As I write this post on how to store your food storage, I realize we have newbies and established families who stock up on food for daily use and emergency preparedness. I want to make storing food as easy as possible. Please be aware I live in Utah, I used to live in the desert and have now moved up north. I live where it’s very dry with almost zero humidity, so my food storage options may be somewhat different than those who live in a high-humidity area.
If you live where it’s humid, you’ll need airtight glass jars, or at least when my daughter lived in Maryland she had to or the food went bad very quickly. If any of you live where it is humid, please tell me how you store your dry goods. I’m updating this post today because we all need tips on how to store our food safely.
I haven’t changed my ways much in 50 years because it works the way I store my food storage inventory. But I have modified a few things because you learn what really works from some trial and error.
No More 100 Pound Storage Containers
Mark and I used to store 100 pounds of powdered milk, but not anymore. We used to store more than 100 pounds of wheat in these big green cans, but not anymore. I used to buy 50 pounds of chocolate chips, but not anymore. You have to adjust the size and type of food storage containers based on family needs, the types of food being stored, and how often you end up using the food being stored.
Food emergencies don’t just happen as a result of a disaster. People lose a loved one, others lose their job or get sick and can’t work for an extended period. If your financial resources change you have to be prepared to take care of yourself and close family, at least for the short-term. When you store food you need to consider what your family will eat and how to make the most of long-term storage options. It truly takes a plan!
Family Circumstances Change
As your family shrinks, so do your food storage amount needs. Mark and I raised our girls to be self-sufficient so they store their own food.
Life is good when we are self-reliant. Your family will follow your example, if you stock food storage, they’ll see how important it is to take care of themselves.
If and when we have a natural disaster like floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc., you can’t expect the government or your church to deliver all the food you need. Nope, it’s not going to happen, my friends. In case you missed this post, Canned Foods I Highly Recommend You Store
We stock freeze-dried food as my long-term food storage option. I use it when I run out of fresh onions, green onions, and many other food products we like to use. Plus, the freeze-dried pineapple is the best snack ever! Today, I’m talking about short-term food storage.
Kitchen Items You May Want
How To Store Your Food Storage
I’ve listed things in this post in alphabetical order to hopefully make this summary a little easier for everyone to see at a glance. This is how I store my food storage and have done it this way for over 50 years. After all these years, I have learned the good, the bad, and what works best for me.
I store my baking powder in the original small containers to keep it fresh. A container of baking powder can be kept unopened for about 18 months (or the “best by” date on the box). If the container is open it’s fresh for 6 months to 1 year max. It doesn’t last forever.
If you want to make your own baking powder, start with 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch, and 1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter, it will equal 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
I quote Wikipedia: “Baking powder is used to increase the volume and lighten the texture of baked goods. It works by releasing carbon dioxide gas into a batter or dough through an acid-base reaction, causing bubbles in the wet mixture to expand and thus leavening the mixture.”
Please store baking powder in a cool, dry, and preferably dark, location.
Baking soda lasts about 3 years unopened (or the “best by” date on the box), and if opened about 6 months. It’s easier to store it in the original boxes.
I quote Wikipedia: “Leavening: In cooking, baking soda is primarily used in baking as a leavening agent. When it reacts with the acid, carbon dioxide is released, which causes expansion of the batter and forms the characteristic texture and grain in cakes, quick bread, soda bread, and other baked and fried foods.”
Please store baking soda in a cool, dry, preferably dark, location.
In case you didn’t know, you can freeze bacon. I buy the Kirkland brand center cuts of bacon from Costco and freeze at least 10 packages so I never run out. You can store bacon in the freezer in an airtight package (I keep it in the original package) and freeze it safely for about 8 months.
Thaw the bacon in the fridge and use it within 1 week if the package is open. If the package is unopened the bacon is generally good for 2 weeks in the refrigerator. When in doubt, throw it out.
I have some pinto and black beans in #10 cans that have a shelf-life of 30 years (I buy Thrive Life) if kept in a cool and dark place. Now, those are for long-term food storage. Mark and I picked up 80 pounds of organic black beans and 80 pounds of pinto beans.
We filled 5-gallon buckets with those. We’ll use these within 2-3 years for optimum flavor and cooking ease.
You probably know the older the beans, the longer they take to cook. If you have a pressure cooker, it will cook the old beans very well. Pressure canners are a blessing for those old beans as well. This is the book I received when I finished my Master Canner Preserver class, USDA Canning Guide
Mark and I have powdered butter, and it’s just plain nasty. I saw a review once on Thrive Life that stated it tasted like “Land of Lakes.” Sorry, my friends, it doesn’t. I can only use it for baking. I can still remember the smell, oh my gosh.
Anyway, I pick up real butter when it’s stocked and on sale. It’s perfect for the freezer just as it comes from the store. You can store frozen butter in the freezer right from the grocery store. It will last about one year and have the consistency and flavor we all want.
