Some Survival Tips On
Food Storage

(in regards to an emergency)
(part 1)

Kraig J. Rice

(Clicking on these internal links will move you down this page)

Do you think my kids are going to eat this stuff?
The 4 Main Problems of Food Storage





Where and how are you going to store this food?
Containers How much food do you need to store?
Are you going to grow your own or buy it?
Dehydrating Your Own Food Buying Your Food to Store Away
Some Store (Supermarket) Foods The shelf life of some store foods
MRE Freeze Dried Foods
Life Boat Rations Jerky
What kinds of food are you going to store away?
Flour (Red Winter Wheat) Sugar
Milk Salt
Eggs Corn
How long do you want to store this food?

Do you think my kids are going to eat this stuff?

I hate to eat lima beans now as an adult. Do you know how many lima beans I have placed in storage for me to eat later? That's right- none! And your kids have similar likes and dislikes. So how do you work around this seeming problem? It's simple- store food for them that they like to eat. If you name it you are likely to find somebody who makes it. But it has to taste good, look good, and be socially acceptable to their peers also. Take ice cream for example. Ice cream powder can be stored for awhile. Ice cream made from powder is sweet and it tastes good if made right. So there's the answer for the rest of the menu that you need to store. If you don't have an ice cream making machine at home ask your kids what you should do. Take a vote and then go out and buy one!

Store good stuff because somebody is going to eat it eventually. If your kids don't eat it then trade it to somebody else's family who will. It's fun to swap food, a menu, a recipe, or what-have-you with folks who share common interests. I have stored away food myself and have a few tips to share with you. The quality and quantity of food that you want to store will depend on how much you want to put into it- in time, effort, and money. Consider this activity as a hobby- you usually get out of it what you put into it. But you also want to make this hobby as fun and enjoyable as you can for yourself and others. You can also donate your food to others.

In the past I have taken some of my stored food and given it to homeless and hungry individuals who appreciated it. I have donated some of it to hungry American indians on a desolate reservation, and donated some of it to the local rescue mission "in the name of the Lord" to help feed hungry transients. And I can tell you from experience that if your kids don't want to eat it then a large colony of hamsters that you are raising for profit will love to eat it.

One time I bought some Canadian life-boat rations that had been stored for 20 years. I bought the 30 large vacuum sealed metal cans at a military surplus store. The "Graham crackers" inside of the cans are called pilot-bread. The pilot-bread inside of the cans not only looked like graham crackers but was nutritious, and tasted surprisingly good. I didn't eat the contents of all of the cans at once. I stored most of the cans away again for a "rainy day" even though some of them were getting kind of rusty. So it's good to store away food that tastes good, looks good, and is nutritious.

The 4 Main Problems of Food Storage

    The 4 Main Problems of Food Storage
  • Moisture
  • Oxygen
  • Insects
  • Animals
  • You have to be ready to tackle these 4 challenges before you begin this hobby. Let's take a brief look at these 4 challenges as we go along and I will give you some tips on how I handled them. There may be many more things to consider in storing food and preparing for survival.

    Moisture In Stored Food

    If a stored food item has too much moisture in it that food item will develop mold on it and then spoil. All of your time, effort, and money will have gone to waste.

    When you purchase food for long term storage the food company will have already gotten most of the moisture out of their product before they sell it to you.

    When I dehydrated my own fruit there was left as much as 30% moisture in it. That was so I could eat it at my leisure and enjoy it. That fruit was in short term storage. However, I could dehydrate it longer until the fruit was hard as a rock. By doing it that way I dropped the moisture level down to 2% or 3% and I could put it away for a little longer. I didn't have to worry about the amount of moisture being a problem. But I knew it was going to take me longer to reconstitute it, as well.

    Insects In Stored Food

    One day I walked into our kitchen and there were a lot of little insects flying around. Right away I knew what they were. They were food moths. I told my wife about them and she started looking in our pantry. She found a box of cornmeal that she had forgotten about. Bug worms had hatched in the meal, eaten and grown fat, spun some webs making a cocoon, turned into moths and then flew off into our kitchen. She threw the cornmeal out- and the bugs with it. That is an example of what can happen to your food stocks if left untreated.

    If you go down to your local store and buy cornmeal, rice, and powdered flour and put these away into long term storage without treatment- then you are going to have a similar problem. The bug eggs are in the grain. You cannot see them but they are there. And they are just waiting for you to ignore them so they can come out to play.

    You can store powdered flour only for a short time. Powdered flour contains flour beetles. You can temporarily treat this flour by placing it into a deep freezer and freezing it at 0 degrees Farenheit (F) for 14 days. Some like to keep it permanently frozen but this takes up too much freezer space. Some folks recommend freezing it -10 degrees F (-23 degrees Centigrade) for only 24 hours. This should effectively kill all of the life stages of the insects. But you can't hold back the inevitable. Once you remove the paper sacks of powdered flour from the freezer, other beetles, unknown to you, are going to worm their way into it and contaminate it. Once you remove it from the freezer it's best to eat it up as soon as you can before this happens.

    Most folks do not place powdered flour into long term storage (30 years or more) due to this reason. Rather, it's better to store red winter wheat. You can store this much easier and better than powdered flour and it will keep much better and longer. Then when you want powdered flour you take out your wheat from storage, grind it into powdered flour, and then eat it before it also gets bugs in it.

