Prepper food storage mistakes

Prepper Food Storage Mistakes To Avoid

Food storage mistakes are more common than you may think, especially for the newbie prepper. While it is one of the first things that most preppers initially set up and acquire regarding their family preparedness, there are mistakes to avoid.

Acquiring food storage for preparedness is easy to do. It has a big impact on general preparedness, and it doesn’t cost too much money to get started. It can be done a little at a time, or, as quickly as you want.

However there are also a number of food storage mistakes and pitfalls to avoid.

Prepper Food Storage Mistakes

Here are a few to consider:

Buying food storage that you don’t regularly eat

When first setting out to fill a deep pantry for preparedness, it’s easy to go overboard and start acquiring foods that you might not normally eat. Instead, especially at first, just start buying more of what you do eat!

Exception: Regardless of whether or not you normally eat them, there are foods that I do advise acquiring. Dry goods that store well for long term such as rice, beans, and wheat. Why? Because they’re packed with calories, they will sustain life, and they are easy to store for many many years (if stored properly).

Not diversifying a variety of foods

In other words, buying too much of one thing or just a few things. Can you imagine just eating rice & beans day in and day out? Balance and variety are important. It’s great to have 5-gallon buckets filled with rice, beans, and wheat – because they can store for decades. However keep going with a wide variety of other foods too. Think about it in categories.

Also, diversify the types of processing & storage such as canned foods, dry goods, dehydrated, freeze dried, freezer, etc..

Getting started with food storage, but not following through

It’s easy to get excited about starting a new project or setting out on a new goal. But it’s harder to follow through to completion.

Keep on acquiring. Every time you’re at the grocery store, pick up some extra for your deep pantry. Keep filling those shelves. Not only will it set you up for preparedness, it will also save you money in the long run because food prices don’t go down over time…

Building up a food storage supply and letting it sit there

Although many foods will be safe to eat beyond their “Use-by Best-by” date, the best way to utilize your food inventory is to consume it!

Rotate your food storage by actually consuming and replacing. Consume the oldest first, and so on… Again, don’t forget to replace it!

Not making a food inventory

After awhile, you will not remember every little thing that you’ve acquired. It’s a great idea to inventory what you have in food storage. I don’t do it for everything – that would be way too much work. But I do have a record of my major dry-goods long-term storage, and my #10 cans of this and that… My goal was to have an idea of # CALORIES in my storage (equivalent survival days). This takes some math, but it’s doable. And important to know how much you really have. After awhile, you get the general sense about how long your food would last you…

We simply use an Excel spreadsheet. You might choose to simply write it on paper. You can be as detailed or general as you like. But it’s a good reference to have, especially while practicing good food rotation.

Buying too much freezer food

It sure is nice having a chest freezer filled with food. I have several. However, don’t let that be the majority of what you’ve stored!

Why? Because if the electricity goes out, you might lose what you have! You might be okay for 48 hours, but unless you have a generator and unless the power comes back on before you run out of fuel, you will be SOL.

Not labeling your foods with date of purchase

This only applies to certain things, but it’s worth mentioning. For example when I acquire (or DIY) a 5 gallon bucket filled with rice or wheat, I apply a strip of white artist tape and with a Sharpie write month/year. This way, later on I know which is oldest, and I’ll use that first! We also do this with some freezer food packaging.

Be aware of food shelf life

Some foods last ‘forever’ (almost). Spam anyone? Haha… I’m just suggesting that you become aware of expected shelf life – which may differ quite a bit from one to another. Here’s an example… There are many #10 canned foods that may last for 10 years, 20 years… depends on what it is. However just because it’s professionally packaged this way, doesn’t mean it will be good for decades. Powdered dairy products are significantly less, for example. Just check.

Overlooking the Spice!

Don’t forget about all the other stuff that makes food taste great!

Herbs, spices, condiments, etc.. They are pretty important too. We purchas a lot of our regular spices in bulk/quantity. Not only does it cost a lot less that way, but you can store it for long term too.

Buying too much of something that you haven’t eaten before

Something might sound like a good idea to have (for whatever your reason). However, if you have not eaten any, you better try a small quantity first.

For example, lets say you’re considering some particular dehydrated or freeze-dried food packaged in #10 cans for long term storage… You may or may not be surprised that when you open and consume it, you may or may not like it! You get the idea…

Poor food storage conditions

The enemies of long term food storage are heat, sunlight, poor containment, oxygen, humidity – unless you have a root cellar :-)

Of course it depends on what you’re storing, but generally you’re looking for cool, dark, and dry. Not all basements (if you have one) are dry, for example. Rusty cans?

Letting it all just sit there…

Time goes by faster than you may realize. Next thing you know – all those grocery store canned foods are 5 years old… Not saying they’re “bad” (typical best-by dates are ~2 years for many canned foods).

This can be avoided. Force yourself to consume foods from your storage. Consume the oldest first, and then replace it. Ideally you would be mostly buying foods that your normally eat anyway, right?

 
Let’s hear from you. What are some additional food storage mistakes to avoid?

