If you’re just starting out, building a long-term food storage supply can seem a little overwhelming—but it doesn’t have to be. About two years ago we published an article giving you 15 Tips for Shopping for Food Storage and now here are 5 tips to help you build your food storage. These tips will make it easier to build your food storage supply.
1. Build a short-term then a long-term supplyOften when an emergency happens it’s close to home. Power outages, unemployment, or even illnesses can leave you homebound and having to rely solely on yourself. Building a short-term and long-term food storage supply will help prepare you for disasters that last anywhere from a few days to a few months (or longer). And since you never know when an emergency may occur, or how long it’ll last, it's important to at least have a supply to get you through any unexpected emergencies. Your primary focus in building your short-term supply should be adding enough food to help you and your family survive for a short period of time. You may start by storing enough for three days, then a week, and then build up to two or three weeks. Great items to add in your short-term supplies are Mountain House pouches, MREs, and larger just-add-water meals. For your long-term supply, consider adding combos and even year supplies of food that will drastically increase your food storage supplies in one fell swoop. (And buying in a combo even saves you money over buying the same cans one or two at a time!) Add the basics first—items like grain, rice, sugar, salt, etc.—and learn how to use the items you aren’t familiar with. Time and time again, these basics have been used and proven to sustain life. Learn more about the life-sustaining powers of food storage in our Insight Article, Wisdom of Food Storage.
2. Build a Menu and Multiply
Decide how much food you need to help your family survive for a certain amount of time by building a menu and then multiplying it. For example, if you want to build a reserve of food to last your family for a year, then you’ll need 52 weeks of food. You can build a menu for a week (if you don’t mind eating the same meal every Monday), two weeks, or even a month for more variety in your emergency meals. Once your menu is built, multiply it by the length of time you need it to last: multiply a one week menu by 52 (weeks) to know how much of each item you’ll need to store to last you for a year. Similarly if you have a month-long menu, multiply it by 12 (months) to determine the quantity of each item you’ll need.
3. Include items in your supplies that will enhance your food storage items
Items such as mayonnaise, mustard, jarred pesto, or other condiments, oils, vinegars, and dressings don’t typically have a long shelf life, but they will help add variety to the meals you make using your food storage. Rotate these “short-lived” items regularly. Use them in your everyday menu. Use items that are closer to their expiration dates first, and replace them with new versions in the cupboard. (Also known as FIFO, or “first in, first out”.)