Food Storage Secrets You Need To Know

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I’m sharing some food storage secrets you need to know before you go crazy buying food for your pantry. Today I’m talking about long-term food storage. Let me say one thing, I don’t look at the calories in the #10 cans I purchase because I don’t count calories in the food I’m eating today.

I probably should, but I don’t. This is how I see food storage for Mark and me, the food I purchase we must both like eating. Sure, I can hear some of you say, you will eat whatever if you are starving. Yes, I’m sure that may be true.

I Do Not Buy Meals

Here’s the deal, I do not buy meals, nope, I will not. I cook from scratch and I don’t like some of the stuff listed on the packaged “meals” for long-term storage.

I may have told you before, I don’t eat out, except occasionally, because the food at restaurants is cooked with lots of salt and butter. It’s called fat calories and they are expensive calories.

That’s why people think it tastes so yummy, but when you cook from scratch you get sick from all the butter and salt when you eat out. Here’s the deal, I’m not talking about just fast food places, I’m talking about simple restaurants, and even fancy eating places too!

Buckets With Meals

I have been at Costco, or similar large box stores, and they have these buckets with small packages of food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that are designed for emergency meals. Now, I understand this may be easier for you to just pick up a bucket, take it home, and set it on your pantry shelf.

Yes, that is very easy and it’s better than not having any food storage. You can see the calories listed, the serving sizes, etc. Good grief, Mark would be starving if he had the breakfasts shown on a bucket I saw.

No-Name Bucket Contents-Price $90.00 with 52 Servings

I looked at a bucket of food storage at a local grocery store to give you an idea of what may be in the container. This is not 52 meals, it is 52 servings, there’s a big difference. One of these servings may be fine for a toddler or a child, but may not be sufficient for an adult.

  • 4 Servings: Creamy Pasta Dish
  • 4 Servings: Creamy Stroganoff
  • 4 Servings: Tomato Basil Soup w/Pasta
  • 4 servings: Beans and Rice
  • 4 Servings: Maple Brown Sugar Cereal
  • 4 Servings: Apple Cinnamon Cereal
  • 16 Servings: Orange Drink Mix
  • 12 Servings: Whey Milk Alternative drink

You can see that more than half the food bucket is a drink mixture. The serving sizes are very small, especially for an adult. Please look at all the meals, the calories, and serving sizes.

Cook From Scratch For Breakfast

I would much rather make my own pancakes from scratch or oatmeal for breakfast with or without syrup. My point is this, some of those pre-packaged meals have ingredients you can’t pronounce.

Read More of My Articles  How Fresh Eggs are Different From Store Bought Ones

Certain companies make you set an appointment to have a salesman come to your home to purchase their food storage. Well, I’m not sure if they still do this, but I would feel trapped.

I like to buy a few #10 cans every month or so. My budget can’t afford a pallet of food to be delivered to my home with ingredients I can’t pronounce. When you have time, sign up for their newsletters with companies you like to use. You will then receive emails when they have items on sale.

Please check the price per ounce because all those #10 cans are the same size BUT they may differ greatly in weight and shipping costs. Believe me, there is a big difference in the amount of food in the cans. Just giving you the heads up here.

Food Storage Secrets You Need To Know

I totally get it when people say to me, “where do I start” when buying food storage. It goes back to this printout I use at every class where I teach about food storage: Where Do I Start by Food Storage Moms?

So before you buy, look at the sodium levels, look at all the ingredients to see what’s really in the can or package. I know the pictures look fabulous on the bucket or those small packages, but wait. Please look at the serving sizes, it may be a toddler serving not an adult serving size.

Buy One And Try

Before you buy several buckets, buy one ready-to-eat bucket and do a taste test with them at home. Go back and buy more if you or your family would enjoy eating them. Remember, if you won’t eat that stuff today, will you eat it next year?

Buy a few packages of those ready to eat bags where you only add hot water and see if you will like eating them for days or weeks. Please test them before you buy a LOT of them.

Simple Food Storage

I only buy #10 cans of fruits, vegetables, meats, milk, cheese, and I have a few cans of bacon. This bacon is really tasty, but now remember it is not thick sliced bacon, but hey, I will take bacon any day after a disaster. Yoder’s Bacon

Mark and I have yet to try any butter from any company that we would eat on bread, except I will use powdered butter for cooking, but not for anything else. To me it is inedible, BUT I do like this brand: Red Feather Butter

Watch for sales, it goes on sale a few times a year.

