choose food storage

How To Choose Food Storage For Your Family

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Is it overwhelming to choose food storage for your family? We all see articles about how to choose food storage, but is that food right for your family? Do I want to store MREs (meals ready to eat or just add water), will I eat those? Will my family want to eat them every day after a disaster? What about dehydrated food, what about freeze-dried food? Is it expensive, how long does it last, where can I store it? These are all questions that pertain when you choose food storage for your family.

Today, I’m going to break it down into sections to help you decide what works for your family. Please note, I do not buy food according to calories. I don’t count calories now, so I doubt that will happen after a disaster. For me, it’s all about the quality of the food, its taste, and what I can make from scratch. Of course, I also need to consider what will fit in with my budget.

choose food storage

You may remember me telling you that #10 cans may not be equal in quality, weight, and cost. If you decide to choose food storage in #10 cans which are 7 inches (18cm) tall and 6-1/4 inches (16 cm) in diameter, please compare apples to oranges so to speak. When you choose any #10 can, please compare weight and shipping costs if you order online. I break it down to cost per ounce including shipping when comparing prices. Of course, some of us may have food storage stores in our town so shipping will not be part of the equation.

Choose Food Storage

First of all, make it easy my friends, store what you will eat and eat what you store. Rotate, rotate, rotate. Easy peasy. I have had readers mention to me, “Please tell me what food storage I should buy because I cannot afford freeze-dried cans of food.” I get it. They are expensive, BUT they are great for long-term food storage. They are the best because they typically have a shelf-life of 20-25 years, depending on the temperature where you store them.

Read More of My Articles  Peach Facts: What You May Not Know

Here’s the deal, do not store food storage in your garage unless it is cool, as in 65 degrees or less. My garage can get up to 110 degrees in the summer here in the desert. All of my food storage is stored in my house. I have food stored on racks from Costco. I used to have the Shelf-Reliance ones shown below. I gave them away because they took up too much room in my guest room. I have a very small home, it’s 1900 square feet.

choose food storage

When my family comes to visit we sometimes have 27-28 people sleeping here. Don’t laugh, they all want to be together, and we all want to hang out with one another. They sleep in bedrooms, couches, and the patio, and we laugh the entire time. We never eat out because we love fixing meals together and it’s super cheap to eat at home. I replaced the shelves above with the shelves shown below. I have food and water under beds, closets, and a pantry. Yep, I can sleep at night because I’m prepared. I didn’t do this overnight. This has taken years of planning and budgeting.

choose food storage

I have one guest room with triple bunk beds so I needed the room for more people to sleep. So I replaced the Shelf-Reliance ones with these commercial ones from Costco online. They are stronger than the ones sold in the stores. They have commercial wheels so I can move them when needed.

You can see I buy several different brands. I do not buy meals, I can cook from scratch, so ready-made meals are not needed for my family. I mainly order eggs, instant milk, freeze-dried cheeses, freeze-dried meats, freeze-dried vegetables, and freeze-dried fruits. Yes, I have a few dehydrated foods, like potatoes.

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Freeze Dried Food

Pros: longer shelf-life (check your cans), you can eat the food directly out of the can, they use less water to hydrate and less fuel to heat them.

Cons: a little pricey, I highly suggest buying one can a month.

Dehydrated Food Storage

Pros: cheaper

Cons: fewer choices, needs more water to hydrate them and they must be cooked.

Grocery Store Choices

Please remember I have a FREE printable for you to fill in the blanks for each and every meal for seven days. Here is the PRINTABLE: Where do I start by Food Storage Moms

Please watch for case lot sales of your favorite foods in smaller cans at your local grocery stores. Yes, it may be processed food, but some of us depend on those cans, I’m one of them. You can always donate the items you don’t use before it expires to the food bank in your city. They need the items, I promise.

