When you combine today’s poor economy with the recent onslaught of natural disasters, it’s no wonder why more people are making the efforts to establish a personal, emergency supply of food and water. However, sometimes getting started can be a little daunting. Below are some answers to a few common questions related to food storage.

Where should I store my food?

Your food storage can be stored any place cool, dark and dry. Many people use either their basement or a large closet in their home. If your living space is limited, you may need to get creative and store food under your bed or in other nooks and crannies around your house or purchase enclosed shelving units.

Organize your food as you store it. Write the expiration date on each of your foods in large letters with a permanent marker. Regularly organize your supply with the oldest dates at the front and newest dates at the back. This will make it easier to rotate your food storage and avoid waste.

How much food do I need?

There are two things to take into consideration when deciding how much food you will need in your storage:

  • How many people are in your household?
  • How long would you like your food storage to last?

Once these questions have been answered, it comes down to simple math. For instance, 90 cups of dried rice will last a single person 3 months if it’s used at a rate of 1 cup per day.

It may be easiest to start small with your supply. Some suggest beginning with a 2-week supply of actual meals rather than buying a year’s worth of rice and beans. Once you have established your 2-week supply, grow it gradually to 3 months and eventually a full year.

What types of foods should I store?

Food storage has come a long way from the days of buckets of wheat, rice, dried beans, oats and powdered milk. While these items are great staples to have in your food storage, who would want to live on these boring rations for weeks on end? Your food storage should be a balanced diet of the foods you would normally eat. In order to stay strong and healthy, your body needs a diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and fats.

Some online companies have simplified food storage by offering pre-packaged meals, as well as individual freeze dried items like fruits, veggies and even meat. Freeze dried items are a great addition to your food storage because of the variety they can offer, and their shelf life is longer than that of canned foods or MREs.

In addition to the basic food groups, it’s a good idea to store a variety of your favorite spices, so that you can add the flavors you enjoy to your meals. Other items you should have on hand in your food storage include oil and possibly honey or sugar as sweeteners. These are referred to as the “psychological foods” that will keep your spirits up during disasters and hardships and help life to seem a little more normal. A few additional ideas include powdered chocolate milk, packaged cakes, fruit snacks and your favorite potato chips. Psychological foods are good to have in your storage, especially if you have children.

Do I need to store water too?

Just as our food may be cut off, the city water supply is subject to drought or contamination. There are several different types of containers available for purchase to meet your long-term water storage needs.

For most, it is impossible to supply a year’s worth of water. For this reason, it’s a good idea to have a good water filtration system with the ability to clear contaminants and kill bacteria in your emergency supply. Many different models and sizes are available for purchase from online emergency preparedness stores, often at discount prices.

Take the necessary steps to start your food storage today, and enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing you and your family are prepared.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lee Flynn is a freelance writer and expert in outdoor survival and food storage.

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2 Comments to “Common Questions About Food Storage”

  1. Four years ago I stored 100 lbs of dry red beans in a large plastic box and kept it on a top shelf in a room that had windows. Two years later the beans had gone moldy. I searched on the internet for the reason they went moldy and the only thing I found is that beans grown in a wet year will go moldy. The beans were in their original bags and then inside the bag that held 15 bags and then in a plastic storage box/bin with a lid. I live in Costa Rica in the mountains and we do have humidity. I have recently purchased more beans for storage, but I am concerned about the mold issue. Do you have any advice?

  2. One other thing about the moldy beans. I also bought the same amount of rice at the time I bought the beans and had no problem with mold. In fact, the rice was not as well protected as the beans. Again, any help on storage of dried beans is appreciated.

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