How to Stockpile Food for Survival

For a variety of reasons, many families choose to stockpile food. Common reasons for stockpiling food include disaster preparedness, power outages, religious reasons, or in case of financial downturns. If you are considering starting your own food stockpile, you might be wondering exactly how to get started as there are plenty of things to consider, such as storage areas, food safety, food insurance options, etc.

12 MREs of Kartina by JaseMan on Flickr

Why Are You Stockpiling Food?

Stockpiling food can vary dramatically in scope and size, depending on your purpose. Some families choose to store enough food to last a year, including drinking water, while others may target a shorter disaster recovery period, such as 7 to 30 days.

Others may choose to just have a few extras of common staples around, helping prevent last-minute trips to the store or in case of short-term financial shortfalls.

Using Coupons to Build an Inexpensive Stockpile

One of the more interesting stockpiling tips I’ve run across is buying staple foods with coupons. Most families don’t buy a year’s worth of food in one trip, mostly because it’s expensive. But if you learn to combine sales and coupons, you can easily and inexpensively build your store. For example, if you have coupons for canned tuna and your store runs a great sale, buy as many cans as you have coupons for.

I’ve even heard of people paying others to clip coupons for them and mail them. A simple query of eBay for “tuna coupons” revealed some promising leads. For about $1.00, I can bid on a lot of 10 coupons for $0.55 off a pouch of Bumble Bee premium tuna (I like the pouches for survival scenarios because they can be easily opened with a knife. In fact, we keep several packs in our bug out bag).

If my local Kroger store had a sale on Bumble Bee tuna pouches, it would be a great time to get some additional coupons and stock up. It’s important to note that coupons themselves are not for sale – that is a violation of most manufacturer’s terms. You are merely paying someone else for their time to clip from various sources and mail.

Rotating Stockpiles Based on Expiration Dates

Stockpiling food over time is also a good idea for food safety and freshness. By buying products over a varying time period, you will get different expiration dates. When you buy new food, rotate your stock like grocery stores do–always put the new food in the back, so the oldest food is in front. That way, you don’t run the risk of having a forgotten item expire in a back corner of your store room. Keep an eye on the expiration dates–it’s no good to stockpile expired food, so you’ll want to use items from the front of your stockpile periodically.

Another consideration for learning how to stockpile food is your storage space. Ideally, a cool, dark area such as a basement will help preserve the food, and it also protects the items in case of a natural disaster such as a tornado. However, you will want to make sure it is also a dry basement, as seepage can cause cans to rust, which will make the food unsafe.

If you live in a warm climate, avoid storing items in your garage, unless it is climate controlled. For packaged dry goods such as flour, cereal, or sugar, store them in a plastic crate that will prevent bug infestation. I’ve opened up more than one box of cereal or crackers to find ants or mice have made their way into our stockpile.

Canning and Preserves

Other food stockpiling tips include canning and preserving your own food, as well as growing your own produce for canning. Growing and canning your own food for stockpiling is considerably less expensive than buying canned goods. You can also control the sugar, sodium, and preservatives by canning your own food. If you have a pressure cooker, you can also preserve meats. Be sure to read your pressure cooker’s instructions carefully to ensure proper food safety.

When it comes to deciding what to stockpile, consider your family’s tastes, length of expiration dates, and nutrition. The more variety you can store, the better. Good items to stockpile include:

  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Dry goods such as granola and cereal
  • Peanut butter
  • Baby food and formula ( if appropriate)
  • Powdered milk and potatoes
  • Canned soup (look for low sodium varieties)
  • Tuna (excellent protein source)
  • Bottled water (cheaper by the gallon)
  • White rice (lasts longer than brown rice)
  • Freeze dried foods (lightweight and last for years – look for these at your local sporting goods store or at a military surplus store.

For natural disasters, you should also store a cooking source and fuel, such as a propane camp stove. Don’t forget a manual can opener as well. If there are any special health considerations in your family, such as medications, try to create a stockpile of medications as well. A good multivitamin may not be a bad idea to toss in your stockpile as you will probably not be receiving adequate nourishment in a survival scenario.

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