How to Start Your Food Storage

Food Storage

Wondering how to start your food storage? A lot of my friends are as well. Since I work for a food storage company, after I tell someone where I work, I get this phrase a lot, “Food storage huh, I should really get some.” Well, I agree. ?  The next statement I get is, “I’ve been thinking about getting some food storage, I just don’t really know where to start.” Well, only thinking about it won’t do much good, so I’m going to help you know where to start so you can get going on your food storage. I’m going to break this down very simply (hopefully).

**Note: Some links below may be affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission.

#1. Determine what type of food storage would be good for you (and your family).

Here’s how to decide:

  1. Think of how much food storage you would like to get within your budget (the more the better, of course, but just start with what you can). For example, 72 Hours worth, a month, a year, etc. Just come up with a time frame (you can always expand later). Or, another approach would be to just look at what you could budget in each month for food storage and buy a few items at a time. At least you’ll have something on hand in case of an emergency; you don’t have to start out with 30 days worth of food if it’s too tight on your budget.
  1. Now think of what type of food storage you’d like.

Here’s your basic food storage packaging options:

  1. Large #10 food storage cans (#10 is the size of the can, it does not mean 10 pounds, FYI, and they are the size of those large coffee cans) – These will last anywhere from 10 to 30 years sealed with an oxygen absorber inside. Food storage products that contain oils won’t last as long as other dried products. The food storage products containing oils (like bread mixes or soups) have a higher moisture content which shortens shelf life. Freeze dried fruits or dehydrated vegetables have a lot longer shelf life because most of the moisture has been removed. Opened cans last about 1 year on average. I had a can of dried whole eggs last me for a whole year and the product was just fine (if you’re wondering how I managed to have a can last me a year, hi, I’m single and don’t bake every day; it was easier to keep a can of dried eggs on hand than letting fresh eggs go bad in a few weeks).
  2. Smaller, #2.5 everyday size food storage cans (these are quart sized cans, like the Stephen’s cocoa cans) – Same shelf life as the large cans. These are great for single people or if you’ll be rotating through your food storage – they fit great in kitchen cupboards.
  3. Pails (buckets) with a single product inside (like a bucket of rice) – Same shelf life as cans. I have a few buckets myself. I know, you’re probably thinking, ‘Crazy, girl. What are you eating a whole bucket’s worth of?’ That’s what my roommates thought when I brought the buckets home. Then they were jealous when they ran out of sugar and I never did. This is how I use the 6 gallon and 4 gallon food storage pails. I buy pails of sugar (this lasts forever and is used all the time in baking), oats (I like making oatmeal for breakfast and love oatmeal cookies, especially peanut butter no bake cookies), and rice (there’s plenty of rice dishes to make or even just a bowl of rice with milk and cinnamon and sugar, like my dad loves) and put gamma seal lids on them (those twisty plastic lids which make the pails easy to open). I have a few #10 cans in kitchen that I fill up from the pails that are in my storage room – they’re perfect for resupplying a smaller container in the kitchen. It’s much cheaper per pound to buy the large buckets than continuously buying a small bag of these products every month or so.Food Storage Pails
  4. Pouches (small bags) – Pouches have a varying shelf life depending on the type of pouch film. Thin-filmed pouches could be a 7 year shelf life or thicker pouches could be a 15 year shelf life. Make sure your pouches have an oxygen absorber in them – some claim they’ve been nitrogen flushed and that will keep a long shelf life, but that’s not so. Make sure there is an oxygen absorber. Pouches are great because you can take them camping, hiking, backpacking, boating, whateves, along with storing for food storage.
  5. Pails with pouches of different foods inside – These are usually about a 20 year shelf life. These are usually sold as a month’s worth of food, or all veggies or fruits, or whatever the company thinks will sell.
  6. Boxes or totes with pouches of different foods inside – The shelf life will be the shelf life of whatever package type is inside the box/tote, because, you guessed it, cardboard or anon-sealed tote doesn’t keep moisture or oxygen out. These are sold the same as the pails with food pouches inside – 30 day, 72 hour, etc.
  7. Boxes with smaller cans inside – These would have a shelf life of whatever the shelf life of the cans are inside the box. These are usually sold as a 30 day kit.

Okay, now that we’ve explained the types of food storage packaging. Let’s do some simple highlights of each.

