There are so many options to consider, how do I know what kind of food to store?

For some of us, this may seem to be the most perilous point of the preparedness journey! What food should you store? Let’s take a look at all of the options and help you decide the best path for you!

Emergency Essentials suggest that the best way to begin is to store a three month supply of the items that you eat each day. These are the grocery store goods that you know you can keep on the shelf and use in regular rotation. Things like canned goods, peanut butter, and pasta are some suggestions. I think it is helpful to put together a meal plan, and use that meal plan to determine what items you use most and what you should have on hand to make your particular menu. At our house, we’ve stored lots of canned vegetables, cereals, pasta and sauces, boxed mixes, and other staples.

After you’ve stored a three month supply of the items you use regularly, consider storing more of "the basics". These are the building blocks of food storage. They are the tried and true foods that we know can sustain life. Think of the pioneers…what did they store and eat? There are seven “basics” that should be stored: Grains, legumes, oil, salt, milk, honey, and garden seeds. These provide the most calories and are have the most important nutrients for survival. They are the “bang for your buck” items that are the least expensive, and store the longest.

Now you should have a good foundation to build upon. Here’s where you can begin to explore all the amazing food storage options available:

Dehydrated foods

We eat dehydrated foods everyday including muffin mixes, cake mixes, pasta, soup, hot cereal and more. Dehydrated food is compact in size and cost effective. I bet you have several dehydrated items already in your pantry, and you didn’t even know it!

Freeze-dried foods

Freeze drying is another method of dehydration where the food is first flash frozen at the peak of freshness then a low-level heat is applied inside a vacuum chamber. This process changes the ice crystals to a vapor leaving a dried food. Freeze-dried food locks in the size, color, texture and flavor of the food while retaining most of the nutrients. Freeze-dried food mainly consists of entrees, fruits, vegetables, meat and cheeses.

Many people ask "which is better, standard dehydrated food or freeze-dried food?" You should consider having both in your food supplies. Some items like milk, muffin mixes, and drink mixes are best dehydrated. Fruits, vegetables, meats and cheese are usually best freeze-dried. By having both in your home storage, you will have a great selection of items packaged for long-term storage.


MRE stands for Meals-Ready-to-Eat. These meals are used daily by the men and women in the armed forces. As the title infers, these are meals ready to be eaten. They do not need to be cooked, rehydrated or warmed, although many prefer MRE's when heated. These are ideal for emergency and 72 hour kits and also for food storage. They are not as compact as dehydrated or freeze-dried food, but require less preparation.

Calorie Food Bars

These bars are best when used for 72 hours. These bars are designed for quick calories in an emergency. They are life sustaining for the first three days. Under most circumstances, they have a 5+ year shelf life. These are great for auto kits and are the least expensive and lightweight for emergency kit use.

Did we bite off more than you can chew? Don’t worry, we’ll explain in greater detail many of these items and give you much more food for thought!

-Angie Sullivan

Angie sullivanPassport to preparedness

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