Now that you're on your way and determined to have a food storage... CONGRATULATIONS!! This is a BIG step and honestly, the rest is much easier. Knowing and understanding that this is important to have a food storage will get you so excited. When you start seeing 1, 2, 3 cans of food turn into several shelves of food... well, you'll just get more excited.
So, what is the next step? You'll need to find a smart place to store the food. This can be tricky if you have a small apartment or if you are going to be doing a lot of moving. It's also tricky if you don't have a lot of money.
How amazing would it be to build or buy shelving that's perfect for food storage? But, most of us can't do that, so we have to come up with smart and clever ways instead. Here are some things to consider and keep in mind:
This is very important as food will go bad and be useless or even cause harm if not done right. We don't know when we will need the food storage so we need to plan on storing it for anywhere from 1 month to 2 years.
Heat, cold, dryness, and humidity could all ruin food.
I'll admit I'm not an expert on this and since it's so important, I've found this information on Family Survival Planning. Be sure to check out this article for even more on storing your food storage.
"If you live in an area that has four seasons, or very high temperatures and humidity, long term food storage can be difficult. If you live in an area where homes do not have basements, food storage must be kept somewhere in your home at a constant temperature (around 70°F). Cement basements are ideal because they are below ground level (for the most part) and therefore, maintain a pretty constant 50-60°F, which is ideal for long-term food storage. Lacking a basement, just know that the higher the temperatures, the shorter the shelf life of stored foods. But don't let that stop you from getting prepared.
"If you live in a hot and humid area: For the best food storage conditions, a dehumidifier would be a good investment.
"If you live in a hot and dry area: Air conditioning is the most logical solution, but it takes electricity. Right? That's ok as long as we have electricity. In the days before electricity, people dug root cellars in order to store their garden produce, jerky, and grains in a cooler environment. Is that a possibility for you?"
Rotating your food will keep it fresh and keep your family comfortable with the food you have stored. Then if you don't have money for groceries for a few months, you'll already know how to use the food and you'll know your family loves it.
The old restaurant rule always applies, FIFO, First In First Out. Knowing and planning to rotate your food will ensure that you're storing it in a way that makes it easier.
Another great reason to rotate is to inspect your storage for signs of spoilage or signs of pet infestations. If cans are bulging or seeping liquid from the seal, they will need to be thrown away immediately. Those are almost sure signs of botulism poising, which could be life-threatening. For jars you'll want to check to see if the lid seal is still intact by checking to see if it pops back up when you push down on the top.
When you bring home new food to add to your storage or when you take from your food storage to use it, you'll be able to keep track of your inventory. It would show you how much your family is using, how long the items are on the shelf before they are used, and ensure you have stored the proper kinds of foods.
Remember that list you made of what you need? Be sure to keep that current during rotation. Every 3 months you'll be able to adjust your purchases to match your families needs.
I've tried doing this each time I've gone to the store and it can be difficult. So, doing a family inventory about every 3 months is a good idea. If there is one food that you have never used in those 3 months, consider it. Would it be best to keep adding that particular food? Will your family use it? Is there a certain food you can never catch up on? Maybe you run out of it before you have more to add to it?
Another few tips about rotating:
- Try new foods slowly to see if your family will use it
- Be sure there are dates on everything, use a Sharpie (the tiny "use by" dates can fade, or be unreadable under certain conditions)
- Store like things together similar to how the grocery stores do it, this saves searching time
- Label your shelves if possible to make access, inventory and restocking easier
- Put the heaviest items on the bottom shelves to prevent shelving falling over
- Move items that are about to expire in the everyday cabinets to be used quickly
- To rotate cans easier, use boxes with one row of cans so it's easy to add to the back, or use tilted shelving where the front is lower so cans move down, Food Storage Made Easy has a great video and a downloadable plan for building a shelf like this
- Use recipes in your weekly meal plans that include food from the food storage (If you're storing dry milk be sure your family would drink it. Try mixing 1/2 regular gallon milk you buy with 1/2 gallon dry milk. This way your family gets used to the taste and it saves you money.)
Create and Find Clever Storage
My first food storage was under beds in the boxes they came in. I cut them in half so they were only one can high and slide them under. Dates written on the top, all I had to do was pull out the box, check the dates, add new cans to the back of the box, and take from the front.
I also built storage shelves with cinder blocks and Plywood.
We found a bunch of cinder blocks at a friends they weren't using and then had the plywood cut at the hardware store where we bought them. Not great for floor to ceiling shelving, but it worked great for 3-4 shelves high in the garage.
Here is a great list of sites that have some super clever ways of storing food. Many of these can be done on a very small budget.
I'd love to see how you are storing your food storage! Leave a comment with a picture or idea below.