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What You Need To Know About Food Storage

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Sometimes, people can be overwhelmed when you talk about what you need to know about food storage. I wrote this article about six years ago and updated it because it’s one of my most popular posts. For those who have a few questions, I’ll take you step by step today on where to start with your food storage. Please don’t go out and buy a pallet or 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 have breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day and we need to plan meals around that. Let’s throw some snacks in because I know kids are snackers, and so am I.

What You Need To Know About Food Storage

When Will You Use Your Food Storage?

I use my food storage daily, not just for disasters waiting to happen. I receive emails from people telling me they wish they had had instant milk, cereal, pasta, and other items when they had an ice storm last year. The same would be true if it had been a hurricane, an extreme rainstorm with flooding, or a wildfire. If you have food storage on hand all the time, you have what’s needed each day whether there’s an emergency or not.

Here is my printable food storage list that you can use to make food storage charts to get you started: Linda’s Daily Menu List. You can use the list or charts when you want to conduct an inventory and replenish the food supply as needed. I use this printable when I teach people how to start filling their pantry with food items they will enjoy eating after an unforeseen emergency. I’ve suggested to my readers that they start one can at a time, one package at a time, or one case at a time. The list isn’t anything fancy, but it makes you think about what you eat daily.

Nutrition Is An Important Consideration

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’ll eat more calories, but let’s make this easy today. You don’t HAVE to buy #10 cans to store food in your pantry. You can purchase smaller cans 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.

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. This is 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.

Breakfast-Food Storage:

  1. Eggs: You can make scrambled eggs, omelets, quiches, etc., with some powdered eggs. You may have heard horror stories about powdered eggs; they can be confirmed. I know, I’ve tested a lot of them. My favorite food storage eggs are 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’ll eat scrambled or in omelets.
  2. Cereal: Stock up on cereal when it’s on sale. I buy a grocery shopping cart filled with my husband’s favorite cereals. Just remember to add instant milk to your stash in the pantry. I purchased this milk because it has a long shelf life, and my husband says it tastes great: Thrive Life Milk. This instant milk is excellent to have on hand if you run out of milk and must 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 rancid very quickly. When in doubt, throw it out.
  3. Muffin and Pancake Mixes: Depending on the manufacturer, these can sometimes be made with water. If you make them from scratch, great! I buy mine from Costco and add water. I could make pancakes for the whole neighborhood if I had to because I store large packages, several #10 cans, and gallons of syrup. We won’t need butter in an emergency or unforeseen disaster. Who loves pancakes? Just about everyone.
  4. 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’ll be glad you have a pantry full of food to fall back on. Don’t forget the water you need to store as well.
Read More of My Articles  How to Properly Store Food for Long-Term Storage

Lunches-Food Storage:

  1. Crackers are great for sandwiches if you are out of bread. Pretend you are at Costco getting samples. Spread some peanut butter and jelly/jam on them, and you are good to go.
  2. Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip: Buy a few small jars so if you lose power and can’t keep your refrigerator cold, you can still eat. You can make sandwiches with canned meats and spread them on the crackers above.
  3. Canned Meats, like chicken and tuna, are a must in my pantry. I also have a few cans of roast beef. I grew up on canned corned beef on sandwiches. If you’re out of bread, mix the canned meats with mayonnaise and spread it on crackers. Check the expiration dates on the cracker boxes. Get a variety of crackers for your food storage.
  4. Canned Veggies: Only 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.