Who doesn’t love candy, whether with sugar or sugar-free, right? If you have a FoodSaver, you can store leftover Halloween candy, or any holiday candy for that matter, in mason jars. Please be careful with any candy that has nuts because it will go rancid very quickly.
These jars of M&M’s and M&M Peanuts as well as the Trail Mix can only be stored safely in my pantry for 9-12 months. Any longer than that, I put them in the freezer because nuts go rancid so quickly at room temperature.
How long the candy is safe is certainly a great question. We never have it last for over 2 years because we eat it out of the freezer! LOL!
Mark and I like to buy both shredded cheese and blocks of cheese. Have you tried the Tillamook brand? It’s my all-time favorite cheese. I don’t freeze the blocks of cheese because they crumble after you freeze them.
But, we do freeze the shredded cheese bags in the freezer. If I have time, I’ll fill pint mason jars and use the Ball White Lids without using my FoodSaver to store the cheese in the freezer.
The reason for that is we eat a lot of cheese, you know for tacos, enchiladas, and many other of our favorite Mexican meals. Frozen shredded cheese will stay fine for about 8 months before the ice starts showing up in the bags. It’s still good, use it in casseroles. Be sure and thaw the frozen cheese in the refrigerator.
If the bag of shredded cheese is opened, the cheese will last about 5-7 days in the fridge before it starts to go moldy. If you see or smell mold, throw out the cheese. You can use your FoodSaver to seal the jars to store in the refrigerator to extend the shelf life. Reseal the jars after use. This is why I store it in pint mason jars so I waste very little.
I used to buy 50 pounds of cocoa while raising my family. I don’t do that anymore. I buy the small 8-ounce size cans. I don’t repackage it. Unsweetened cocoa if unopened is good for 3 years or the “best used by” date on the box. If the container is open it’s good for 1 year if stored in a cool dry place.
I don’t repackage my cornmeal. I place it in the freezer and keep it there until I need it. This includes my Maseca (Mexican Flour). Cornmeal will stay good in the freezer for years. If you have quart mason jars, store them in the freezer to keep moisture out of them.
I like to make my life as simple as I can. If the corn meal comes in a cardboard round container, I place that in the freezer.
When I say flour today, I’m talking about white all-purpose flour, white bread flour, and self-rising white flour. I don’t have enough room in my freezer to put a 25 or 50-pound bag in it to kill the bugs if there are bugs.
I bring the bags home from Costco and immediately place the flour in 5-gallon buckets with Red Gamma Lids. The bucket above is a 2-gallon bucket (easier for me to lift) and has a Gamma Lid, this one is in my kitchen pantry. The 5-gallon buckets have red gamma lids and are stored in another location.
I do everything color-coded. White flour has a shelf-life of 12-18 months. I know grandma used flour that was 10 years old. I’m sorry, but I don’t. I make white bread, dinner rolls, breadsticks, and cinnamon rolls. I can’t use old flour. Many people like all-purpose flour when baking. I prefer the flour made for bread and find it works for almost all my baked goods.
This may sound really snobby, but I only buy SAF Instant Yeast, it’s how I roll, no pun intended. If you have fresh ingredients, YOU can make bread, you really can. I store my SAF Yeast in the original containers in the freezer.
When I open a bag, it’s like a brick until you open it. After I open a package I fill the OXO container you see on the far right-hand side of the picture above, and place it in the freezer. I fill the small jar with yeast for my refrigerator so my yeast is always fresh. I don’t have any failures making bread since I always use fresh yeast.
I place the yeast in an airtight container and store it in the freezer. I fill a jar of yeast to keep in my refrigerator to keep it fresh. Please don’t put your yeast, wheat gluten, or dough enhancer on your pantry shelves, it will go rancid quickly.
How long does SAF Yeast last in the freezer? I have some that are at least 3-4 years old. They will still be good.
When you purchase honey, please look for raw, unfiltered honey. Some “honey” is not 100% honey when you see it in the stores. Wow, I’m going to sound snobby again, I only buy honey from Cox’s Honey located in Shelley, Idaho. It’s the best honey in the world, at least for me.
I store my honey in quart mason jars for one reason, it may crystallize. And if it does, you can take the jar outside and let the sunshine soften or melt the honey naturally. The small creamed honey they make can be stored in the freezer or the refrigerator.
I can still remember a sweet neighbor proudly telling me he bought two 5-gallon buckets of honey. Oh my, I hope he repackaged it because if it becomes crystalized it will be very hard to get it out of that large container when it comes time to use it. Honey will last indefinitely. It’s a great sweetener.
I buy organic lentils, organic quinoa, and organic pasta, and store them in their original packages before placing them in Rubbermaid 8-quart containers. I had mice once, so everything in my house is in airtight containers. Any airtight container will work. I like the clear containers so I can see instantly what I have.