[ Read: 1 Year Food Sorage ]

16 Comments

  1. Good post Ken. One thing I myself need to remember to do is to inspect food items for a visible and easy to read date. Some items have dates that are hard to read or hard to find or, in some cases, even illegible. I need to make certain to mark those items with the purchase date. I would also suggest preppers have a copy and/or read the tables in the military’s Shelf Life Extension Program report. I have tried different ways to mark OTC drugs for when to toss. My latest iteration is to mark all the containers in black marker the suggested expiration date and to have a card taped inside the door of the medicine cabinet listing known extended lives in years as well as a general most drugs are good for xx number of months past date. I came up with a number of months based on research or trial and error experience for OTC drugs where I couldn’t find information on their extended life. A final point regarding canning jars seals. I knew I was moving so I tried to use up all our canned items. When we moved, we only had about 4 dozen jars to move. All seals were checked prior to boxing, but during the move 4 unsealed. Be sure to use a storage method for canned goods that doesn’t require a lot of moving around prior to use.

  2. store what food you normally eat and rotate it out. the stories of people using 5+ yo beans, gees. if it’s something ya ain’t gonna eat once a week or month, don’t buy it. rotation is the key word.

    1. Yes and no,
      Lots of times i buy stuff to have a stash of food, but then the fresh veggies and meats get eaten before the canned stuff, doesn’t keep as long, so cases of cans will sit, the other thing is lots of times i will go and buy a bunch of stuff if i have extra cash, it goes in the stash, so i have a stash, then i end up getting by and eating fresh and the stash sits, my bad i know but it is what it is,

    2. Depends on how much you store Scout. I eat beans and rice at least once a week and many times more but there is no way I would go through my storage in a year doing that. Packaging for long term storage in my opinion is just that. Rice doesn’t change. Beans will get harder to cook but I either crock pot them or pressure cook them. My canned food is where I lack. I store canned vegetables but don’t really like them. In an emergency if I couldn’t get fresh in the pot they would go though

      1. Poorman,
        don’t forget that dried beans, peas and others can be planted and make more than you have on hand and it’s fresh. being self sustainable for years is my goal. i’m working on it. 62 now but if i can make it for another 20 or 30, i won’t care.

  3. After being a prepper for years I have realized that my greatest weapon is my stored food. After the SHTF I will be in the unfortunate position of having to direct family/friends to do some types of hard work or some other unpleasant thing. I know that somebody will give me push back and refuse to do what I ask. I will simply reply “do what I ask or you will not eat”. If people are really hungry there is no such thing as that food has expired and I do not want to eat it, etc. Today, our country is well into a food production stoppage.

    1. No Joke,
      What you said actually has Biblical basis ;” He who does not work shall not eat”. I’m planning to do the same btw.

  4. If you buy lots of food in foil wrapped or plastic packages, keep those goods in a rodent proof container to prevent intrusion by rats or other vermin. If they do not eat it, they tend to urinate and defecate on it so best just to keep the rats and rodents out of the storage cache.

  5. DRY foods such as bulk rice, flour, salt, pasta, sugar, etc i repack into large wide mouth used 1 gallon pickle jars obtained through the restaurant supply store, after Repacking freeze them for a week or so to kill any critters and then remove and store in the house in a dark space. Rice as an example lasts much longer by using these jars versus leaving in a 50 lb sack (each one gallon jug hold about 8 pound of rice) I am only opening one jug at a time which keeps the rest fresher. I use this jugs for everything including dog/cat food. And they great thing the jars are free after use and being recycled by myself.

  6. I’ve been experimenting with foods I both eat and don’t normally eat… For decades.

    A random tidbit is I have had spaghetti-os eat through the cans regularly at about 3 years after best-by date. I don’t normally eat them, but it is something I picked because it seems like anyone that has children has spaghetti-os. Latest failed batch had a best-by date of November 2019.

    I also have been experimenting with storage conditions. Dry things don’t seem to mind being stored in an attic. Wet things (canned goods) are adversely affected by attic temperatures. Dry things that are buried will likely not stay dry after around 5 years even in a sealed bucket inside of a mylar bag. Seems to always pick up ambient moisture, probably because plastic is permeable. Place the same setup in a coated concrete vault and they seem to go at least 8 years.

    Why do I do this? Well, it’s kind of a fun experiment. But also so I know if I ever have to scavenge I know what to expect.

  7. Well, here I go…If there ever is a confiscation of goods event, and your nice tidy list of goods is found, they are likely going to expect you to show where every last bean is stored. Also, if all your carefully stored goods is located in one nice climate controlled room, they will just simply start loading there truck. I am not comfortable keeping all my eggs in one basket. And I do not keep a real list for these reasons. For a hurricane event or a bad growing season, all of these ideas are good. I am afraid, however, that what we are facing is more sinister than I can even imagine. And I am compelled to store things I would not normally eat. I don’t like canned chile, I prefer to make it fresh. Never the less, if ground beef is too expensive and I can not find tomatoes, I will be glad I have canned chile on my shelf (hopefully not expired). Hope I posted this in the right place.

  8. Vacuum seal.
    I do spices, rice, beans et.al.. with oxygen absorption packs. No zip locks in my freezer or shelves. I even vacuum ammo.

    1. Thermason90 –

      There are experts here, I’m not one of them; but I seem to recall an issue with straight wall ammo being vacuumed, possible bullet dislodgment, I think. Cali? Dennis?

      1. Tmac, Thermason90,

        Wasn’t me that advised against vacuum sealing ammo…I have never tried it. I have heard of others saying it’s not a good idea. I do recommend storing ammo in a cool, fairly constant temperature, dry place. For me, that is inside my home.

        The reasoning behind avoiding pulling a vacuum on ammo is the premise that greatly reducing the pressure outside the cartridge might cause the air inside to push bullets or primers out as pressures try to equalize.

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