Food Storage Secrets You Need To Know

Thrive Life Can On The Left

I’m typing the statements where the black arrows are: the can on the left is from Thrive Life and it says the ingredients are, “red peppers,” nothing else.

Honeyville Grain Can On The Right

The can on the right is from Honeyville Grain and it says the ingredients in the can are a vegetable blend, (freeze dried corn, carrots, peas, red peppers, and tomatoes), nothing else. Great! SOLD!

Read More of My Articles  Freeze-Dried Food

This is what I buy freeze dried fruits, freeze dried vegetables, some dehydrated vegetables, and freeze dried meats. I can make soups, casseroles, and stews with a combination of any of these.

Please remember, I also buy canned goods. If you missed the ones I stock up on, read this: Canned Foods I Recommend You Store

And the bonus is they store for 25 years, under optimal temperature conditions. Please don’t store your food storage in your garage if the temperatures go over 70 degrees.

What Temperature Is Best To Store My Food Storage?

This is where it gets interesting. You may think you can bring those #10 cans home and place them ever so neatly on your shelves, and your good to go. But wait, what is the best temperature to store my food?

Well, the lower the temperature, such as 50-60 degrees, the longer your food will last. So, for instance keeping our food say at 75-80 degrees will definitely cut the 25 year shelf-life down considerably. The challange is, most of us don’t have the option of storing at those low temps anywhere in our home or apartment. Some lucky families have a basement storage area, like under a porch without daylight, where the temperatures stay fairly cool pretty much the same all year long.

Food Storage Shelf-Life

  • Whole Wheat Berries: Last Indefinitely
  • White flour: 12- 18 months (#10 cans I have seen will store for 5 years unopened)
  • Instant Milk: (Thrive Live) Unopened 25 years, 2 years open
  • Salt: Lasts indefinitely (keep away from moisture)
  • Sugar: Lasts indefinitely (keep away from moisture)
  • Honey: Stores indefinitely, store in smaller containers (it may (crystalize or harden-you can soften it outside in the sun)
  • Baking Powder: Indefinitely, kind of (typically one year-we need our baking goods to rise)
  • Baking Soda: Two years unopened, 6 months opened
  • Cornstarch: Lasts indefinitely
  • Olive Oil: one to two years depending on the temperature where stored and the brand
  • Coconut Oil: One year, maybe two years depending on the brand
  • Vanilla Extract: 3 years
  • Vinegar: Indefinitely

Don’t Forget Your Water Storage

The American Red Cross recommends one-gallon per day per person, and I recommend four-gallons of water per day per person. I get thirsty just thinking about the one-gallon of water.

Please remember we need water to drink, cook with, to take a mini bath, and wash our dishes. Hopefully, we will have enough water to wash our underwear.

Water Storage Containers I Use

Final Word

Please read the cans, buckets, and packages for food storage secrets you need to know before you order them for long term food storage. Read the labels, and buy what works for your family. Thanks for being prepared for the unexpected. May God bless this world, Linda

14 thoughts on “Food Storage Secrets You Need To Know

  • September 8, 2019 at 7:46 am

    Thanks for naming your faves. I can’t afford to invest in something we won’t eat. I don’t buy buckets either; it’s easier & cheaper for me to buy individual items & create meals from them. Also the list of the lifespan of certain foods is very helpful. Great article!

    • September 8, 2019 at 8:26 am

      Hi Linda, thank you for your kind words. I have learned over the years to only buy the ones that will work for my budget and palate. I used to get shipments every week from companies to try their meals. It was nice to try so many different companies. If I had to eat them I would, but 99% of them tasted like overcooked salted pasta. I was anxious to try them so I could tell my readers about them, which I did. Then I finally said “no more shipments as gifts”. I was lucky enough to have the companies send enough to me to invite neighbors over to try them. I no longer do that. The one thing I would really like is a good soup base to make in a hurry for crowds after a disaster. I have yet to find one that has a 25-year shelf life. I can make a white sauce but if butter is scarce I need a soup base to stretch meals. Thanks again, Linda

  • September 8, 2019 at 9:22 am

    Linda, I would love to put together my own buckets, just a few of them, for grab and go circumstances. Line the bucket with Mylar and toss in O2 absorbers. Ie, I’d like to throw in 5 oatmeal packets and 5 ziplock bags of powdered milk…5 “something’s” for lunch and maybe 5 freeze dried dinners. Or beans and rice with lots of salt and spices too. I’m not sure 5 is the right number, maybe 7. Have you ever tried anything like that? Like you guys, it’s just me and the hubby. Toss in some TP and some hygiene products. In addition to being great for having to grab in a hurry, they’d also be great to give to someone down on their luck who just needed a temporary hand. Any thoughts on this? I figure if anyone has done this successfully, it’s probably you!

