Building a survival food storage – what do I mean by this, and why, exactly, is it necessary? But before I answer that question, let me ask you another one:
Are you prepared for anything?
So many people assume that, just because they have money stashed away in a bank account, that they will be able to weather whatever life throws at them. They’re prepared, they think, in the event of an emergency.
However, I strongly believe that it is wiser to have food stored up than to have money in a savings account.
If hyperinflation sets in, what good will your money be? None. It will take a wheelbarrow full of your paper money to buy one loaf of bread. And if you are to lose your job? Then, groceries would be one less thing you’d have to worry about paying for! Food storage is just a good idea.
Preparing a survival food storage is one of the best things you can do to prepare for difficult times. Although many people may believe that this step is “too extreme” or too difficult to do (and admittedly, it can be a daunting task to fill your pantry with enough food to last you many months or years), it’s not challenging when you keep these helpful tips in mind.
But having food storage isn’t only wise in preparing for the possible collapse of our economy. What if for whatever reason trucks can no longer bring food into your local grocery store, and the shelves are suddenly wiped clean? What if your town is quarantined, or a natural disaster strikes?
Do you want to have to rely on somebody else to feed your children? Not us. We don’t want to have to hope that we would be taken care of. We choose to prepare. We choose to survive.
Are you interested in building your own survival food storage? Here are some tips.
Choose the Right Foods
One of the first tips I’ll tell you when you begin to build your survival food supply is that you’ve got to be as organized as possible. To that end, it’s a good idea to have a list of what you need to be.
Update this list with your current inventory often, adding or subtracting if you buy or use up ingredients. That way, you’ll always know what you have.
You can mark this on a whiteboard near your pantry or keep a spreadsheet (more on this later). You may even consider including expiration dates if the foods you buy have any – that way, you’ll know what needs to be used first and make the most of your supply.
Here are some of the best items to include in your storage area.
Rice is one of the least expensive foods you can buy and it offers a great source of calories and carbohydrates. It takes very little preparation to make and can be stored for a long period of time. Brown rice may only last for a year but other types, like white and basmati, can last for years.
Choose soft grains like flour, oats, and rye, which can last for years. You can store them in a regular pantry or even in your freezer. Noodles, too, are good options, since they tend to have a shelf life of a year or more.
Beans are loaded with valuable nutrients. They have fiber and protein and when they’re dried, they have an indefinite shelf life. Canned beans last up to two years.
Canned or Dehydrated Meat
Both canned and dehydrated meat are good sources of nutrients. Choose options like canned tune, canned chicken, or even Spam. Beef jerky lasts a long time, too.
You can either buy canned vegetables from the store or make them for yourself. Either way, it’s a good idea to include canned veggies of all kinds in your survival food storage supply.
Spices and Condiments
Keep as many spices and condiments on hand as you can – which ones you include is up to you, but many people will include essentials like garlic, oregano, black pepper, chili pepper, and more.
Coffee and Tea
If you drink coffee or tea, be sure to stock up on these pantry essentials ahead of time.
In a survival situation, it’s likely going to be difficult for you to get your hands on salt. You need salt to survive so make sure you stock up.
A good source of nutrients, powdered milk is filling and can be used in any recipes that call for milk.
Oil is a solid source of fat. The best options are coconut or olive oil. Not only are these healthier alternatives for you, but they won’t go rancid for two or more years.
An excellent source of protein, peanut butter also has an exceptionally long shelf-life.
Fruit, whether dried or canned, is another essential item to have on hand. It will add vital nutrients and can be a nice dessert when times get tough!
Honey is a wonderful natural sweetener and when stored properly, it lasts indefinitely. It does crystallize over time but it is still safe to eat.
DIY Food Preparation Techniques
You don’t have to wait for sales to roll around at the grocery store – instead, you can build your own food supply by doing your own food preservation. You can freeze dry, can, or dehydrate your own foods at home.
Although things like pressure canners and freeze drying machines might seem expensive, you’ll quickly recoup the costs when you realize that you can make all sorts of foods last (from ice cream to meat and even eggs!).
Take Your Time
You don’t have to run to the store and buy hundreds of pounds of food at once – in fact, I don’t recommend this. Not only is it going to overwhelm you, but you’re probably going to get some dirty looks at the grocery store, too. Start by building just a three-day supply of food and gradually increase from there.
You can then add to your emergency food supply week by week until pretty soon, you have months’ worth of food stored up for you and your family. Just pick up a few extra things per week.
Go to Warehouse Clubs or Discount Stores
You can almost always get better prices on goods by buying in bulk. Warehouse clubs like Costco or Sam’s Club offer great deals, even when you factor in the cost of a membership.
Although you will definitely want to compare prices to make sure you’re getting the best deal, you might even be able to grab your essentials at discount stores like the Dollar Store. These won’t usually be name-brand products, but for the vast majority of people, that does not matter.
Stay Organized With Spreadsheets
You may not believe that hyperinflation could be a reality here in the United States, but let me share something with you.
As part of my budgeting, for the past two years I’ve been keeping a spreadsheet of the cost of food at Aldi’s, so that I could sit down and calculate exactly what my grocery list would cost me.
I adjust my spreadsheet as prices fluctuate. Well, looking at my spreadsheet I can tell you that just two months ago a can of green beans cost .39 cents at Aldi’s.
