Disaster Preparation, Urban Homesteading and Self-Reliance

Food Storage – Why, How Long, and What

canningWe live in fearful times.  One only has to glace at the news or scroll through social media to see many potential calamities looming.  Perhaps this is an accurate picture of the world today, perhaps it is not, but that is a topic for another discussion.  Whether we are at the cusp of impending doom or not, a food storage program is a valid hedge against the days to come, whether the upheaval they bring is in society at large or merely personal hardship.

While you are planning your food storage program, it is important to consider WHY you are undertaking this project.  It is easy to get into an “all or nothing” mindset when you begin storing food, feeling as though it is not worth doing unless you can purchase a year’s worth of food immediately.  This is a mistake.  One week of food storage is better than nothing in an emergency.  A month is even better.  Three months will put you miles ahead of the average person, who only has about two days of food on hand at any given time.  Even in a complete civil breakdown, total pandemonium has a limited lifespan.  Human society, no matter how broken, always swings back towards equilibrium in a relatively short period of time.  Adequate food storage allows you and your family to stay quietly out of the chaos.

Food storage is not meant to last forever; it is meant to act as a CUSHION.  It gives you breathing room to make other arrangements when things go south.  How much you need to store depends on how resilient your current lifestyle is.  Someone who lives in the city and has no local access to food needs to have more storage than someone on a homestead that provides most of their needs.  Three months of food storage is a bare minimum for each person in your family.  In three months, severe civil unrest will most likely run its course, a deadly epidemic will begin to wane, and a total martial law situation will become too expensive to maintain.  Six months of food storage will give you even more breathing room or allow you to be generous to your neighbors.  If you can manage a year’s worth of food storage, and have somewhere to store it, that’s great!  If not, store what you can.

There are several ways to go about building your food storage.  The quickest way is to simply purchase an entire ready-made survival package.  In my opinion, this is the least desirable way to create food storage.  This food is often highly processed and expensive.  Furthermore; you generally don’t have the flexibility to choose foods you would normally eat.  A slower, but less expensive and still fairly convenient way to build food storage is to purchase canned and dry goods from your local grocery store.  This is much less expensive than “food storage” food, and you can store foods you already eat. This allows you to rotate your food storage and will prevent a dramatic dietary change during emergencies – which would definitely add more stress to an already stressful time.  Finally, you can preserve your own food.  This might be slightly more expensive than purchasing items at the grocery store when you consider the purchase of equipment and supplies.  However; food preservation is a valuable skill and you know exactly what is in the food.  It is unlikely that this will be your sole method of building your food storage as there are some foods that don’t lend themselves well to home preserving.  A sensible combination of these three methods is probably the best option for food storage.

When deciding what you wish to store, choose foods that don’t require refrigeration or freezing, are calorie dense, and that you and your family already EAT!  It is very unwise to try and introduce new foods during an emergency.  There is not only the possibility that you and your family won’t like these foods, but you definitely don’t want to discover any unknown food allergies during times of instability. Here is a quick list of some foods that store well, don’t require any special equipment, and are calorie dense to help you get started with your food storage.


Canned Goods

Dried Goods

Tuna Pasta
Salmon Beans
Sardines Rice
Soup Soup
Stew Barley
Fruit Juice Milk
Fruit Fruit
Potatoes Instant Potatoes


You will notice this is a very rudimentary list, but it will provide you the means to make a lot of calorie dense meals.  The soups and canned meats can be used to flavor the pasta, beans, grains, and rice.  You’ll notice I didn’t include canned vegetables in this list.  They are certainly something you might want to add for variety, but they are not particularly calorie dense, so are not ideal for the “quick and dirty” food storage plan.  I also didn’t include wheat because it requires an expensive grinder to process.  You can begin to refine and add things as you continue and before you know it, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing you can feed yourself and your family no matter what happens.



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