Food Storage
Emergency Preparedness Food

Intro to Food Storage

Emergency Food Supply

Short Term Food Storage

Medium Term Food Storage

Long Term Food Storage

Food Storage Area and Equipment


Prepping - Preparing for long term survival in case disaster strikes.

Intro to Food Storage

You never know when an emergency will leave you and your family desperate for food. Having an emergency food source, and a long term supply can be crucial to the survival of you and your family. Some people choose to just keep emergency food rations for a few days, others prefer a long term solution. Some people will stock a year supply of 25-30 year self life food, so they know they have a years worth of food, and don't have to worry about it for at least 2 decades. Others prefer to keep a 5-30 year supply and constantly rotate it out so they know they always have the 5-30 years supply should they need it.

How you choose to store your food will depend on your preference, and financial abilities. If you are wealthy you may consider buying a 5-25 year supply of prepackaged dehydrated food. These can be purchased from specialty companies. They come with full, flavorful meals that can be stored for up-to 25 years; but they are very expensive.

If you do not have the money for a large amount of prepackaged food, you can still store food for up to 30 years using modern storage methods, and the right foods. No matter how you decide to stock up on food, having at least a small food reserve can help you and your family survive.

Emergency Food Supply

Emergency food supply consist of prepackaged food that requires a minimal amount of preparation.

MRE (Meal Ready to Eat)- A MRE is a self contained individual field ration bought by the US military and used for it's solders in combat or any time an organized food facility is not available. MRE's contain everything you need for a complete meal including napkins, spoon, and desert. There are many companies that provide a variety of different styles of MRE's for civilians.

MRE's make a great emergency food supply, but have a lot of excess bulk, and waste. Read here to learn about field striping MRE's to save space.

Modern MRE's have a self life from 11 months to 5 years depending on the storage temperature. Modern MRE boxes for military use will have a TTI (time and temperature indicator) to determine if they are still good. In my experience an MRE is better eaten within the first 2 years. FYI older MRE's had a longer self life because they primarily used freeze dried food.


Food Bar Rations – Food bar rations are the most compact, and simplest emergency food available. Food bars are simply a pressed bar that contains the calories, vitamins, and minerals that are needed to sustain life. Food bars are flavored for taste, but do not provide the comfort, or variety that real food does.

I recommend food bars for survival kits, and backpacking. They are cheaper and more compact than any other style of emergency food, but I do not recommend them for long term survival as you will tire of them quickly.

There are many styles and flavors provided by a variety of companies. Most food bar rations have a 5 year self life.


Short Term Food Storage (Up to 1 year)

Chances are you already have a supply of food for short term use. Caned goods, dry foods that do not require refrigeration, beans, grains, bottle water and many others are great for a short term food supply. These foods can usually be stored for a full year, and can be rotated out to maintain a full years emergency food supply.


Medium Term Food Storage (up to 5 years)

Storing food for up to 5 years takes a little more preparation and planning. Before you start you will need an antiquate food storage area. Keep in mind that you can store a 1 year supply of food as listed above, and rotate it out; this way you will only need to maintain a 4 year supply of food that has a 5 year self life (this food can also be rotated out so that you always have a full 5 year supply of emergency food).

What foods to store:

  • Prepackaged foods – (MRE's, Food Ration Bars, Freeze Dried Foods)
  • Wheat
  • Vegetable oils
  • Dried corn
  • Baking powder
  • Soybeans
  • Instant coffee, tea, and cocoa
  • Salt
  • Non-carbonated soft drinks
  • White rice
  • Bouillon products
  • Dry pasta
  • Powdered milk – in nitrogen-packed cans

Long Term Food Storage (up to 30 years)

Storing food long term can be very tricky, and expensive. If your trying to maintain a full 30 year supply of food then there is a lot to buy. Most people storing food long term will store a 1-5 year supply of food that has a shelf life of 20-30 years. Keep in mind that food stored long term can have decline in nutritional quality, and taste over time; but will still be able to sustain life.

I recommend storing up on the basic long term food supply, then slowly purchasing a variety of freeze dried food to add to your food storage (it would be nice to have a Sunday dinner that's a bit different). A once a week meal that is not rice, wheat, corn, and beans can be a major boost for morale.

What foods to store:

Prepackaged Freeze dried foods can last up to 25 years, but are very expensive.


30+ years

  • Wheat
  • White rice
  • Corn
  • Sugar

30 years

  • Pinto beans
  • Rolled oats
  • Pasta
  • Potato flakes
  • Apple slices

20 years

  • Non-fat powdered milk
  • Dehydrated carrots

Food Storage Area and Equipment

Food Storage Area - The idea storage area should be dark, dry, insect and rodent free, with a temperature of 75°F/24°C or lower whenever possible. Do not store foods against walls, or on floors. Food should be stored to allow air flow; wire selves work great for allowing airflow to boxes and food packaging.

Food Storage and Packaging Equipment and Supplies – There are a variety of companies that provide supplies and equipment for long term food storage. I will not go into every detail of food the food storage processes at this time, but with a search you will find everything you need to know about the process of storing food long term.

Most long term food food storage solutions involve the following: The dried food needs to have little or no oil content, and contain less then 10% moister, the food is then placed inside of a food storage bag. An oxygen absorbing packet is placed inside of the bag, and the bag is sealed using a machine that removed the excess air, and thermally seals the bag. [WARNING: Botulism poisoning may result in packaging that reduces oxygen if the moister is more than 10%]

Some of the best experts on the subject of long term food storage is “The Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints”; many of the supplies and equipment for long term food storage can be purchased from their distribution center.