    I used diatomaceous earth to preserve my red winter wheat and it worked great. What is diatomaceous earth? It's a powder that you mix in with your red winter wheat. You can also mix it in with your dry pinto beans instead of freezing them if you want to. I bought a small 10 pound bag of it because I had one ton of grain to protect as I placed it all into the appropriate containers. The recommended amount is about 7 pounds for every 1 ton of grain you are storing away.

    To use, you mix it thoroughly with your grain or beans. Some recommend using one level cup full of diatomaceous earth powder with every forty pounds of grain or beans you are storing. You need to make certain that every kernel is coated so it is better to do the mixing in small batches where you can insure more even coating. I poured some red winter wheat from the grain sack into a clean empty 5 gallon bucket. Then I added the powdered diatomaceous earth and mixed it all together very thoroughly with my hands. There are other ways to do it but this method worked good for me.

    How does this stuff work? When a bug hatches out inside of your grain inside the stored container it starts moving around. When it comes into contact with the diatomaceous earth it dies. Some say this powder covers over the insect's breathing holes in it's side thus causing it to suffocate.

    That's a good thing because it gives you a little extra bug protein to go along with your flour when you eat it all:) No- it's not that bad- I'm just kidding!

    There are two kinds of diatomaceous earth. Be sure you get the food grade and not the stuff used to clean swimming pools with. The U.S. Department of Agriculture assures it is safe for both humans and animals. You should be able to buy this at your local feed store or your local garden and hardware stores. I have always had good success with it and recommend it.

    In past years the chemical treatment of wheat and beans with malathion, ethylene dichloride, or ethylene dibromide was used successfully for a number of years, but the use of these chemicals is now banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as being harmful to humans. If you purchase food from other countries make sure none of it is preserved with these chemicals.

    Oxygen In Stored Food

    What's so bad about oxygen? It is the oxygen that causes most foods to spoil through decay and mold, and most microbes and insects that eat your stored food inside of it's container require oxygen to live. You don't want any more air than is necessary inside of a food container. Air contains about 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and about 1% for other gasses. Let's get rid of that air. By getting rid of the air in a food container we also get rid of a lot of oxygen as well. If the oxygen is displaced, what remains is 99% pure nitrogen in a partial vacuum. By removing the free oxygen from your storage containers, you can greatly extend the storage life of the foods in the containers. There are a few ways that we can do this.

    But first I want to make a point about how harmful bacteria can be to your food. One time my family and me went to see my uncle and aunt who lived in the state of Washington. My insensitive older cousin welcomed us into his parent's house and then fixed some toast for us to eat. We took some butter from his refrigerator to put on our toast. We should have smelled it first. The butter was rancid and we could not eat it. That's a good example of what bacteria through oxidation can do to your food. He thought the butter was preserved inside of his refrigerator but it wasn't. And that's not good hospitality! But I think you get my point.

    Most folks want to preserve and store food without destroying it's nutritional value. Some think that the old ways were the best ways. Some of the "old methods" of home food preservation were canning, dehydration, and freezing but now there is "oxygen displacement" and "nitrogen gas packaging."

    Oxygen Displacement

    This is mostly done at a food factory by purging nearly all of the oxygen (air) out of a can or plastic bucket with nitrogen gas before the container is sealed air tight. In with the nitrogen and out with the oxygen. Nitrogen should not be confused with hydrogen. Hydrogen gas is explosive whereas nitrogen gas is relatively safe and friendly. Therefore, "Nitrogen Packaged" foods have almost all of the oxygen replaced (or displaced) with nitrogen. Therefore, if you see an add that reads like "air dried foods in #10 sized cans- nitrogen packed" you will know what that means.

    If you are preserving your own food you can use dry ice which gives off a carbon dioxide gas that works good also. This method will displace a lot of the oxygen. Always make sure that your food container is sealed air tight after you do this.

    Either nitrogen gas or carbon dioxide gas is a good inert gas. What is an inert gas? An inert gas is one that does not react with either the food or it's container. You never want to open a vacuum sealed can only to find rust or mold growing on the inside of the can. Eating food from that kind of can will make you sick or worse.

    Oxygen Absorption:

    Oxygen absorption is a method of greatly reducing the amount of oxygen in a food container by using oxygen absorption packets. These packets come in various shapes and forms. The smaller round ones can be mistaken for food and swallowed by someone not familiar with them so be careful if you use these. If you want to get rid of some oxygen without messing around with gasses then this might be the way for you to go. Some think that you can reduce the amount of oxygen inside the food container to less than 1/2%.