    • September 8, 2019 at 10:27 am

      Hi Robin, I love this idea! It would be great to have some of these to hand out to people. You know I think I will write a post about doing this, great idea. I’m all about having something to hand out to people when needed. The powdered milk wouldn’t have a long life because it’s open. My Instant milk is two years from Thrive Life when opened. Here is how I store grab and go food. I need to fix up that post and share it again. You can see how I store my food for many years. Only a few have to be rotated. Linda

  • September 8, 2019 at 8:49 pm

    Linda ~
    Great post. I have always said, “Try before you buy!” You don’t buy a car (normally) without test driving it! So, don’t buy a bunch of food for storage without test driving it! I have tried some long term food storage samples that were positively nasty! So, I stick with the ones I do like – Thrive Life is the main one.

    Also, I want to use what I already eat and in the realm of canned food, I store canned meats, veggies, and fruits. While I don’t always eat canned foods, I do purchase a number of them to keep on hand. As for beans, I prefer to use canned beans just because I know that if I used dried beans, I would always make way to many servings and since I am single, I cannot afford to waste this food. So, opening a can to add to my chili, soup, etc., is much more economical. That being said, I do have dried beans on hand.

    Something that I want to try soon is cooking dried beans and then dehydrating them. I would store them in mason jars with an oxygen absorber. I really want to see if they re-hydrate more easily as that would make cooking with those beans in a stressful situation much easier. I also want to try cooking rice and doing the same – sort of a homemade minute rice!!

    Anyway, to end this, I do encourage people to search out companies who offer samples of their foods to try first.

    • September 8, 2019 at 9:52 pm

      Hi Leanne, I would love it if companies would give out samples to try their food. If there is an Expo, they hand out samples which are great. I have a few bags of dried beans but I store mainly my favorite beans in the smaller cans. They work best for me too. Linda

  • October 11, 2019 at 5:54 pm

    Greet post, thank you!
    I so agree with you, Linda. We do not buy the storage meals or bucket meals…a waste of good money. I did buy samples here and there to try: a huge NO on every one we tried. With my years of experience and teaching, there’s so much that can be made from basic storage items and different spices/herbs etc. Also, wheat, whole grains, beans/lentils are healthy food items.

    • October 11, 2019 at 6:39 pm

      Hi Janet, great to hear from you! Thanks for thinking the same way I do. I really want to help people buy the right food for their budget and their tastes. Linda

  • April 6, 2020 at 6:22 pm

    Good article. I agree with you. Cook from scratch & rarely eat out. I expect this “shelter in place” will show “holes” in our food storage but so far so good. I only had one fresh green pepper and only a small amount frozen. I guess I will remedy later with more frozen, dry some or invest in freeze dried ($$$).

    • April 6, 2020 at 6:51 pm

      Hi Diana, I’m hoping a few families will learn to cook from scratch with this “shelter in place”. It is interesting to see what we need more of when we can’t get it. This is a real learning curve for many people, let’s hope they stock for the next disaster. Stay well, Linda

  • January 30, 2021 at 12:38 am

    Hi Linda,

    I have a question about storing pasta. Right now I have them in the box they came in with their expiration date. I keep them in my Prep Closet not in my pantry. Is this ok? Should I buy sealed pasta containers to put them in? And if so, what type of container would you recommend?

    • January 30, 2021 at 5:58 am

      Hi Ruthie, the only worry I have for the pasta stored in the boxes is the glue that seals the boxes. Mice and pantry moths love that stuff. I store stuff that comes in bags inside Rubbermaid Containers. But my pasta, I remove from the boxes. Here is a link that shows the containers I use for all my food storage. I will add a picture of how I store my pasta today in that post. Look at the one that says lentils-pasta-quinoa. I always worry about mice and cockroaches (I live in the desert). We spray but I’m still very cautious. Linda


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