Struggling with the concept of food storage and not sure where to start or steps you can take to get where you want to be? Lots of people recommend a year supply of food, but is that right for you? Well, keep reading cause I go into the different steps I believe can get you where you want to be, wherever that is.
If you’re looking to get started on some food storage but have no idea where to get started? This is for you. Food storage can be overwhelming depending on the length you’d like to get to. Some people just want to have some extra food for another toilet paper episode of 2020. While others want to go full on prepper status. This can be for anyone.
One way to look at getting started with food storage is by steps. I’m going to go through a few steps to help you get your food storage where you want it to be. There are just so many aspects of food storage and so many things to look at. It is overwhelming to say the least. Everyone seems to have an opinion on where to start.
Here’s what I do and then you can take this info and do what’s best for you and your own family.
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Food every house needs before you start stocking other foods.
I have 5 basic food items that I think everyone needs to have before they even think about having more.
You’re going to buy yourself 4 food grade 5 gallon buckets with lids. I highly recommend getting the gamma lids. They are a pain to put on, but so much easier to get into than other lids. Trust me, you want the gamma lids.
Then you’re going to buy the following:
- 25 lbs all-purpose flour
- 10-25 lbs Beans of choice (I chose black beans)
- 25 lbs rice
- 10-25 lbs sugar
- 1 gallon of water per person in your house
You’re going to put the food items in their own food grade bucket. If you have it in your budget, buy some mylar bags and oxygen absorbers. It will help the food last longer, so you don’t need to start rotating it right away. You’ll also want to keep them somewhere cool. The food as we buy it, isn’t meant for long term storage. We need to either put them in mylar bags or mason jars and vacuum seal them. Or pressure can them. It all depends on what it is.
The gallon of water will need to be rotated but once you use one, buy one to replace it. Always keep that water available. (You’ll want to store more than that but start with this.)
72-hour kits/bug out bugs.
You can buy kits already put together like this (I don’t have one of these, this is just an example) or you can make your own.
This goes into detail on what I did and why I did them the way I did. It goes into detail about equipment, clothes and food. I have some printables you can get and take a look at to help you build your own kit.
You’ll want to keep them in a place that you can grab and go if you needed. I keep mine in our coat closet that’s right next to my garage.
Food for your family for 1 week.
If you’re not used to having extra food in your pantry, fridge or freezer, now is the time to start. Have an extra package of frozen chicken or a few pounds of ground beef. Keep some of your staples in your pantry.
If you don’t have enough food in your home for 1 week, you’ll want to write down 2 breakfast ideas (1 meal will be repeated throughout the week and the other will be eaten on the weekend), and then you’ll want a few different lunch ideas and then 7 dinner ideas.
Once you have your ideas written down, you can write out all the ingredients needed to make those meals to feed your entire family. For the breakfasts, make sure you get enough for the entire week. Then of course, you’ll need to go shopping for all of those items.
Once you have food for a week, you’re ready for 1 month.
Food for your family for 1 month
You can approach this step in a few ways.
- Write down(or type out) 4 breakfast ideas, 6 lunch ideas, 14 dinner ideas.
Now that you have meal ideas written down for your family, make your grocery list so you know what you need to keep on hand for these meals.
Or. . .
2. 7 breakfast ideas, 7 + lunch ideas, 30 dinner ideas.
- Make your own menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas. Make sure you get enough for an entire month.
Don’t forget to get any spices, cooking oils, baking products etc that you use often.
Keep in mind that if you have any perishables you need for your meals, that it’s best to find a shelf stable alternative. Yes, fresh is always best, but what happens if there is a supply chain issue and you can’t get eggs? Butter? Fresh fruit or veggies? Bread? Tortillas? Some of these you can make from scratch so make sure you have recipes you need and also the ingredients to make those items.
Don’t forget snacks and treats. I’m not talking candy or sugary snacks, but I am talking about things like popcorn, applesauce, crackers or the occasional cake or brownies. We usually have a baked treat on Sundays.
