Food storage is one of the most important aspects of prepping, and the most expensive. It is possible however to save money on your food storage by learning what the best survival foods are for you to store.
Regardless whether we are talking about prepping food, or food we eat on a daily basis, a large portion of our monthly budgets goes to eating and feeding our family.
When people first become interested in preparedness, they sometimes get sticker shock when they figure out how much it will cost to build up their long term food storage.
The truth is, when done correctly, putting together your survival food storage stockpile doesn’t cost anything extra. If you focus on food with a longer expiration date, you will save you some money in the long run.
In this article about building and maintaining your food storage pantry we talked about buying in bulk, organization and reducing waste, and running your kitchen like a restaurant runs theirs.
Prepping Food Storage Best Practices
While putting together a long-term food storage plan isn’t brain surgery, there are some best practices to save you time, money and maximize the benefits of your survival food storage.
Long Shelf Life Food’s
While having the 25 year shelf life long term survival food is great, it isn’t absolutely necessary. As long as we are eating what we store, pantry foods with a best buy date of 1 to 3 years will do.
These pantry foods are also usually better than the prepackaged long term prepping foods because they taste better, they cost less, and have more nutritional value.
I’ll explain more below, but I do suggest you have a have a wide range of survival foods in your food storage.
Get’s Eaten Regularly
One of the biggest money savers when it comes to your long-term food storage plan is actually storing food your family will eat.
This is less important with the 25 year shelf life food, but your pantry shouldn’t be filled with canned food and other products your family doesn’t eat.
The reason it’s less important or the longer term survival food is because they last so long. Also, in a survival situation people will be hungry, and everything tastes better when your hungry.
High Calorie Food’s
When people go shopping they tend to look at serving size rather than calorie count. When it comes to our prepping food storage it’s important to count your calories.
There isn’t a standard for what a serving size is, therefore a company can change their serving size to make you think you are getting more.
While this varies depending on a number of factors, a good rule of thumb for you survival food storage is 2,000 calories per day per person.
Protein Rich Survival Foods
Along with counting calories we should also be paying attention to protein, carbohydrates and fats. In a disaster scenario we won’t be worrying about eating too much of these, we’ll be worried about getting enough.
Have a look at this article that does a good job of explaining why having prepping foods that are high in calories, proteins, carbohydrates and fats are important.
I will say however, is a shorter term disaster scenario like a natural disaster or personal doomsday, the nutritional value takes a back seat to calories.
Easy to Cook Meals
It’s important that we keep in mind, in a survival situation, natural disaster or grid down event, our daily routines will change. The modern conveniences we have today may be gone, and we should plan accordingly.
The stove and refrigerator may not be available, and water may be in short supply. It’s important that our food storage includes meals that are easy to prepare, and don’t require a lot of resources.
Pro Tip: Figure out what the options you have for cooking in a disaster scenario are, and build your prepping food storage plan around that as much as possible.
Versatile Prepping Foods
When I say versatile prepping foods I mean foods that can be used to create different types of meals, canned veggies, flour, beans and rice are all foods that can be used for different meals.
These foods are great for diversifying our survival food storage, and mixing things up. While in a disaster scenario any food is good food, having a little variety will help with moral.
Normalcy Survival Foods
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the survival aspect of our food storage that we forget about the foods that we love, and the “Necessary Conveniences”. These are foods that will not “save our life” but will save our sanity.
Make sure your long-term food storage plan includes items like coffee, sweets, drink mixes and anything that can be stored long-term that the family enjoys.
Non Refrigerated Prepping Foods
While not all disaster scenarios involve not having electricity, it’s important that we plan for the worst and hope for the best. Foods that require refrigeration shouldn’t be included in your prepping food storage plan.
If you do happen to have electricity is a disaster situation, the refrigerated foods will be a bonus. But if the grid goes down, foods like milk, meat and cheese won’t last very long.
There are ways to keep your refrigerator cool in short-term disasters such as a power inverter connected to your car and generators, but these are not feasible in long-term disasters.
Long-Term Food Storage Considerations
Not only is it important to have the right foods included in your long-term preparedness food storage plan, there are a few other things we need to keep in mind as well.
Food Storage Space
How much preparedness food you decide to store depends on a few factors, but the storage space you have available is usually the main consideration.
