Christian Prepper Gal: Prepping 101 – Long Term Food Storage

In this article, Christian Prepper Gal gives some basic information on types of foods for long term food storage. I’ve also included links at the end to some more advanced/involved food storage articles.

 

When someone says, “long term food storage” what do you think of? I used to think of canning, simply because years ago I had a huge garden and did a lot of canning. Now, I think of the closet in the basement of our house that has shelves of a different variety of foods that are preserved in many different ways.

There are so many options out there for preppers regarding long term storage! Where does one even begin? Well, the first place to start is to educate yourself. You want to get the best bang for your buck and one way to do that is to research what is available. Some important things to keep in mind are: what is the most economical; what you will need to use to prepare it, i.e. water, camp stove, etc.; and what is going to last the longest (shelf life). This can take a lot of time and research to find what the best choices for you and your family are, and that’s why I’m here to help! I will share what I have found in my research (and experience) that may be helpful to you in yours.

Store bought canned foods

Store bought canned foods are a good, economical choice. One thing that makes canned foods economical is that you can pick some extras up when you’re buying your normal groceries. That way you aren’t spending a whole wad of cash on them at one time.

Canned foods usually have a “Best By” date of 1-1/2 to 5 years. However, they will last long after their best buy date, as that simply means that they will taste the freshest until that date. After that date they will lose some of their flavor from having sat in the liquid for that long of a time. But, they will still be good for eating. Be sure to check the cans and don’t buy any with dents in them. If they have dents, or are leaking any food they can be contaminated and could cause botulism. When you are ready to open the can, make sure there are no dents, leaks, rust, or corrosion on them; as air may have gotten inside them and spoiled the contents. If there are not dents, rust or corrosion and you open the can, make sure are no small bubbles in the liquid inside the can, no bad odors, the food hasn’t become mushy, and the liquid isn’t cloudy. Any one of those would indicate the food has gone bad; don’t eat it. Also, if you open the can and the contents explode, don’t use it or eat it.

Make sure you rotate your canned foods to keep your stock fresher longer. Simply take out the ones that may be close to expiring and replace them with newly purchased ones. Then you can use the ones you took out with your normal family meals. This will just ensure that if your food stays stored for a number of years you will have the freshest selection you can.

If you have the space, canned foods are the best choice for long term food storage because you can eat them right out of the can if you don’t have the means to warm them up and you don’t have to have an abundant supply of water on hand to cook them.

Home canned foods

Does anyone really can their own foods at home any more? Yes, there are those who still do! If I had a garden, I certainly would. Most home canned foods will last up to 10 or more years. Just make sure the seals are still tight, there are no dents in the seals, and there is no mold or cloudy liquid inside the can. Home canning is probably the most economical in long term food storage! But, how many of us have the time or the resources to can our own food?

Freeze dried foods

Freeze dried foods have a very long shelf life; some up to 25 – 30 years if properly stored! However, they are not the most economical; whether you are lucky enough to afford a freeze dryer or purchase the food from a company that uses commercial grade freeze dryers. I know you can freeze dry foods at home without a freeze dryer just using your freezer and dry ice, but I haven’t gotten into that as of yet and don’t feel qualified to talk about it at this time.

Freeze dried foods are a good choice if you don’t have a lot of space, if you go camping a lot, or for use in your MREs (Meals Ready to Eat, which I will talk about at a later date). Do keep in mind you will need to have a good and plentiful supply of water on hand to cook them. I have some freeze dried foods mixed in with my canned foods in my storage, mostly to have a variety of choices as well as saving space. I will use those when water is more plentiful.

Freeze dried foods come in a variety of packaging. There are small individual pouches that will feed one, larger pouches with 4 or more servings, and the number 10 large sized cans that have enough to feed several people for several meals. Pouches are usually packaged in tubs or boxes and some companies offer individual pouches for purchase. The pouches are convenient in that you can add hot water directly into the pouches to heat them up and don’t need additional cookware.

Here is a list of three of the most reputable companies that sell freeze dried foods. You can easily purchase their products on their websites. All three companies also sell some of their products on Amazon, and shipping charges can be avoided if you have Amazon Prime. Plus I think delivery is quicker through Amazon. (I always check to see if what I want is available on Amazon before I purchase directly from the company.) Some of their products may also be available at local stores such as Walmart.

Wise Company (They have gluten free foods available)

Augason Farms (They also have gluten free foods available)

Mountain House (I did not see any gluten free foods available)

Dehydrated foods

I will be honest with you here, I have not had that much interest in dehydrated foods until recently. In my research for this article I was unable to find any companies that dealt strictly with manufacturing dehydrated foods and the sale thereof. Although, I did find that Augason Farms offers some dehydrated foods as well as their freeze dried foods.

Recently, for some reason (I believe it was God) I was prompting to look up and research how to dehydrate food. I’ve thought about it a couple of times in my lifetime, but never really felt like it was something I wanted to pursue. But, it was brought to my attention that now that I’m a prepper it might be something that would be of benefit for me and my family. So, I started watching YouTube videos on dehydrating food. They really grabbed my interest!