    A general rule of thumb is to use one packet for every quart and a half (1430 ml) of remaining air volume in your filled storage containers. Here is a table I created that helps you figure this out:

    % of Remaining Air Volume in a Food Container
    After it's loaded with Food
    (for the number of Oxygen Absorber Packets to add)
      22% remaining air volume   11% remaining air volume
    *Elbow macaroni *Powdered milk
    *Dehydrated fruit (packed tight) *Granulated sugar
    *Hard kernel field corn *Iodized salt
    *Red winter wheat *All Purpose Flour
    *Potato flakes *Cocoa Powder
    *white rice *Cheese Powder
    *Dehydrated vegetables (packed tight) *Peanut Butter Powder
    *Cornmeal *Powdered garlic
    *Pinto Beans *Butter or Margarine Powder

    You can use these packets in just about any kind of food that you want to store away. The oxygen absorbers are iron dioxide crystals imported from abroad and are used to try to keep the weevils from germinating in stored food containers. They are also used as one method to try to extend the shelf life in cans of dehydrated foods. I never did think they were very good, however. I always thought that the bugs would have too much oxygen to live on, anyways, while they kept on chomping on my food. That's why I preferred the freezing and the diatomaceous earth. However, this is only my opinion and who knows what that is worth?

    Using Nitrogen Packing and Oxygen Absorbers:

    You can use both methods at the same time if you are preserving your own food for long term storage. Or, you can purchase sealed containers that contain nitrogen and oxygen absorbers, extending shelf life to 30 years or more, depending on storage conditions. All of this kind of food is packed in air tight, sealable cans or buckets with oxygen absorbers. How do they do this? Buckets are first purged with nitrogen and then oxygen absorbers are placed in the bottom of the bucket before the food is added.

    Animals Getting Into Your Stored Food

    Animals like to eat, too. If your food is accessable to large animals that can smell it then they will probably make a try for it. Large wild dogs, wild hogs, hungry bears, feral cats, racoons, opossums, rabbits, and squirrels are just a few animals in the United States that you might have to watch out for. Assuming that your food is confined to the protection of your house then you probably only have small animals to deal with- mostly wild rats and mice. I knew that the wild field mice would want to eat the hard kernel yellow field corn that I had stored away in the 2 liter plastic bottles under my parent's house. So I placed all of these plastic bottles in a 40 gallon metal garbage can that had a tight fitting metal lid. That way the bottles of corn were safe and never bothered. I didn't have to worry about the mice knawing through them.

    Were the mice around? Oh, yes, they ate the paper labels off of my #10 size cans of powdered egg yolks. They probably used this paper to help make their nests. After 30 years of this food being in storage they never bothered any of my rice or pinto beans stored in glass coffee containers with plastic lids. They never bothered any of my powdered milk in plastic 2 liter soda bottles because I also had them stored in another 40 gallon metal garbage can that had a tight fitting metal lid. They never bothered any of the red winter wheat that I had stored in the 1 gallon glass jugs with aluminum lids. And they never bothered any of the emergency life boat rations I had stored away in metal cans. So, I think I did a pretty good job of protecting my stored food from wild animals.

    store your food is a cool dark place

    Where and How are You Going to Store This Food?

    Food should be stored in a dark, cool, and dry place. A great to place to store your food is in a cool dry cave. Many wine makers keep their expensive bottles of wine in a cave or dark basement beneath their winery. A basement is a good location if you can keep the food off of the ground. Never place the cases directly on a concrete floor or against a concrete wall, as concrete will sweat and the moisture may cause any food cans to eventually rust. Put them on pallets, shelves, or boards so that the air can circulate freely around these containers.

    Burying food is not too good of an idea, in my opinion, for a couple of reasons-
    you cannot rotate your food too easily without digging it up first,
    you cannot easily check on this food from time to time to see how it is doing, and
    the movement of the earth or a rising water level might push it above ground. A neighbor of a friend of mine had a sunken concrete swimming pool installed in his back yard. It was beautiful and convenient. Then one winter there was a lot of rain and the underground water level rose significantly. The water pressure pushed the swimming pool up out of the ground. For years that swimming pool sat in that back yard at such a crooked angle that it could not be used- and the plumbing pipes into it and out of it were also broken. What a waste!

    Do not store any gasoline, diesel fuel, oil, or battery acid on top of or around your food supplies.

    Do not store any food in any container that once held a poison or a strong smelling liquid such as gasoline, paint thinner, or vinegar.

    Do not store away any little packets of condiments (ketchup, mustard, etc.) that you get from fast food restaurants. These will eventually spoil if placed into long term storage.

    These are 5 gallon poly buckets for long term food storage

    Some Food Storage Containers:
    You can purchase many food items in filled polyurethane plastic buckets called poly buckets for short. These buckets are made of sturdy plastic that help keep bugs and rodents out of the food. They are used in long term storage. Some come loaded with grains, beans, seeds, and legumes. Others come loaded with other tasty foods. If you don't want to use glass containers like I did, or metal containers, you can purchase empty plastic poly buckets and fill them yourself.

    Many folks like metal cans. They come in all shapes and sizes. The problem with metal is that it will corrode and rust. To prevent this in long term storage purchase treated rust-resistant cans. The outside of the can is treated and they are usually enamel lined which also prevents the inside of the can from rusting. Metal cans are good storage containers unless you bury them near water or place them directly against concrete walls. Be careful if you reuse a can. Remember that food flavor can be tainted by the steel it comes in. The same holds true for glass bottles. Never place food in a container that clorox or vinegar originally came in.

    No not store any food only in it's original cardboard container. Moisture, oxygen, and insects will find their way through cardboard walls. The same for plastic baggies and paper sacks.

    Everyone seems to have their own way of doing things. I will tell you what worked for me. Glass containers with hard plastic or aluminum lids are excellent storage containers if they can be stored without the possibility of breakage. You never have to worry about them rusting.