The cheapest place I’ve found to buy the 8-quart Rubbermaid Commercial Containers and the lids is Walmart online. They are sold separately. They have some 6-quart Rubbermaid Containers with a Lid on Amazon.
If you have some #10 cans of lentils, quinoa, or pasta the shelf-life will be much longer than stated below depending on the quality and brand you purchased.
Shelf-life of lentils in bags or boxes: 2-3 years (depending on the quality and brand you purchased), be sure and check the “best by” date.
The shelf-life of quinoa in bags or boxes: 2-3 years (depending on the quality and brand you purchased), be sure and check the “best by” date.
Shelf-life of pasta in bags or boxes: 2-3 years (depending on the quality and brand you purchased), be sure and check the “best by” date.
Whenever I buy walnuts, pecans, almonds, and sliced almonds I put them in pint-size FoodSaver bags, seal them, and place them in the freezer. I have kept them for 2-3 years in the freezer. That may be a bit too long, but I use them anyway.
It’s critical we store nuts properly because of their high fat/oil content. When in doubt, freeze them. You can keep them in your refrigerator for 2-3 months. Fresher is always better with nuts, in my opinion. That’s why I freeze mine.
Oil is a different duck, so to speak. I don’t store a lot of oil, whether it’s olive or vegetable oil. It goes rancid pretty quickly. It seems coconut lasts a little longer. Once you open a bottle it’s good for 2-3 months.
Now, you may use it after that time period if it’s unopened. Use the “best by” date. Here’s the deal with oil, we don’t know how long that oil has been sitting under bright lights at the grocery store. Light is so bad for oil, just my 2 cents.
I remember having a salad made with olive oil at a neighbor’s house. The olive oil was rancid, I think they were so used to using it they didn’t taste it. I couldn’t eat it. Here again, fresh is best.
Be careful when you buy your oil, please read this article, Food Fraud in the Vegetable and Avocado Oils
I store my bags of white Jazmine rice in the same Rubbermaid containers as shown above. But, I also store 50 pounds of rice stored in two 5-gallon buckets. White rice will last forever if kept in an air-tight container in a cool dark area.
The older it gets the less fluffy the rice will be, but it will be edible. Please remember, brown rice has a high-fat content and therefore has a very short shelf.
I quote: “Because of the oil in its bran layer, uncooked brown rice has a shorter shelf life than white rice and maintains its quality for about 6 months. For longer storage, refrigerate or freeze uncooked brown rice. Refrigerated brown rice will maintain quality for 6 to 12 months.” Univ. of Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources
My favorite salt is made right here in Utah called Redmond Salt. I also love Himalayan pink salt. Salt will last indefinitely if it stays dry. Please remember, never place oxygen absorbers in salt, it will become a brick, literally.
I have chosen not to buy salt in bulk, it works better for me to buy smaller containers that are easier to handle. In case you missed this post, Salt: Everything You Need to Know
Sugar/Brown Sugar/Powdered Sugar
White Sugar is another wonderful staple that will last forever if stored in an airtight container in a cool dry place. Water or moisture is sugar’s enemy. Please don’t use oxygen absorbers with sugar, it’s like salt and will become a brick, literally.
Powdered sugar lasts about 2 years, brown sugar will last about 18 months. Watch for mold on brown sugar. Keep in mind that you can make your own brown sugar at the last minute if you store molasses. Here are the measurements to make your own brown sugar:
One cup of white granulated sugar plus one tablespoon of molasses equals light brown sugar.
I live in Utah so I’m very lucky to be able to buy Lehi Mill hard white whole wheat berries. Costco sells it in 6-gallon buckets and I replace some of the lids with Red Gamma Lids.
The wheat is cleaner than anywhere else because they wash/clean it 6 times. I can’t risk my wheat grinders with inferior wheat.
I know hard white wheat lasts for a very long time, but I can’t find any place that says it lasts forever. Yes, people found it in pyramids, but how was the quality, it’s just me wanting to know the truth. I have wheat that’s at least 10 years old and it’s fine.
Whole Wheat Flour
Once you grind your own wheat, use it immediately or put it in Heavy-Duty Baggies and place them in the freezer. I’ve stored my freshly ground wheat for 2-3 months in the freezer. I like to grind wheat one day and make bread a few days later, so it makes sense for me to freeze it.
Here’s the deal, we can sleep at night when we know we have a pantry or freezer full of food to feed our family. You have heard me say this before, the government or churches will not deliver food or water after a disaster, it’s not going to happen.
For longer-term storage, I like freeze-dried products. Note that the price of freeze-dried foods has gone up significantly over the past few years. Don’t be surprised if it costs more than it did the last time you purchased some. I like the #10 cans of Thrive Life products.
We must be self-sufficient, that’s all there is to it. We can’t expect others to feed our family, period. I hope you enjoyed hearing how to store your food storage. Stay safe, stay well. May God Bless this world, Linda