Last week, I dis­cussed water stor­age and what I my prepa­ra­tions are in this area. This post will dis­cuss my food stor­age preps and how I approach the issue.

This is a much more com­plex sub­ject because every­one eats dif­fer­ent food and will approach food preps in a dif­fer­ent way. At the heart of the mat­ter is the abil­i­ty to sur­vive an extend­ed out­age in the sup­ply of food from super­mar­kets. Philo­soph­i­cal­ly, the approach that I took was decid­ing upon how many days I wished to sur­vive and then build a plan from that.

A good tar­get for any­one is to have one year of food stor­age. This is a good, round num­ber, per­haps a lit­tle arbi­trary. A year would pro­vide enough time for the world to sort out a major issue as well as pro­vide a stock of food to give to my less-pre­pared neigh­bors. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the required space is just not avail­able for this. I have set a more real­is­tic tar­get of 90 days and even that might not be pos­si­ble in the amount of room my wife would be will­ing to sup­port.

Fun­da­men­tal­ly, the issue is about calo­ries. 90 days of calo­ries at 2000 calo­ries per day per per­son equates to 360,00 calo­ries. The only way I have found to deter­mine progress towards this goal is to track in a spread­sheet. The spread­sheet also serves to track the loca­tion and “best by” or expi­ra­tion dates. Expi­ra­tion dates are a huge part of a long-term plan. You must rotate or refresh stock or the food will spoil and become worth­less. A spread­sheet is an excel­lent tool to pre­vent worth­less food from accu­mu­lat­ing and also track the total num­ber of calo­ries avail­able.

Anoth­er issue that one has to con­front is con­ven­tion­al wis­dom. If you read prep­per forums or lis­ten to pod­casts, the pop­u­lar phrase is “store what you eat, eat what you store”. In prin­ci­ple, I agree with this approach, but have mod­i­fied it to suit my sit­u­a­tion. After a year of divid­ing food stocks into three dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories, I must say that it is work­ing quite well for me. That is, the things that I eat on a reg­u­lar basis, I store and rotate. The things that store well, that I don’t eat on a reg­u­lar basis, I have stored in pack­ages with shelf lives in excess of two years. This is sup­pli­ment­ed with mylar bags full of grains and O2 absorbers.

For exam­ple, I eat canned or foil bags of tuna on a reg­u­lar basis so it is easy to rotate my stock. I have cans of beans, soups, veg­eta­bles, salmon, chick­en, ect with shelf life beyond two years. I don’t eat a lot of pas­ta and beans so have used mylar bags and oxy­gen absorbers to put these prod­ucts into long-term stor­age. The final piece of the plan involves com­mer­cial sup­plies with long shelf lives and/or quick prepa­ra­tion. Ear­ly on, I made the “mis­take” of pan­ick­ing and pur­chas­ing Main­stay rations. I would nev­er eat such a thing except in an emer­gency, but those have a place in food stores. They last a long time, are com­pact and mobile. I have, thus, put a brick in my get home bag.

Anoth­er sub­ject sur­round­ing food is how to store it. Anoth­er mis­take I made was buy­ing sev­er­al large, 50 gal­lon totes. I bought those after hur­ri­cane Kat­ri­na and Rita struck the gulf coast and filled with food. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, once they are full, they were too heavy to lift. Duh! So, my new stor­age sys­tem are small­er totes that would fit under the bed. You can put a sin­gle lay­er of  cans and the like into these totes and still move them around. I would esti­mate my totes weigh 40 lbs each. They are also clear so that I can see what is inside. I cur­rent­ly have six totes with four being under “my” side of the bed and two more into the garage. I can def­i­nite­ly clean out more places in the garage and put sev­er­al more totes.

I pur­chased these con­tain­ers for my mylar bags of beans, rice and pas­ta. To be frank, I would not rec­om­mend them. Sure they stack, but the open­ing was bare­ly big enough to squeeze 1 gal­lon mylar bags full of beans. They were also expen­sive. If I had the courage, I would have just filled them with rice and/or beans and threw a bunch of O2 absorbers. The lids would have prob­a­bly stayed sealed, but I just felt I need­ed that extra lev­el of pro­duc­tion for the long-term stores. Addi­tion­al­ly, imag­ine open­ing the entire con­tain­er just to get a cou­ple of cups out. That would just be a waste. So, I pack­aged in mylar and put into the con­tain­ers. A very expen­sive exper­i­ment and one I would not rec­om­mend. Use 5 gal­lon buck­ets, mylar bags and O2 absorbers and be done with it.

So, how far have I got­ten? I have suc­cess­ful­ly stored 207,000 calo­ries or almost 51 days for my wife and me. That is 57% of the plan. In the inter­est of time, I have decid­ed that I will start pur­chas­ing com­mer­cial, long-term stores. I have recent­ly pur­chas­es some MRE’s from Emer­gency Essen­tials. I fig­ure these will take a place in my GHB as well as the fam­i­ly’s Bug Out Bags. My order will add 14 more days of stores for each of us giv­ing me 65 days of food.

I am con­cerned that I don’t have some issues fig­ured out:

1) Do I have a good mix of good mix of break­fast, lunch and din­ner food?

2) Do I have a nutri­cious mix of foods (veg­eta­bles, fruit along with pro­tein, fat and carbs)?

3) If the shit real­ly hits the fan and the nat­ur­al gas pipeline goes down, will I be able to cook the dried beans and rice? I have some can­is­ters and a camp­ing stove. I also pur­chased a solar oven, but the oven clear­ly does not work on cloudy or rainy days.

4) What if the emer­gency lasts longer than 90 days? For this rea­son, I have start­ed a gar­den so that I can at least grow some food. With such a small urban lot, that would not be much com­fort. As a back­up plan, I would like to have an idea how to approach an emer­gency gar­den. That is, how would I trans­form more of my prop­er­ty into a gar­den should it become nec­es­sary. Hmmm…that sounds like the sub­ject of a future post. 😉

I hope this has giv­en you some insight into a per­son­al­ized food stor­age plan, at least one that is work­ing for a urban­ite with lim­it­ed space.

Please give me your com­ments and ques­tions.

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