Do you keep a stock of survival food for you and your family in case of an emergency?
If not, now’s the time to get started!
Let’s dive into how to implement long-term food storage.
Long-term food storage requires a dry, cool location, food-safe containers, and enough food for an extended period.
It's especially handy in the event of a disaster. You want to be the type of person who prepared by keeping an emergency food supply in their house.
Be sure to account for basic caloric requirements and proper food storage when developing a plan.
Keep reading to learn all about how to start your food storage journey, including which foods to add, how to prepare your goods, and even more!
How to Preserve Food for Long-Term Storage for My Family
It can seem daunting to begin preserving food for long-term storage all by yourself. There are many factors to consider, from the quantity of food to food safety.
Let’s break it down so you can get started with confidence.
Develop a Plan
When thinking of preserving a long-term supply of food, it's necessary to start with a plan to keep yourself on track.
It’s important to account for the calories per person you’re storing food for to ensure everyone has enough to eat while staying healthy.
Especially since you don't know when an emergency might last longer than expected, it's best to be able to calculate the calories per day and even think ahead in terms of food rations.
Your plan doesn’t have to be complicated — it can be as easy as purchasing an extra bag of rice each time you go to the supermarket or doubling the recipe when making Sunday dinner so you can freeze-dry half of it.
Your plan will only work if it’s feasible and accessible for you, so customize it in any way you need.
Prepare a Cool, Dry Location
You will need to find somewhere that is suitable for all of the emergency food you’ll be storing.
Now you don't need to live in a mountain house, but the location must be dry, cool, and preferably dark to account for the shelf life of certain foods and maintain the integrity of the goods. Consider storing your food in a pantry, cabinet, closet, or basement.
Search for Reputable Suppliers
When beginning to preserve food at home, you may need some extra appliances to get the job done. These may include vacuum sealers, canners, or freeze-dryers.
Whatever it is that you need, it’s vital that you thoroughly research the company you’re buying from to ensure you are purchasing quality at the right price.
You are preparing your emergency food supply, so it must stand the test of time.
Purchase Food Preservation Containers
It’s not enough just to have a safe location to store your food — you’ll need something to store it in as well.
Now’s the time to head to the store to do some shopping and pick out some food-safe containers.
Look for airtight containers and pouches that block out light, moisture, and pests as much as possible. You don’t want any of those ruining your stored supplies!
Begin to Implement Your Plan
Now you’re ready to begin your food preservation journey! It’s time to get to work on building your stock of emergency food. Let’s get to work!
When preparing food for long-term storage, it’s crucial to calculate the minimum number of calories you must consume in a day. Ensuring you have adequate food on hand to meet these dietary requirements will keep your body functioning properly.
Basic Caloric Requirements
The average adult male must consume a minimum of 2,000-3,000 calories per day, whereas the average adult female requires 1,600-2,400 calories.
Various factors, including age, physical activity levels, height, and other health conditions, may affect your exact caloric requirements. You can pinpoint your basic nutritional needs using a calorie calculator.
Remember that not all calories are created equal. Evaluate the nutritional value of the foods you include in your long-term storage: are they “empty calories,” or are they also helping you achieve your macronutrient (fats, carbohydrates, and protein) requirements too?
Before beginning calorie calculations, you first must identify your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): the number of calories your body requires to function at rest. The formula varies between the sexes:
For males: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) — 5 x age (years) + 5
For women: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) — 5 x age (years) — 161
Once you’ve found your BMR, input that number into the Harris-Benedict equation, which calculates your caloric needs based on activity level, also known as Active Metabolic Rate (AMR).
Sedentary (little to no exercise): AMR = BMR x 1.2
Lightly active (exercise 1-3 day per week): AMR = BMR x 1.375
Moderately active (exercise 3-5 days per week) : AMR = BMR x 1.55
Active (exercise 6-7 days per week): AMR = BMR x 1.725
Very active (hard exercise 7 days per week): AMR = BMR x 1.9
Your AMR is the number of calories you need to consume daily to maintain your body weight. Make sure you have enough survival food to meet these caloric requirements for several days and slowly build up to one month.
What Food Is Best for Long-Term Storage?
When deciding what kind of long-term storage food you’d like to include in your basic survival kit, consider provisions that will meet all of your nutritional needs: not only calories but macronutrients as well.
Aim for foods that are good sources of protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, and minerals.
What Is the Best Survival Food with Long Shelf Life?
You never know when you’ll need to tap into your long-term food storage, so it’s best to maintain a stash of nutritious goods and supplies with long shelf lives.
Here are some of the best items to keep on hand:
- Bulk unsalted nuts and seeds.
- Canned fish.
- Sea vegetables
- Trail mix
- Canned beans
- Dried meat/jerky
- Energy bars
- Freeze-dried or dehydrated fruits and vegetables
- Dried pasta
- Canned fruits
- Canned vegetables
Advantages to Buying True Survival Food
Companies like Thrive and Mountain House sell true survival food made for any disaster — non-perishable, easy-to-use freeze-dried foods that resemble what we eat day-to-day which is great to hear you'd don't have to sacrifice too much during an emergency. They’re kind of the ultimate long-term storage food.
