Food storage is often made out to seem much harder than it actually is. The biggest hurdle is learning to store what you eat and learning to rotate your stocks.food storage does not need to be expensive nor do you have to be extravagant with how you store your preps. For the real detailed and probably more ideal system for long term storage options I will leave you with our friend lowdown3 to explain.
For those like us on a very limited budget for prepping, i will share what we do and how we do it. Keep in mind everyone has their own system of doing this so depending on where you look, you will see many different variations but all are based on the same principals. Those principals are that the product is stored in an air tight space, that it can remain at a fairly constant temperature year round and that it is bug and insect free. It truly is that simple.
Since we are poor folk our storage containers are either five gallon buckets with screw top lids, five gallon buckets we close with caulk when full or the large totes that are available in any dept. type store that when full we caulk closed. Rice, beans, grains(flour or wheat berries,oats,etc)are left in there original bags and placed in the containers after proper preparation. Many people like to break things down in to smaller packages. Often times people use large mason jars, old mayo containers, 2 or 3 liter soda bottles,zip lock bags or use a vacuum sealer and then pack into whatever larger container.
The system you use to track your food storage is totally up to you, again there are a bazillion ways to do this from simple plans to paying web sites. Since we grow the majority of our food here on the land and plan on continuing to do so we don't follow any food storage plan other than what we have decided we need.Unless you currently garden in large amounts, I would not suggest anyone follow our method of storage. I would recommend anyone that is going to start to find a basic list of quantities of basic staples for your size family for the amount of time you are planning on putting back. Most people have no idea how much flour, corn , rice or sugar they truly would use in x amount of time if there were no stores to purchase from. These lists are not set in stone but do give you a good idea of the basics you should have put back.
We always keep at least a year of basic staple foods stored. For some this may seem extreme, for others this is not near enough. The choice is solely up to you as an individual and is up to you to decide. When people ask me what I suggest, I say start with a month and work toward 6 months with an eventual goal of a year. This would give a family plenty of time to be able to figure out a solution if things were to go to hell in a hand basket. I also recommend that people get a small seed stash set back as well, just in case.
When we make a purchase of grains, oats, flour,beans or rice I always go through a preparation process before we put it away for storage. The reason for this is because of the bugs and insects that these products all have in them naturally. I put them in the freezer for three days. Take them out for a week and then freeze three more days. This will kill any larva as well as anything that was alive. This will keep your stores from growing critters while packed away .Once this task is completed, we choose to store our preps in totes.
In one large tote for the two of us we can put basic staples away for three months at a time. I then throw in a couple oxygen absorbers and when it is full we run a line of caulk around the edge and seal it up. I use a marker and put the date we seal the tote up and a brief list of what we have in the box. Don't forget to toss in some spices. They are fairly cheap and easy to come by and there is no reason to be eating bland, boring foods. I also throw in the box some candles, batteries and a couple boxes of feminine hygiene products. . This way our box is fairly complete for all our needs for a three month period and we have it all in one easy to grab space. Keep in mind that because we do grow and preserve our garden foods the boxes we make are just staple foods. If you dont garden and preserve foods then you will require more totes than what we have for the three month time frame.
Once you have your stores put them in a rotation with your regular foods that you eat on a regular basis. When we first started with food storage we decided that we would begin eating the long term prep items after two years. This way nothing is out of date and risk of product loss is near zero,even doing it on our small budget. As you begin to use the tote begin replacing it and then repack when empty. Go through them in the order they were packed and you now have a rotation to all your preps. By doing this you ensure yourself and your family that you have food on hand all the time.
Many people ask why prepare. Our simple answer is its like insurance. Insurance against inflation, job loss, natural disasters, or if all goes to hell and craziness breaks out. It is something to have to fall back on and something that simply makes sense to us.It doesn't have to break you,start small and spend 5 or 10 dollars a week on the basics and work your way up to a month of food to put back. You will be surprised at how quickly on a budget one can set up a safety net. Just remember store what you eat and eat what you store.