In crisis situations, you can typically survive without heat, electricity, and weapons; but you certainly cannot survive without proper sustenance. And the thing about crisis situations–they are always a surprise. Starting a stockpile will put you one step ahead of the game. Wipe away worry and preemptively smother panic by being prepared.
Here is some food for thought to put towards creating a stockpile empire.
Tip #1: Follow the HALT method
HALT stands for Humidity, Air, Light, and Temperature. As you’ll learn, these four elements hold all of the power when it comes to stockpiling food. Control them correctly, and you can stockpile food well into the future.
- Humidity – Keep it as low as possible, so beware of storing food in rooms that tend to be humid, such as the bathroom, laundry room, kitchen, or anywhere outside.
- Air – Seal your food in airtight containers with oxygen absorbers in order to keep the air reaching your food to an absolutely minimum (more on that in the next sections).
- Light – Also store your food in opaque containers such as Mylar bags, boxes, buckets, inside a dark closet, and anywhere else out of the light. Even indoor lighting can shorten your food’s shelf life.
- Temperature – The ideal storage temperature is 50 to 70 F (10 to 20 C). If you live in a place like Arizona with hot summers and cold winters, you’ll need to be more particular about the environments you choose to make sure that they aren’t hugely affected by these changes. If, however, you live in a state like Washington that can be mild all year-round, you can get away with more. You be the judge.
So according to the HALT Method, you should store your food in a dry area, inside airtight containers, out of the light, and in a place with cool, stable temperatures.
Store your food in…
- Dry basement
- Indoor pantry
- Dark room/closet
Don’t store in…
Tip #2: Invest in Containers and Bags that Give a Good Seal
Mylar bags will get you up to 30-years of shelf life. After today, you’ll never forget the term “Mylar Bags”. These bags will be your best friends when it comes to storing food. These light-proof bags come in convenient sizes to store all kinds of food. They range from a pint to 6 gallons, with the most commonly used size being the 1-gallon bag. Each Mylar Bag is paired with an oxygen-absorbing packet to keep your food as fresh as can be.
You can store all sorts of grains, beans, and oats in these bags to significantly extend their shelf life. For example, white rice and dried beans have a usual shelf life of 2 years. Put them in a Mylar Bag with oxygen absorbers and your food products will last up to 30 years!
Let’s say you’re storing a big Mylar Bag of wheat berries.
- Label your bag with a sharpie to note the food product and date of storage.
- Fill your bag up to ¾ of the way full of your wheat berries, leaving some space to seal at the top.
- Throw in 1 oxygen absorber.
- Use a heat source such as an iron or a hair straightener to seal the top of the Mylar Bag closed. (Don’t worry about getting all the air out first as those oxygen absorbers will do the job for you).
- Find somewhere with the right conditions (see above) to store your bags.
Many preppers take their Mylar Bag storage a step further with food grade 5-gallon buckets to fill with all kinds of beans (kept in their original packaging), rice (loose), powdered drink mix, or other products that have similar shelf lives.
Following the steps above, stick all of those products into the same 6-gallon Mylar Bag with the appropriate size oxygen absorbers and seal them up. Use a heavy mallet to seal the lid on tight and now you have industrial-sized storage.
If you have some oxygen absorbers left over that you want to save for later, you can save them in a Mylar Bag as well so that they don’t expend all of their magic. Another option is an airtight jar. Speaking of which…
When you store Mason Jars, there are a few elements to take into consideration…
- Environment – Because Mason Jars are made of glass, light can easily contact your food and cause their shelf life to diminish. As I mentioned above, a dark and cool place is ideal to get the longest shelf life possible.
- The importance of rotating – Unfortunately, food storage isn’t just a “set it and forget it” task. Don’t let a jar of canned peaches from January sit in the back of the shelf while you keep replenishing and eating the jars canned in May, June, and July. Follow the “first in, first out” rule, keep inventory and inspect your jars for quality control.
Tip #3: Learn Which Foods Store Best
When you start making a list of which foods to stockpile, think of foods that don’t have the possibility of drying out, clumping up, or congealing. Do you love peanut butter? Store all of the peanut butter! Do you hate canned fish? Then why are you even considering buying canned fish? Only store foods that you will actually want to eat, otherwise they are just going to take up space that could be better used for a food that is going to get your appetite going. Finding that balance is key.
Top 10 Foods to Stockpile
- Dried Beans
- White Rice
- Peanut Butter
- Protein Bars
- Whole Grains like millet, barley, quinoa, etc.
- Dehydrated Meats like Jerky
- Canned Proteins like Tuna
- Powdered Coffee
- Dried Fruit
Other Products that Stockpile Well
- Coconut and Olive Oil
- Butter, Ghee, and Lard
- Wheat-based Cereal like Shredded Wheat
- Wax Covered Cheese (you can DIY)
- Dried Pasta
- Powdered Milk
- Hard Candies and Candy Bars
Foods & Drinks that will last forever
(in the right environment and container)
- Maple Syrup
- Vanilla Extract
- Hard Liquor (hey, it counts)
When in doubt, internet search it out! You’re going to have a lot of questions while prepping your stockpile because honestly, there’s a lot to it. Staying organized with labels, keeping a clean stockpile zone, and double-checking that your containers are tight will set you up with a well-prepped inventory of long lasting food. Oh, and always always always calculate when the food will go bad and write that date somewhere on each container.
The biggest mistake you can make while stockpiling food is to think or believe that you’ll never actually need to rely on your stockpile. Remember, it’s more than zombie apocalypses and the end of the world that you’re prepping food for. It’s days when the electricity is out all over town, days when a winter storm blocks your main route to the store, days when there is civil unrest and looting, or days when you get a craving that killer spaghetti sauce you’ve got stored away.
Enjoy the process and have a little fun with it. Besides, when has a backup plan ever been a bad idea?