Food Storage

Food storage has long been a staple of preppers everywhere, whether they are storing food for when zombies run a muck biting everything with a pulse or if there is a major natural disaster that interrupts the food supply.

Like a great number of other survival/prepper related topics are food storage “experts” that have as many different opinions on what you should and shouldn’t store, how much you should store, etc. and this article isn’t much different.

One question many people ask is, “How do I start and where?” In this article I am going to give you a few tools (and some advice) that you can use to get you started and not fall victim to the same pit falls we did when we first started our food storage.

Freeze Dried Foods
Typical 1 year supply of Freeze Dried Foods.

Typical 1 year supply of Freeze Dried Foods.

Freeze dried foods offer a compact way to store large amounts of food in a relatively small space, some 1 year supplies will fit in a closet.  One of the biggest draw backs to this type of food storage is the need for water to make the food edible.

Another often cited complaint is the taste, in any situation that calls for you to use your food storage having “pallet shock” is only going to make a bad situation worse.

We bought a small 3 month supply of freeze-dried food to add to our food storage but mainly for testing. We found that some of the products were not bad tasting but our kids wouldn’t touch fully 90% of them. Either because of the taste or because they just don’t look very appetizing.

We decided that the only freeze-dried items we would use and keep were diced beef, ground beef, butter powder, and cheese powder. We found these items to be useful and their taste wasn’t too bad when added to various recipes from tacos to cookies.

Dehydrated Foods
Various foods, in portion contoled packages, we have dehydrated for our food storage

Various foods, in portion controlled packages, we have dehydrated for our food storage

Dehydrated Food was first mentioned in Mesopotamia around 1700 BC.  It was a staple food in early history because it was one of the very few ways to preserve food. 

Food dehydration was developed because people had to preserve food for hard times, which were many.  The developed nations of today have most of the food they need almost anytime they want it because of the many ways food can be preserved through canning, freezing, refrigeration, and dehydration.

Hot-air dehydration was developed in France in 1795. Modern dehydration techniques have been largely stimulated by the advantages dehydration gives in compactness; on the average, dehydrated food has about 1/15 the bulk of the original or reconstituted product.

The need to transport large shipments of food over great distances during World War II provided much of the stimulus to perfect dehydration processes.

Shelf life on dehydrated foods varies greatly from a few weeks or months for meats to many years for beans, vegetables, and fruits. We use dehydration to preserve different fruits and vegetables we grow and to make elk, deer, and bear jerky and dices.

We store our dehydrated meats, veggies, and fruits in portion controlled, vacuum sealed packages with O2 absorbers. The longest we have been able to store any of our meats is 18 months while we have used some of the vegetables we dehydrated and stored 4 years after they were first sealed.

Typical canned foods.

Typical canned foods.

Canning is a relatively recent development in the long history of food preservation. Humans have dried, salted and fermented foods since before recorded history.

But preserving food by heat-treating and then sealing it in airtight containers didn’t come along until the late 18th century. In 1795, Napoleon Bonaparte offered a reward for whomever could develop a safe, reliable food preservation method for his constantly traveling army.

Nicholas Appert took on the challenge, and about 14 years later introduced a method that involved heat-processing food in glass jars reinforced with wire and sealing them with wax.  That last technique is similar to the method some people still use of sealing jelly jars with paraffin wax – a technique that is no longer considered safe.

The next breakthrough was the first true “canning” (as opposed to “bottling” or “jarring”) method. By 1810, Englishman Peter Durand had introduced a method for sealing food in “unbreakable” tin cans.

The first commercial canning establishment in the U.S. was started in 1912 by Thomas Kensett. It wasn’t until almost a century after Nicholas Appert took on Napoleon’s food preservation challenge that Louis Pasteur was able to prove how the growth of microorganisms causes food to spoil. Prior to that, people knew that canning methods worked, but not why.

Using canned foods as your food storage is a great idea. They have a long shelf life (up to 5 years), taste good, they are fairly cheap, and you are in all likelihood already eating them now.

Getting started using canned goods for food storage is as simple as picking up a couple of extra cans each time you go to the grocery store.

We use this method for our food storage. We buy a few extra cans each time we go to the grocery store. We always have “fresh” in date cans in case TSHTF because we are simply replacing what we use . Another advantage to using this method is that if TSHTF you will be eating foods that you already eat and enjoy saving yourself pallet shock.

To get tools that will help you get started and keep track of your progress click the links below.

Food Storage Planner– Allows you to plan your meals on a day-to-day basis and shows you how much of each ingredient you will need to store. Includes instructions on using the calculator, a sample, and lists of common food and non-food items.

6-Month Food Storage Calculator– This calculator shows you how much of each type of food you will need to have a six month supply of food. Simply plug-in how much you have and the calculator will show you how much you have left to get.

Food Storage Calculator– This calculator allows you to plug-in the number of people in your family, adults and children, and how many months of food storage you’d like to have and tells you how much of each item you will need to meet that goal.