Food Storage: What to Store, How Much to Store, and How to Store It?

Food Storage: What to Store, How Much to Store, and How to Store It?

What Foods to Store:

When it come to food storage, by far, the most popular question to ask is what type of food to store?  There exists an overabundance of information and tons of marketing on the Internet that one needs to filter in order to distill down a simple list.  The best way to begin is to make a list of what to store, how much to store and how to actually store it for future needs.

Store what you eat. Eat what you store. It is a crazy idea to store foods that you do not eat on a regular basis, and then suddenly change their diet when an emergency happens and everyone is under all sorts of stress. Before you run out and buy a full year’s supply of some sort of bulk food, try eating it for a week to see if you can really adjust to the new diet.

One should start with the basic food groups to address the core of your food stash of items that you and your family eat every day.  Once you have enough food for your immediate needs, you may be compelled to start storing more food items that have an indefinite shelf-life and can be easily stored for many years.


Wheat is the backbone of any survival diet. Wheat is nature’s longest storing seed. Given the proper conditions, wheat has an indefinite shelf life.  For variety, wheat can also be germinated and sprouted in order to add fresh greens to a diet even in winter.


While not a specific food, as a mineral salt is very essential to the survival diet and to overall individual health. Salt is commonly used for the preservation of food and animal products. Salt at one point was worth its weight in gold, and times may come again when that is again true.

Powdered Milk

Powdered milk exhibits a slightly different taste from the fresh dairy milk or homogenized milk of the local supermarket.  Studies have shown that fat-free powdered milk, when kept dry and reasonably cool, will store with little change in nutritional value for over 15 years.


As a sweetener honey makes a unique contribution to the survival diet. Additionally, many see it as a as a super food that provides a source of energy and renewed vitality.  An irreplaceable extract from the plant and animal kingdoms, honey contains numerous components which contribute to a person’s health. Honey also has an indefinite self life.

Beans & Other grains

Pinto beans, white rice, split peas, soybeans, dried green peas.

Other Items

Freeze-dried foods, pepper, baking powder, baking soda, canned yeast, dried eggs, cooking oil, multivitamin and mineral as well as extra vitamin C caplets.


How Much Food to Store:

As for how much food to store, lies with the most basic question -- What are you preparing for? We all know that with a hurricane or blizzard there can be a short-term disruption in the food supply chain that delivers fresh produce and restocking supplies to our local grocery store and super markets.  People will go out in a panic and buy up all the bread, milk and bottled water in a mad rush of a last ditch effort to prepare.  If we expand this scenario just a bit with the advent of a terrorist attack or a massive storm as seen in Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, then we can see disruptions lasting more than several weeks and potentially months.

Most government websites recommend a three-day supply (72-hours) of food and water to have on hand.  This idea stems from the thought that the government agencies will be able to mobilize and establish relief efforts within an are that is suffering from a disaster. The Unknown Prepper Team feels that this supply, is a good start, but really offers very little in the way of being prepared if the restoration of normal supply chains are delayed more than a week.

Many prepper websites and professional survivalists recommend stockpiling a full year's supply of food.  We at Unknown Prepper find this highly unrealistic and impractical for the average family household to obtain and maintain.  If the average person in America consumes about 2,000 pounds (1 ton) of food per year, then a family of four will need to stock four tons (4 tons) of food in a safe location with a controlled environment to maintain humidity and temperature.  In an informal survey conducted here in the office and with family and friends, it was found that no participating member of the survey had the available space in their home in order to make this exercise in hoarding food seem reasonable.

Realistically, the Unknown Prepper Team recommends the sane and reasonable approach that each family stock a food supply to last for at least a month (30-days).  Unless a super volcano erupts from under Yellowstone National Park or a large meteor strikes the Earth spawning a cataclysmic extinction event, then you and the family should be safe and secure with a month's worth of food stored. This practical supply can easily be obtained just by adding a few extra items of the things you normal purchase to your shopping cart during each trip to the grocery store without having to invest in any long-term supply of dehydrated food.  Additionally, if you find that the recommended 30-day supply will not meet the needs of your family, then adjust your plan.  When it comes to you and your family, you are the one who knows best.


How to Store Foods for the Long Term:

Food grade buckets, oxygen free, Mylar bags

-- Buckets

-- Oxygen absorbers

-- Seal and date

-- Stack

-- Canning


Where to Store Food:

Space.  Too much crap? Downsize your junk.

-- Closet Space

-- Under the Stairs

-- Spare Bedroom

-- Under the beds

-- Basement

-- Garage (if not too hot during the summer)


Options for Storing Your Food

In the not too distant past, drying, salting, and live storage were the only ways know for preserving foods. The Indians of the North and South depended on sun-dried foods. The American settlers survived bitter winters by salt-cured foods and live foods in root cellars. Caesar’s army carried pickled foods and China dined on salt-cured vegetables.

Canning has been one of the most popular methods of preserving food since 1809, when the technique was first developed. Canning must be carried out with careful care if bacterial contamination and spoilage are to be avoided. You must choose the proper canning method and follow procedures exactly, and adjust for high altitudes if needed.

Salt was a treasured commodity in the ancient world not only for its flavor but also for its preservative properties. When produce is impregnated with salt, moisture is drawn out and the growth of spoilage-causing bacteria inhibited. Now, there are four basic methods of salt curing: dry salting, brining, low-salt fermentation, and pickling.

Dehydration opens a new awareness of rich taste. Our families before us used to sun-dehydrate their food many years ago as one of their few means of food preservation. With modern technology it still remains one of the best means of preserving food and is a modern-day staple for many preppers.

Fermentation of vegetables is the same type of process as salting and bring. Fermenting vegetables is a simple, inexpensive method for preserving both meat and vegetables. It requires no special equipment, materials or skill. In many rural areas, or when it isn’t feasible to freeze, dry, or can, this method is used.

Smoking meat has a very palatable flavor. Smoking is a simple process to dry out meat. Smoking tends to inhibit bacterial action and cool smoked meats need no refrigeration.


Something to drink with all that food?

Oh, and do not forget the water, as you can only live a few days without it and can die very quickly if drinking from a contaminated source.  Be sure that you have enough water on hand to address hydration, cooking and sanitation needs. We have addressed Water Storage in a separate article.  Click HERE to read.

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