Is Your Food Storage Safe?

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There is one simple thing you can do to ensure that you food storage is safe!

Finding the right food to buy and store isn’t easy as I’m sure many of you would agree. It requires quite a bit of effort, time, and expense. Why else would there be hundreds of websites dedicated to helping people figure out their food storage? No one who puts in all that effort wants it to be wasted.

Yet, as I have helped various families with their food storage over the last five years, I have found that is exactly what happens in a lot of cases.

A LOT of food goes to waste…especially food storage.

Safe and Secure?

People buy food storage to feel safe and secure and yet when stored improperly, that food is anything but safe. When food is stored improperly, nutrients can deplete quite quickly. It will also lose flavor and texture, and could even go rancid.

Lisa has written a great article on the Six Enemies of Food Storage that details proper ways to store your food. She even links to multiple other detailed articles. I highly recommend you read it and apply her advice.

But today I want to focus on just one thing you can do to keep your food storage safe. It is very simple and something that all of us should be doing anyway for so many reasons. Ready?

Do NOT throw away your food!

Eat what you store and store what you eat.

You’ve heard that before, right? I hope you have. It is common and wise advice. Most of the families I’ve worked with have done alright with how they’ve stored their food. The #1 problem I’ve seen is that they have not used it. They bought the food 25+ years ago, set it on a shelf, and ignored it. Now it has reached the end of its shelf life.

It is so sad to watch them throw away cans and cans of food that they don’t feel comfortable with anymore. Their expired food no longer makes them feel safe and secure. They dump thousands and thousands of dollars’ worth of food into the trash for one reason: because they never used it. And while they (and I) are grateful that they were never forced to use it during a time of crisis, it is sickening nonetheless to have wasted all that money.

So, I ask, how would things have been different if they had used their food and rotated through it on a regular basis?

1. They would have known how to use it if a crisis had occurred. This confidence in your own skills brings a whole new level of peace and security.

2. They would not have wasted money, but would have instead used everything they spent their money on which is wise and prudent and responsible. The most expensive food we buy is the food we throw away.

3. The food on their shelves TODAY would be full of nutrition. Nutrition is just as important as calories, especially if you are eating your food during a crisis situation. You want your food to give you all the health and strength it possibly can, and regardless of the storage conditions, food loses nutrients over time even if it is still full of calories and technically safe to eat. The food they bought 25 years ago would have been eaten 23-24 years ago and they would have replaced that with NEW food THEN. Many of the enemies that Lisa talks about, such as light and heat would not have had much time to affect their food before they ate it. They would have eaten it when it had a high number of nutrients.

4. They would not be facing the situation of trying to replace ALL their food storage at once. Since they bought it all around the same time and it is now expiring all around the same time, they are facing trying to invest thousands to keep the same amount of food in the storage room that they have had there for years. They don’t want to lose the peace and security it bought, but starting from scratch is overwhelming. Replacing just a little at a time as you use it is smarter and less stressful.

5. Their day to day life would have been less stressful. I’m serious! I use my “food storage” every single day and it is fantastic! There are so many benefits!

  • I’m never running to the store last minute because I’m out of eggs or milk or butter. I simply use what I have stored.
  • I have healthy, freeze dried fruits and vegetables on hand to give my kids for a quick snack with no chopping, cutting or peeling required.
  • I don’t have to worry about if I forgot to thaw out the meat because I can simply add in some freeze dried meat to a meal if I do forget.

My food storage saves me from the mini everyday “emergencies,” not just the big crises. That alone makes it worth the money! No more mixed feelings when you throw away thousands of dollars of food you never used. Yes, you are grateful you never HAD to, but darn, what a waste!

The Solution:

The best way to keep your food safe from all of the enemies that Lisa talks about it to use it and replace it regularly. Store food that you enjoy eating and can incorporate into your everyday lifestyle. Try foods before buying a large supply of them. Make sure you like how your food tastes. Make sure you can cook with it and that the quality is high enough for your family.

Personally, I find this is much easier to do when I buy foods in single ingredient cans instead of the just add water meals. The just add water meals are typically full of an awful amount of additives and preservatives. Plus, they don’t taste like a regular meal. But home canned foods, freeze dried foods and some dehydrated foods can be used in everyday meals that your family is already eating without anyone knowing the difference.

What has worked for you in rotating your food regularly?

There is one simple thing you can do to ensure that you food storage is safe.

7 thoughts on “Is Your Food Storage Safe?”