    Some Inexpensive Household Food Storage Containers:
    How did I store my white rice and my pinto beans to keep the bugs from getting it? I used 7 ounce glass empty instant coffee jars with plastic lids. I had a lot of these kinds of containers available from drinking coffee. How did I store my whole kernel yellow field corn, white sugar, salt, and dry powdered milk to keep the bugs from getting it? I used 2 liter plastic empty soda bottles with aluminum lids. Plastic lids are ok, too. I knew that the sugar, salt, and powdered milk would harden over time so I used plastic bottles that could be easily cut open and the contents removed. I could always pulverize the contents using a mortar and pestle. I got these plastic bottles from soda that my family members drank and from friends and neighbors who saved them for me. How did I store my 1 ton of red winter wheat to keep the bugs from getting it? I used 1 gallon glass empty jugs with aluminum lids. I used over 100 of them. I purchased them from the local recycling center. Another reason I used these was to hold water in (if I needed to) after I emptied the wheat out of them. In the old days rain water ran off a person's roof and was caught in a cistern. The water from the cistern was used to drink, cook with, used to wash clothes and dishes, and used to bathe with. And it can always be stored away in 1 gallon glass jugs so the water doesn't evaporate if you have the containers available.

    Plastic bottles are somewhat pourous but still good for dry milk, sugar, salt, and corn. Don't use biodegradable plastic bottles because they fall apart. They are made to decompose easily in landfills. Most of your modern day milk containers are made of this cheap biodegradable plastic.

    I used what was convenient, easy to obtain, and inexpensive. Not everyone uses the same methods. Everyone has a different way of doing things and that's ok. And that's the beautiful thing about this hobby- it's as diverse as any individual wants to make it.

    One person eats one ton of food per year

    How Much Food Do You Need to Store Away?

    Many food commodities can be purchased in bulk quantities fairly inexpensively and have nearly unlimited shelf life. Store away as much of these items as you can afford. The following amounts are suggested for 1 adult for 1 one year:

                                       Food Item                                        Amount of Food (in pounds)

    red winter wheat300 pounds
    powdered milk100 pounds
    hard kernel field corn300 pounds
    iodized salt10 pounds
    white rice250 pounds
    white granulated sugar300 pounds
    dehydrated banana chips100 pounds
    potato flakes250 pounds
    pinto beans60 pounds
    dehydrated fruitsAMAP
    dehydrated vegetablesAMAP
    jerkyAMAP *

    * AMAP= As Much As Possible

    You may want to store your food using a monthly amount for the number of people in your family or group. A suggested amount per month per person is:
    25 pounds of wheat, white rice, corn, and other grains.
    5 pounds of dry beans.
    You may also want to add other items such as sugar, nonfat dry milk, salt, baking soda, and cooking oil. To meet nutritional needs, also store foods containing Vitamin C and other essential nutrients.

    Are you going to grow your own or buy it?

    Growing Your Own Food

    If you own fruit trees and or grow vegetables then you can preserve your own food. There are two main advantages to this:
    cheaper in cost savings, and
    no preservatives.

    This is really a great way to go. You can store a lot of food that your trees and garden give to you. I dehydrated a lot of peaches, figs, apricots, pears, and apples that grew on our own trees.

    I grew pinto beans one time in my garden. I didn't spray any pesticide on my small crop. It was a beautiful crop of dry beans when I harvested them. My mother cooked up a big pot of them. When we looked in the pot to see how they were cooking we saw many little dead weevil worms floating around. These weevils had gotten inside of some of these beans while they were still in my garden and I couldn't see them or know that they were there. We threw that pot of beans out. But I learned something about weevils...

    For those people who don't have gardens, you can visit produce sellers and ask if they have any produce they are about to throw out. Often, the produce has been damaged in shipping and really has nothing wrong with it. Small spots of spoilage can usually be cut off and the rest canned or dried. The produce seller will often let you have this food for free or for very little money.

    You can also trade for food items (barter). I've done a lot of swapping in my time. If you have apple trees and your neighbor has pear trees it's always a lot of fun to trade some of your surplus for some of his.

    Some ways you can preserve your own food include canning, freezing, brining and dehydrating.


    Dehydration is a method of food preservation by removing the moisture content from food.

    You can purchase a dehydrator or use your kitchen oven to dehydrate most all foods. You should follow all instructions for this in any good book written on the subject. I have dehydrated apples, peaches, watermellon, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and more.

    In dehydration nearly 70% to 98% of the moisture content is removed from the food to prevent spoilage. The food retains it's nutritional value because the vitamins are not cooked out of it. You can dehydrate food to store for a short period of time or for a long period of time. Dehydrated foods are compact, tasty, and convenient. If you own your own fruit trees and/or raise your own vegetables in a nice garden then you should look into purchasing a good dehydrator and storing some of this food away "for a rainy day." If you are going to put it away for awhile then I recommend that you freeze it first to kill any pests inside of the container. The freezing won't usually harm the food inside of the container. I always preferred glass containers when storing my dehydrated food away but others like metal cans. I don't recommend plastic containers or metal containers with thin plastic lids as insects will find their way through the thin plasic into your stored food.

