The Essential LongTerm Food Storage Checklist Are You Ready for Anything
Types of Food Storage
Prepare for the future! Have long-term food storage. It's essential for survival during a disaster. Know what types of food to store. Also, learn how to store them.
Let's look at the types of food storage. Identify which one is best for long-term food storage:
Dry goods are a must-have for long-term food storage. They give us calories, proteins, carbs and other nutrients, and are compact, cost-effective and easy to store. Plus, you can use them in lots of recipes and meals. But, there's one important thing: they need to be kept at low moisture levels to last.
The ideal temperature for dry storage is 40-60°F (4-15°C). In warmer climates or high humidity, you'll need dehumidifiers or climate control to prevent mold. When picking items for your storage, keep these in mind:
- Shelf life: 6+ months
- Portability: for emergencies
- Cost: stay within budget
- Taste/Variety: spice it up
- Nutritional value: protein, iron, calcium
You can store: grains (wheat, oats, bulgur, wild rice); lentils, split peas, dried beans; nuts (almonds, walnuts); sesame, chia seeds; pasta; instant mashed potatoes; dried fruits; TVP; freeze-dried soups & meal kits.
Canned goods are great for long-term food storage. They include nutritious fruits, veggies, meats and soups. Look for labels like “no salt added“, “low sodium” or “reduced sodium“. MSG is often found in canned meats and cheeses, so check the ingredient list. When you open a can, store perishable items in the fridge or use them soon.
When stocking a pantry, aim for:
- Fruits: diced, sliced peaches, pineapple tidbits
- Veggies: green beans, corn, mixers
- Meats: tuna in water, salmon packed in water or oil
- Soups: ready-to-eat
- Beans: black beans, lentils
- Tomato products: canned tomatoes for sauces or chili's – they are shelf-stable because they have been minimally processed.
Freeze-dried food can last up to 25 years or more. This is possible if it is stored in the right conditions. To preserve these foods, their water content is reduced by a process called sublimation. This is where solid ice turns into gas.
The advantage of freeze-dried food is that moisture is nearly removed. This means the food stays safe to eat for longer. Examples include fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products and meals.
When storing it long-term, make sure to use special containers. Many pouches or airtight containers are designed for this purpose. If they are sealed correctly and away from sunlight and moisture, they will last a very long time.
Calculating food needs for your family is a daunting task, yet essential. To plan long-term food storage you must consider several key factors. Here's a closer look!
What are they?
- Factor 1
- Factor 2
- Factor 3
- Factor 4
- Factor 5
Estimate the number of people in your family
Planning for long-term food storage? Start by determining how many people to feed. Adults, kids, and guests need to be included. Work out the average amount of food each person consumes in a day.
For adults aged 25+ the traditional caloric recommendation is 2,200-3,000 calories/day. Use this chart as a guide to estimate family food storage needs based on age and gender.
- Adult Females:
- 25+ Years: 2,400 calories/day
- Adult Males:
- 25+ Years: 3,000 calories/day
- Children Ages 6-11:
- Female: 1,800 calories/day
- Male: 2,200 calories/day
- Teenagers Ages 12-17:
- Female: 2,000 calories/day
- Male: 2,400 calories/day
But consult a healthcare professional or nutritional expert for more detailed advice.
Calculate the amount of food needed
When calculating the food storage needed for your family, consider the climate and number of people. Estimate the daily caloric needs per person; include snacks. Consider seasonal changes and physical activity levels to determine how many months of food to store. Take into account daily servings for food categories:
- Vegetables (2-3)
- Fruit (2)
- Grain-based foods (6-11)
- Oil/butter (1 tsp.)
- Milk/dairy substitutes (2 cups/1 cup if aged 12+)
- Meat/meat substitutes (2-3 oz.)
Factor in salt, herbs and spices. Special diets must be discussed with a doctor/nutritionist.
Calculate first aid supplies for an emergency. Take stock of existing supplies and use resources such as clinics for vaccinations. Gauge individual needs for medical supplies like bandages; prepare kits with splints and sterile dressings.
Water is essential – one gallon per person per day. Store bottled water if possible.
Consider shelf-life and storage space
Calculate food purchases carefully to create long-term storage. Consider both shelf-life and available storage space. The best plan includes diverse ingredients, not one type or brand.
Compare shelf lives of products to ensure longevity. Use multiple stores for the freshest stock. Canned goods last 1-25 years, grains 5-25 years, and dehydrated foods 6 months-5 years (depending on conditions).
Think about every aspect when selecting items. Price is important, but also take space into account. Large slip bags save space for individual servings. Store only 3 days of items to clear out expired items.
Storing food for the long-term? You need the right containers! The type you choose affects how well you store, how long it will stay fresh, and if it's safe from pests and contaminants. Let's explore the types of storage containers, their benefits, and how to pick the best one for you.
Choose airtight containers
Choosing containers for long-term food storage is essential. Get canning jars, Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers, or 5-6 gallon plastic buckets with tight sealing lids. Pick airtight containers to preserve your food and keep out moisture, insects, and rodents.
When choosing an airtight container, you should look for:
- Stain-resistant material that won't react with food.
- A waterproof seal.
- A lid that's easy to open and close.
- Clearly marked measurement labels.
- An overall design that provides space efficiency and prevents spoilage.
The size of the container depends on the amount of food you plan to store. The more airtight your container is, the longer your foods will stay fresh.