Here are some reasons they should be part of your long-term storage food:
- Just add water. Most true survival food requires minimal preparation or other ingredients.
- Diversify your diet. Let’s face it — there are only so many energy bars one can eat. These options allow you to enjoy shelf-stable versions of comfort classics like a hearty stew or fettuccine alfredo.
- Long-lasting goodies. You don’t need to worry about the shelf-life of these products — they can stay fresh up to 25+ years!
- Minimal space required. True emergency food often comes in pouches or another lightweight, space-saving packaging.
- Healthy alternatives. Freeze-dried meals don’t depend on preservatives the way some other non-perishables do, making them healthier options for you and your family.
How to Prepare Food for Long-Term Storage
From freeze drying to vacuum sealing to canning, you can transform just about anything into a non-perishable product. Let’s dive into the basics of long-term food storage prepping at home.
Freeze Drying Your Food
Interested in preservative-free freeze-dried food but don’t want to spend the cash? Why not do it yourself? It’s easier than you think!
How to Freeze Dry Food for Long Term Storage
There are a few different methods you can use to freeze dry your food.
The cheapest method is by doing it in your freezer. Start by cutting your food into chunks and place them on a tray spaced out.
With nothing else in your freezer, adjust the temperature to the coldest setting possible, set your tray near the bottom, and leave it there for 7-10 days. Do not open the door during this process.
Another option is to freeze dry your food with dry ice. This method is faster but more dangerous.
- Insert your food in a freezer-friendly bag and eliminate as much air as possible. Be sure to space out each piece of food.
- Place the bag in a cooler and cover it with dry ice before setting the cooler (lid on) in a freezer for 6-24 hours.
- When the dry ice has disappeared, your food is ready.
If you’re able to dish out the cash, you can also invest in a freeze-drying appliance. Prepare your food in the same manner as the other methods, place it in the freeze dryer, and let the machine work its magic!
Regardless of the method you use, be sure to store your freeze-dried goodies in vacuum-sealed bags.
The Best Tasting Freeze Dried Foods
Just about any food can be freeze-dried, but that doesn’t mean all foods should be freeze-dried.
Here are some of the tastiest options to try out:
- Fresh meat, cooked or raw
- Pasta and rice
- Fresh fruits and vegetables with low water-contents
- Whole meals
Canning Your Food
If freeze drying isn’t your style, canning is another great long-term food storage idea.
Doing it yourself eliminates the junk that can be added to store-bought canned goods like high amounts of sodium or preservatives. Through canning, you can even keep produce that is organic in long-term food storage.
The Best Foods for Canning
There is an endless array of foods you can preserve through canning, but these are some of the best options:
If you have a lot of people to feed, try preserving your food in larger cans for easier prep and use.
Pressure canning is a food preservation method that requires more specialized tools than standard water-bath techniques. But the benefit may outweigh the cost especially you know that a wide variety of foods are canned.
While water-bath canning only provides safe storage for highly acidic foods like pickles, jams, or tomatoes, pressure canning allows you to include low-acidic foods, including meat, vegetables, and seafood.
- Fill your thoroughly cleaned mason jars with the food of your choice and secure their lids.
- Add 2-3 inches of water to your canner and place it on the burner. If your canner includes a rack, place it inside your appliance and set your food on top.
- Next, secure the canner’s lid, letting the water boil and pressure increase. Each food requires different pressures and processing times, so be sure to follow a recipe or guide.
- Once complete, allow the appliance to cool down before opening.
- Let the jars cool for 24 hours before moving them into long-term storage.
How Can I Make Food Last for 25 years?
If you’re thinking, “Can I really make food last for 25 years?” the answer is yes!
With the proper air-tight containers and prep, you can keep goodies fresh for the next two and a half decades.
How Do You Store Food Long-Term?
Half the battle of preparing survival grub for at least 25 years is long-term food storage organization.
It’s vital to keep your goods in a dry, cool location like a pantry to ensure they stay as fresh as possible. Using airtight containers and bags is also crucial to maintaining the longevity of your food and protecting it from potential water damage or other elements.
Long Term Food Storage Containers
There are many available options for long-term food storage containers. Whichever ones you choose, ensure they’re fully sealed and airtight. Here are some of the best storage ideas.
Vacuum Sealed Bags
The best appliance to buy for long-term food storage is a vacuum sealer like The SaveSealer. Whether you’re freeze-drying meals or preserving trail mix, vacuum-sealed bags are the ideal storage container. Since the process of vacuum sealing sucks out all air, this method allows food to stay fresher longer and eliminates the risk of any potential contamination or damage.
It may seem unconventional at first, but buckets are a fantastic long-term food storage container.
A sealed bucket blocks all light, moisture, oxygen, and pests. However, this doesn’t mean you should just grab any old bucket sitting in your garage.
Purchase a heavy-duty one made of food-safe material and thoroughly clean it before adding any food.
If buckets aren’t your style, you can also store your food in glass mason jars, vacuum storage containers, cans, or even some plastic bottles. If you can find containers that block light from entering, such as colored glass or old coffee-ground canisters, even better!