Breakfast Ideas

These can be stored in your pantry:

Pancake Mix


Instant Milk

Muffin Mixes

Cans of fruit

Cereal, cold or hot

Lunch Ideas

Canned meats


Miracle Whip


Peanut butter

Jam or jelly


Canned vegetables

Canned Fruits

Canned Soups

Crackers to use in place of bread


Cans of chili

Cans of stew

Macaroni and cheese boxes

Vegetable cans

Cornbread mixes



Reader Ideas:

Lynne: Cans of hash, Spam, canned ham, tuna [oil for the calories], chicken, turkey, sardines oil for the calories], etc.. The small packages of chicken/tuna salad and crackers are good, and 1 pkg. satisfies.

I hope my post today gives you a little nudge to choose food storage for your family sooner rather than later. Please remember that water is critical to store. May God bless your family and this world.

Emergency Water by Linda

Dehydrated by Linda

Freeze-dried by Linda

Stock your pantry by Linda

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  1. Cans of: hash, Spam, canned ham, tuna [oil for the calories], chicken, turkey, sardines oil for the calories], etc.. The small packages of chicken/tuna salad and crackers are good and 1 pkg. satisfies.

  2. I started with what I could get at the store, and put the cans in suet display boxes I got from a local store. I then bought rice, and put them in foodsaver bags in a 5 gallon buckets. Then I bought freeze dried food every month as our budget allowed. It took quite a while to get fully stocked. First I tried for thirty days, then sixty then a year. Now, when I turn on the news, and I hear Russians are in our power grid, or we are bombing Syria, or North Korea is threatening us, I sleep like a baby. I have done all I can to get ready for emergencies, the rest is up to God.

    1. Hi, Janet, well said, my friend, I feel exactly the same way. I did not buy a pallet of food, my budget is not that large. LOL! I did it slowly, and yes we can sleep like a baby. Great comment!!!! Linda

  3. We decided some time ago to open a #10 can once a week and incorporate it in what we usually eat. Then replace the can and then over time the family is used to it. This was very telling. My family isn’t that picky (although children aren’t wild about all veggies and so I hide them in stuff) but I found out, generally speaking, my family HATES the freeze dried food. And we have mostly freeze dried food in food storage.

    This is an unhappy discovery. They would rather have my dehydrator dried food (which doesn’t have the super long shelf life) and they like canned foods.

    I wish I hadn’t sunk so much money into the freeze dried food. Not only that, unlike dehydrated food, it takes up the same storage space as the fresh article. I mean they will eat freeze dried ice cream and bananas, and they like the Mountain House chili mac. I opened a can of freeze dried brownie mix. The can was bulging and only a year or so old, and it’s stored inside. The entire can was ruined. Evidently the baking powder in it goes bad and causes a reaction. I used to pride myself on my food storage. Well my pride has come before the fall because my family hates most of the freeze dried food I’ve stored, and some 25 year storage items have gone bad and so I’m getting rid of the food they won’t eat and starting again at ground zero with cans of food that I know they like and keep them moving as rotating is even more important when using canned food. Although I wonder what would have happened if we had relied on this food. And even I hate a lot of it, and usually will eat anything. If our family is distressed in any way, it’s going to be horrible to have food like that. I don’t want them to merely survive. I want them well nourished and happy. I challenge everyone, try that freeze dried food you’ve stored. Open a can a week and see how you can use it. Then replace it if you like it. I’m starting over after wasting all that money on freeze dried food. Oh the metal taste of the freeze dried raspberries isn’t noticeable if you eat it out of the can, but when I tried to make a pie out of it, I could taste a metal taste. It was horrible. We’re done with freeze dried food. But thankfully we found out and can rotate out the freeze dried cans and replace with canned food and my home dehydrated fruits and veggies. It’s not going to last 25 years, but when you’re counting on that food, it better be good food and something your family is going to eat.

