Long-term food storage is a necessary part of every emergency plan. But it can be tricky for those who are new to the world of food storage to learn the ropes.
Fortunately, creating a long-term food supply for your family is a lot easier than it sounds. So long as you follow the basic rules of food storage, you can successfully create a cache of healthy, nutritious, and tasty food that will last your family for years.
NuManna has prepared the dos and don’ts of long-term food storage to help families prepare an emergency-ready food supply. Read on to learn what you should and shouldn’t do while stocking up.
Long-Term Food Storage Dos
There are some things you should always do when creating a long-term food supply. Here are the dos of long-term food storage.
Start With the Basics
When you’re creating a stock of food, you should always start with the basics. Staples like milk, rice, and flour are necessary ingredients in many meals. Without them, you’ll have a hard time creating a menu of nutritionally diverse foods. Some basic food items you should prioritize adding to your supply include:
- Baking powder
- Dried whole eggs
- Powdered milk
Consider Your Family’s Dietary Needs and Preferences
It’s crucial to keep your family’s dietary needs and preferences in mind when choosing food for your supply. Is anyone in the family vegan or vegetarian? Do any family members have allergies or food sensitivities? What about diabetes? And what kind of food does each member of your family like to eat? Do they eat only organic foods?
You want every member of your family to have options that work for them. It’s best to avoid the foods that family members with allergies and sensitivities can’t eat entirely. If a family member is allergic to peanut butter, leave peanut butter out of your stock or at least store it away from other food items to avoid contamination. If someone in your family has Celiac disease, you’ll want to buy gluten-free foods. For diabetic family members, avoid choosing foods that are overly salty, sugary, and fatty. If you’re not sure what kind of food your family members want or need, ask them. In most cases, they’ll be more than happy to write you a list.
Don’t forget to stock up on food for your pets, either! Pets are invaluable parts of your family. Most canned and bagged pet foods will last up to two years when stored correctly.
Keep It Balanced
It can be tempting to stock up exclusively on your favorite meals, but eating nothing but spaghetti or soup day in and day out can lead to nutritional imbalances. Nutrition is vital in emergencies, so make sure your supply includes meals that incorporate a variety of food groups and different vitamins and nutrients.
You should eat six servings of grains, four servings of fruits and vegetables, three servings of dairy, four one-ounce servings of meat, and two servings of fats and oils daily. Keep this in mind.
Store Your Food Somewhere Cool and Dark
To get the most out of your food storage, store it in a room that’s cool (70 degrees Fahrenheit or lower) and dark. A basement is a good example. The less your food has contact with light, warm temperatures, moisture, and oxygen, the longer it will last.
Choose Tasty Foods
You want to choose food that’s healthy and nutritious, but that doesn’t mean you have to chug thick vegetable smoothies or plain soup all day. Emergencies are never fun to go through, but a scrumptious meal can pick you back up when you’re feeling down. For this reason, you should buy and store foods that you and your family like to eat.
Store at Least Three Days’ Worth of Food
Your emergency supply should contain enough food to last you and your family a minimum of three full days. A week’s or a month’s supply is even better.
Long-Term Food Storage Don’ts
There are also some things you should never do when creating a long-term food supply. Here are the don’ts of long-term food storage.
Don’t Use Loose Containers
If you use loose containers to store your food, air and moisture can potentially sneak inside. Exposure to air and moisture can dramatically reduce your food’s shelf life, so you want to avoid this. Before storing your food, check the lids of the containers and ensure they have tight seals.
Don’t Forget About Expiration Dates
Some foods like honey never go bad. But most food items have a strict expiration date, and you should never eat foods once they expire. To help you keep track of your food’s freshness, you can write the expiration date for each item on a sticky note and attach it to the front of the containers. You can also organize your food based on expiration dates by placing items with similar expiration dates near each other. Always eat the oldest foods first, and if a food item expires, dispose of it, and replace it as soon as possible.
Don’t Store Too Many Refrigerated Foods
Lots of emergencies will leave you without power, so unless you have a reliable generator, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to rely on your fridge or freezer in difficult times. It’s fine to store some food in your fridge or freezer, but you should also have a decent stock of items that don’t need to remain cold.
Don’t Store Near Potential Contaminants
Avoid storing your food near anything that could contaminate it. Chemicals and cleaning supplies are common items to avoid. If their containers leak, hazardous chemicals could mix with your food and render it inedible.
Don’t Forget To Hone Your Cooking Skills
Cooking with pre-prepared, freeze-dried, and dehydrated food is a bit different than cooking with fresh ingredients. If you’ve never cooked with survival food before, your first few attempts can be a struggle. You should practice handling and cooking these foods when you have spare time. This way, if an emergency happens, you’ll be able to cook your stored food without fumbling.
Don’t Neglect Nutritional Value
It might seem like a good idea to buy cheap food items in bulk. But if you look closely at the nutritional info for these inexpensive bulk goods, you may find that they aren’t all that healthy. The amount of food you have matters, but so does the nutritional value of that food. Therefore, it’s crucial to find a solid balance between quality and quantity.
Now you know the dos and don’ts of long-term food storage. So you can confidently put together your long-term food storage supply.
And if you need food to get started, the NuManna family is here to help. Our long-term food supply kits contain tasty, nutritious, and long-lasting meals that you and your family will want to eat not just during emergencies but on regular days, too.