Food Storage Basics

Food Storage Basics

FIFO, not FIDO… That’s dog food storage. This is FIFO (First In First Out). This is the general

rule for food storage. When you buy a new can of soup, put it at the back of the shelf, that way
the next can you use is older. There are some great shelf systems made just for this. There are also
good plans available to make your own. The prefab ones are pricey. They also make some smaller
units that you just place on your existing shelves. These are made for soup can size or the big #10
cans. It’s always best to label cans with a purchase date. Use a Sharpie or paint pen to clearly label
all of your food stock; the same goes for your frozen foods and dry storage foods. Keep food as
cool as possible. A basement, low in a closet or away from a water heater or heater, is ideal. Higher
cabinets will be subject to warmer temperatures. Keep storage foods away from your refrigerator
and freezer… They are only cold on the inside. The outside can be over 90 degrees! The closer to
60 degrees you keep your food storage, the better. For example, an MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) can
be stored for about 6 months at 100 degrees. It can be stored for almost Four years at 60 degrees.
This is true for most foods. The lower the temp, the longer it stays fresh. 


This has got to be the easiest part of preparedness to get started. Do you buy groceries? Good,
you know how to shop. Can you spot the difference between cheap and bargain? Cheap is just as
the word says… cheap: cheap price, cheap quality, cheap quantity, cheapskate. Don’t do that to
yourself. Bargain is a better word for what you are looking for; quality goods at a fair price or less.
Next time you go shopping, buy a couple extra cans of veggies. There, now you are started. Do
that every time you shop. That’s how it’s done. If your budget is tight,
find small cuts to make,
but make a bunch of them. A couple bucks here and there can make the difference. Find a local
discounter or “dented can store.” These have been on their way out over the years, but they are
still around. Clip coupons, chase sales, change stores, whatever it takes to save a dime. Nowadays
it’s best to go to a warehouse store and buy rice, beans, pasta, oats, etc…. Check online for deals
on bulk goods. Restaurant supply stores are another great resource for larger quantities. Have
you heard of Sysco or US Foods? Get your group together and come up with a budget you can
maintain and plan a monthly buy from one of these restaurant suppliers. They will want you to
be on a schedule. They are interested in regular customers. You will need to make it worth their
effort. Order as much as your group can afford on a regular basis. If you have someone near town,
they will actually deliver!

If your finances are not a problem, there are a few really good sources for pre-packaged supplies.
Good name brands are Mountain House, Thrive, Provident, Food Insurance, Wise Company
and many more. Thrive has a really cool planner on their website which you can link to from

Thrive Food Storage Planner

This planner allows you to set the number of people and the duration you’re planning for, how
many pre-made meals you want, how much of your plan is to be freeze dried foods, and some
other cool options. Thrive isn’t cheap. It is very good food though. Even if you can’t afford their
food (although they offer a monthly payment plan) you can use the planner to see what you need
and how much. Buy some things from them and try it out. Mountain House is great too. I haven’t
tried Provident or Food Insurance myself, but they are well reviewed and recommended by people
I trust. You can always buy bulk and package them yourself. This is a bit more work but it is a lot
cheaper. Rice, beans, oats, sugar, salt and a lot of the other bulk items can be stored in buckets and
jars. You just have to keep the moisture and air out. Cool and dry is your new mantra. There are
a ton of great videos and tutorials on how to package your bulk goods. We will cover these in the
Effective Tactics Podcasts: ET Podcasts

