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Storing Food for Emergencies


pantry food storage


Why do people store food?

Most people who store food do it to be prepared for natural disasters or other emergencies that may last several months or longer. There are easy ways to store food that are pricey, and other more frugal ways that take a bit more work.

Every family is different, and the type of food stored will vary. However, if you want to be prepared and you have the money, the easiest way to protect your family is buying the freeze-dried food that comes in individual packages.  You just add boiling water and in a few minutes they are ready to eat.

Even people who have cans of dried foods often have a bucket of freeze-dried pouches.  These pouches are sold retail as 72-hour Emergency Food to take with you in case you have to leave your home.  There are pouches for breakfast, dinner, drinks and desserts in these kit for 72 hours, or 3 days.

It is more economical, and easier to feed a large group of people with large dehydrated food cans.  Learn how to cook with dehydrated foods and do not let the food go to waste. There are a variety of recipes on this site for dehydrated foods.  In pioneer days Dried Apple Cake was a favorite.  Do not be afraid of dehydrated food.  With spices and other flavorings it tastes fine.


Here are some tips for frugal food store.

The most important part of storing food is to store what you eat, and eat what you store.  Rotate your food so it doesn't go to waste.

Begin by storing your favorite foods. Learn to make more meals with canned meats.  You can store canned food for 2-5 years. Add cooking oils, canned fruits and vegetables, spices, box mixes and other pantry foods.

Clearly mark expiration dates on all your foods.  Most cans and packages now list the expiration date somewhere on the packaging. It can be difficult to both find and read the number.  Use a magic marker and write the date of expiration on your food before you put it away.


bread machine and hand wheat grinder

Electric and manual wheat grinder

Wheat is essential for food storage.  I have both an electric and a hand wheat grinder.  It is not hard to make bread with a breadmaker. Breadmakers are wonderful.  It only takes five minutes to put together the ingredients to make a fresh loaf of bread.  Breadmakers make it easy to rotate and use your food storage.  Buy a hand grinder  to grind small amounts of other grains and to use when the power goes out. 

While an electric bread maker will not operated in a true crisis situation, it does make it possible to easily rotate food storage and to allow your system to get use to whole wheat.  Whole wheat can cause digestive problems if you are not use to it.  Most wheat bread recipes have white flour in them. The "whole wheat" tag on the bread you buy at the store does not exclude the insertion of white flour.

Note: If you have wheat in your home and cannot make bread, you can boil it like rice.


slice homemade wheat bread

For extended emergency storage store pails of grains, beans and rice.  They last for years, are easily shared and will keep everyone healthy.

For long term storage store plenty of freeze-dried and emergency foods.  There is no shortage of vendors selling these foods.  Never pay retail.  Everything goes on sale for at least 40% off.

Be prepared to cook your food if the power goes out. A small propane stove will serve you well for a couple of day.  A wood stove will take care of all your need.


Types of Food Storage


Canned Goods

Most American households have canned food storage, even if it is only for a few days.  Canned goods are now marked with stale dates.  Eat your food before the stale date and you can save a lot of money on canned goods buying them on sale.

It can be difficult to store enough canned goods to last a year, which is way many people who store food turn to other types of food. 

Most canned food lasts at least a year if it is stored in a cool, dry place. An unopened can of shortening will last over 2 years. Commercially canned meats last from 2-5 years.  Take the stale date from the cans and mark it clearly on the front of the cans.  That way you will not overlook eating it on time.


Dehydrated Food

dehydrated food storage in kitchen


Dehydrated food will last over a decade. It is good for long term storage. Just be sure and have a few recipes to make with it, so that you will use it and it won't go bad. 

When I buy it I always buy 2 cans.  I open one of them so I can cook with it and store it in my kitchen.  I put the other can in my food storage closet. 

You can also see my electric wheat grinder in the picture to the left which I use for grinding wheat under normal circumstances.

If you store dehydrated food you will need to store extra water to use it.

You can buy a lot of dehydrated food at the grocery store. Many of the foods you buy in the grocery store are already dehydrated, such as spaghetti and macaroni, and they last a long time.

You can survive a month without food, but it will not be pleasant. Everyone should have at least a 2 week supply of food in their homes for their families.


Freezer Food

Freezer food is fragile. If the power goes out for more than a few days, you will lose all of it. That is almost a certainty with any natural disaster. However, freezer food helps during times of unemployment or when the food supply is interrupted.

Often ice is delivered to areas hit by natural disasters. Be sure and have a large ice cooler ready for that purpose. When disaster hits, know how to get to the nearest Walmart.  With their extensive warehouses, they are usually the first store to open and they help with emergency relief.   


Emergencies and the Need for Food Storage

Food becomes scarce in almost every natural disaster.

Strikes can limit access to food. The transportation system required to distribute food is fragile, and any disruption can clear the retail store shelves of food.

Illness can keep you from being able to get out and buy food.

Job and income loss can make it difficult to afford food.  Many a family has gotten through tough times by using their food storage.

-Hysteria can lead to food shortages. Many of us are old enough to remember when Johnny Carson made a joke about the stores being short on toilet paper. As a result of that joke, the stores did empty out of toilet paper.






Emergency Preparation Articles

More tips and perspectives on how to prepare and cope with natural  disasters and other emergency situations.


Dehydrated Food Recipes

Recipes using long term food storage -  freeze dried and dehydrated food

Canned Food Recipes

Recipes that are easy to make and use items that you can purchase in the supermarket and store in your pantry.


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