    After about 5 years, certain dehydrated foods begin to lose some of their nutritional value. How fast this continues depends a great deal on the temperature at which the food is stored— the cooler the better. A general rule of thumb is to rotate it (eat it and replace it) after 5 years.

    If you live in a city or don't have any means to grow your own food you can always purchase the items that you want.

    "If man made it, don't eat it"
    -Jack La Lanne

    Buying Your Food

    You can purchase dehydrated food ready to store away. Dehydrated and dried storable food is available in cans, buckets or bags in any size or quantity. How do the food companies preserve it? They use foods that have been picked fully ripe and then clean and trim it to leave only the best parts. These foods are then dehydrated with 98% of their moisture removed. This is done by a highly sophisticated drying process.

    If cans are used the cans are of a heavy base-weight metal and have an extra heavy electrolytic coating of tin plating for protection of the steel to prevent rust and corrosion due to atmospheric conditions. They are made to last a long time. The food companies then fill the can with the particular dehydrated food. The oxygen is drawn out- which, if left in, will deteriorate the food and then the can is shot full of an inert gas (nitrogen) which will not react with the food or can, but will ensure that less than 2% oxygen remains in the can. Then they seal the can and sell it to you. All you have to do is store it away in a cool dry place.

    There are over 1200 dehdyrated food products that you can purchase. Some of these include dehdyrated onions, carrots, peas, broccoli, whole grains, drink mixes, a huge selection of beans, buckwheat, cabbage, butter, margarine, milk, eggs, cheese, mushrooms, peanut butter, peppers, tomato powder, and TVP. You can also purchase dehydrated vinegar, dehydrated fruit cocktail, and dehydrated cottage cheese.

    Some Store (Supermarket) Foods
    Your local store (supermarket) stocks food items inside of plastic, glass, paper, and metal containers. This food is made for quick consumption- not long term storage. Many of these temporary containers let in oxygen, moisture, and harmful bugs, and eventually the food will spoil over a period of time. But you can store a lot of it for at least one year safely if you have to.

    As you stock food, take into account your family's unique needs and tastes. Try to include foods that they will enjoy and that are also high in calories and nutrition. Foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking are best.

    For longer-term needs, and where permitted, gradually build a supply of food that will last a long time and that you can use to stay alive, such as wheat, white rice, white granulated cane sugar, dry yellow corn, dry instant nonfat milk, salt, baking soda (good for soaking beans), vitamin C in tablet form, and pinto beans.

    Use up all of your store bought food first as soon as you can following an emergency. Then fall back on your long term food supplies in storage (if necessary).

    Here are some foods you should NOT place into long term storage:

    Some Store Foods NOT recommended for long term storage:
    Bread crumbs Bread and rolls
    Bulgur Breakfast cereals
    Hot cereal Coffee lighteners
    Flour Marshmallow cream
    Marshmallows Mayonnaise
    All refrigerated items Shortening
    Brown sugar Pancake syrup
    Ketchup Mustard

    It is not recommended that you store away any canned goods from your local store past 18 months (1 1/2 years). Why? Because they aren't made for it. Sometimes a canned good purchased at a local store in the U.S.A. will have a pull date stamped on it. This is the date after which they can't guarantee it's top quality. It just goes downhill after that. For example, if a can of store-brand cranberry sauce is stamped NOV 10 this means to eat it before November 2010. It should be eatten up before that date. After that date it will eventually spoil.

    Your local store wants to move out (sell to you) their old stuff before their new stuff. They rotate their supplies also. So try to buy new items from your local store rather than any old items that they may be selling at a discounted price. Buy "fresh-looking" packaged items- torn labels can indicate age or damaged stock. Do not purchase leaking, bulging, or dented cans.

                                  The Shelf Life of Some Store Foods

        Some Store Foods with only a 1 Year Storage Life
  • Bouillon cubes (from the store)
  • Cornmeal
  • Grits
  • Honey
  • Jellies and jams
  • Canned milk
  • Pectin
  • Jerky
  • Salad dressing
  • Dry Whole Milk (with fat)
  • Dried fruit (semi-dried)
  • Soda crackers
  • Whole potatoes
  • Canned condensed meat
  • vegetable soups
  • Canned fruits
  • Canned fruit juices
  • Canned vegetables
  • Peanut butter
  • Hard candy
  • Canned nuts
  • Dry Buttermilk
  • Vegetable oil
        Some Store Foods with only a 1 1/2 Year Storage Life
  • Baking powder (from the store)
  • Cornstarch
  • Gelatin
  • Confectioners' sugar
  • Tea bags
  • Most canned goods
  •     Some Store Foods with only a 2 Year Storage Life
  • Baking soda
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Coffee (not instant)
  • Molasses
  • Pasta (from the store)
  • Corn syrup
  • Vinegar
  • Dehydrated potato products
  • Brown rice

    Meals Ready to Eat (MRE):
    The U.S. military's food scientists came up with this invention and named the kits "Meals Ready to Eat," because of their pre-cooked condition and their easy-open packaging. "Meals Ready to Eat" were soon called MRE's. This food is just like the military MRE's only made for general civilian use by the food companies. It has a seven year shelf life (and maybe more) if stored in a cool dry place. The kits are light weight, easy to store, and easy to use. They can be heated by any number of methods, or eaten cold (as they are fully cooked). In other words you can eat it with your fingers if you want to as there is no cooking required.

