Sometimes people can be overwhelmed when you talk about what you need to know about food storage. I wrote this article about three years ago and updated it because it’s one of my most popular posts. For those who have a few questions, I will take you step by step today on where to start with your food storage. Please don’t go out and buy a pallet of food, cases of food you have never tried or could not possibly eat in your lifetime.
The first thing you need to do is think about what you eat every day. Yep, every day. We usually all have breakfast, lunch, and dinner, right? Let’s throw some snacks in because I know kids are snackers, and so am I.
I use my food storage every day, not just for disasters waiting to happen. I receive emails from people telling me they wish they had had instant milk or cereal or pasta, and other items when they had an ice storm last year. The same would be true if it had been a hurricane or an extreme rainstorm with flooding, the list goes on and on.
Here is my printable food storage list to get you started if you missed it on a previous post: Linda’s List I use this printable when I teach people how to start filling their pantry with food items they will enjoy eating after a disaster or unforeseen emergency. One can at a time. One package at a time. It’s nothing fancy, but it does make you think about what you eat every day.
You don’t need to count calories unless you do that every day now. Let’s make this simple and easy. You write down what you have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I have some suggestions below to get you started.
Obviously, if you are doing heavy work you would eat more calories, but let’s make this easy today. You do not HAVE to buy #10 cans to have food stored in your pantry. You can buy case lots of your favorite meats, fruits, veggies, etc. Once you fill in the sections of my food storage list, start adding a can or two extra every week of those items to be prepared for the unexpected.
I know an older single woman who buys all the canned food she needs for one year when the case lot sales are going strong. She mainly eats fresh food but rotates the canned items at the end of the year by giving them to the food bank in her area. A great tip for those who want the security of food in the pantry just in case the stores shut down for a short period of time.
- Eggs: you can make scrambled, omelets or quiches, etc. with some powdered eggs. You may have heard horror stories about powdered eggs, they can be true. I know, I have tested a lot of them. These are my favorite food storage eggs: OvaEasy Powdered Whole Eggs (6-pack of 4.5 oz. bags) Now, you can buy other powdered eggs for baking, but if you want the real thing, these are the only ones I will eat scrambled, or in omelets.
- Cereal: stock up on cereal when it’s on sale. I buy a whole grocery shopping cart filled to the brim and then some, of my husband’s favorite cereals. Just remember to add instant milk to your stash in the pantry. I buy this milk because it has a long shelf life and my husband says it tastes great: Thrive Life Milk. This instant milk is great to have on hand if you run out of milk and need to just mix up a quart to serve at the last minute. It has a shelf life of 25 years unopened and two years if opened. Remember to keep your food storage out of a hot attic or garage. It will go bad very quickly. When in doubt, throw it out.
- Muffin mixes and pancake mixes: these can be made sometimes with just water, depending on the manufacturer. If you make them from scratch, great! I buy mine from Costco, I just add water. I can make pancakes for the whole neighborhood if I had to because I store large packages and several #10 cans, plus gallons of syrup. We won’t need butter in an emergency or unforeseen disaster. Who loves pancakes? Just about everyone.
- Fruit: buy some of your favorite canned fruits or #10 cans of freeze-dried fruits like apples, pineapple or peaches. Of course, canned fruit is less expensive, but it’s nice to have a variety of fruits, and you can snack on the freeze-dried ones as well. If the weather is too dangerous to drive in you will be glad you have a pantry full of food to fall back on. Don’t forget the water you need to store as well.
- Crackers: great for sandwiches if you are out of bread. Pretend like you are at Costco getting samples. Spread some peanut butter and jelly/jam on them and you are good to go.
- Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip: buy a few small jars just in case you lose power and have no way to keep your refrigerator cold. You can make sandwiches with canned meats and spread it on the crackers above.
- Canned meats: a must in my pantry, like chicken and tuna. I have a few cans of roast beef, too. I grew up on canned corned beef sandwiches. You can mix the canned meats with mayonnaise and spread it on crackers if you are out of bread. Check the expiration dates on the boxes of crackers. Get a variety of crackers for your food storage.
