Planning Food Storage for When Disaster Strikes

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It’s crucial to plan food storage for emergency situations. It’s important to prepare for potential shortages of food, water, gas, and other essentials by having an emergency food supply.

Your local disaster relief teams may not reach everyone promptly if they are required elsewhere.

What will you do then? You will probably appreciate having prepared for such situations.

Whenever you hear about natural disasters that have happened at other places around the world, there has always been a shortage of supplies. Take stock of what food you have now.

Planning food storage

While you can make a list before you go to the store, likely you won’t get everything on your list. It’s important to remain flexible.

Before creating your food plan, consider a few important steps.

Refrigerator and freezer space 

Before you make a food plan, see how much refrigerator and freezer space you have. There’s no sense in buying more than you can reasonable store when it comes to perishable foods.

Having extra room in your freezer enables you to stock up on fresh foods to use when you need them.

This may be the time to assess what you have. Throw away anything you for sure will not eat to create more room. I know in my house, we often put stuff in the freezer thinking we will use it but never do.

Think about what your family eats

There’s no sense spending money on buying foods your family won’t eat. This is also a time to consider any allergies and dietary issues.

Shop the produce department

What fruits and vegetables does your family eat? When you go to the produce department, buy what fresh foods you can.

You want to keep up with as many fresh, nutritionally-dense foods as possible for as long as you can.

Oftentimes in times of strife, people go toward the non-perishables and neglect fresh fruits and vegetables.

Buy what fresh foods you can right now. 

If you can’t eat all of them before they go bad, you can wash, chop, (if necessary) and store in the freezer.

It’s important to not let anything go to waste during this time.

Fresh Vegetables and Fruits

Oftentimes in times of crisis, people buy non-perishable items and neglect to buy the fresh foods. Some produce to consider are:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Carrots
  • Spinach and kale
  • Potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Pineapple
  • Tomatoes
  • Root vegetables
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Peppers
  • Citrus

You can do a variety of things with these types of produce. Not only are they foods we buy regularly, we can also freeze them before they rot.

We don’t want to waste anything in secure times but especially not in crisis times.

Some examples of what I mean:

Apples: In addition to eating them whole or cut up, we bake them with cinnamon and sugar or make apple sauce out of them.

Bananas: For overripe bananas, we will cut them up and freeze them for banana ice cream (need a Vitamix or blender) and for smoothies. 

Carrots: We eat them raw as well as cook them with our meat. We use them for soups and stews. If we have too many, we freeze them. 

Spinach or kale: While we like spring mix, lettuce, and other greens, we like that we can freeze spinach and kale to use for smoothies, casseroles, and soups. We’ve also made kale chips.

Potatoes and sweet potatoes: These are so versatile and don’t need to be refrigerated, which is helpful. They store well. In addition, they are so versatile. In addition, you can grow potatoes and sweet potatoes, making them a source of food in future months. 

Onions: We use onions for our kale and spinach salads as well as cut them out and cook with every time we make meat. It’s easy to wash and cut them for freezing as well.

Garlic: This is an anti-inflammatory. We use it in most all of our cooked foods. It lasts a long time on the counter. You can also freeze it.

Pineapple: It freezes very well.

Tomatoes: With tomatoes, you also have a lot of options. You can leave them on the counter which saves refrigerator space for other things. You can eat them in salads, make salsa, make sauce, and use them in many ways.

Frozen Vegetables and Fruits

If space in your freezer permits, buy frozen berries to use for smoothies.Also, continue to buy your families’ favorite frozen vegetables.

Dried fruits

Apricots, dates, figs, apples, plums, mango, and other dried fruit are a great option. They have a long shelf life and don’t need to be refrigerated.

They also have the benefit of seeming like dessert because they are so sweet.


Depending on what’s available, buy some meat to eat in the upcoming days. Also buy meat that lasts longer such as ham, bacon, and turkey breasts, etc. You can usually keep these in the refrigerator for a month or longer. 

If you have freezer room, buy extra meat for when what’s in your refrigerator runs out.

In addition, you should think about getting canned chicken, SPAM, and other meats. Dried meat and jerky are also good protein sources. They store well in the cabinet and have a long shelf-life.

Non-perishable foods

Think about foods in that have longer expiration dates.