    The food is cooked and then sealed and not exposed to air until opened. The food is actually sterilized in the pouch and blocked from future contamination. The food retains it natural moisture and juice. MRE are not freeze dried foods, but were designed by leading nutritionists and chefs to be tasty, yet nutritional. There is approximately 1300 calories per meal and most meals can be torn open with just your fingers.

    MRE full meal kits are made up of pouches- they are triple-layer foil and plastic "retort" pouches. MRE's are the first rated and easiest food to use in most any emergency.

    Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) Shelf Life
    (based on official testing at the U.S. Army's NATIC Research Laboratories)
    Storage Temperature (degrees Fahrenheit)1009085 80757060
    Storage Life in Years2 Years4 1/2 Years 5 Years6 1/2 Years7 1/2 Years8 1/2 Years 11+ Years

    Freeze Dried Foods:
    Freeze dried is a type of dehydrated food that you have to purchase. With this method of food preservation the aim is to get rid of the moisture and the oxygen at the same time. When freeze-dried food is combined with nitrogen gas packing, the result is food that will keep for long periods of time, retaining its nutrition and flavor.

    Freeze dried foods have a shelf life of over 30 years if stored in a cool dry environment. This is one of the best ways of food preservation. Some of it comes in "paper" packages. Some of it is "packaged" in #10 size rust proof cans. How do you prepare this stuff to eat? All you have to do is add water, wait 10 minutes and eat- there is no cooking involved. Hot water makes a hot meal and cold water makes a cold meal. Freeze dried foods are the second easiest food to use in almost any emergency.

    I know it's not a life boat but we can make it one with our imagination:-)

    Life Boat Emergency Rations:
    You can purchase Life Boat Emergency Rations. This is also called pilot bread "graham crackers." Sometimes this meal unit comes in a large metal vacuum packed can containing the pilot bread and some small cans of water good for drinking. I have eatten this pilot bread and the crackers are tasty but dry. They are packed full of nutrition. Included is purified and bacteria free drinking water. The water is in plastic lined metal cans.

    You can purchase Jerky or you can dehydrate meat and make your own jerky. I have made my own and I also have purchased it. Just remember that if you make your own it only has a shelf life of 1 year. You can use jerky as the perfect supplement to your survival kit. I suggest that you freeze all your jerky products. When the electrical power goes out, the one year shelf life begins at the time the jerky is thawed out. It's nice to have some meat to go with your bread and beans!

    I used to have a problem getting the "wild taste" out of fresh venison meat. I tried soaking the meat overnight in salt water, tenderizing it in vinegar, and what-have-you. Nothing worked. But then I got wise and decided to use spices on this meat and make jerky from it. The wild taste actually enhanced the flavor of the jerky. How did I do it? I added the salt, seasoning, and spices to the raw meat surfaces before I slowly dehydrated it. My jerky was done when I could crack it but not break it. It was delicious.

    If you don't want to use a dehydrator you can also use a stove oven or barbecue smoker to make your own jerky. Add a spice like cracked black peppercorn, rub it into the raw meat real good and put the heat to it. Be careful not to over-salt it. Buy some hickory wood and smoke it with that- this will enhance the flavor of the meat. Some adventurer's like to take this along in their "Davy Crockett" ammo bag when they shoot black powder during hunting or in a reinactment because this is one food they ate during that time period. Some like to throw some hardtack in the same bag along with their jerky. It makes for an interesting lunch to say the least.

    You can also purchase jerky. Some food companies make it from beef, buffalo, elk, alligator, turkey, venison, or antelope meat. It's usually high protein and low fat but is sometimes hard to chew. Most companies don't put any preservatives in it because the salt and lack of moisture do a pretty good job in that category.

    I have more on this subject at the bottom of this webpage in the frequently asked questions section if you are interested.

    Some TVP in large quantities

    Textured Vegetable Protein:
    Don't place any kind of meat into long term storage. I recommend using a meat substitute made out of vegetables instead. Don't complain- it still tastes good! Food companies call this stuff by it's initials: TVP. You can purchase TVP- (Textured Vegetable Protein) in various flavors:
    TVP (Bacon Flavor)
    TVP (Sausage Flavor)
    TVP (Taco Flavor)
    TVP (Beef Flavor)
    TVP (Chicken Flavor)

    Some folks don't like TVP because they are allergic to it's yeast extracts, or they don't like it's monosodium glutamate (MSG), an added chemical taste enhancer. Some of these folks use oxy-powder instead.

    What Kinds of Food are you Going to Store Away?

    Besides foods that taste good you need to store away foods that contain good nutrition. The nutrients our bodies need to properly metabolize foods are always found in foods before processing. A lot of these nutrients are found in the food's peeling or directly under the peeling. For example, a lot of vitamin E is found in wheat germ. This is lost when the wheat germ is processed away and white flour is given as a result.

    What's the problem?
    A lot of food nutrition is decreased while being processed. "Processing" protects the food against microorganisms such as bacteria, mold and yeast. What is essentially lost from the food during processing? Vitamins, minerals, nutrients, essential fatty acids, and enzymes.

