How much food should you store?
How much food you store is something that each family will need to decide. It will depend on income, storage area and other factors. I personally think people should store six months worth of food and a year if at all possible. I recommend that you have a long-term goal, whether it’s six months, a year, or even more in mind and work toward it by setting smaller goals along the way.
In the beginning, go with smaller goals; three days, then a week, then two weeks, then a month. This will do a few things. First it won’t break your bank. Second, it will keep you from fear buying. Pray along the way, asking God to guide you in how to prepare. Third, it will keep you from prepping burnout and buyers remorse.
I recommend having at least 2-3 months of the “store what you eat foods”. Once you have that, then add another 2-3 months of freeze dried or LTS (Long Term Storage) dehydrated food. From there I recommend storing staples. When it comes to staples make sure you have the storage for them as well as the equipment before you order them. This includes Mylar bags, heat sealers and oxygen absorbers.
The LDS church recommends that their members slowly work toward one year of ood stored. I do no want to get into a discussion about the LDS church; this site is about preparing the body of Christ, not deciding who is in it. Here is a Food Storage Calculator built off of the recommendations from the LDS church, it asks for the number of family members in certain age groups and will show you the amount of staples they recommend.
The idea of storing a year of food may be a little overwhelming. That is why I said to set a long-term goal and short-term goals. Once you get started and your pantry begins to grow, your long-term goal will seem much more attainable.
Where can you store all of this?
When it comes to food storage and keeping in mind the enemies of food storage as I mentioned in Food Storage Part 4 a cool, dry, dark place is best. With that in mind, I’ll try to give you some storage ideas that may be helpful to you. I recommend you make room for your preps before you get them home, otherwise that 50 lbs of rice might sit in the bag until you get a place ready.
When it comes to storing staples, many of them are relatively cheap and you will be more restrained by your storage space then by the cost. Whether you use a shelving system, or just stack food grade buckets on top of each other in a closet, a place to store your preps is a must.
Location, location, location:
Keeping a cache of food at a different location is a good idea if possible. If you have a friend or relative that is like-minded, you could each store some of the others food. I also recommend keeping some food stored in different places in your home as well. The thinking here is security and redundancy. If something happens to one section of your storage, the other could remain intact.
Shelf Reliance is a company that sells a few types of preparedness related products, one of which is shelving. I purchased “The Pantry” and because of the functionality and storage space of cans that it provides, this is one of my favorite prepping purchases. They have two types, the larger Free Standing Systems and the smaller Cansolidator Series these hold a smaller amount of cans, but would be great for people that do not have a lot of room, or are on a tight budget.
There are many kinds of shelving available at the big name hardware stores. Here are a few things to keep in mind. Some of the shelves have a recommended weight limit, I have seen this mostly in the plastic shelving. Try to figure out how much space you need in-between the shelves. Also keep in mind future storage, buying or building a bigger shelf than you need right now is a good idea; “I would rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it”.
We decided to get shelving in place before we purchased much of our preps, this was a good idea, but in hindsight I wish I had built it differently. I initially thought I would be using 5-gallon food grade buckets, and designed it to hold two five gallon buckets, one on top of the other, on the bottom shelf. When we went looking for buckets I could only find 3 and 4-gallon buckets, so there are eight inches of wasted space between the top of the highest bucket and the bottom of the shelf above it. Leaving some room so that it isn’t a really tight fit is good, but this is enough room for a 12-pack of soda or something of similar height, that is now wasted.
The other nice thing about building your own is that you can custom make it to your needs. We had a wall that was about ten feet long, so I made a 10’ long by 3’ wide shelf with 2”x4”s and 1/2 plywood. It might not be pretty, but it is very functional and holds our preps safely and securely.
Grocery store demo shelving.
I have seen this tip a few places and cannot remember where or I would give them credit. The displays at grocery stores are often thrown away after the display is taken down. These displays are often pretty high quality as to show the product off. Asking the store if you can have it once the display is taken down might get you some free shelving, even if you have to call the distributor.
Metal garbage cans:
We keep two 25 lb bags of dog food in one 30-gallon metal garbage can. I have toyed with the idea of keeping some of the preps in Mylar in one of these. It’s metal, so there is no leeching and its also rodent proof. The only real downside I can see is that it’s not incredibly portable, but for me, that’s not a big drawback.
Under the bed:
If you have room under your bed, you can use the shallow plastic containers, as an example Under-Bed Box with Wheels, Clear Base and add either canned goods or Mylar bags. You can tape a list of the contents to the top of the lid. This will make keeping track of the contents easier than sliding it out and pulling out each can to look for a product name.
Walk in your closet, turn around and look above the door. This space is open in many closets; you can add a wire shelf there and store some lighter foodstuffs (you don’t want cans as they could roll off and land on your head).
For many people the attics in their home and garage are only used for the insulation, depending on the type of insulation, you might be able to put down sections of plywood and use it for storing paper goods or other items that are not going to be affected by extreme temperatures.
Here are the links to the other food storage articles.
Food Storage Part One: Why Store Food And The Rules For It.
Food Storage Part Two: The Kind Of Foods That You Can Store
Food Storage Part Three: Shelf Life of Staples.
Food Storage Part Four: The Process and Enemies of Food Storage.
Food Storage Part Five: How much food should you store and where should you put it all?
Food Storage Part Six: Tips On Stocking Up and Affording it all.
Food Storage Part Seven: Food Boredom to Survival Cooking .