I always thought the only things you could dehydrate were fruits and beef jerky. Boy, was I wrong. One of the things I discovered was that I could make the meals that my family likes to eat and dehydrate them and store them! And, let me tell you, there are some pretty picky eaters in my family! I discovered I could make my homemade spaghetti, hamburger stroganoff, hamburger vegetable soup, chicken alfredo, fruit roll ups, and a plethora of other things that I make on a regular basis (minus the fruit roll ups, I’ve never made them). So, lo and behold, after watching dozens and dozens of videos I decided to take the plunge! I’m looking forward to receiving my food dehydrator from the UPS man this coming Monday! Yay me! I found what looks like a pretty good and reliable dehydrator on Amazon for only $60. Of course, that was after researching them for at least three days.

Getting back on track…dehydrated foods are another type of food that have a pretty good shelf life, and aren’t overly expensive if you make them yourself. If the foods are dried and stored properly they can last up to 10 years. They do need water to re-hydrate them, but I figure since they won’t be my main source of food storage they will be worth the effort of finding enough water to cook them. They would be primarily for eating once or twice a week at the most. I’m sure dehydrating your food is something I will post a lot more about once I actually try it and see how well it goes, so stay tuned!

Beans and Rice

Dried, uncooked, beans are a good addition to have in your long term food storage. However, I wouldn’t plan on having a ton of them without other foods to go with them as I’m sure even a hangry person would grow tired of them over time. They are definitely inexpensive and if prepared and stored properly will last up to 10 years, maybe longer. The best way to prepare them for storage is to put them in mylar bags in family meal sized portions (depending on the size of your family) along with an oxygen absorber and seal the mylar bag. I will have more on how to properly prepare and store beans later on.

White rice is another good addition to have in your inventory. The same would go for rice as beans, it shouldn’t be a primary staple as you will grow tired of eating only rice or beans after a long period of time. Rice is also relatively inexpensive food item and when prepared and stored properly it can last anywhere from 25-30 years. It should be prepared and stored in the same was as the beans.

Thank you for hanging in there and reading this entire post. I know it’s longer than my usual ones (thus far) but there was a lot to cover in it. Please bare in mind these are only the basics of prepping and we will delve into some of these subjects much deeper in the future.

If you have any tips or insights that you think would help others regarding long term food storage please feel free to comment below (you will need to be signed up and logged in before commenting). Take care, and God bless.

Also see her article on Food Storage: The Basics if you’re just starting out.

For more on long term food storage, see also:

The Provident Prepper: Long Term Food Storage: Creative Solutions to Build a Critical Asset

Money Crashers: How to Start a Long-Term Home Food Storage & Prepare for Emergencies

Self-Reliance: Basic Long-Term Food Storage

Crisis Equipped: The Complete List of Long-Lasting Survival Foods

Church of Jesus Christ: Longer-Term Food Supply

EZ-Prepping: Food Storage Calculator

Survival Mom: The Food Storage Companies I Recommend and Why

Survival Mom has written an article about her experiences with a few well known food storage companies in The Food Storage Companies I Recommend and Why. I’ve made purchases from almost all of those mentioned as well, and my own experiences mirror hers – Thrive and Emergency Essentials are my top go-tos, but I’ve used the others for bulk purchases that I have packed for long term storage myself. Mountain House has good quality, but we prefer ingredient-based storage to complete meal storage.

The Food Storage Companies I Recommend and Why via The Survival Mom

Over the years I’ve purchased “survival” food from a dozen or so different companies, and believe me, not all companies that sell that type of food are the same. In a couple of instances, the food was so bad that even I, a pretty damn good cook, couldn’t salvage the end result.

If you’re going to invest money in freeze-dried and dehydrated food, then it’s worth the time to research and try sample-sizes of a company’s product before stocking up.

Some of the brands I’ve used and purchased are Thrive Life, Legacy Foods, Honeyville, Emergency Essentials, and the one widely-marketed brand that was the worst and which will remain nameless. (Wise consumers will be well-advised to steer clear of that particular brand.)

Currently, the company I use most often is Thrive Life.  Over the years and hundreds of cans of their food, I’ve found their quality, taste, and variety to be the best. Disclaimer: I like their food so much that I am an “independent consultant” for their company and earn a commission for any sales generated from my link.

Thrive Life foods

Thrive Life has an outstanding, user-friendly website, and a huge array of mostly freeze-dried foods that can be incorporated in thousands of recipes. This is my recommended form of food storage — individual ingredients that give you unlimited recipe options.

Just-add-water meals come in handy for events like power outages and quick evacuations but they do limit your meal choices to just the varieties you have on hand. Thrive Life offers the opportunity to earn money and have foods auto-shipped, which has helped me stay on track with food storage goals and build a supply of freeze-dried food. In short, they have some unique features similar companies do not offer. I’ve been a Thrive Life consultant for 8 years and most of my own food storage comes from this company.

The Best Food Storage Company?

So what about other companies such as Emergency Essentials, Walton Feed, Augason Farms, and Honeyville?

None of these companies are inferior, they just don’t rise to the top in the various categories that I personally find to be most important — most helpful website and resources, an auto-ship option, consistently high quality, and the largest variety of products.

