Dehydrated, freeze-dried, #10 cans, 6 gallon buckets, year supply kits, and on and on and on. Needless to say there are a lot of options when it comes to storing food for a rainy day. These food storage tips will help you level the playing field so when you are shopping for food storage you can make the smartest choice possible for your family.
Tip #1: When shopping across different food storage providers shop by dollar per ounce. Not all companies fill the food to the brim so even if you are comparing a #10 can from one company to another companies #10 can the products won’t likel have the same amount of food in them. Doing the math will help level the playing field for the true cost of the product.
Tip #2: Compare calories per day when shopping for bulk supply kits such as 6 month and 1 year supplies. Looking for the highest calorie items goes against everything you are taught in normal society but when you are looking for food reserves to help you through a job loss or natural disaster you want all the calories you can get. But you have to be careful, some companies short change you on the food by touting servings count instead of calories per day. They hope the number of servings will look like a lot of food in the consumer’s mind, but often the calories are WAY deficient.
[NOTE: Check out our Food Storage Comparison Checklist for help in comparing these complex food kits]
For example, there is a food storage company that sells a 6 month supply of food for two adults and three children (5 people) for $3,800. It advertises that the supply kit has 2,160 servings. This number sounds big and probably makes most people think they are getting a lot of food but the math say otherwise. If you look at their average serving it has 240 calories which comes out to a total of 518,400 calories in the kit. Divide that number by 5 people and each person will get 103,680 calories over the 6 month period. The scariest part is when you divide 103,680 calories by 182 days (number of days in 6 months) and you quickly see that you will only be eating 576 CALORIES PER PERSON each day! You would likely die if you eat their food supply over the period of time they suggest it is good for.
Tip #3: Make sure you compare the same food types. Some companies will be purposely vague on the description of their food. They might be shipping you dehydrated apples when you thought you ordered freeze-dried apples. You need to do all you can to make sure you are comparing the right apples to the right apples, not dehydrated apples with freeze dried oranges
Tip #4: Research the nutrition, not all calories are created equal. Some companies bulk packages (3 month, 6 month, and 12 month) food reserves come loaded with sugary drink items and desserts. Don’t get us wrong, these types of food are better than nothing but there are better alternatives for your families nutrition. A reputable company will put the inventory of items and the quantity of each item. Take a look and see show much drink mix you are getting versus real food. Supply kits that have meals, pastas, rices, vegetables, fruits, beans, milk, and drink mixes in moderation are surely going better for you than a supply kit with a large amount of Kool Aid drink mix.
Tip #5: You need to be wary of shelf life claims. Testing food shelf life through advanced aging techniques is VERY expensive and it rarely done. Most companies have not been in business for 25-30 years so they can’t know for 100% surety that the food they sell will last that long. Now don’t go thinking that everyone out there is being untruthful. That simply isn’t the case, most of these companies have food scientists who make meals based on ingredients that have proven to last that long. Individual items like vegetable and fruits as well as rice and beans also have been studied to stay good for 2-3 decades when freeze-dried.
Our best suggestion is to make sure you look for #10 cans for the longest shelf life. Metalized pouches (known as mylar pouches) have only shown to have a true shelf life of around 7 years when stored in the right conditions. Some companies are claiming 25 years when there is no evidence that supports mylar bags being able to meet the claim.
Tip #6: A good idea is to eat what you store and store what you eat. You should at least familiarize yourself with your food storage so you know how to prepare it and if it is up to your standards before you store it away. Testing foods will help you make larger purchases wisely.
Tip #7: When buying #10 cans, avoid pricey food storage shelves. Food rotation shelving systems are a great concept and can be useful with the right type of food (small cans like you get tuna in) but for those that are buying a lot of #10 cans there is no real need to use rotation systems.
The fact is you are paying a premium to have food put into a #10 can. One of the biggest benefits of the #10 can is the shelf life. So why would you buy a lot of #10 cans with the idea of rotating through them when they are not going to need rotating for 20-30 years? Store the cans in a cool dark location and buy your everyday foods and rotate through them in your pantry. These rotation shelves make sense when it’s smaller canned food that is only good for month or a few years and need to be rotated more often.
Tip #8: Have a nice variety of food storage. Eating the same thing will get old quick. Make sure as you store food to get a variety of foods so you can switch things up from meal to meal and day to day. Eating the same thing over a week is bad but imagine doing it for a year! Ugh, no thanks!
Tip #9: You should plan for a grown family. If you have a young family you should prepare as if the little kids are teens. With a great shelf life of 20-30 years on most items, what you buy today may not be adequate for what your family is like in 15 years when you may finally need to dig into your food storage.
Tip #10: To prepare your food you will need to get adequate water storage. You can only last a few days without water, it is critical for life. Also if you don’t have enough water you won’t be able to use all of the food you have stored away. Having a nearby water source along with purifier and filter will make sure you are set and if you don’t have a nearby water source consider building your water storage up by filling up water tanks and containers.
We hope you have enjoyed our food storage tips!