    1. Hi Debbie, wow, that is so sad, we use my freeze-dried fruits and vegetables all the time. I do not make pies, I own it. I have never had trouble with any of my Thrive Life or Honeyville products. I did have a recall notice on my 9-grain pancake mix which is not freeze-dried. Thrive replaced it quickly. I’m sorry to hear you had such bad luck with your freeze-dried foods. I do not buy any meals whatsoever, only what I posted in my article. I have opened a few cans that are now maybe 6 years old and they do not have a metal taste at all. My grandkids love the fruits when they come visit and eat them right out of the can. Good tip about trying out food, I had that $1200.00 mistake that will never happen to me again. Linda

        1. Hi, Janet, I used to teach a few classes at Honeyville in Salt Lake City, Utah. I love that company, they were awesome to work with and I loved the people and their products! Linda

          1. The metal taste wasn’t noticeable until I cooked with the raspberries. I wonder if FL is not the best place to have these cans. I have them inside though, but I don’t know how hot they got on their way to my place. I don’t have any Honeyville. Most of what we have is Emergency Essentials and Auguson Farms. So now we’re opening more than one can a week until we’ve tried at least one type of food from a manufacturer. Bananas out of the can tasted good. But a lot of cans are bad. I don’t want to give this food to any humans, so I’m not taking it to the food bank but giving the bad cans to a local farmer telling him it might not taste bad to the animals. It’s his call to compost them or give them to the pigs. We threw all the bulged cans of brownie mix in the trash though. I AM SO GRATEFUL though to know. I’d rather know now than to have waited until things got bad and have my family suffer for my lack of readiness by not testing the food. We know (for us anyway) to concentrate on canned and my own dehydrated garden veggies and fruit stand seasonal fruit. Now rotation is more vital than ever.

          2. Hi Debbie, this is a really good comment because Florida is known for its high temps and humidity. I’m very grateful that you thought to check the cans NOW, I hope all my readers read the comment today because this is critical. I bought food from a volunteer church group and had to throw it all out. It was a costly mistake but I too am grateful I knew BEFORE things got bad and all we had stored was rancid unedible food. I would keep doing what you are doing, great comment!! Linda

  4. Dear Linda, I want to follow your suggestion of buying one #10 can a month, but can’t find a link to the Thrive products, which I love. Are you affiliated with them? Also, I agree with Debbie O. about freeze dried raspberries, so I blended them into a powder which I add to smoothies.

  5. After you open your freeze dried food, they tell you to eat it within a week.  Or you can freeze it for a month..Or get a Seal a Meal and store in quart jars or air tight containers.

    Great if everyone in your house likes it.  I opened a spaghetti and meat sauce … seems I’m the only one who like spaghetti.  Frozen in bags in my freezer.   Hmm.  

    Any suggestions??

    1. Hi NancyJo, this is why I do not buy the “meals”. I cannot use it up in a week. The vegetables, fruits, certain meats, milk can be open for up to 2 years depending on the brand. The meals are a totally different story. They typically have flour in them (pasta, filler or oil) that will go rancid fairly quickly. They will go bad in jars even using your Seal A Meal. Please do not open the #10 can if it says it is only good for one week, for instance. I have two cans in my food storage that have XXX’s all over them because one can is ham and one can is sausage. They specifically say eat within two weeks. There is no way Mark and I can eat that much in 3 months let alone 2 weeks. I did a demo with the sausage and then stored it in an airtight container in the freezer for about two months but not the pantry. No way. I want you to think about nuts, they have oil in them so I freeze them in seal a meal bags until I need some. I buy them in bulk. I hope this helps, meals do not work for me. Linda

  6. A few years ago, before I retired, I budgeted a certain amount of my food $$ to purchasing long term storage. I love Thrive Life because it also comes in “Pantry Cans” – smaller than the #10 cans. I have not had any issues or problems with the products I have tried. Well, except for the sugar! it is hard as a rock in those cans!! I am still trying to figure a way to break it down.

    Now, however, I purchase only things that I can get at local grocery stores. Many things I break down to serving sizes for me as I am single and live alone. For example, while I can make gravy from scratch, I prefer the Southern Mills gravy mixes at the grocery store. I can get them for $0.66 per package. Then, I take out my kitchen scale and break the package down to 1/2 and seal what I don’t use into tiny mason jars with an oxygen absorber. They take up space (more than the original packaging) but I know that the product will be good for longer than the original packaging.

