Think about it. One day in the not too distant future, you wake up and everything seems perfect. Your home is filled with the sounds of happiness, the sun shining, and the birds singing.
But then you turn on the morning news and your world comes crashing down, as a disaster is unfolding in front of you. It is a global catastrophe that will affect you and your family.
Although this scenario may never come to pass, we know the question regarding disasters isn’t if they will happen, but when. In light of this, how prepared are you? Have you ever thought about the possibility of needing DIY long-term food storage?
Isn’t it just as easy to go to my local supermarket?
Many people keep a few days’ worth of food in their refrigerators and pantries, but many would struggle to survive a week in a disaster. As a result, panic buying would devastates the shelves of every fresh food grocer in the country.
People panic for a variety of reasons.
Since supermarkets only stock limited supplies, panicked shoppers will strip shelves bare by the time you arrive. In order to have a chance for survival as long as possible, you and your family must act now to learn what you can about long-term food storage.
Aren’t there any long-term food products I can buy premade?
Sure, you can buy great quality food already packaged up in neat little bundles ready to go, but before you pull out that credit card and place your order there are some things to consider.
When compared to the cost of preparing the food yourself, purchasing tons of ready-to-eat meals is also expensive.
If you divide the cost by the number of ready-to-eat meals, the cost is low, but not as low as it could be if you prepared them yourself.
The second factor is quality. From the raw materials to the finished product, pre-packaged foods undergo a process.
Each step of the process takes the food to a different location. Can you really say that you know all the products that go into a food, the processes they go through, and whether the final product will last the shelf life that it is proposed?
By creating your own food, you’ll know what’s in it, how it’s being processed, and how well the product is sealed.
Thirdly, and equally as important, is the variety. Sure, you can survive on chewable tablets with a shelf life of 25 years, or on some food bars with a shelf life of 5 years.
But wouldn’t it be better to consume foods that are made how you and your family enjoy them?
Drying out food is one of the first methods used to extend the shelf-life of many foods. Air-drying and sun-drying are both still very popular methods today.
Drying is further improved with salting and smoking, known as curing. Pickling uses vinegar’s acidity to create an inhospitable environment for bacteria.
Other methods of food preservation exist, some extending shelf-life a little, others a lot.
Some of these methods include:
- ⬥ Cooling
- ⬥ Freezing
- ⬥ Boiling
- ⬥ Heating
- ⬥ Sugaring
- ⬥ Lye
- ⬥ Canning
- ⬥ Jellying
- ⬥ Jugging
- ⬥ Burial
- ⬥ Confit
- ⬥ Fermentation
All of the above examples create an environment that is unsuitable for bacteria in some way. By removing air, moisture, and an environment warm enough for them to grow, bacteria cannot survive.
In spite of the fact that these methods have proven very reliable throughout history, many of them do not provide the kind of shelf-life extension we need. In order to do that, we need new ideas for DIY long-term food storage.
Types of food for DIY long-term food storage
Currently, you have two types of food in your pantry; processed food and staples.
Foods processed into ready-to-eat meals rarely last more than a few days and often don’t contain enough nutrition. Staples include things such as pasta noodles, flour, sugar and spices.
All you need to create healthy, nutritious meals is in your staples.
- ⬥ Salt
- ⬥ Sugar
- ⬥ Honey
- ⬥ Rice
- ⬥ Whole Grains
- ⬥ Dried beans and legumes
- ⬥ Coffee
- ⬥ Tea
- ⬥ Cocoa
- ⬥ Powdered Milk
Here are some of the best suggestions for DIY food storage
When storing food for an apocalyptic event, there are many things to consider. Overall, you’ll want the transition from your current lifestyle to self-sufficiency to be as seamless as possible.
Tip #1: Calculate your long term food storage needs
Decide who will live off your food supply, how long you plan to survive, and how well you will survive.
What kind of variety will you need? Do you or your family have specific nutritional needs? Before making a single purchase, ask yourself these questions.
Tip #2: Prepare your list
You don’t want to realize ten years in the future that you forgot something crucial about your food storage system. Planning will ensure that all your needs will be met in case of a disaster.