Dinner-Food Storage:

  1.  I store mac and cheese plus many meal-type canned foods. I prefer my 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 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: a Butane 1 Burner Stove with a Camping Case. If you have a small stove with extra canisters of fuel, you can boil water or heat some canned foods to make them more enjoyable. Purchase some of your favorite soups or boxed meals; all you have to do is add water and heat them to serve your family.
  2. You can add 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, cook them on the stove, or eat them from the can if necessary.
  3. Now, add some of your favorite canned or freeze-dried fruits, and you’ll have some great meals in a pinch if the supermarkets or grocery stores are closed or empty.
  4. Canned beans are a must in my house. I can make tortillas in minutes and serve beans with salsa. You can also make hummus with most canned beans, add some spices, and serve it on the crackers you buy for your pantry.
Read More of My Articles  How To Store Your Batteries

Snacks-Food Storage:

  1. Hot cocoa or chocolate seems to be liked by everyone. Be sure to store lots of water, or you’ll be out of luck with these. I want 4 gallons per person per day, although you will read one gallon per person is the minimum needed. I have to have water for hydration, cooking, washing hands, and washing underwear, to name a few reasons I store more water. You can never have too much water. I promise. Just think, if the power goes out, how good a hot cup of cocoa would be if the weather outside is freezing. Add a few marshmallows, and we will be good to go.
  2. 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 taste sweeter than the next because it’s just like various foods from the grocery store. Do you know when you buy 12 apples or oranges, and a few are 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 taste different because they are all different apples. They 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!
  3. Most of us like to snack on chocolate. Be sure to add some chocolate to your food storage pantry. I put mine in quart jars and use my FoodSaver to remove the air and vacuum seal the jars to make the chocolate last longer. I always have some chocolate at my house.
  4. Popcorn, thanks Leanne for the reminder.

Freeze-Dried Versus Dehydrated Food Storage:

Freeze-dried fruits and vegetables taste better to me; you can eat them right out of the can! It may seem more expensive but it has a longer shelf-life as you strive for long-term storage. That’s a bonus because I don’t want to waste my precious dollars.

Dehydrated food is cheaper and requires 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 that of freeze-dried food. Check your expiration dates.

Both need water to be at their best, but dehydrated foods need more water, and you need to cook dehydrated foods. They are both great to have in your pantry. Canned soups, canned stews, and chili are all good food storage items. If you have dietary restrictions, you know what you can and can’t buy. I usually buy freeze-dried fruit and vegetables.

I used to buy only freeze-dried meats, but now they are way too expensive. With my food storage, I can make just about any recipe in any cookbook. You don’t need a special cookbook if you buy the foods you cook today. Just buy them dehydrated or freeze-dried, and you’ll be able to cook most of the meals you already make.

Having a Supply of Non-Perishable Foods on Hand Makes Sense

The suggested items above can help you start your food storage journey. Sometimes we only think of canned goods for our long-term food storage. Several items will last a reasonably long time if stored in airtight containers. Think of rice, pasta, grains like whole wheat, lentils, herbs, beans, etc. All these come in handy as you do your meal planning with flavor, texture, and nutrition in mind.

If you have infants in your family, remember their need for food in emergencies. Whether you use pre-mixed infant formula or powder that you mix with water, check the manufacturer’s suggested approach to safely store a supply.

I recently discussed the essential basics in my pantry. You’ll be glad you added a can or two of food to your stash. Let me know how the water storage is coming in your household. Thanks for being prepared. May God Bless this world, Linda

Copyright Images: Jars of Sugar Lined Up AdobeStock_382731315 By Rix Pix

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  1. Linda, I love your articles and I think this 67 year old grandmother has a crush on you. lol. I feel like a bobblehead when I read your articles. I agree and do, thanks to your advice, so many of the things you do for preparing. Thanks for mentioning OvaEasy eggs. I found them over five years ago and love them. I made scrambled eggs for hubby one time with OvaEasy eggs and he never knew the difference. I do have powdered eggs for baking, etc. If everyone bought your book they would see how easy it is to prepare for emergencies and keep your family from being stressed out. You are a life line in a sea of fear mongers.