Canned food

There are lots of options for canned food. You can get fruit, vegetables, sardines, tuna, and other fish, meat, sauces, beans, ravioli, soup and more. 

Remember to organize them by expiration date. Canned foods do expire. Eat the canned food that is expiring the soonest.

Food in bags and boxes

Other foods with longer expiration dates include foods in bags, boxes, and cans. Choose beans, rice, lentils, oats, ready-to-eat cereal, and other non-perishables. 

Baking ingredients

The baking aisles are also a good place for non-perishables food options. You should get salt, baking powder, yeast, flour, and sugar. At the very least, having flour will enable you to make tortillas.

Nuts and nut butters

Nuts are another good option. They don’t take up refrigerator room. You can start with nut butters. Other options are shelled nuts in cans and bags.

Learn new skills

This is also a good time to learn some new skills. Think of creative ways to use the ingredients you have. Perhaps that’s finding some new recipes online.

Some other ideas include:

  • Starting a garden from seeds from food you are eating
  • Planting potatoes
  • Starting slips from sweet potatoes
  • Learn how to bake bread and desserts

In the future, you may consider building a chicken coop and buying chicks to raise chickens.

Buy potted plants that provide food — peppers, beans and tomato plants. These are usually available and will provide food.

Save glass jars

If you buy foods like pickles, salsa, olives, tomato sauce and other foods in jars, be sure save the jars.  Sterilize them in the dishwasher. You can use them to store dried fruit, nuts, beans, rice, dried herbs, etc.

Make bone broth

When you buy meat, you may want to buy bone-in meat and whole chickens. You will want to use everything you can. Keep the bones from your meat and make bone broth.

If your kids won’t eat it in broth, you can put it in smoothies. In addition, you can make soup or cook rice or quinoa in your homemade broth.

Save meat grease

When you make meat, skim the fat in a glass jar. It makes for excellent shortening you can use in baking. In addition, you can cook vegetables in it for additional flavor and use it when you need fats.

Items to purchase

When you are thinking about food storage, there are also some things you may want to purchase as your budget allows. See what you have first. 

Can opener: Choose a can opener to use by hand so you don’t have to rely on electricity to operate it.

Vitamix, NutriBullet or other food processor or blender: This will give you more options to make smoothies, etc. 

Bread machine: You can make bread as well as rolls, pizza crust, and more in a bread maker.

Waffle maker: This may be more a luxury item but if you have baking staples, you can make your own waffles.

Planning food storage so you won’t have to panic

For yourself and your family, you need to prepare a food storage and have a plan. When you already have enough, you wont have to go out among the chaos. 

It is crucial for every family to have the necessary supplies for emergency situations and the possibility of being shut in.

Getting through tough times is not just about being the fittest, you also have to be smart and take precautions.

Don’t think that your grocery store will have enough food supply. You are likely seeing empty shelves now.

For non-perishable staples such as rice and dry beans, we have already seen empty shelves. Consumers are in panic-buying mode and are filling their carts in a somewhat controlled chaos.

However, as this situation continues to expand exponentially, supply chains will be affected.

Everyone has natural instincts and all will soon be running toward the same shelves until nothing is left on them.

You don’t want to get into a situation where people are fighting for food and supplies.  

When it comes to food storage and being self-sufficient, it is important you have a good supply of food and water.

If you haven’t done anything to prepare, there is still time.

There are easy things you can do now to prepare before you experience food shortage, a power outage, or other emergency situation.

Food Storage and Planning
Food Storage and Planning

What food keeps the longest?

It is better to buy food that has a long shelf life, like canned food. These types are usually made for food storage and long-term situations.

Frozen dried food is preferable over food that is high in salt that can cause dehydration.

You may not have access to a large amount of water so it is better to keep the food sodium level as low as possible.

Storing foods like oats, corn, pasta, legumes, dried milk and honey can be life-saving.

Some of these foods are high in fat, supplying calories over a long period of time.

Stocking non-perishable items like vinegar, yeast, baking soda and baking powder is a good idea.

There are stores that offer emergency food items that have a life of 25 years, if stored properly.

When buying any of these products make sure to check the expiration date.

Always store food in a dry, cool and dark place inside an air-tight container to ensure maximum longevity.

Planning for food
Planning for food

How to plan and what’s on the food storage list

When planning, it is important to focus on the most necessary things for crisis readiness. The most basic necessity of life is water.