  1. Cans (big or small) will contain an oxygen absorber and have a reliable shelf life (along with pails with just one product inside). These offer the best protection against weather, light, rats, moisture, etc. Doesn’t matter if the cans are packaged in a box – the shelf life is still the same.
  2. Pails (buckets) will also contain oxygen absorbers and have a comparable shelf life to the cans. Bulkier than cans, but stackable and usually less expensive per pound.
  3. Pouches will usually have a shorter shelf life, but are great for the convenience factor.
  4. Pouches in a pail will offer about a 20 year shelf life.
  5. Boxes/Totes are handy for containing items, but don’t offer extra shelf life. Cardboard and Rubbermaid totes just don’t offer that airtight seal like metal or plastic.One Month Box

FYI, you can find the above packaging options prepackaged in a certain time-frame, like a one year kit, 6 month kit, even a 4-person 1-year kit, etc. This helps if you don’t want to spend the time figuring out how many cans of wheat you’ll need for a year. Just remember to ask yourself, ‘Will I eat what’s in the kit?’ If you like the convenience and you’ll eat the majority of foods in the kit, then it could definitely be worth it to you to get a pre-made kit.

Now to move on to the next step.

#2. Determine what type of food storage user you are.

Here’s how we figure out what type of food storage consumer you are.

Think about what type of cook/baker you are. Do you use a lot of staple ingredients, like sugar, flour, oats? Or do you eat out more often than not? Do you eat freezer meals?

If you bake quite a bit, #10 cans could be a good option for you because you could rotate through them. Use a can of flour and replace it. Use some freeze dried fruits and replenish your food storage supply.

If you use more pre-made mixes or freezer meals in your baking/cooking, it may be a good idea to purchase pre-mixed canned items, like a bread and roll mix, creamy potato soup mix, or just-add-water entrée mixes, rather than just plain wheat and legumes. Make sure you know how to use what you’re purchasing; be practical. When you need to use food storage, it’s usually during a stressful situation and you don’t need extra stress wondering what in the world you’re going to make with your food storage. At least get a recipe book (don’t think you’ll just go to Pinterest cause who knows if you’ll have wifi).

If you don’t bake a lot, buckets with pouches inside could be a good option because the items inside usually just require adding water. They don’t take up a lot of space either and you don’t have to decide which can combination to get. The downside, you may get a little food fatigue, no one likes to eat the same thing day after day, so if you do choose this option, make sure there’s a good variety of food options inside the bucket.

Individual pouches are great if you go hiking or backpacking. You can rotate through them as you take an outdoor trip here and there.

Here’s what you may be thinking, ‘You want me to ‘rotate’ through my food storage, that stuff is gross!’ Well, that’s exactly what I thought until I started working for a food storage company and started trying some of this stuff. Um, it’s actually pretty good and some of it is really good. Basic ingredients, like sugar and flour, are normal. Some entrees could be hit or miss. Actually trying the product before buying in large quantities is a good idea. Pouches or small cans make great sample sizes. Plus, if you try the product before you’re in an emergency, then you can get something you know your family will actually like to eat when there isn’t any other option, instead of making matters worse by trying to make kids choke down something they don’t like when there’s already enough to worry about.

K, let’s recap.

Baker – Get #10 cans you can rotate through and possibly pails with loose product inside.

Non-baker – Get yourself a pail kit full of a variety of pouches (or multiple pails full of pouches).

Outdoorsy – Get some pouches to rotate through.

Somewhere in between all of the above – Get a mix of the options. Choose some favorite cans, get some 30 day pails and pouches. This is actually my preferred method. I have some #10 cans, small cans, pails, pouches and a pail kit with pouches inside. I rotate and replenish my cans, use what’s in my pails, take a few pouches camping and leave the pail kit for emergencies. This method works best for me, but it’s just me I’m worrying about. If I had a family to take care of, I think I would probably buy a year kit just to make sure we’d be covered.

Extras: Don’t forget some basic things to go with your food storage

  • Hand can opener (um, hi, what if the power is out, ain’t no way you’re gonna being opening a #10 can without it in a reasonable amount of time)
  • Hand wheat grinder (what ya gonna do with all that wheat – you can only have so much wheat cereal, wheat lasts longer than flour so you can grind your wheat into flour)
  • Pail/Bucket Lid Opener (those pails are hard enough to open WITH one of these things, I can’t imagine trying to open one without it)
  • Recipe Book (I mentioned this one earlier, but knowing what to make with your food storage, and how to make it will be critical when you actually have to use your food storage supply)
  • Water!! FEMA recommends a gallon of water per person per day. (The majority of food storage food items require adding water… what ya gonna do without water?? Eat powder? I don’t think so.)

Hopefully this post has given you enough information to at least help you get started on your food storage, so when I run into you and tell you what I do for a living, you can say, “Food storage, huh. Yep, I’ve got some of that!” If you have other pointers on getting started on food storage, please comment below and don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter for more great tips!

PS – Sam’s Club has a great deal on the 30 Day Pails – I don’t know how long it will last, so if that’s what you’re looking for, I’d recommend stocking up now. This is actually one of my favorite products!

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