and the most expensive, is to purchase the one year food supply packages. On average, a one year supply would cost a minimum of $1000 per person. These food plans usually provide 1,100 – 1,500 calories a day, which is not ideal for a survival situation. The good thing about these packages is you do not have to purchase items individually, process the food, dehydrate, can, or package it yourself.  

While purchasing a one year food supply may work well for some, I have decided to dehydrate food items, store grain and sugar in bulk, and package my food items. I also supplement food storage with canned items, although I do not can myself.  I believe this is a more cost effective solution in the long run, and I can even tailor my packaging to the size of my family. Really, it all depends on what you think is best, as what works for me may not work for you. So let’s discuss a few recommendations when purchasing items for your Food Storage plan. 

Supplement with Weekly Purchases

One way to start storing food is to purchase additional items every time you go to the grocery store. When building your food reserves, it is important to purchase items you already use. Look for items that are on sale and stock up. I constantly screen my weekly flyers to find Buy One Get One (or BOGO) offers, which automatically translates to a 50% savings. I would also recommend getting into couponing. We generally save 30-40% at the grocery store when using coupons, even more if we can match our coupons with other sales.  

Purchase at Big-Box and Ethnic Food Stores

Big-box stores, such as Costco or Sam’s Club, offer discounts when purchasing in bulk. Most big-box stores do not allow manufacturers coupons so you are limited to their sales or store coupons. You can save a lot of money buying items in bulk, especially when purchasing grains and sugar. Additionally, you can purchase large quantities of fruits and vegetables, usually at a cheaper price when compared to local grocery stores. Ethnic food stores also provide great buying options, but do not expect to always purchase name-brand items. But, does purchasing a name brand item really matter?

Farmer’s Markets

Farmer’s markets can have great prices on fruits and vegetables. I try going to my local market as it opens, or right before it closes. I have noticed vendors will try to unload lower quality food in the morning, which may be close to spoiling, and save better quality items when the masses arrive. Additionally as the closing time nears, vendors will again try to push food that is near its expiration date. I target foods that are ripe, and purchase them in bulk, or by the box. You can also ask the vendor what they are trying to get rid of, and ask for a bulk purchase discount. They are more reluctant to part with these items at a lower price in the early morning or before they close. After purchasing foods, I will immediately take them home and prepare them for my dehydrator, so I do not risk them going bad. A great thing about purchasing from your local farmer’s market is that you keep your business local. 

Purchasing Month or Year Food Packages

While I have not purchased the month or year food packages, this alternative is becoming more appealing. Currently, I have around a year’s worth of food stored. If I purchased a year supply package, it would increase my food storage by nearly four months (family of four, with a baby). That is instant food, and I did not have to do anything besides find a place to put it. These food packages can also save you money in the near term if you do not have the equipment to dehydrate and/or can foods yourself. Also, depending on when you think a disaster may occur, having a large quantity of food on hand will put you at ease. 

Local Canneries

Local canneries, county canning centers, and community kitchens are places that you can purchase food items, usually at a discounted rate, or bring your own food items and use their equipment to quickly and easily process your foods. The staff at these facilities usually has experience with the food storage process. Another option is going to a LDS cannery. Most will allow non-church members to purchase foods and/or use their facilities.


Hopefully this article provided a little insight into getting started with Food Storage. Please check back for more specific examples. If you have any questions or comments, let us know. Be Prepared. Get Connected.

Last modified on Tuesday, 12 March 2013 18:06
Rate this item
(4 votes)
Login to post comments
You are here:   HomePrepareFoodFood Storage