    Only animal protein- eggs, meat, milk, and cheese, etc.- contain all eight essential amino acids. If the protein is to come from vegetable sources you must combine the correct vegetables to get all eight essential amino acids.

    My point is that whole food is better for you than processed foods. And these are the kinds of food that you want to store away.

        The 4 Most Important Food Staples
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Milk
  • Iodized Salt
  • This "old" food pyramid will give you some idea of what kinds of food to store away.

    Do not store away any citrus fruits due to their acid content. Do not store away any nuts due to their fat content. If you do they will eventually turn rancid. No not store any fats or oils past 1 year because they will turn rancid. Some folks prefer to store dehydrated shortening instead that has a long storage life. If you decide to store some oil, anyways, and the container leaks- this is an added problem. If the leaked oil gets into some of your other food that is stored away it might ruin it. Butter or margarine can be kept frozen until you have no electricity in an emergency and then you will have to decide what to do with it.

    How do you prepare and store your staples?

    You can probably purchase the red winter wheat and dried whole kernel yellow corn at one of your local stores. If they don't have any on hand they can probably order it for you. I had to order the one ton of red winter wheat that I stored. You should be able to purchase the white rice, white sugar, pinto beans, and dry powdered milk at your local grocery store.

    You can purchase white cane granulated sugar at your local store. Make certain that the package at the store is clean, dry and damage free. Other than that, there's very little that should go wrong with it. Granulated sugar can be found in varying textures- coarser or finer. Pour it granulated into an appropriate container and seal it air tight. White Granulated Sugar does not spoil, but it will cake up or get lumpy. That means that once you remove it from long term storage that you are going to have to pulverize it again in order to use it. You can use a mortar and pestle for this if you want to.

    Do not store away any brown sugar because of it's high moisture content. This sugar will spoil if placed in long term storage.

    Nonfat Dry Milk
    You can't place liquid whole milk into long term storage but you can store powdered instant non-fat dry milk. Dry milk products are especially sensitive to storage conditions, particularly temperature and light. Vitamins A and D are "photo sensitive" and will break down rapidly if exposed to light.

    Like your other stored food, dry milk should be stored in a cool dark area.

    I placed my dried milk in empty plastic two-liter soda bottles but some folks like to use metal cans, boxes, or plastic bags. Your aim here should be to make it last longer, stay fresher, and taste better. Dry milk will usually keep it's flavor up to about 2 years or so in storage. I recommend that you use it then. I kept my dry milk in a cool dark place for over 10 years and it lumped up on me but was great to feed then to my breeding hamsters who loved it in lump form. "Old powdered milk" can also be used in cooking if you think it's flavor has deteriorated.

    Make sure that your dry powdered milk contains no fat (fat will cause it to turn rancid in long term storage). Pour it granulated into appropriate containers. I recommend that you freeze it after you place it in it's storage container just in case it has some insect eggs inside of it. Freezing it won't hurt it. I froze the dry milk I had stored in the plastic bottles and then placed them in the large "garbage cans" under the house where it was cool and dark so any rodents couldn't feast at my expense. Assume that any sugar or powdered milk that you store away yourself is going to get hard. That means that once you remove it from long term storage that you are going to have to pulverize it again in order to use it. I recommend a mortar and pestle for this.

    I recommend that you purchase iodized salt for long term storage. This salt is available at your local market and is inexpensive. Some folks like to store rock salt instead of the fine granulated salt so it does not lump up and get hard on them. Salt is not a luxery but a necessity. It comes in handy for brining some vegetables and meats. It's also necessary for making your own jerky and can be a trading commodity.

    There is generally no problem in storing away dry beverages such as instant coffee and tea. Freeze these items in glass jars before storing them away long term.

    Powdered Eggs
    Do you want to store away some eggs? If so, you'll have to buy them. You can choose from an assortment of powdered egg whites, whole dried eggs, and even dried egg yolks. These items are usually available sealed in a (#10 size) can for long term storage.

    I think if there has ever been a food that was hated by U.S. military personnel more than spam it had to be powdered eggs. During World War 2, Korea, and Vietnam most service personnel ate so many scrambled eggs made from the powdered stuff they never want to eat any of it again. I know- I cooked a lot of it on an aircraft carrier in the Navy. Nevertheless, newer generations don't seem to share this opinion because the powdered eggs are processed differently and they taste better.

    The Boy Scouts take this stuff along on hiking trips because they don't have to worry about breaking raw eggs that way. All they have to do is just add some water and then cook up some scrambled eggs in no time. (And they better hope there are no hungry bears around in their neck of the woods when they do this:). I know- I am an Eagle Scout and have the cooking merit badge!

    How do the food companies make this stuff? Powdered egg mix (dehydrated egg mix) is mostly whole egg powder with a small amount of powdered milk and vegetable oil which has been blended into the powder. Powdered whole eggs (dehydrated whole eggs) are an alternative to fresh eggs and are more convenient to use and store. The dehydrated whole egg is blended with water to produce liquid eggs, which can then be used just like fresh eggs.

    Without sounding like a commercial for the stuff there is a lot to be said about it. Whole eggs, egg yolks, and egg whites are sometimes combined to make a blend that (when mixed with water) can be used for a variety of baked goods- especially scrambled eggs, omelets, and French toast.