Invest in a food-grade container
A food-grade container is essential for long-term food storage. Get a variety of containers that meet your needs. The right containers will protect your food from contaminants, pests, moisture and oxygen.
Go for containers with wide tops and necks to easily access the contents. Buy wide-mouth jars for dried goods like rice, grain and powdered milk. Store the lids separately to keep the contents safe.
When deciding on sizes, consider how much food you need per meal per person. Choose a range of sizes, from small one or two-serving sizes to five or ten quart (liter) capacity. This applies to:
- Cooking staples
- Canned vegetables
If you plan to bake, you may need larger 5+ quart (liter) capacities for wheat flour.
Consider the size of your containers
When investing in food storage containers, consider the size. Too large, and air will stay in, spoiling food faster. Too small and you can't store as much. A half-gallon or one-gallon container with an airtight lid is ideal for home-canned produce. It's enough space for a quart or two.
Smaller sealed plastic tubs are better for dry goods like grain flour and legumes. They keep oxygen out better than large packages. Vacuum sealed bags are a must for storing nuts and dried fruits. These foods often go bad if exposed to too much air or humidity. Vacuum sealing keeps oxygen out and preserves flavor.
Choosing the right spot for long-term food storage is key. It should be cold, dry and dark. Also, if you can manage it, try to keep it away from pests such as mice and insects. Think about the size of the space you have available. A basement, garage or storage shed are all great places to store food.
Let's check out the advantages of each storage spot:
- Storage Shed
Choose a cool, dry location
When choosing a cool, dry area to store food for long-term, the main concern is keeping items away from sources of heat, sunlight and moisture. A basement or room without windows can be ideal. Or an attic space or closet that is cool and receives little sunlight. Make sure the space is pest-proof to keep rodents and bugs out. Use wire mesh on floor vents if needed and check for signs of vermin.
Also, think about the logistics. Is it easy to access? Can the door be closed securely? Are there dust or water damage issues? Carefully inspect each potential storage space before you commit. If you decide somewhere isn't suitable, don't go for it! Safety matters more than convenience when it comes to preserving your food supply!
- Is it easy to access?
- Can the door be closed securely?
- Are there dust or water damage issues?
Consider humidity levels
When finding a room to store food, examine the humidity. Studies say 45-65% humidity is best for things like grains and cans. High humidity can make food spoil faster due to microbes, so avoid storing food outside in garages or sheds.
It's not good to store food in enclosed spaces like closets or basements. These places may have mold spores, which can damage your food. If you use an enclosed space, use a hygrometer to monitor humidity and make sure it's above 55% at all times.
Use a climate controlled environment
To keep your food safe and maintain its shelf life, using climate-controlled environments is ideal. This protects food from extreme temperatures, sunlight, moisture, and humidity – which a typical closet or basement may not provide. A suitable environment should have a temperature between 55°F – 70°F and a humidity of 60%.
Storing food in cool pantry or root cellar can work too.
For the best air-tight and water-proof container, high-quality freezer bags or Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers are recommended. Sealing food in durable bags will help avoid damage caused by temperature changes or bugs. When buying containers, go for food grade systems that are specifically designed to store dry goods safely over an extended period, whilst preserving their nutritional content.
Family emergency prep is crucial. A key part? Up-to-date long-term food storage. Regularly rotate your inventory. This keeps your food fresh and you prepared.
How to rotate? What items to include? Let's take a peek!
Establish a rotation system
Establishing a system for managing your long-term food storage is smart. Label, date, and track your inventory! Place the older items in front and use them first. Check for any signs of spoilage or infestation. Don't let perishables reach expiration, if possible.
Ensure you stay organized with reliable delivery of your most wanted items. This way, you're always prepared for life.
Check expiration dates regularly
Check expiration dates on food items regularly and rotate them. This keeps them fresh and with nutritional value. Try to use oldest items first. To help, keep canned goods in one area of the pantry. Organize “eat me first” to remember which is older. This helps avoid lost or overlooked cans. Make an inventory list too. This helps track expiration dates and prevents food waste!
Replace expired items
For a successful food storage system, it is important to keep food fresh and rotate when needed. Regular maintenance is required for safe and nutritious stored food.
Rotating food means using supplies within their shelf life and replacing expired items with fresher ones. This reduces the risk of wasting resources in emergencies.
To rotate food:
- Check expiration dates on cans or sealed containers;
- Discard expired items;
- Check for mold on packaged foods;
- Check for insect or rodent damage on grains or dried foods;
- Replace expired items;
- Label containers with date of storage.
Rotating food can be tedious, but using a monthly checklist helps keep track of rotation dates. This keeps the storeroom organized and ensures safe and nutritious meals in any situation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What should I include in a long-term food storage checklist?
A: A long-term food storage checklist should include non-perishable food items such as grains, flours, legumes, dried and canned fruits and vegetables, canned meats, fish, and other proteins, as well as staples such as sugar, salt, oil and other cooking essentials. It should also include a manual can opener, a water filter and purification system, and basic cooking and eating utensils.
Q: How long should I store food for?
A: For long-term food storage, you should aim to store enough food to last you anywhere from 6 months to a year. You should also aim to rotate your food supplies every 6 months to ensure that your food is still fresh and safe to eat.
Q: What other supplies should I have on hand for emergencies?
A: In addition to food, you should have other essential supplies on hand for emergencies, such as a first aid kit, flashlights, batteries, basic tools, and a generator. You should also have a plan in place for any possible emergency situation, such as having a designated meeting place and evacuation plan.