Silicone bags provide the same easily sealable, airtight benefits as plastic bags, but they’re easier on the environment — and you!
Employing food-grade silicone bags is a great long-term food storage idea as it won’t leach the same toxic chemicals as plastic making it a suitable, healthy alternative for extended use.
Food Storage Recommendations
How much food should you store — and what kinds? Here are some other expert recommendations.
The American Civil Defense Association (TACDA)
The American Civil Defense Association recommends keeping the following quantities of food staples in your long-term food storage.
Each food is to be eaten in proportional amounts to maintain a healthy body:
- 240 lbs wheat or grains
- 240 lbs powdered milk (for babies and infants)
- 240 lbs corn
- 120 lbs soybeans
- 12 lbs iodized salt
- 180 grams vitamin C (must be rotated annually unless in crystalline form)
TACDA also suggests adding canned foods and freeze-dried meats, fruits, and vegetables to your food storage if possible.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
They suggest including foods that are part of your normal diet, plus staple items including grains, beans, and potatoes that have extended shelf-lives.
Maintaining a water reserve and financial allowance is encouraged as well.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints also recommends storing 25 lbs of grains and 5 lbs of dried beans per adult per month.
Brigham Young University (BYU)
To maintain basic caloric intake and protein, BYU recommends storing the following amounts of food per person per year:
- 365 Vitamin C tablets (90 mg)
- 132 lbs of wheat
- 70 lbs sugar
- 65 lbs white rice
- 62 lbs legumes
- 49 lbs dry milk (15-year shelf life)
- 29 lbs rolled oats
- 22 lbs potato flakes
- 21 lbs pasta
- 8 lbs dried carrots
- 8 lbs salt
- 4 lbs baking powder
- 6 lbs dried apple slices
- 2 lbs dried onions
- 1 lb baking soda
Designing Your Own Long Term Food Storage Plan
Are you ready to design your long-term food storage plan? Let’s get to it!
How Do You Store Food Long-Term?
Choose a dry, cool location for your long-term food storage to ensure it stays fresh as long as possible.
Start by purchasing premade goods in bulk and then double-checking if it has an airtight seal.
Store your emergency food in containers such as vacuum-sealed bags, pouches, cans, buckets, or silicone bags.
How Much Food Should I Store in My Long-Term Food Storage?
It’s generally a good idea to keep at least three months of food on hand in your survival kit.
To calculate the amount of food you’ll need, identity how many calories per day your family eats. Then multiply that by 7 to get a weekly estimate. Lastly, multiply that number by 12. Be sure to include diverse goods to maintain proper nutrient levels in your meals.
Do I Have to Rotate My Long-Term Food Storage?
While you don’t necessarily have to swap out the food in your long-term storage, it’s a good idea to check on it once in a while.
When stored properly, quality food can be preserved for years, but mistakes happen.
For example, mice could start snacking on your supply, or a room that’s too warm might cause your food to go bad prematurely.
Keeping an eye on your survival food prevents an “Oh no!” moment from happening if disaster does strike.
It’s also important to remember that different foods have different lifespans — even when they are properly preserved.
Where Do I Start?
It may seem overwhelming to begin your long-term food storage journey, but it doesn’t have to be!
Remember that you don’t have to buy in bulk right away and build up your survival food supply overnight.
Accumulating your goods over time eliminates the need to spend a hefty amount of money all in one trip to the grocery store.
As you build up your food storage, keep tabs on the quantity and quality of each product you have stored.
This prevents you from over-buying in one category or not having enough of something else. Feel free to also purchase premade freeze-dried meals to incorporate into your collection.
Don’t forget to be mindful of any specialty foods you may need to buy for someone in your house.
For example, make sure you have a good stock of gluten-free goods if you’re storing food for someone who has celiac.
Long-term food storage doesn’t have to be a scary thing.
There are many ways to slowly generate a stock of survival goods in case of emergency. Freeze-drying, vacuum sealing, and canning are all great preservation methods.
Store these goods in a pest, light, air, and moisture-resistant container to ensure your food lasts as long as possible.
Don’t forget to account for each person’s caloric requirements, so everyone stays healthy.
- Calculator.net: Calorie Calculator
- Omni Calculator: Harris-Benedict Calculator (Total Daily Energy Expenditure)
- Very Well Fit: How Many Calories Do I Need Each Day
- Secrets of Survival.com: Best Survival Food to Stockpile...When All Hell Breaks Loose
- Mountain House: Our Shelf Life & Guarantee
- Safety Hunters: How To Freeze Dry Food For Long Term Storage
- Skilled Survival: Freeze Dried Food IS The Best Food For Survival
- Morning Chores: The 9 Best Foods to Can for an Emergency
- Melissa K Norris: Canning 101 Water-Bath vs. Pressure Canner
- Well Preserved: Fundamentals of Pressure Canning — What Is It, How Does It Work, and Why Do It?
- The Provident Prepper: Long Term Food Storage: Best Containers and Treatment Methods
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: Food Storage
- Long Term Food Storage: Creative Solutions to Build a Critical Asset