    You can store powdered egg yolks that are great for adding to sweet dough, egg noodles, ice cream or (when the recipe calls for it) egg yolks. To make 1 egg yolk from this stuff you have to mix 2 teaspoons of powder with 2 1/2 teaspoons of water. Roughly 1 pound of powder equals 50 egg yolks.

    Cornmeal is great to eat. Don't store cornmeal that is already ground- rather, store dried yellow whole kernel corn. Place this into suitable containers and then freeze it. When you are ready to eat it, take it out of storage and grind it into cornmeal. My wife used to bake home-cooked cornbread from our ground corn. She also made corn muffins. Yum yum. The natural corn was so sweet that she didn't have to add any sugar to it- and it was healthy for us and our 3 children at the time.

    Corn must be stored at 12 percent or less moisture content or it will mold and become inedible. You can usually purchase a fifty-pound sack of corn at a time. I recommend the storage of whole corn kernels rather than cracked corn to extend the shelf life. Corn is lacking in two essential amino acids- lysine and tryptophane. Therefore, a diet of corn must be augmented with pinto beans, soy beans, or rice.

    Some other grains that may be available for purchase include soy, red winter wheat, wheat bran, oats, and hard kernel dry yellow corn. Some of these may come in 100 pound sacks.

    Don't store rice powder that is already ground- rather, store whole grain white rice. You can buy this at your local market. Place this into a suitable container and then freeze it. Then you can take this right out of long term storage, cook it and eat it. Don't store brown rice because it will turn rancid on you in long term storage.

    Dry Beans
    It's ok to store pinto beans right out of the store bag. Pour them into an appropriate container and freeze them first.

    How Long Do You Want to Store This Food?

    The basic rule of thumb is that you can store your food longer if it is cooler. You need to store you food storage in as low of temperature as possible to increase its shelf life and to retain nutritional value. Not only do colder temperatures affect the shelf life of food products, temperature fluctuations affect shelf life too. Keeping your food stored at a constant temperature will help you achieve the maximum shelf life. Finding a cool, dry location, such as a basement or root cellar is perhaps your best insurance on maximizing the shelf life on your stored foods. I placed mine under my parent's house where it was like a basement and this worked great. Even with the very best packaging methods, if you are planning on storing your food in a warm environment, it won't last as long as if it was stored in a cool, dry place. You can expect good storage life if your storage temperature is at 60 degrees F or below. Optimum storage temperature is at 40 degrees F or less. It is important you also find a place where the temperature remains constant. Frequent temperature changes shorten storage life.

    One man stored his long term food storage in his basement where the temperature remained around 60 degrees F. This was a good move on his part because he was able to get his food's maximum storage length by doing that.

    Storage Life of Foods
    Here are some tips to help you determine the shelf life of food stored in air tight containers at 60 degrees Fahrenheit. You might be able to add an additional 10 years of storage life if you store these items at close to freezing temperature. A shelf life of 30+ years is perfectly feasible for many products stored this way. I have highlighted the staple foods that are the most important for you to store away.



    Adzuki Beans

    8 - 10Gluten 


    Powder Eggs  


    Alfalfa Seeds

    8 Granola


    Powdered Milk 20

    All Purpose Flour

    5 Great Northern

    8 - 10

    Quinoa 8

    Bakers Flour



    Refried Beans 5


    8 Red winter wheat


    Ribbons 10 - 15

    Black Turtle Beans

    8 - 10Hard white wheat

    8 - 12

    Rolled Oats 20

    Blackeye Beans

    8 - 10

    Salt and Sugar





    8 - 10Hulled Oats 


    Small Red Beans8 - 10

    Brown Rice

    2 Kamut

    8 - 12

    Soft wheat 8 - 12


    10 - 12Kidney Beans

    8 - 10

    Soy Beans 8 - 10

    Butter/margarine Powder


    8 - 10

    Spaghetti10 - 15


    8 - 10Lima Beans

    8 - 10

    Special bakery wheat8 - 12


    8 - 10Macaroni


    Spelt 12


    8 - 10Millet

    8 - 12

    Sprouting Seeds 4-5

    Cheese Powder



    Triticale8 - 12

    Cocoa Powder

    15Morning Moo 




    8 - 12Mung Beans

    8 - 10

    Unbleached Flour5




    Wheat flakes5

    Cracked wheat


    8 - 12

    Whey Powder 15

    Durham Wheat

    8 - 12Peanut Butter Powder

    4 - 5

    White Flour  5


    8 - 12Pearled Oats


    White Rice


    Dehydrated Fruit


    8 - 12

    Whole Wheat Flour 


    Garbanzo Beans

    8 - 10 Pink Beans

    8 - 10



    Vitamin C Tablets

    10Pinto Beans


    Apple slices



    5Potato Flakes


    Vegetable Oil


  • Click here to go to the Food Storage part two web page

  • The PH of Alkaline and Acidic Forming Foods



    The Christian Counter
    January 08, 2008

  • Flour
    You can't do without flour in your storage. You should have it- it's one of your staple foods. So my recommendation is to place red winter wheat into storage rather than powdered flour. You can't store powdered flour very long unless you keep it frozen. I treated my red winter wheat with diatomaceous earth to kill any insects and it worked perfectly. I bought 100 pound sacks of red winter wheat- 20 sacks at one time.