Food Storage Tips How to Build a Stockpile That Can Feed Your Family for Months
Food Storage Basics
Food storage is a must for being prepared. Having essential items can help your family during a crisis. Knowing the basics of food storage is key for optimizing shelf life and keeping the items in top shape.
Let's take a peek at the fundamentals of food storage and how to create a stockpile that lasts for months:
Understand the different types of food storage
Building a stockpile of food is essential for your family's emergency supply. To do this, you should understand the different types of food storage. Dry, canned, and frozen products are the three main categories of long-term storage. The best adult emergency strategy should have all three.
Dry foods don't need to be canned or frozen. Examples include grains, seeds, pasta, rice, beans, sugar, and dehydrated/freeze-dried fruits and vegetables. When stored in airtight containers away from heat/light, they last for months to years.
Canned foods come in metal or plastic containers to prevent spoilage from air/moisture. Items like meats, beans, juices, and veggies can last up to a year at temperatures below 75˚F (23˚C).
Frozen foods are perishable and have been thawed/frozen at least once. Examples include meats like chicken breasts that must be frozen soon after purchase if not eaten within several days. Frozen items' lifespan is 1 month to 1 year, with proper cooling post-purchase. This includes delivery services such as Amazon Fresh or Instacart Grocery Delivery.
Learn the basics of food storage
Food storage, also known as food preservation, is the practice of keeping food for a long period. It typically involves reducing moisture, and creating an environment which stops bacteria and enzyme growth. Food storage helps extend shelf life and nutrition, and decreases waste.
Preserving food properly can help stop spoilage and give you a stockpile which feeds your family for months. Here's some of the basics on dehydration, canning and freezing; all three methods can provide long-term storage.
- Dehydration: Taking away water from food lets it last longer. Dehydration needs airflow and low humidity to take away moisture from the cells. Dried foods are easy to store as they take up little space compared to fresh – chips don't take up cabinet space. It does however reduce nutrition value, losing vitamins.
- Canning: Canning is good for low-acid foods, like meats and vegetables, with salt or vinegar, tomato sauce or lemon juice. It preserves flavor and stops spoilage. Sanitization techniques must be used to stop botulism.
- Freezing: Freezing is popular for home food storage as it preserves freshness without compromising flavor or texture. You need containers or packing to keep air out, and to maintain ideal temperatures. Frozen products have minimal quality loss from their fresh state, so they're great for long term storage.
Food Storage Containers
Storing food is key for emergency prepping. Containers come in different forms – airtight, zipper bags, buckets, and canisters. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks. Let's look at the ups and downs of each to help you decide which one is right for you!
Choose the right containers for your food storage
Choosing the right containers for your food storage is key for preserving quality. Best containers are airtight, water-resistant and opaque. This helps prevent bacteria, and vitamin losses due to light.
The container material, and size depend on the food. Here are some common materials:
- Glass jars: Reusable for dried goods, like cereal and grains.
- Plastic buckets: Heavy plastic for bulk items like sugar, rice, etc.
- Metal cans: From small sardine tins to #10 cans (11 pounds of grain). Lasts up to 25 years if stored correctly.
Having the right storage is essential to feed your family!
Understand the different types of containers
Food storage containers come in many types, sizes and shapes. When selecting, it is important to understand which materials and containers are best for long-term storage.
- Glass Containers are airtight, microwavable, refrigerator, freezer and dishwasher safe.
- Plastic containers should be BPA-free #2 or #7 plastic. Air can still get in, so these are not suitable for long-term food storage.
- Metal cans are usually lined with plastic liners. Acidic or high moisture content foods should not be stored for more than 6 months, as the liners may degrade.
- Mylar lined bags provide protection from light, oxidation, contaminants, humidity & temperature. Multiple layers add extra protection from oxygen saturation when vacuum sealing. This extends shelf life by preventing mold growth.
Want to create a stockpile that'll meet your family's needs for months? Let's look at the best strategies for building an effective one! Here we'll discuss some tactics. For example, you'll need to ensure that your stockpile is well-stocked and well-balanced. Let's dive in and explore these strategies!
Stock up on non-perishable items
Non-perishables don't need freezing or refrigeration. Stock up on canned goods, dried foods and condiments for your pantry or basement!
- Canned beans, fruits and veggies are a healthy carbohydrate source that last months.
- Stock up on condiments like dressings, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, jam and nut butter.
- Dried grains like pasta, rice and quinoa are great staples.
- Instant foods like oatmeal and ramen are convenient but not the healthiest.
- Don't forget the basics like salt, sugar, wheat flour and corn meal. Store them for later use!
Rotate your stock
Having a lot of food in store can be useful in tough times or when finances are low. But, it can also be a problem if you don't record what you have and take measures to make sure your supplies are fresh. Rotating is the best technique to make sure food won't become old or out of date.
Track when food is bought and when it will go bad. This helps to stop buying too much and keeps the quality of what you're consuming. Begin with a small stockpile first and add more as you get used to managing your supply. When buying new products, move older items to the front to be eaten first – this is known as “first in, first out” (FIFO). Doing this lets you keep an eye on expiry dates easily so nothing gets rotten too soon.