- Canned veggies: store what you like to eat. Try some #10 cans of freeze-dried vegetables like peas, corn, or green beans. You can eat freeze-dried veggies right out of the can. I buy mine from Honeyville or Thrive Life.
- I store mac and cheese plus many meal-type canned foods. I prefer my own homemade beef stew, but I do buy a few cans of commercially canned beef stew from my local grocery store. I like certain brands of chili, and I can heat them up and serve them with crackers in a power outage. I have a butane stove just in case my gas stove is out of commission (I highly recommend you get one too). This is the one I have: Camp Chef Butane 1 Burner Stove with Camping Case. If you have a small stove with extra canisters of fuel you can boil water or heat up some canned foods to make them more enjoyable. Purchase some of your favorite soups or boxed meals so all you have to do is add water and heat them to serve to your family.
- You can add some freeze-dried veggies to your pantry and eat them right out of the can. Add some canned green beans, corn or your favorite canned vegetables and you can cook them on the stove or eat them from the can if you had to.
- Now, add some of your favorite canned fruits or freeze-dried fruits and you have some great meals in a pinch if the supermarkets or grocery stores are closed or empty.
- Canned beans are must have in my house. I can make tortillas in minutes and serve beans with salsa. You can make hummus with most canned beans, add some spices and serve on the crackers you buy for your pantry.
- Hot cocoa or chocolate seems to be liked by everyone. Be sure and store lots of water or you’ll be out of luck with these. I like 4 gallons per person each day, although you will read one gallon per person minimum is needed. I have to have water for cooking, washing hands, and washing underwear, to name a few reasons why I store more water. You can never have too much water. I promise. Just think, if the power is out how wonderful a hot cup of cocoa would be if the weather outside is really awful. Add a few marshmallows and we are good to go.
- Freeze-dried foods are fantastic and kids love them. My family has a few favorites, like pineapple chunks, apple slices, and strawberries. Now think about this, sometimes one #10 can has a sweeter taste than the next can because it’s just like at the grocery store. You know when you buy 12 apples or oranges and a few are really sweet and juicy and a few are not as yummy? That’s what happens when fresh fruit is freeze-dried or dehydrated. In other words, one #10 can food item may taste better than another #10 can. Some apple slices in one can will taste a bit different because they are all different apples. The can may say they are Fuji apples and some pieces will taste better than other pieces, but they are still all yummy and easy to serve!
- Chocolate is something most of us like to snack on. Be sure and add some chocolate to your food storage pantry. I put mine in quart jars and use my FoodSaver to remove the air from the jars to make the chocolate last longer. I always have some chocolate at my house.
- Popcorn, thanks Leanne for the reminder.
Freeze-Dried Versus Dehydrated Food Storage:
Freeze-dried fruits and vegetables taste better to me, plus you can eat them right out of the can! It’s a more expensive type but has a longer shelf-life. That’s a bonus for me because I don’t want to waste my precious dollars.
Dehydrated food is cheaper and needs water to make it palatable. I use dehydrated veggies in soups, etc. You can’t eat commercially processed dehydrated food out of the can or you may crack a tooth. The shelf-life is usually much shorter than freeze-dried food. Check your expiration dates.
Both need water to be at their best, but dehydrated needs more water and you need to cook dehydrated foods. They are both great to have in your pantry. Canned soups, canned stews, and chilis are all good food storage items. If you have dietary restrictions you know what you can and cannot buy. I usually buy freeze-dried fruit and vegetables.
I also buy only freeze-dried meats. I can make just about any recipe in any cookbook with my food storage. You do not need a special cookbook if you buy the foods you cook today. Just buy them dehydrated or freeze-dried and you will be able to cook most meals you already make today.
Tomorrow I will talk about the very basics I have in my pantry over and above these items. You’ll be glad you added a can or two of food to your stash. Let me know how the water storage is coming at your household. Thanks for being prepared, blessings to you.