Years ago, I’ve visited the main Emergency Essentials store in Salt Lake City and found the manager there to be friendly and helpful. Their site offers survival products that are priced well along with freeze-dried food, and I’ve purchased MREs there as well.

For a year or so I taught classes at the Honeyville Farms retail store in Phoenix and bought quite a few food items each time. One thing I noticed was that the food purchased in the store was very nicely priced but the price increased dramatically online. They advertise a low shipping cost, but obviously, the price of shipping has to be made up elsewhere, thus the increase in their online prices. This made it difficult for me to determine which of their products were priced well and which might be more expensive than other brands, whose shipping charges were higher.

A couple of years ago I priced a 50-pound bag of hard white wheat at the Honeyville Farms retail store and back then it cost $19.99, but was $43.99 online. That’s quite a difference and is typical of all their food products. The $8.99 shipping charge becomes meaningless, and it also makes it very difficult to truly compare Honeyville’s cost and value with other companies. One thing I do like about Honeyville are their baking mixes for things like cornbread and brownies.

Augason Farms is very well-known in the food storage community. It’s family-run and offers generally lower prices. However, what I’ve found is the quality of food is a mixed bag. In some cases, it’s as good in terms of appearance and flavor as Thrive Life, but too often, the quality is lower. I sampled some of their soup mixes, and they aren’t something I would feed to my family without major improvements on my part.

Rainy Day Foods/Walton Feed was the very first food storage company I encountered, and the ordering process, at least back then, was quite confusing and complicated to a newbie. It really helps to know what you want and will use before perusing the site. Eleven years ago when I first began my food storage project, I had no idea what adzuki beans were or whether we would ever eat a #10 can of ABC soup mix! Their website is functional but offers little additional help or support, unlike Thrive Life.

Rainy Day products are good quality, we used the cocoa powder I bought years ago. If you want to take a look at their products and pricing, it’s best to place a huge order with other people, if possible, in order to save on shipping. When I did this, an 18-wheeler delivered the order to my friend’s house (she was the coordinator), and she divided up the orders for each person.

Two other well-known brands I’ve tried are Mountain House Foods (Read my Mountain House review.) Legacy Foods. I tried several of their freeze-dried entrees — very good!

All that food is surprisingly similar. Here’s why.

One factor many don’t realize is that all this food, whether it be wheat, strawberries, corn, and everything else comes from only so many farms! Just as food processing plants package food and then place different labels on them for different brands, these farms and packing plants do the same thing. So wheat purchased from Emergency Essentials just might come from the exact same farm as Augason Farms wheat or vice versa.

There are very few plants that freeze-dry massive amounts of produce, so it’s just logical that the food itself is the same from one company to the next, and only the label and, possibly, the packaging process is different. Exactly where the food comes from is highly confidential, and you will probably only find out the country from which it originated…

Click here to read the entire article at Survival Mom.

Food Storage Feast Online Course 7-Day Trial

Food Storage Feast is an online course offered by Chef Keith Snow for cooking with long term storage foods. It usually costs around $100 to sign up for the course, which gives you access to the material, well, apparently forever. Chef Snow currently has an offer up for a free seven day trial. If you are already comfortable with cooking and aren’t too worried about what you will do with your storage food, then this class probably isn’t for you. However, if you don’t do a lot of cooking, are unsure about what you can do with storage food, or haven’t started collecting any long term storage food because you aren’t sure what to do, then it may be worth your while to take a look at the course.

Chef Snow got into food preparedness as a result of his own hardships following the 2008 financial crash, so his course is inspired with an appreciation for prepping and having used inexpensive food storage to make it through hard financial times. He seems to respond readily to questions through the course or email and also has a Facebook group for the course.

Wisely, forward-looking folks like you put up extra food for hard times – enough to get you through a month or two, or even a year of societal upheaval. It’s insurance you can eat when times get tough.

But are you prepared to prepare it?
Learn to turn your rice, beans, potatoes, freeze-dried stuff, and other long-term storage ingredients into a steady supply of delicious meals your family will love.
Food Storage Feast is full of step-by-step recipe videos and detailed, actionable
info on selecting and storing foods you’ll be excited to cook and eat.
Build confidence, cut your grocery bill, become a better cook, and lock food security into
your life now, before you actually need it. Don’t get stuck in long lines with the unprepared masses.

Our course is built on three keystones:

  1. Written modules. We explain what foods to store, how to store them, and how to use these foods in your kitchen. We get into the nuts and bolts of each key ingredient, and give you all the knowledge you need to integrate your preps into your daily life before you need to depend on them in a crisis. (These written modules will become part of the forthcoming Food Storage Feast eBook, included with the course.)
  2. Recipe videos. Step-by-step, in high definition, Chef Keith shows you how to make each recipe. We encourage you to try every recipe at least once, then pick your favorites, and make these dishes the foundation of your personal food storage plan.
  3. Community. Food is for sharing, right? After you share it at your table, please share your results and experiences —with us, with other students via our threaded comments, social media and in person to friends and family who might benefit from this information.

It’s sharing with other students and interacting with the instructors that makes this an actual course and not just a collection of articles and videos.