Make an emergency meal plan. Figure out what things you make now that you can make during a
disaster. Start with stocking up on those things. Look at the list. You will also need a Grinder mill
and some practice cooking with the above ingredients. A good cookbook will do wonders, Such as
Cookin’ with Home Storage by Vicki Tate. There are many out there, but you should own at least
one. You need a plan or a menu that you can work through. Look at the ingredient quantities used in
your menu. Buy accordingly. Adjust your purchasing to
fit your diet. Be sure to make the meals as nutritious as possible. Watch your food group distribution. Do not live on beans alone. They may
be easy to cook, but you won’t be easy to live with. Not to mention the nutritional de
ficiency you
will experience. Here’s a silly fact.
YOU NEED FAT! Yep. You heard me. A diet that is short on
fats is unhealthy. Eating unsaturated fats (and small amounts of saturated fats) not only provide
your body with energy, but also helps to absorb vitamins. Remember, you’re going to have a pretty
limited diet. You need to retain all the vitamins you can. Adults should get 25-30% of their calories
from fat. Want to know a secret? Peanut butter is great for this. Heck, nuts in general are excellent
sources of fat. They store well and
fit the bill for fat content. Fat provides nine calories per gram.
Carbohydrates only provide four calories per gram. Those in cold weather or performing manual
labor will greatly bene
fit from the substantial energy stored in fats.

There are plenty of places to buy pre-packaged storage foods. Some are less expensive than others.
Some are worth the extra money. None of them are as cheap as doing it yourself. Food grade
buckets, Mylar Bags, Oxygen Absorbers, desiccant packs, dry ice, Gamma Lids… These are all terms that you will become intimately familiar with through this book. Don’t be scared by the fancy names or big words, it is
pretty easy to do your own bulk storage and one of those infomercial vacuum seal units is really
handy for smaller portions.

I’m hungry. Are you hungry? Do you have any idea how much food you eat in a year? You eat a
ton of food. No, seriously. The average American eats 2,000 pounds of food every year. Suddenly,
I’m not so hungry anymore. We eat an average of 3,800 calories per day. Wow!
Ummm, waitress!
Yeah, can I change my order? Yeah, I’ll have the salad instead. Thanks.
The average adult needs
between 2,000 and 2,400 calories per day. We are eating nearly twice what we need. Now the scary
part; that number is down from where it was a few years ago! Do you have a basement? A few
REALLY big closets? Where on earth do you plan to store a ton of food? Wait, that’s a ton per
person in your household. Dwell on that for a second.

Fitness and diet aren’t really the focus of this chapter, but I needed to address it briefly. We really
need to bring our eating habits under control now, before a crisis happens. The sooner you get your
body accustomed to fewer calories, the better off you will be when you’re reduced to beans and rice.
I say that because beans and rice are some of the easiest and longest lasting food stores you can

Here is a primer for food storage. This is one year of food for one person. You’re going to still be
hungry but you won’t be starving:

A year of Multi-vitamins to fill in the dietary gaps. 

You should also have roughly 50 pre-prepared meals (MRE, Mountain House, Thrive, etc) on hand. Mostly because the many things that you might be doing all day to survive will take longer, as will cooking. Having ready to eat (10 min or less) meals will be a blessing. 

Other things to add to break the monotony of the above menu. 




Dried fruits and nuts

Canned foods (meats and veggies)

Hard candies – to help morale. 

Canning – 

This is not my area of expertise. I can say that you should have a garden if possible. If not, can you have some fruit trees? Anything to augment your storage will help. Even if you can’t have a garden, you should be buying items to can. Fruits and vegetables are crucial even if you plan on hunting. You need vitamins! This is sad to say but meat alone is not enough! Did you know that you can can (ha!) meats? Yep! Canned pot roast, roast beef… just about anything can be canned! If you don’t get a fancy canning set up at least get a good book, take a class, watch some videos, do something to prepare yourself. Buy some canning supplies. Try it. Try jam. It’s pretty easy. My wife made plum jam this year. I had never had plum jam before. I was a grape and strawberry guy. PLUM JAM IS AWESOME!!! Put it on waffles and then send me a thank you letter. You’re welcome. Now, go get some jars and some fruit and get cookin’!

I cannot over stress the need to practice before a disaster. Do you really want to try it in the dark the first time? Do you really want your first meal in the middle of a disaster to be a blind experiment with tools and ingredients you have no practice with? Try a meal a week or a meal a month from your storage foods. It will give you time to add a pinch of this or a dash of that. That way when disaster falls on you and your loved ones you will have a good foundation of experience to draw from. 

 Bon Appétit!

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