If there’s one topic that gets discussed over and over again in survivalist and prepper circles, it’s food storage. Methods of long term food storage are only one part of the picture, however. Far more important is focusing on what types of food you’re storing.
The focus when it comes to storing food for the long haul comes down to two main factors: shelf life and food category. Shelf life is relatively self-explanatory. You’ll want to store food that can last for years if necessary. Food with a shelf life that is measured in months just won’t cut it.
That often means storage of processed foods such as canned foods, pasta, white rice, and flour. But proper storage is necessary to maximize that shelf life too, otherwise you’ll end up with rancid, rotting food when you need it most.
But before you even get into discussion of how to store food, you need to know which foods to store. Here are the seven categories of food that you need to think about storing for a survival situation.
Fats often get overlooked in many food storage plans, in part because they can go rancid pretty quickly. But a diet without fat will lead to sickness and starvation very quickly. Just read about rabbit starvation if you want to learn more.
When thinking about fats for longer-term food storage, focus on those that are shelf stable and that don’t go rancid quickly. That means ditching your olive oil or canola oil and focusing on fats and oils with a high saturated fat content, like lard, tallow, and coconut oil. With proper storage, some of these fats can stay good for years.
2. Animal Proteins
After fats, proteins are probably the most important part of your survival diet. Meat will probably be a luxury, as it’s difficult to keep from rotting. Here’s where canned meat, freeze-dried meat, and preserved meats such as hard sausages, jerky, or pemmican will come in handy. The idea of subsisting on canned tuna, SPAM, or chipped beef may seem unappetizing right now, but in a survival situation you’ll thank your lucky stars that you have some protein.
3. Vegetable Proteins
When we talk about vegetable proteins we’re talking about beans, nuts, and legumes. That means dried beans, peanuts, lentils, peas, and various other similar foods. Beans consumed with rice will provide you with a total protein source that can help you survive in the absence of meat. And with the right seasonings, you can prepare lentils and beans into numerous types of vegetarian meals without ever getting bored of them.
4. Plant Carbohydrates
Plants aren’t a huge source of carbohydrates, so we’re really focused on the vitamin content. Here again your primary storage is going to be canned or jarred vegetables, such as corn, hominy, tomatoes, green beans, etc. In a longer-term survival situation you’ll ideally supplement your canned stores with fresh vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, squash, etc.
5. Processed Carbohydrates
Here’s where your flour, rice, and pasta comes in. Proper storage here is paramount, to eliminate rancidity, rot from high humidity, and destruction from pests such as insects and mice. The majority of your caloric intake in a survival situation will likely come from these carbohydrates, so make sure that you plan and store well.
6. Fruit Sugars
Fruits don’t store well, so they likely won’t form a large part of your food storage. But between canned fruit and freeze-dried fruit, you should be able to store enough that you can provide some variety to your diet. Be sure to stock up on fruits that contain vitamin C, since preventing scurvy will be important in a survival scenario.
7. Spices and Seasonings
This is where we’ll lump in everything that makes the macro-foods you’ve stored taste better. It will include sugar, honey, salt, and spices such as pepper, oregano, paprika, cumin, etc. Many of the seeds and leaves that can be ground up to create spice mixtures have long shelf lives. And hopefully you’ll also be able to supplement with fresh herbs and spices from an herb garden.
While it’s important to think about proper food storage and the categories of food you want to store, none of that makes a difference if you don’t rotate through your food on a regular basis. Shelf life isn’t infinite, so make sure that the long-term stores you intend to rely on remain fresh so that they’ll be able to help you when you need them most.