  1. Excellent advice! I keep harping on the fact that we used our food storage when I was unemployed, but we learned some valuable lessons then. We didn’t have massive quantities of anything, but I’d bought a variety of ingredients that could be used for multiple meals. We’d only dabbled in using our food storage before that, but when you can’t go to the grocery store for ANYthing, you quickly learn to make do. It wasn’t easy learning how to cook with powdered milk and eggs, and we got tired of TVP, but we learned how to adapt those things to everyday life. We acquired some new favorites, and the kids learned a valuable lesson about why Mom felt the need to be prepared. By continuing to use, and replenish, our food storage, we’ve greatly expanded the variety of meals that we can cook, because we never run out of ingredients. It’s also easier to find room for food storage when you know you’re going to use those things, because they’re not just taking up space.

  2. I have a problem. I have been trying to acquire additional food as you have suggested, but it is now just my husband and I at home. I want to get to a years worth of food, but am finding that with just the two of us, we are not able to rotate the food as it seems we should because we do not eat that much. I want to have a lot because if anything should ever happen, I believe the children and their families will come home as they live in the city and we have 2 acres in a small town. Will the cans go bad if they are 6 months past the expiration date? Should I put our money in long term freeze dried foods that we can keep longer? I really want to be prepared for my family, but we are retired and throwing away expired cans is not economically smart. Plus, although my husband doesn’t fuss when I store all this stuff, the rest of my family looks at my storage and smile at each other like mom is getting older. I tell them when I go they won’t have to buy bandaids and t-tissue for a long time. But deep inside I know I’ll have them prepared. Any suggestions?

    1. The Survival Mom

      Carol, from my own experience, the only type of canned food that you need to be careful with, as far as rotation goes, is tomato products. Because of their acidity, they have caused problems when stored over time. My home canned tomatoes seem to be doing well, after 2 years in storage, and the complaints I’ve heard were for commercially canned tomatoes.

      The #1, most important thing to keep in mind with your stored food is that it is always kept in the coolest place possible. Heat is the worst destroyer of food’s nutrients as well as flavor, texture, and color. If the food is stored consistently in the 70-75 degree range or lower, it will last many, many years. That really is the optimal temperature for food storage.

      If you have a good variety of canned food and other foods from grocery stores, I would recommend buying freeze dried and dehydrated foods — ingredients that will have a long shelf life if stored properly AND you’ll be able to use in hundreds of different recipes. A lot of the store bought foods that people buy are prepared foods that contain a lot of additives and are not very versatile when it comes to cooking from scratch. Personally, I prefer from-scratch cooking and have found that storing ingredients makes that a lot easier.

      One final thought. You may not be able to eat all this food fast enough for a rotation schedule, and that’s not a problem as long as the food is stored well, but DO be sure to go through your stash once a year and look for bulging cans, water damage, rust, and signs of insects or rodents chewing through packages. Given enough time, a rat can chew through the plastic of a 5 gallon bucket.

  3. Thank you so much for answering and setting me on the right track. We live in Texas with no basement so keeping food as cool as you suggest is often a problem, but I’m working on it. Just received a dehydrator in the mail today and got a new food saver last week. I’m determined to get this done and with your help and website, I WILL get this accomplished the best I can. 🙂 (And, yes, I also bought that great book of yours.) You are so much younger than me, but know so much more about survival ways, that I must once again thank you for your help. I will do my best not to become a nuisance with questions. 🙂

  4. Carol, I recommend trying some of the smaller-sized cans of dehydrated and/or freeze-dried foods. They cost a little more per ounce than the big cans, but it’ll give you a chance to see if you like or will use them before investing a fortune. We use a combination of both sizes and have learned that its more cost-effective for us than buying fresh for many products, because there’s not as much waste. Powdered eggs and milk are pantry staples. Things like gravy and bouillon are actually cheaper than buying at big-box stores. Dehydrated vegetables are great for soups or pan-fried dishes. Freeze-dried beef is cheaper for us than buying fresh, but it’s only suitable when used as an ingredient in things like casseroles. I haven’t cooked with any of the freeze-dried fruits, but they’re great as a snack food straight out of the can. We also use TVP in things like chili and chicken noodle soup, and no one can tell that it’s not real meat. If you’re concerned about waste and potentially providing for others, this might be an option for you to consider.

  5. Thank you SingleMom! I found the Ready Store and ordered some pantry cans and some eggs. Will order some of the other things you suggested next month. Thanks again.

  6. Lisa, I’ve been doing a lot of reading on food storage techniques and see many of the same issues others experience with storage conditions. We don’t have a basement, so storage room is a big issue. The other “things that affect stored food” have caused many questions. Example: if I vacuum seal, say wheat, with an O2 packet, and then place that in a 5-gallon bucket with O2 packets and moisture absorbers, can that bucket be stored in the crawl space of our home? (50 – 70 degrees year round, but humidity reaches 70% in winter)

    Recently started to “really” read your website, was stuck on “survival blogs” for too long, and realized that their topics are repetitive within a six-month period. So, started looking for better down to earth information, ergo your site. Learning a lot more and looking at things from a different perspective. Thank you!

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