For me, I like to keep 10-14 dinner ideas with shelf stable food (including canned chicken instead of using fresh) inside of plastic bags. I also keep a recipe card inside the bag in case it’s one of my family members making the meal instead of me.
There are many ways to go about having food for your family, you just need to figure out what works for you. And how you figure that out is to just try something. If you don’t like it, change it.
Food for your family for 3 months
I’ve talked about having 3 months of food for your family before, and it goes into more detail than what I’m giving now. I give examples of what’s exactly in my 3-month supply of food.
You want to make sure you buy enough of your basic staples, snacks, have sauces, sides for meals, mixes for pancakes and whatever else you use, on hand to be able to last 3 months.
You can also use the same practice about taking recipes your family likes and buying the ingredients and keeping them in stock.
One thing I can’t reiterate enough is you want to rotate your food. Use this food and then replace when you go to the store next. This food isn’t meant to be long term food storage. I call this food being part of my “extended pantry”. I shop from this space and then replace it when I go grocery shopping.
This is more of short-term food storage that is meant to feed your family in case you get sick and can’t get to the store, there are supply chain issues, a natural disaster or whatever else could happen.
Don’t forget to keep meat/protein stocked. Whether that’s in your freezer or if you purchase or can your own meat, you don’t want to be without meat. Having a freezer full of meat is a good idea, but also make sure you have some shelf stable meat as well. If your power happens to go out, what then?
Start adding food to mylar bags, buying #10 cans, freeze dried food etc.
About this point, you can start adding some longer-term food storage such as having freeze dried foods or buying mylar bags for your dry goods.
Freeze dried foods can last up to 25 yrs! So awesome. And then once you open a can of freeze-dried food, I think it can last a year after that. Its shelf life is amazing and something you want to have in your home.
Mylar bags are also a great way to keep food for more long term. You will need oxygen absorbers as well. Not all foods can go in mylar bags, you want foods that have little to no fat in them. If they have any fats/oils in them the food can still go rancid, even in mylar bags.
I go through my experience with mylar bags here if you’re interested in learning more.
Food for your family for 6 months
You’re going to want to think about what your family eats daily, weekly and monthly. Figure out how many loaves of bread you go through in a week. Do some math and figure out how much you would go through in a month. You’re going to want to know how much flour and yeast you would need for your family if you needed to make your own bread.
I go over a bunch of food staples here, it has a list of foods that I like to keep stocked in my extended pantry. Figure out how much you go through in a month and then you’ll need enough of that item for 6 months.
Don’t jump in and try to get it all at once. It’s ok to still get stuff week by week. If your goal is to have food for a year, it takes time to build up to that.
I mentioned my “extended pantry” and how I use that food as part of my 3-month supply of food. With your 6-month supply of food, it doesn’t have to be short term food like with your 3-month supply. It can be a mix between the two or it can be one or the other.
Food for your family for 1 year
Food for one year can sound overwhelming, but if you break it down as you have been up until this point, it won’t be so bad.
When I work on getting my year supply of food, I don’t necessarily have recipes and food for each of those recipes. I do more of a “store” type of situation. I try to have things on hand that my family likes to use throughout the year. Seasonal items included.
For example, with thanksgiving, my husband likes cranberry sauce. We don’t eat cranberry sauce any other time during the year, but I like to have a few cans on hand for November and December. Also, with the fall I tend to cook more with pumpkin puree than any other time of year.
Think of things like that that your family likes and make sure to have that in your stock.
Since a year supply of food is quite a bit, I tend to get some things that are more long-term storage as opposed to foods that I keep in my extended pantry, such as food in mylar bags and freeze-dried food.
At some point in your prepping, you’ll want to look at other things you could possibly need that include, but are not limited to:
- Ways to cook without electricity
- Ways to stay warm
- Water purification
- Water storage
- Kitchen items that can be used without electricity
- Cast Iron
- Hygiene items
- Cleaning items
- Laundry (I have a homemade laundry soap I use in my HE washer that is cheap but works amazing. It would be awesome to have a year supply of it.)
There is so much to food storage and being prepared for an emergency. All we can do, is our best. Just start small and work your way up. But just get started if you haven’t already.