Last month, that same can of green beans cost us .49 cents, a ten cent increase. And tonight, as I look over my receipt from our trip to Aldi’s, a can of green beans now costs .59 cents… twenty cents more than it was just TWO months ago!
Is the price increase due to seasonal demands? I don’t know. But that wouldn’t explain why the price of a box of Kool-Aid went up .18 cents in one week, now would it? There’s nothing seasonal about a pack of flavored sugar. Maybe it’s all coincidence. Maybe. But I don’t think so.
I see inflation subtly creeping in. Keep your own spreadsheets, watch how our prices are rising, see for yourself.
This is why we are feeling such a strong urge to prepare. This is why we are building up our food storage. We want to have what we need while we can still afford it. We want our dollar to buy the most it can while it still has buying power.
Make it a Game
As I said earlier, you don’t have to build your entire survival food supply at once – and it doesn’t have to be a drag, either! Especially if you have kids, you can make the process of shopping to fill your survival pantry more fun by putting them in on the action.
Hunt down sales and coupons and ask your kids for suggestions. Figure out how you can incorporate the foods they like the best in your survival pantry.
Be Mindful of Storage Conditions
The biggest enemies of a survival food supply are oxygen, pests, moisture, light, and time. You want a cool, dry location for storing most types of food. This will improve and sometimes even prolong the storage life of all of the food you need to stock up on.
Know Your Basic Caloric Requirements
By understanding how many calories you and each member of your family might need in a survival situation, you’ll be able to keep a more accurate amount of food in storage.
On average, a male adult needs anywhere from 2,300 to 3,200 calories per day. This varies depending on weight and activity level, so be sure to plan accordingly.
Use a Calculator
How much food should you store up? What do you need? Well, the girls over at Food Storage Made Easy have some great tools to help you figure all of this out, including a food storage calculator, which helps you estimate how much of something you’ll need for “X” amount of time.
If you don’t want to use a calculator. You can go by general guidelines to figure out how much food you need. The federal government says to keep at least three days’ worth of food and water on hand. Three weeks is even better, but one year is the ideal goal.
What Are the Best Places to Store Food?
You can store your stockpile anywhere you’d like. However, there are some places that are better than others – before you start buying food, try to have a clear idea of where you will put it.
Again, ventilation, a lack of direct sunlight and moisture, and coolness are ideal. Some good locations include:
- Spare bedroom
- Root cellar
- Under the stairwell
- Shelves in the closet
- Under the bed
- Linen closet
- Behind clothes in the closet
Regardless of the location you select, try to make sure your stockpile isn’t sitting out in the open for everyone to see.
You should also avoid putting your stash in places like garages, bathrooms, attics, or outside sheds. All of these pose problems in relation to humidity levels and temperature.
Store Similar Foods Together – and Label!
When you’re storing food, make sure you keep things that are similar together. Keep canned fruit in one area and canned vegetables in another. This will make it far easier for you to find what you’re looking for without destroying your rotation or organizational system.
Make sure you label everything you have in your inventory with a permanent marker, too! You might think that you’ll be able to keep track of everything – but that’s not always the case.
Use Glass Jars
Food stored in glass jars lasts much longer than food stored in plastic containers, or worse, paper and cardboard. Buy things in glass jars or shuffle it out from the original packaging into clean, resealable glass jars after you buy it.
Don’t Neglect the Comfort Foods!
Part of building a successful survival food storage system on the homestead comes down to meal planning. You may want to sit down as you’re planning and write out all of the meals your family likes to eat in a given week. This will give you a good idea of which foods you might want to stock up on.
However, as you’re making your list, it’s also a good idea to include the “unnecessary” items that might not provide a major source of nutrition – but can really add to the quality of your meal.
This might include supplements like mayonnaise, vinegars, or even jarred pesto – or straight-up comfort foods like boxed macaroni and cheese or Oreo cookies. These might not last forever, but by including a few short-lived items, it will make you look forward to building up your survival food storage. Plus, who wants to eat dry pasta without any kind of sauce?
Build a Survival Food Storage – the Smart Way!
We are, as quickly as we are able, building up a year’s worth of food. My husband has built shelves in his closet, to stack the food on. Our hallway coat closet is now for food storage. Our pantry and our cabinets hold food, as well as buckets of grains and legumes anywhere else we can hide them. We still have a long way to go, but we are striving towards a goal.
We may get funny looks, and even comments, from people who see us in Aldi’s pushing two shopping carts loaded down with canned foods and things, but we don’t care. We just joke that we have a lot of kids, or something silly, and then tell them that really we are buying what we can before prices go up any more.
This usually brings a thoughtful expression to the other person’s face, and they respond by agreeing with these sentiments. I think it’s important to get other people thinking about being prepared as well.
We cannot simply hope that everything will work out for the best. Yes, we have faith. Yes, we pray and believe that the Lord is good, and that He will provide for us. But we also need to put feet to our prayers and do what we can to prepare for whatever may lie ahead.
How to Get Started
Building a food storage is a long-term endeavor, so I wrote this other article on how to get started, complete with meal plan suggestions and weekly purchases.
updated 08/04/2021 by Rebekah Pierce
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.