  2. I buy a few extra cans or jars of food every time I shop. I also buy extra bottles of water a couple times a month. (We like to keep at least 300-500 gallons of water on hand for a family of 6). We have a rain catchment system for doing dishes and laundry or bathing if need be. We are on a community well and it went down last month for a couple of days. My family was amazed by the fact that I was not worried about cooking or cleaning, LOL. I have several ways to cook as well. I spent last week canning jellies,pickles and veggies. We also had a power failure recently. (I’m totally electric) But like I said, I have several ways to cook. Having had home canned soups, stews,meats and veggies is a blessing. I am not completely self sufficient , but I am working towards that goal. It’s not easy to watch neighbors struggling in adverse conditions, but I did try to tell them what they needed to do for an emergency. Some will listen and ask for help, others laugh and walk away. Thank you for another great article. God Bless for all you do.

    1. Hi Judy, you made my day as well! I love hearing you had stews, meat, and veggies ready to serve your family. I have goosebumps now thinking about your family being so prepared. I’m so glad to hear you have the same feeling as me, we are prepared to be self-reliant. I hear you on our neighbors going through adverse times. I’m in the same situation, a lot of neighbors do not care about storing food or water. I will send out text messages and emails to a few neighbors to buy products when I see a STEAL of a deal and I rarely get any response. I think those of us who have never been through a Hurricane Sandy or the like don’t get. It’s a way of life for you and me. Good job, Linda

  3. Linda, a wonderful & I only disagree on one thing. In the breakfast you wrote “We won”t need butter in an emergency”. No butter in the house IS an emergency! Lol

    1. Linda S – I totally agree that no butter in the house is an emergency. I generally have 1 pound in the fridge and at least 2 pounds in the freezer!

      Linda L – don’t forget about popcorn for snacking. I take “Jiffy Pop” when I go camping. I pop it on the butane stove! Also, regular popcorn can be used as a snack or ground for making corn bread, etc. Periodically, my ex-brother-in-law goes to Nebraska to visit family. He always calls and asks if I want him to bring me popcorn. I have him get 50# at a time! The first time I asked for 50#, he said I would never finish it! The next year, he (jokingly) called me to see if I needed popcorn. I looked in my 5 gallon bucket and said “YES!” He had no idea I ate that much popcorn by myself!!

      I would like to reiterate something you alluded to – purchasing a few extra cans/jars/boxes of something each time you do your grocery shopping spreads the cost of food storage over a period of time. It can seem daunting when you think of the “pallet” sized food storage but I am of the mind that you buy what you eat and eat what you buy. Rotate, rotate, rotate.

      Always love these posts.

      1. Hi Leanne, oh my gosh I have got to add popcorn to the list!! I LOVE popcorn!! I wish more people would realize a can or two a week makes it easy to accumulate food storage. I totally agree with buy what you eat and eat what you buy and rotate!! LOVE it! Linda

  4. Since I used to provision our sailboat for 4-6 months in the out islands of the Bahamas, making the jump to provisioning the house was not a big deal.
    Butter- I used to buy it in cans. Not sure if that is still available. Our Publix stores have a jarred “ghee” that they sell. It seem more like regular clarified butter, but it IS butter and it IS shelf stable for a long time until it is opened. It goes on sale now and then.
    I spent a good bit on groceries a few years ago when I decided to amp up the pantry due to supply chain issues. NOW, all I do is replace and because of my significant stash, almost everything is bought on sale or buy1-get 1. I can wait for sales.

    NOW our grocery bills are really low. I do have a 3 1/2 month stash of the My Patriot Supply food. There are plenty of brands out there. That stuff is for when we are out of everything else. The true survival food.

    I foresee some serious issues after the current election. It’s a good time to start stocking up when there are sales. Skip the manicure and buy food. Skip the “wants” and buy food. Water is workable. I have a supply of Berkey water filters. There is another company making good ones, too. It’s no good on salt water (I live on an island surrounded by salt water), but they will do a lot if they can get clear water. No boiling (using precious fuel and time) necessary.

