This past weekend my wife and I organized our storage / preparendess area. We did this together so that we would both know where items of note where, instead of me just taking on the task and her having to dig for something in my absence. We have various storage items sorted by category on heavy wooden shelving (or on the floor, example 55 gallon drums of water) and other items on commercial grade restaurant stainless steel shelving. Mostly these are canned food items which are within easy reach, useful when making spaghetti and one is out of Ragu.
While organizing the stash we discussed where our current needs were, mostly this revolved around items we constantly use and did not have enough of. Various spices, cans of vegetables or even things like Nutella or bottled Mayo. I think folks need to have these conversations and evaluate what their food storage situation is like, not just for some major SHTF event but a 2 week power down scenario. The worst thing one can do is get online, drop a few grand and toss some food storage boxes in the corner just in case. What follows are a few other potential mistakes folks might be making with respect to food storage.
Buying in Bulk
Don’t get me wrong, I too buy in bulk so let me narrow this down a bit. For everyday items like the aforementioned can of corn, it’s nice to be able to go down and grab a can for the evening meal. Yet if all you have are the giant bulk cans of corn, the type that would feed a family of 10 or would have to be tossed in the fridge for leftovers (for days) it might not be the best idea. It is a bit more expensive to buy the smaller cans but that will ensure that you actually cycle through the food instead of looking at a giant can of yams and thinking, I’ll never eat all that (and moving along).
Not Layering Your Storage (Diversify)
I’ve preached this from the beginning, having various types of layered food storage. You need items which are ready to eat with no prep at all, think MRE’s or even some canned food items. These can also be easily transportable if the need arises for a quick bugout. Next in line would be meals that must be prepped but are still easy to utilize, think Mountain House meal packs or similar, boil some water and you are in there. A final option would be the large #10 cans where actually going through a decent amount of meal prep would be required. Layering food storage allows for optimum flexibilty and that is a good thing.
Not Buying What You’ll Eat
There you are walking through the dollar store and cans of potted meat are on sale for 50 cents each, you buy $100 worth with the thought that if times ever get tough you won’t mind eating potted meat. 10 years later all those disgusting cans of potted meat are still sitting on a shelf with zero chance of being cycled through. When it comes to our canned food storage we typicallly buy items that we can cycle through and eat on a regular basis, while I believe that canned food expiration dates are suggestions I’d like to keep things moving on a first in first out basis if at all possible.
Not Cycling Through Food
I sort of touched on this in the previous bullet point but for many of the items which are considered perishable, it’s important to cycle through them. This evening we made some tuna salad with cans of tuna that expired 2 years ago, I feel perfectly confident that they will be fine but I might have been a bit overzealous in my tuna purchases originally. The point is if you buy things you will not eat willingly you’ll end up wasting food as it essentially sits on a shelf and rots. Cycle through it replacing with never items to keep things as fresh as possible.
The Bottom Line
Wait until the next big storm in your area and then go to the grocery store, watch the folks scramble to fill their carts and baskets with items that will probably only last their family another 3-5 days at best. Having a good storage food cache on site at your location is a key component of prepardness, while building that stash try to avoid many of the mistakes listed above.