When the apocalypse comes, will you have enough food? OK, in all seriousness, an emergency food supply is a good thing to have just in case the power goes out or there’s a state of emergency and the roads are closed for an extended period of time.
At the same time, long-term food storage can get to be expensive. Here’s how to get started without breaking the bank.
Start Slow And Plan
Plan first before you do anything. This is probably the biggest mistake newbies make. You don’t need to go “all out” on your food storage in the first month. In fact, this might be a huge mistake. There’s a learning curve involved in finding the right kind of food, rotating stock, and keeping an inventory.
If you overwhelm yourself, you’ll waste a lot of money and food. Long-term food storage is also sometimes seen as a chore. If you look at it that way, you won’t want to do it. Every cent you spend on it will feel like money going down the drain.
Finally, if you rush this, there’s a good chance you’ll end up with sub-par food because you went out and bought something that was cheap (and doesn’t taste good). Remember, you may actually have to eat this some day. You want it to be nutritious and tasty.
A basic plan for food storage should include replacement meals for food that you normally consume. Think about how much you eat now. Then, once you have an idea about how much food you need, you can make a plan for how much food you need to buy and how long it should last.
Create a Storage Place
Create a storage space for your food. Most people clean out a space in their basement or in the shed. If you choose to keep food outside in a shed or garage, make sure it’s insulated and fully protected from the elements. Also, make sure that you have some kind of protection for your food so that moisture doesn’t get to it.
Some food can be vacuum sealed, but even those foods need to be watched carefully, because the seal can be broken if the food is jostled or moved around too much.
Ideally, you will store your food in a cool, dry, dark place in the house that’s away from the main living area and where it will be (more or less) out of sight. At the very least, you want it out of the way and somewhat hidden so that it’s not in the way and guests that come over to your home won’t see it (it’s easier to not have to explain it than launch into a spiel every time you have guests over).
Budget For It
Don’t spend money on long-term food storage haphazardly. Make a plan for it, and stick to it. Let’s say you have an extra $20 a month to spend on storage food. Set that aside and buy what you can, when you can. Keep budgeting for it every month, even if you end up not buying food in a particular month. Some food items will be expensive and so you’ll have to save up for a while. That’s OK. Just don’t go cheating yourself by robbing from your food storage budget.
Buy High Quality Food
It’s really tempting to buy low-quality food and save a buck now. But, that’s pretty short-sighted. If you do ever need your food, you won’t want to be suffering with barely-editable rations. Get high-quality, organic emergency food that will last 20+ years without rotation.
That’s the “gold standard” and only a few companies out there offer anything even remotely close to that.
High-quality food should be fully cooked or mostly cooked, taste good (you shouldn’t hesitate to give it to your fussy 3 year old, and he or she shouldn’t blink an eye at it), and durable.
Believe it or not, high-quality, dehydrated, food can last nearly a lifetime if it’s stored properly.
Keep A Detailed Inventory
Last, but not least, keep an inventory. Inventories help you sort and organize what you have. Make a detailed list of how many of each item you have. So, if you have stored, dehydrated pasts dishes, you would write out the number and kind you have, grouping similar dishes together.
Every time you use one, make a note of it on your inventory.
While creating your inventory, think about how much food you normally eat, and how much you could realistically survive on if you had to. Whatever you do, do not short yourself food. Starving is not fun.
Keeping a projection of food usage will help you restock and plan out how long you can survive on your current supply.
Allen Baler is a Partner at 4Patriots LLC, a Tennessee based small business that provides products to help people be more self-reliant and more independent. Allen founded the company in 2008 after 14 years as a corporate executive leading profitable business for the Easton Press and the Danbury Mint. He graduated with honors from Harvard University and resides in Nashville with his wife and 3 daughters.