There seems to be lots of different opinions on what types of food to store and how. Fact is, if you watch enough YouTube videos you will likely be far more confused than when you started. So before you dive right into packing beans and rice in Mylar bags (and there’s nothing wrong with that), take a step back and ask, how long a period of time am I trying to plan for. Sadly, most Americans can’t last more than a day or 2 without stopping at a convenience store, grocery store or fast food restaurant. Hopefully, since you are reading this, you already have at least some food in your pantry. So again, what are you preparing for?
To survive most crisis situations you will need to have a bare minimum of food and water for 3 days. So, let’s assume you already have enough to cover that, so what’s next. So many videos/blogs etc. go directly to far more shelf stable items like rice, beans, canned meats, oats, etc. that have a usable life of 2 years or more. So what’s wrong with that? Well, nothing really, but are these the foods you eat on a daily or weekly basis; if so great, but if not then read on. Longer shelf life products will be useful as you expand to longer time frames (mid-term storage), but your first step should be to store what you eat regularly and help keep you out of the grocery store longer. Note: this may not sit well with some hardcore preppers, but you need to base your preps on your life and your reality and not some Mad Max apocalyptic fantasy.
So, what was for breakfast this morning? How about lunch and dinner? For example: dry breakfast cereal isn’t a great long term prep, but what you may not know is that most commercially produced cereals have a shelf life of about 9 months to a year. You’ll probably never hear that one suggested, but wouldn’t that fit nicely in your short term food supply? If you go through a box a week, 6 boxes will obviously last you 6 weeks and be used long before it’s expiration date. If you are used to having a bowl of cereal every morning, you’ll find that having a stash of raisin bran far more appealing in a short term crisis than a case of Spam. Depending on your taste, you might consider pancake mix, muffin mix, cereal bars, etc. all which are good for several months. Consider snack crackers (bread last only a few days), mixed nuts, chips, peanut butter, fruit cups, Mac &Cheese and other snacks; if you start looking at the expiration dates of the things you already buy, you might be surprised that most will last at least 3 months if not longer (excluding meat and dairy of course).
Buy what you eat, eat what you buy. When you can comfortably go more than a week without stopping at the store, then you can start stocking up on the canned goods and longer term items. As you go through the week notate what you are using and how much and buy a little extra of each until you have a large enough stash (1 week – 3 months) without losing some to spoilage. Remember, prepping is a journey best taken one step at a time.
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.