March 18, 2022

By Tim MacWelch


Got a little food stashed in the basement? Or have you stocked a hunting cabin for emergencies? That's great, but you want to make sure your investment doesn't go to waste. The way you store your food has a great bearing on its longevity. Anyone storing more than a week's worth of food in his or her home should consider these points.


Keep Cool (and Dry)

Find a cool place to prevent food loss from heat. A dry basement is ideal, but a closet can also work. Metal cans with food-safe desiccant packs are a great way to save food from moisture, light, insects, and rodents. Food-grade buckets are pretty handy, and oxygen-absorbing packets can also extend the life of stored food.


Lights Off

This part is easy; most containers are lightproof. But if you do end up with a stock of food in clear jars or plastic containers, keep the storage area dark to prevent light from reacting with the food.


Bug Out

Rodents and bugs can play havoc in your food. Metal canisters or glass jars can keep them out.


Keep Time

Depending on the food item and type, it could be nitrogen-packed, freeze-dried, or in a vacuum-sealed package for best shelf life. Otherwise, go with canned food and rotate your stock often. Put the new cans in the back, and use the older cans first.


Be Creative

Stash your goods in basements, closets, or garages, or create storage spaces under furniture.


Freeze Smart

Dry goods can stay frozen indefinitely, but not wet-packed foods. Avoid breaking or exploding containers by keeping your stuff from freezing.


Be Strong

Make sure any shelving is sturdy; your jars of food won't help anybody when they have smashed everywhere due to a flimsy shelf or a cheap, collapsed bookcase. However, in earthquake-prone areas, keep the food in bins on the ground. Also, don't keep your food where it can be easily stolen.

Originally published September 18, 2014. Tim MacWelch is one of the country's foremost urban and/or wilderness survival, homesteading and disaster preparedness experts. He's provided outdoor survival skills training for all branches of the U.S. military, State Department and multiple other agencies. His latest book, Water and Fire Survival Handbook, will be released on June 21, 2022.

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