When you want to establish a food supply for long-term storage, you must consider a few factors. The food items you choose must be easy to store and store well over the long term. The food must also be easy to prepare and provide nutritional value. Long-term food storage will not be difficult if you follow a few basic tips.
Type of storage:
While a freezer is excellent for storing many foods, it may not be your best choice. Unless you have access to a generator or use solar power, your freezer may not be operational when you need it the most. The best choices for grocery items are those that are canned or well sealed in plastic.
Longevity of food products:
• Low acid canned foods – 2 to 5 years
• High acid canned foods – 1 to 2 years
• Boxed cereal – 6 to 12 months
• Uncooked cereal – 1 year
• Peanut butter – 2 years
• Crackers – 1 year
• Jellies – 2 years
• Dry pasta – 3 years
Honey, rice, sugar and chocolate powder will keep almost indefinitely if stored correctly. Honey may crystallize but it will still be safe. If you doubt the safety of an item, throw it out.
Ease of use:
No matter how long a food item can last, it will not be helpful if you cannot use it. Canned goods should not present a problem as long as you have a can opener. Canned goods with pop-top lids may be a better choice. Items that require heating to higher temperatures can present a problem. While you should arrange for ways to warm your food, exact temperatures may be hard to control.
Choose foods that are pre-cooked or do not require higher heat for use. You can re-hydrate most items with a minimal amount of warmth; it just may take a bit longer. It is extremely important that you consider the additional water needs of dehydrated foods when you are planning items for storage.
Soups, nuts and energy bars all provide good nutritional sources. Add in dehydrated or freeze dried fruits and vegetables for variety. Energy or nutritional drinks are also an excellent choice.
When you work on your long-term food storage, date the items as you store them. Rotate these food items into your regular meals to keep your supply fresh. Every six to twelve months you should re-evaluate the types of items you are storing. Your needs may change over time.
Ray Boeyenga+ is an emergency preparedness and self-reliance advisor who regularly blogs at Canada’s Emergency Preparedness Centre.