    We lived on the boat with only what water was in the tank or I could catch in a tarp on deck and funnel in. 3 gallons a day for the 2 of us and the dog. That includes washing us, but not clothes. We could bathe in salt water and do a quick rinse in fresh. I’ve never let water run in 40 years!
    For septic owners, if the water is out, NO TP in the toilet. Only flush for #2. TP takes more water to flush. TP composts beautifully…I don’t want to hear about human poop in the composter. How much can there possibly be on TP?!
    Life is good

    1. Hi CAddison, oh my gosh, yeah no poop in the composter, nope, not going to happen. You have had a great life seeing the world and living on a sailboat, I love hearing about it when your tell us tidbits. So many of us chased the dollar to make ends meet, I regret that now that I’m a bit older. Life is good, my friend, Linda

  5. Wow! Linda, this post comes at an interesting time!

    I just had 4 emails from 4 different companies regarding long term food supplies! 4Patriots (dot) com has their 3 month package on sale right now. I have tried their food and it is great (haven’t tried all of the foods but what I did try was good). Their package is a 3 month supply and they “throw in” extras: this time, heirloom seeds, 2 72 hour kits, survival library. They also have a payment plan. Just an idea for people to look into as they desire. There were others as well but I deleted the emails and cannot recall which ones!! (note, it has been a couple of minutes between deleting those emails and reading this post – I can tell I am getting older cause I forget so easily!!). When I purchased their 3 month package, they didn’t have the payment plan so it was a struggle to get that much money saved up!!

    I looked at the Where do I start menu pdf. That is great – basically what I did when I really got into storing up food. I started with the buy an extra can or two each time I went to the store method; graduated to the menu plan method; then to the occasional long term storage method. As for the menu plan, I suggest starting with one week of menus (purchase extra canned and boxed items as you are able so that you have 2 week’s worth of food on the shelf). THEN add another week of menus slightly different than the first and work your way up to having at least 4 weeks of menus on the shelf. I also recommend that when you have a supply of food on the shelf, as you use one item, it goes on your shopping list – even if you have 4 of that item on the shelf. This ensures that you have fresher items on the shelves.

    1. Hi Leanne, I have been seeing a lot of ads on food storage as well. A friend sent me a link that was a Dr.Phil show interviewing people in the audience who stock up on food for emergencies. They used the word “Preppers”, it was interesting to watch it because they had the audience push a button for 1. will stock food 2. maybe stock food. 3. or 4. I will do nothing. I’m not quoting the dialogue exactly but it was interesting to see the stats. The monthly payment plans for food storage will help so many people, because food is so expensive right now, food banks are desperate to help people. I do not know how people are feeding their families of 6-8 people. Or even 2 people, lets be real. Food is so expensive. Great comment, Linda

  6. Linda –
    I am cooking for 1 (1-2 servings at a time) and it is a real struggle for me!! One can of something like soup or chili lasts at least 2 servings and sometimes 3. I have a kitchen scale and when I see a recipe I want to try, I have to cut it down to at least half! It is a real learning curve to cook for 1-2 people. As for the cost of food, I am much more conscientious about what I make to do my best not to have throw away food. That is also a struggle as I don’t have a lot of freezer space to store leftovers.

    As for food banks, I try to help when I can but on a limited budget, that is something I cannot do very often. Food Banks also need things like hygiene items. Those things are EXPENSIVE!! I saw something just the other day that used to cost me $2.00 and now it is almost $5.00!! YIKES! So happy I have that item stocked up as well. There are so many things that I have on my shelves that I stocked up on a few years ago (think pre-covid) and am thankful that I don’t have to purchase deodorant and shampoo/conditioner, bar soap at this time.

    I’ve always said that a storage plan (food, hygiene, etc.) is a great insurance plan!

    1. HI Leanne, you are so right having a storage plan with food and hygiene items is for sure an insurance plan. I totally agree with you I look at Berkey Sports bottles I gave them to our grandkids for Christmas one year, they were $15.00 each. Now I see them for $50-60.00 each. I could go on and on, but we all know inflation is rampant. Linda

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