05 September 2011

Prep30: Starting and organizing your food storage program

After storing water, the Rule of Threes shows that our next step should be addressing your food storage program. To completely plan, acquire, and properly store food is a topic far beyond the scope of a single blog post. Besides, the goal of Prep30 is to move you a step further in your preparedness in under a half hour. So for this post, we'll just focus on some initial food storage planning.

  1. It's important to start with the kinds of foods you're already used to preparing and eating. That way, you'll like the food you've stored, and will use it. Planning for this will result in a natural rotation to the food you have stored, making sure that you don't lose any food when it expires.

  2. Given Step 1, write down a list of the non-perishable foods that you already regularly buy and use, including the quantities that you normally use between shopping trips. Consider canned vegetables, jars of pasta sauce, bags of rice, boxes of noodles, etc. Anything that has a shelf life of a year or longer is preferable. If you're curious about how long you can store foods, visit these pages from the USDA or the Gourmet Sleuth.

  3. When developing your list of foods, you'll probably think of foods that you normally buy fresh or that don't have a very long shelf life. For those foods, consider purchasing and using types that are food storage-friendly. For instance, if you buy fresh carrots, plan on trying some canned carrots instead. The goal here isn't to switch completely to processed food. Instead, you just want to start incorporating more long-term food storage into your diet, so that you are familiar with using them and can rotate your food supply. On your master food storage list, mark down the new "storable" foods you plan to try.

  4. Once you have your initial food storage list, make a shopping list for your next trip to the store. If you can swing it, plan on buying at least one each of your "new" long-term storage items (from Step 3) and double the quantity of any long-term foods you already use (per Step 2).

  5. To wrap up your initial planning session, consider where you'll store the extra food that you buy. You may be able to find some space in your current storage area(s), but bear in mind that the object is to gradually grow the amount of food stored until you have several months (or more) of extra food. Start planning now where you can find a fairly cool, dry area to expand your food storage. Do you have some extra closet space? A cellar? Some basement space? Think this over now and identify potential space limitations. That way, you can research other storage methods before you need them. (Don't let that keep you from starting to acquire more food now, however.)

  6. Buying the quantities described in Step 4 will get you started on your food storage. Repeating this buying habit will slowly and steadily grow your larder.

  7. Remember to actually use the new varieties of food you buy, so that you know whether to buy more or not. If not, you'll need to consider other alternatives and/or plan for possibly doing without in an emergency. Also, as you use and incorporate alternate (e.g., canned or dehydrated) varieties, remember that those foods are no longer "new," so you should buy double of them.

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