In the event of a long-term emergency, having plenty of food stored up can be a lifesaver. But if you want to make sure that your food stash remains available for the long-term, you’ll have to put in some work at the beginning to make sure it’s properly stored. Improper storage or poor management of your supplies can mean that everything you worked to save up could end up going down the drain. If you want to keep that from happening, just follow these three easy steps.
Rotate Your Stock
You need to make sure first of all that the food you’re stockpiling is food that you’ll want to eat. Then you’ll need to develop an inventory and storage plan based on FIFO – first in, first out. That way you’re always eating the oldest food from your storage and ensuring that the food that remains stored still has years to go. Large containers for flour, grains, and rice can be easily labeled. Cans can be arranged by expiration date, or you can purchase or build can rotation shelves that will place the oldest cans up front for you to use first.
Maintain a Stable Temperature
There’s a reason many older houses were built with root cellars, and that’s to provide food with a stable temperature for long-term storage. If you store food in your kitchen pantry, it’ll be subjected to temperature swings as the seasons change. That’s particularly true if you try to save money on your heating and electrical bills by keeping your thermostat at 78 in the summer and 65 or lower in the winter. A 15-20 degree temperature swing several times a year isn’t ideal for long-term food storage. It’s better to store food in a basement or a room with separate climate control where the food can stay at a stable temperature. The cooler it’s stored, the better.
Keep Your Food Dry and Airtight
Nothing will spoil food quicker than exposure to moisture. Moist conditions will encourage and accelerate fungal and bacterial growth that will quickly ruin grains, rice, and flour. If your basement is naturally damp, think about using a dehumidifier to keep the moisture down. A humidity gauge can be helpful too, to make sure your humidity levels aren’t too high.
Keeping your food dry and airtight will not only keep out moisture, it will also keep out insects and rodents that might want to help themselves to your food. There’s no worse feeling than pouring out a few pounds of grain you’re set to use and seeing it infested with grain weevils, or seeing the corner of a grain bag chewed open and surrounded by mouse droppings. A little bit of work up front to keep your food stored safely can protect you from heartache down the road.