Over the years of taking the journey to being a better prepper, through self taught observations/experiences with myself and with others, have effected and guided me to realize that common sense had better be a big factor in all areas of prepper skills but, in particular, the areas of foods preparations (what to obtain) and food storage (both for the long- and short-term storage, how much, and the quantity needed versus available space to store). Using that guideline/method, it can be applied to all areas of planning and execution for surviving major, life-altering experiences.
However, this article is geared to a major mistake I have seen both in my journey and in other people’s experiences in planning, gathering, and storing their food preps– the unknown factor. What seems to elude most preppers, even the experienced ones, is maintaining the integrity of the food quality through the use of a temp-controlled storage area.
What is this guy talking about? Well, lets use myself as an example. I have been a student in prepping for about 40 years. I started long before prepping even became a known major topic, due in part to a life-changing injury that occurred in 1969 in the remote mountains in New Mexico. While building a very remote cabin in the mountain area, I was using stick nitro to remove boulders and trees on the road to the cabin. The injury was due to bad fusing that resulted in the loss of my right hand in the middle of nowhere and the realization that I was not prepared nor had planned or even given any thought for the unexpected. Up to that point in my life, each day was lived as if there was always another day and whatever I might need was always available– WRONG! This incident caused a radical change in my life, the way I thought, and the need to use the five “p”s– Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor results, and using common sense to factor in the “what if” into my everyday events. This brought on a change in all areas of my life, including the area of food prepping and storage. Think of it in this light; in most other prep articles, you read that 3 is 2, 2 is 1, and 1 is none, but with no thought of the proper storage, food items may ALL be none, if they are destroyed because of extreme temperatures.
This “what if” effected my plan for food, as part of my prepping, for unknown events. I started my initial attempts with my short-term needs in mind, buying canned goods and bulk items and storing them anywhere with no regard to heat, cold, moisture, time, or safety. After experiencing loss, due to food items going bad or causing “internal reactions”, my awareness level led me on a path of trying to blend in different types of food, MRE’s, instant mixes, my own canning methods, and those new things coming on the market back in the 60s called camping foods. Most of the camping foods, taste-wise, were like eating cardboard with flavors added in; sometimes, given a choice between them and eating worms, you might choose the worms. Yuck! During the first 20 years, I slowly realized that lack of effort, lack of caring, or just an “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” situation was causing me to have to throw out my food preps on a regular basis. So, okay, I would accept that and resupply. During this time I noticed both heat and cold were my enemy but more so the heat. I tried keeping food preps in the home, even with that changes in seasons or whatever, still caused concern over the quality and integrity. During my second 20 years, my aging and life experience level has dictated that I get wiser and utilize what I learned on the food storage journey. Based upon what I learned, I suggest the following:
- Plan and prepare a separate area for food and other perishables that is climate-controlled by you.
- Identify a short-term food supply (canned/bagged/liquids) that is your revolving pantry, based on a year supply of need for you and your family.
- Identify your long-term food supply of one year or more (I recommend three years of food for each person in the household), and buy only freeze-dried foods both in #10 cans and in pouches, with a variety. I stress freeze-dried because of their shelf life and also their taste. Buy the best tasting items (for you and yours). When buying freeze dried foods, cold is no longer a threat, but heat is still always your main enemy.
I REPEAT: HEAT IS THE #1 PROBLEM. To deal with this problem, I have built a separate, insulated room, approximately 20′ by 7′, in my workshop that has both an electric quartz heater sitting inside and a 12K BTU window A/C built into the outer wall. I maintain a temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, and the A/C keeps the room at 76 during summer’s hot days. I have shelving for three separate types of food. The highest shelf on three sides of the room is used to store freeze-dried items. The lower shelves on one side contain the one-year supply of canned goods and/or pasta, which I keep in 12″x 12″ x 6″ cardboard boxes, so that items can easily be stacked/labeled/moved by even an old person or child as needed to the pantry in the house. Also, since the food is separated in boxes it can be identified for donation to a church or food pantry or passed out as a charity gift to the locals. All other food preps, which are condiments (mustard/ketchup/mayo/relish/salad dressing/spices) are kept on the remaining side walls of shelves, along with candles, matches, peroxide, witch hazel, soaps, first aid items, and whatever. Note: Plan your orders for the cooler times of the year, as any delivery service may have in their delivery cycle periods where the shipment is exposed for periods of time to extreme heat or cold.
I want the word to get out that prepping for food procurement and storage without any consideration given to the affects of hot or cold temperatures and, to some degree, also humidity is a bomb that could leave you in a major dodo situation when a crisis occurs.
Let me also mention that the food inflation factor, that is just now beginning to surface in our country, is only one portion of the coming storm. The additional factors are the food shortages that are also becoming more apparent. I will use Wally World as an example. If your radar is “on”, start becoming a smart shopper and talk with your retailer. They are now stocking the shelves with a reduced quantity and selection of brands. As it was conveyed to me by some managers at those stores, they are having a supply problem and also a credit problem. The solution is to hold back inventory in the back room, so they can have a least a few items to restock shelves with. So, when you buy, buy like you may not get another chance for a few months… because you may not. Why do I mention this? It is because your ability to stock up and safely store your foods items may become Job #1 very soon and also because food will, in a crisis, be worth its weight in gold, or maybe more. Many people, lacking in the common sense department, will still assume they are going to be able to run to the corner market when the doo doo hits the fan. Likewise, a numbers of preppers may find out at the worst possible time that most of their survival foods, which they acquired but gave no concern to maintaining the quality of, is worthless.
My effort, at the local level, has been to help educate people, families, and church groups that they are to be praised at their attempts of preparing, but if proper storage of the food supplies is not part of their planning, then all of their effort could be for nothing or even worse harmful to them or others. People at the LDS local canning sessions put a great amount of effort into repackaging bulk food items in #10 cans, but only one person out of a group of 40 there at the event had given any thought to how to store those #10 cans safely when I spoke to them. Upon hearing my advice about temperature control, they became a very attentive audience for the next 30 minutes. It made me feel great about their thirst for knowledge and willingness to learn. My discussions with others often yield a response like, “I have never given any thought to heat or cold”. These are good people trying to do the best they can, but they are setting themselves up for failure. When somebody takes my advice and checks their food and or other preps that has been left in a metal storage shed, garage, in an under-cooled part of the home, or even a over-rated mini warehouse with substandard cooling oversight which may result in long durations of high heat or extreme cold and discover that most of it has “gone bad”, I am reminded of my own journey with the same results.
My journey has giving me the reward and satisfaction of knowing that, today, I am at a high level of efficiency in maintaining and better utilizing what I have purchased for an event that I hope and pray never happens, and I realize, in this current time, that the unfolding of history is happening right now. The term “food assurance” to me means FOOD INSURANCE. The old saying is true today– plan for tomorrow. My sincere hope is that this will start you to think about doing something to get ready but most importantly you actually do something in the best possible way with this information. Ensure that you “get er done”.