You should make clean water your first priority in your survival readiness plan.

Some people think buying a few extra bottles or some extra grocery will do the trick.

It won’t. Even though it is a good start, you need to fill a supply of healthy essential fats, carbohydrates and protein.

Keep in mind that dehydrated and frozen foods have a longer shelf life.

Another good prep would be to have extra tools.

You cannot open a can without a can opener. The same goes for other things like a pan or a pot.

It is always better to store basic tools with the food and water because there is really no substitute for the right tool.

Consider buying a sun oven or a rocket stove. You will also need a way to purify water. 

Plan now and research the best emergency lighting so you will be prepared, no matter what.

Start your food storage plan today to give yourself the ability to take care of your family and yourself.


As with water, you can follow dietary guidelines when packing food. Dry food that doesn’t spoil is your best bet.

Dried or canned food that has animal fat in it must be kept in a cool place and will not last as long as food storage choices without fat in them.

The animal fat will spoil the food; it will go bad. Watch expiration dates.

You need to have at least 2,000 calories of food per person per day in your food storage back stock.

Don’t take any item that needs to be refrigerated or kept cool.

Also remember treats and comfort food such candies and chocolate bars, especially for children.

If you get good at Preparing and Preserving Fresh Food can also be included.

Preparedness, Prepping, Preppers

In recent years, multiple forms of the word “prepare” have found their way into conversations. Here’s our take on these expressions.

Preparedness is a frame of mind and a state of being prepared to deal with a challenge or weather a storm or survive a catastrophic event.

Prepping is the act of becoming prepared.

Preppers are people who are prepping.

A few years ago, when we started developing our small farm, someone asked if we were preppers.

At the time, we weren’t quite sure what that meant. Yes, we prep for things. We are continually becoming more self-sufficient and able to provide for ourselves.

And yes, we are even prepping in advance of something we feel has to do with our future food supply. Are we preppers? I guess so!

Really, we’re just a family that likes to raise a lot of our own food and live off the land. But that’s not all. We also have some bags of beans, rice, sugar, salt, and grains which we have purchased.

In addition, we preserve fruit, vegetables, and meats we raise on our homestead and buy from other farms. We also have a stash of spices to supplement our home-grown herbs.

Yes, we store some jugs of water, but we also have two wells and know where to find a natural spring on our property. We harvest rainwater. This is what works for us.

We feel confident about dealing with most of the potential crises that could come our way.

Once you have some food stored

Now with the worldwide concerns, we can add to our supplies rather than start from nothing.

We can continue to buy our usual fresh foods and intentionally eat them first. 

We also can purchase boxes of cereal, peanut butter, crackers, rice, oats, lentils, and other non-perishable staples that give calories and don’t need refrigeration.

If you budget permits, start filling your freezer with meat and other high calorie items. 

This might be a good time to buy ingredients for your bread as well as buy basics for soup and other recipes.

And we encourage others to prep however it seems best for them and their families.

How to start prepping or move on to the next level?

Many of us think of food first — and food is crucial.

But a good prep plan should also include water and non-food necessities like medications, fuel, household supplies, entertainment, and means of defense.

It’s important to have non-electric methods of cooking and heating — and to know how to use them. 

Think about a fire pit and a grill. Get a cast iron pan and a pot to boil water outside. 

If you live in an area that’s appropriate, you may want to consider a sun oven. 

Portable solar panels can also help to power devices you may need. 

Think about other needs and build up stashes of tools, replacement parts, personal hygiene products, clothing, books, non-electronic games, etc.

Food prepping

When it comes to food, there are various ways to prep. For some people it includes learning to produce food ourselves and source other food locally.

We personally feel this is the most effective long term plan, and we combine it with a stock of purchased ingredients.

Some families stock up on compact dehydrated foods and MREs.

For others, food prepping means stacks and stacks of packaged, prepared meals.

And then there are combinations of this and that.

But possibly the best prep is the knowledge of how to survive in the midst of crisis: how to feed, clothe, shelter, medicate, educate, entertain, and defend yourself and your loved ones in various scenarios.

With that knowledge comes the power to move forward in practical preparedness.

You can educate yourself by reading books, magazine articles, and blog posts on preparedness, prepping, and survival topics.

Find a starting point in your food storage and build on it. Gradually you’ll accumulate the knowledge and a stash of supplies and equipment.