Safety and Survival

Tips for Storing Food for the Long Term

assorted food products on white wooden shelf
While all of us never wish for any disaster to happen, the reality is that we will face it – only we do not know when. That is why it is always better to prepare for any eventuality.

No matter what event you are preparing for – natural or man-made disasters, a job loss, temporary food shortage, or a pandemic – storing food will allow you to survive on extended periods. Also, it will give you peace of mind, which is what you need for using your survival skills. We always have fear of hunger and that feeling will forever linger above us, no matter how well-stocked our pantries are.

We cannot blame ourselves for thinking that way. It’s because we are genetically programmed to have this tendency – and blame history for that. In past generations, food was often scarce, and a lot of people often suffered starvation. This is where people started to develop the skill of storing food for long periods.

Did you know that early civilization was mostly built on a surplus of food? Because of food storage techniques, many people were able to come together and build massive kingdoms.

Even in today’s modern world, food shortages are still a problem, especially to the less fortunate. Having the ability to store food is not only for seasoned “preppers” and survivalists but for every person in general. If you are able to store food and have a well-stocked pantry, then you can weather well against whatever life throws at you.

1) Make storing water a priority

If you have to choose between food and water, water should be your number one priority. While both water and food are necessary for a person to live, it is possible to live for three weeks without food, but you can go for only three days without water.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends storing one gallon of water per person and per pet a day. Make water a priority by stockpiling it that can get you by for at least two weeks. The safest and most reliable water that you can get is an unopened bottle or gallon of commercial water. However, you can also store tap in your own bottles or containers, but make sure to follow safety measures.

2) Create a list of foods that has a long shelf life… and you’d like to eat.

Why would you want to buy canned Brussels sprouts when all of you in the family hate Brussels sprouts? When planning your stockpile, write down the list of food products that you’d like to eat and have a long shelf life, and plan your food storage system accordingly.

3) Buy all supplies at once

If money and pantry space are not a problem, you will want to buy your supplies at once. This prevents you from several supermarket trips.

4) Go for affordable buying

For more affordable stockpiling, you will want to buy the cheapest possible food items. Some of the best places to purchase lower-priced food products are warehouse clubs and food co-ops. From these places, you can be pretty sure that you get the newest food products that have further away expiration dates.

5) Cycle through foods

You don’t buy food to stash them away and then forget about it – it’s not just there to help you when “the time” comes. It can be used under other circumstances, such as a job loss or a temporary shortage. Make sure that all the foods that you store in your pantry are consumed – nothing should go to waste. You need to consume the oldest of your stored food supplies and replace what you have eaten. It ensures that food in your storage gets rotated out regularly, continually keeping your stocks fresh. Just like what groceries and supermarkets do, you should put the oldest food supplies in front of the row, and the newest bought supplies in the back of the row.

6) Store dried foods

Yes, dried foods may not be the tastiest, but they are packed with nutrition. As long as they are kept dry, they can last for many years. Plus, they are cheaper when bought in bulk.

7) Buy foods that can stay fresh for a month or longer

Dry and frozen foods are really the best options for long-term storage. However, there are times when we need some variety for our meals. And some meals cannot be complete without the essential ingredients, such as some fruits and vegetables. No matter how good your garlic salt is, nothing beats the signature fresh garlic flavor and aroma.

Some crops can do well as long as they are stored in a dark, cool, and well-ventilated space. Make sure that you do constant supervision on your storage space since dampness, insects, and rodents can ruin your entire food stash in just a few hours. It takes a lot of work to make sure that food will still be safe and edible to eat when you need to consume them.

Onions can last up to a year, winter squash can go for several months, while a bulb of garlic can also do well for months. Cabbages usually last for six months in proper storage, while carrots and apples fare well in the fridge for four to five weeks, and they will still taste fresh. Many people would wrap some of the fresh fruits and vegetables in a paper and place them in the fridge, or any other cool and dry place.

8) Learn ways to preserve food

As you can see, food storing can be beyond stockpiling and stashing away goods in your pantry. Food storing is actually a comprehensive matter and there are can be lots to learn from it.

When refrigeration wasn’t invented, ancient people would usually salt and smoke meats, poultry, and fish to kill the microbes and bacteria that would spoil them. As for vegetables and fruits, pickling, brining, salting, and canning would help preserve (or even enhance) much of the food’s natural flavor and aroma.

While many use artificial food preservatives such as liquid or powdered chemicals, some would prefer the old-school methods of preserving food with salt, vinegar, sugar, honey, oils, and spices.

When you are not certain what to do, you would end up having a more difficult time preparing for an emergency. However, these tips will make a great point to help get you started.

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