    I purchase what I like to eat and eat what I store. I rotate religiously and have a pretty good recipe file for the things I do purchase.

    Linda, I love your blog and pray that you don’t stop anytime soon!

    1. Oh, Leanne, you always make me feel awesome, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’m 68 years old and I will write until the day I die. LOL! It’s my passion and I want to teach the world, thanks again for your kind words! Linda P.S. I love the gravy idea in packages.

    2. Leanne, I forgot about the sugar, that is not good! I just opened a can of my Thrive Life “Powdered sugar” I know it’s different but your comment made me think about those powdered sugar #10 cans that I have stored. It’s perfect, I just emptied the #10 can into a gallon bag and put it in my airtight plastic tub. I only store white granulated sugar in 5-gallon buckets without any oxygenators. I have at least 6 of them are they are all fine. It does get a little chunky but not rock hard. I just opened a #10 can of brown sugar from 2011(shelf-life ten years) from Thrive Life, perfectly fine, ready to use. Where did you purchase the white granulated sugar? It should be returned and replaced. Please let me know where you got it, it should be replaced. NEVER put oxygen absorbers in sugar or salt, they will become rock hard. Chisel time!!! Darn!Linda

  7. when we first started prepping,we bought 25 and 50 pound bags of beans and rice,which we put in mylar bags with o2 absorbers then sealed and placed in 5 or 6 gallon buckets with gamma seal lids.( beans and rice were what we were seeing recommended along with water storage. We now have several years supply of both. And while we do eat a lot of rice, beans are not what most of the family want to eat. We have several types of beans LOL. I canned about 12 quarts of blackeyed peas, only to discover they don’t last more than a year before they soured.Not sure if it was because I put some ham in them for seasoning or what. We also bought a case of 1 pound canned hams.We did not look at the expiration date, big mistake as they are now out of date by 7 years and some of the cans have swollen. So we opened them and got rid of them. I know most commercially canned meats we have are still good after 4 years as we have eaten them, Such as the canned chicken and turkey we bought from Costco. So now we are more prone to storing only foods with at least a 2 year shelf life. I still can beans, but I don’t add meat to them anymore. We live and learn LOL. I still cook beans for myself, but not every week. And I do cook rice several times a week for the entire family loves rice. God Bless and thanks for another great article.

    1. Hi Judy, we have all lived and learned for several years. I call them learning curves, I won’t do that again, life is good! We all have made learning curves with our food storage. We just put our boots back on and start one step at a time. Hugs, Linda

  8. Hi Linda! I haven’t been in here for quite some time. We sold out home in WA and have moved nearer to the Daughter & family.
    We do have more #2 cans, very few #10s as it is just the two of us. We usually get things like canned fruit, tuna (in pouches), etc. in the local grocery stores when the sales are good.
    Question – where do you get your Honeyville items? I’m not very internet savvy – not usually very interested in what the internet has to offer – but you, my dear, are an excellent reason to turn on the computer!
    Anyone who enjoys Linda’s work here should be certain to have at least two copies of Linda’s book! I’m currently on my third copy. I had one fall apart on me, second one was in moderately decent shape but not quite as relevant after we moved out of WA.
    Made sure to pick up a new copy from B & N, before we left WA and it is just barely starting to show signs of use. Those highlighters and Post-It notes sure do come in handy.
    One of the best (valuable?) things about Linda’s book is how she has it separated into family size categories. There are just the two of us and Linda has it all ready for me to start following right along with her!
    Thanks for everything you do for us. Cheryl

    1. Hi Cheryl, thank you for your kind words, my friend! I wish I had had more reviews on my book, it seems people would rather buy a cupcake book! LOL! I’m so grateful to those who purchased my book, I will be forever thankful! Here is a link to Honeyville Grain,
      The #10 cans are so expensive now, I mainly buy the pantry-sized cans from Thrive Life.
      Here’s my book at Barnes and Noble for those interested:
      We sold our home to be closer to our daughter and her family. We live in Northern Utah now. Life is good when we live near family. Linda

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