Most preppers like to have around a years worth (some even more) of survival food stored just in case the big one hits. However, that’s not feasible for some people.
In my opinion, any food storage is good food storage. If all you can store is a months worth of long-term food, that will get you through most situations.
Your Prepping Budget
Another big one is how much money you can send on your food preps without breaking the bank. Being prepared for any disaster means buying supplies and learning new preparedness skills.
With all the areas of preparedness, food storage will inevitably be where most of your preparedness budget goes. This doesn’t mean you need to spend more on food than you normally would, it just means you spend more money upfront.
If money is a large factor when if comes to your prepping food storage, my suggestion is start small and work your way up. Over time you will begin to stockpile quite a bit in your emergency food storage.
Include Cooking Accessories
This may seem a bit obvious, but if you are going to store canned foods, you better have a manual can opener. These days we have all these electronic devices that make life easier, but in a grid down event they will be useless.
Cooking accessories also include what you will be cooking in. Without the use of your kitchen stove you may need to cook on a propane grill, or an open fire. Do you have the utensils to accommodate for this?
Our main off grid cooking options are our All American Sun Oven, the propane grill, and the fireplace. We have pots and pans without plastic handles for the sun oven, and a cast iron dutch oven for an open fire.
You Family Size
This may go without saying, but I’m saying it anyway because it’s something people tend to overlook when calculating how long their long-tern food storage will last.
The larger your family is the more opportunity there is for waste and over usage…especially if you have teenagers. Unexpected guests will also reduce the the time frame your food storage will last.
Our survival food storage plan includes a 25% (an extra person) buffer. This helps offset spoilage, waste and over-usage.
Types of Prepping Food Storage
When it comes to your food storage plans it’s always good to mix things up and not put all your eggs in one basket. Each of these different types of long-term food storage has their pluses and minuses.
Prepackaged Long Term Foods
The prepackaged long-term survival foods like Legacy or Wise foods offer a wide variety of foods you can store for a very long time. Because these survival food buckets are basically “set it and forget it” they are very convenient.
The down side of these long-term food storage products is they are pretty expensive. With these prepackaged foods it all comes down to one thing…
What do you have more of, time? or money?
While we do have some of this prepackages long term survival food, it’s only one part of our overall prepping food storage plan.
A great way to build up your prepping food storage is by stocking up your pantry over time. By spending a little extra at the grocery store each week, you can build up your food storage in no time at all.
Another great thing about pantry foods like boxed meals, spaghetti, pancake mix ect… is that this is what the family likes to eat.
My kids call the prepackaged long-term foods “prepper food”. Little do they know, they are eating “prepper food” on a daily basis.
Canned foods are a staple in any long-term survival food storage plan. canned fruits, canned vegetables, canned meats, canned soups, and anything else you can think of probably comes in a can.
The downside of canned foods is that they can sometimes get pushed to the back of the shelf and not be found for years. This leads you to think you have more edible food storage than you actually have.
When it comes to canned foods and pantry foods, inventory, rotation and organization are critical. There is a lot of room for error when it comes to the longer term survival foods, but you only have a few years with these canned food storage products.
DIY Food Long-Term Storage
A good alternative for the long-term prepackaged meals is doing it yourself. Putting together your own 5 gallon food storage buckets can save you around 30% off the prepackaged meals.
As I said earlier, if you have more time than money this is the way to go. these take a little more work to put together, but will last just as long if done correctly.
Over at the Survivalist Prepper Academy I put together the free Prepping Crash Course that goes over how to put together these 5 gallon buckets for you prepping food storage.
Have a Well-Rounded Survival Food Storage Plan
If you follow all the steps listed above you will end up with a well rounded long-term food storage plan, and have food your family will like to eat.
While the low cost Ramen noodles do have their place in your prepping food storage, make sure you have the Meat’s and protein, fruits and veggies needed for nutritional value.
It’s also important not to forget about spices and condiments. While these are not absolutely necessary for your survival in a disaster, they will make that “prepper food” as my kids call it much more palatable.
One thing I want to add before I get out of here is if your family won’t eat it, or if you don’t know how to use it, don’t store it. While beans and grains are great survival foods, if you don’t know how to make a meal with them they are just taking up space.
This is not to say forget about them all together. Learn how to use them, and then add them to your prepping food storage. Learning to cook from scratch in general will increase what you can store.