A carefully planned shopping list is much more effective than just throwing food into buckets and hoping for the best.
Calculate the daily needs for each person based on their nutritional needs. The best way to fulfill each individual’s dietary needs is to know the amount of food each will require.
Tip #3: Dry foods store better than wet foods
Extend the shelf-life of food by drying as much of it as you can.
This can be done in various ways, such as with a dedicated food dehydrator, your oven, or even hanging it from a rafter on your porch.
The process of creating jerky is a good way of extending the life of meats. Dried fruit and dried chips are also very tasty and worth consuming. Nutritional value and flavor are retained in the foods.
Tip #4: Mylar Bags work well for long-term storage
A Mylar bag can serve three purposes in terms of packaging and design. The foil liner will block out light, another enemy of food. Additionally, the lining reflects light, so food inside is less likely to absorb heat.
Last but not least, Mylar bags are air-tight, sealing the food within and denying bacteria oxygen. By removing light, heat, and oxygen, these bags should be high on your list of storage choices.
Once you have sealed your bags effectively, make sure the seal is in place. You don’t want a tiny hole to remain in your food for the next 20 years while you think it’s safe.
Tip #5: Protect well against pests
Mylar bags are a great first step, but they’re no match for the sharp teeth of rats.
Plastic storage buckets rated as food-safe make excellent containers for your food. It’s not only possible to store dozens of Mylar bags inside, but there are also Mylar bags designed specifically to fit inside 5-gallon buckets, making them ideal for things like whole grains.
To ensure that your buckets are completely airtight, you will need gamma seal lids. These lids can be purchased separately if you already have buckets without lids.
Tip #6: Other storage container options
55-gallon drums are a good alternative to plastic buckets if you want a stronger food cache, or if you need a large container to store several buckets at once.
It’s a great way to store food containers, and you may even be able to get them for free. Just make sure to check what was in them before using them to ensure that they are safe for your food.
Note that once filled, you may need a trolley jack to move them.
A can of food is one of the few supermarket foods that keeps for years. Despite being extremely versatile and hardy, they can contain a wide range of foods, including fruit, coffee, tea, soup, and stew. As they are susceptible to rust, they should be stored in a dry place.
Tip #7: Label your containers
As an alternative to simply writing the contents of all containers on the buckets with a marker, you can use colored gamma seal lids to color code your food items.
Although you may not use colors for specific foods, by putting the same colors on grains, enhancers, beverages, etc, it will be easier to find them.
To identify specific foods in each container, you’ll need a permanent marker that won’t rub off or fade over time. For a more permanent method, use an engraver.
In addition to listing the foods contained within each, make sure you also indicate how long each food has left. This is because a bucket that contains food that will last 5 years instead of one with food that will last 25 years must be used first.
Tip #8: Storage locations
You should keep your food containers out of light, out of the weather, and off the ground. There are benefits and drawbacks to every place, so think about your own options.
If you plan to store the containers in a shed, make sure that it is weather-proof and easily accessible. When storing the containers in a cellar, how will they fare if it floods?
During summer months, an attic might get too warm. Consider the options you have, focusing on the impact that it may have on the shelf life of your foods.
Tip #9: Separate your food caches
Things happen; it’s part of life. Some events are good, but others are not so good. Be prepared for accidents and future events. For example, when your shed catches fire and your food is stored there, what will you use to feed your family?
Spread the food supply to multiple locations, not just one. That way, if a catastrophe strikes closer to home, you won’t be left without food.
Tip #10: Routinely rotate the food so that the closest date of expiry is towards the front
Finally, although you’re setting food aside in case of emergency, build a food replacement schedule into your plans.
For example, at the beginning of each year you can pull out the oldest foods and replace them with newer items, then consume what you’ve pulled out of your cache.
Give yourself the gift of time…
News channels around the world show nightly that the chances of such a disaster are always increasing. When the you-know-what hits the fan, you want time, if possible, to consider your options.
Having food set aside gives you this time.
Maintaining a supply of food that lasts for decades may sound impossible. But with a little planning, an eye for detail, and some good old-fashioned know-how, you’ll be stacking your shelves in no time.
For more tips on food and organization, check these posts out.