Also, arrange your rotation in a way to use food which goes off quicker first – for example, plant-based proteins like beans should be eaten within two months from buying them. Grains can last up to two years if kept in airtight containers and away from moisture and pests. Perishables like fruit and veg should be eaten within one or two months after buying, based on their ripeness at the time. Canned fruits or veg should last for 18 months before needing replacing.
By using these methods with a well-organized stock rotation plan, food supplies can stay fresh without needing to be restocked often or losing quality from going off!
Food storage is a way of life that's been around for ages. It helps families save cash and be ready for any crisis. This ability is vital to form a large enough supply of food that can last a while.
Let's explore the various methods of food preservation so you can put together a proper stockpile:
Learn about the different methods of food preservation
Food preservation is the process of treating and handling food to stop or slow down spoilage, loss of quality and nutrients. There are many methods to do this, such as freezing, drying, canning, altering pH levels, adding preservatives/chemicals, and vacuum packaging. Each method has its own pros and cons with regards to cost, nutrition, safety and ease of use.
- Freezing is a common method of food storage. It works by disabling enzymatic reactions, which slows bacteria growth. Freezing preserves flavor and nutrition, but doesn't protect against oxidation. Vitamin A and C content may be lost over time.
- Canning involves sealing unspoiled food into airtight jars, then boiling them in water to sterilize the contents. It is safe from contamination, but air within the jar can damage nutritional value. Canning is expensive, but it can preserve food for a long time.
- Drying harvests moisture content, allowing food cells walls to become permeable. This reduces water activity enough to prevent microbial growth. Drying is a cheap process, but nutrition is typically reduced. Hygiene is improved, depending on the type of drying and conditions.
- Vacuum packing and Sous vide provide an ideal option for preserving food in a sealed pouch. Oxygen is taken out, creating a moist, dense environment which microbials can't survive in.
Understand the importance of proper food storage
Storing food rightly is key for food safety. Doing it wrong can cause contamination or make your food go bad. Contamination is when germs like mold and bacteria get into the food you eat. To avoid cross-contamination, store food in the right environment. That way, it will stay good for months or years.
Too hot and too cold temperatures can harm food. Most should be stored at room temperature, in a cool and dark place. Breads and nuts should be kept in a cool spot away from sunlight. Food like deli meat, poultry, eggs, cheese, fish, and processed foods need special attention when storing. Keep them refrigerated at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or freeze them if not consumed within 2–4 days.
Get an appliance thermometer. It'll tell you the exact temperature inside your fridge. This will help you store foods like deli meats and poultry safely.
Meal planning is vital when storing food. Knowing which meals you'll make and having the ingredients handy can help your food to last longer. Here's some advice on meal planning when you're stockpiling food:
Create a meal plan for your food storage
Creating an effective meal plan is key for successful food storage. Especially if you need to ration food over a long period of time, having a good plan will keep your family healthy and provide them with the nutrients they need.
Start by deciding what food to include:
- Non-perishable, easy-to-cook items like canned goods, grains, cooking oils and condiments.
- Look for shelf-stable proteins like beans, eggs, peanuts and nuts.
- Freeze-dried fruits and vegetables can also be stored for an even longer time.
- Aim for foods with minimal processing or preservatives, preferably organic or locally sourced.
Add items from seasonal and regional sources like local gardens and farmers' markets. Preferably, these should be foods that pack easily and don't spoil quickly, such as dried fruits. Though organic bulk containers are not always available, it's worth considering smaller containers, which can be more expensive but contain higher quality ingredients. Lastly, make sure your pantry supplies are rotated regularly to keep them fresh. Use old food before buying new if possible!
Learn how to create nutritious meals with your food storage
No matter the reason for storing food, making nutritious meals is key. It's easier to plan meals if you organize your pantry and freezer items into categories, like
- canned goods
- frozen meats/veggies
Then, combine items from each category for yummy meals! For instance, if you have canned tomatoes, add 'em to pasta or rice with cooked or frozen veggies for a one-dish dinner. Or, if you have canned tuna/salmon, make casseroles or salads. You can also substitute ingredients from your stockpile, like using canned corn instead of fresh/frozen. Drain off the syrup though, as it has extra calories/sugars. And opt for block cheeses over preshredded for fresher flavor.
Meal plans that include a few stockpile items plus fresh items will make delicious, nutritious meals without wasting food.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How long can food be stored for?
A: It depends on the food item. Canned goods, for example, can last up to two years whereas fresh produce, such as fruits and vegetables, can last up to one month.
Q: What's the best way to store food?
A: The best way to store food is in a cool, dry place. If possible, store food in airtight containers or vacuum-seal bags to prevent moisture and pests from getting into your food stockpile.
Q: What foods should I stockpile?
A: Foods that can last for a long time, such as canned goods, dried grains, and dried beans, are the best options for stockpiling. You should also include items that can provide essential nutrients, such as fruits, vegetables, and proteins.