Over beers the other night, the girls and I got on the topic of stocking the pantry with emergency supplies of food and water. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the majority of my girlfriends keep about three days worth of food and water in preparation for bad weather. Basic stockpiles of food are almost a given at this point, but have you pre-planned for a complete collapse of society? Where people are breaking into homes, raiding and looting? People do crazy things in order to save one’s own or loved ones’ lives. Perchance of this worst-case scenario, I do not find it extreme to put thought into caching (hiding) some of your stored food. You can hide food inside or outside the home. Even better? Have a cache in both!
Where to Store it
Your long-term food storage area should be a cool, dry and dark place away from direct sunlight and from anything else that generates heat. Temperature extremes and moisture will make food spoil, even canned foods. Secondly and equally important to consider is how easily rodents, bugs, and varmints can get into your stash. Bulk foods, such as flour and sugar, and boxed items especially need protecting from mice and bugs. When you purchase these items, put them in different containers with tight lids. You can use plastic trashcans, barrels, or food-grade plastic buckets. Canned foods can be stored as they are.
Cache Inside the Home
The ideal place for long-term food storage is a non-damp basement. Unfortunately, not all of us have a basement. In Central Texas, a basement is as common as snow. However, you can substitute “basement” for any other area in your home that you use as storage, like a temperature-controlled garage, under the stairs, a closet, or a spare bedroom. Do not store food in the attic. Attics get excessively hot in the summer.
Hiding your food supplies in the closet is an excellent choice for those who live in apartments, or have a lack of adequate storage space. If you are good with DIY, you can create a fake wall in the back of the closet. For someone like me who is not good with such things, simply put the food in opaque plastic totes or cardboard boxes, just like I do my Holiday decorations, camping gear and keepsakes. Stack your food supplies with your other storage totes and boxes and no one is the wiser!
Another hiding place is by making pieces of “furniture” with your food buckets, boxes, cases, and totes. Stacked buckets or boxes make excellent coffee tables or end tables. Throw material over them and a lamp on top, and bam—a food cache!
Outside the Home
Like the basement, a root cellar or a storm cellar is an ideal place for a hidden food cache. Ultimately, you would want to conceal the entrance to your cellar. Put a garden shed over the entrance. Someone breaking in just sees lawn movers and weed eaters. Nothing of use to them in SHTF.
Off-site storage units are a dime a dozen in just about any town, regardless of its size. In fact, I think I have driven through towns that about the only business was a gas station/storage unit combo. The downside to renting a storage unit is they would be prone to break-ins and your ability to reach the storage unit. A positive to the storage unit is the capacity, you can store much more in them than what you can store at home. To deter looters, pack the front of the storage unit with trash and junk, so when someone broke in all they would see was a mountain of old, dusty smelly crap. Most likely they would move on to the next unit.
Another option for a food cache is burying it. If you chose to bury the food, dig your hole deep enough that you have three to four feet of dirt on top of it. This should be deep enough to provide somewhat of a stable temperature. This can be done in your own backyard, deer lease, or lake retreat. If you do not have a yard, pick a place where digging a hole will not be suspicious. When looking for a place to bury your cache, remember where it is and think about how easily it will be to check on and retrieve it. Just like your non-hidden food stash, your cache should be rotated out. If you chose to go this route, put the food an airtight and waterproof container. If you find a container big enough, you can not only put three days of food and water in it, but a rifle and ammo as well.
Since your food cache—especially if you go with off-site, or the fake wall—may be uneasy to get to, it is best to store foods that will last a year or more.
The following is a list of food that when stored properly will last for one year or more:
- White rice
- Corn meal
- Soup mixes
- Jam, jellies
- Syrup and molasses
- Canned items
- Condensed, evaporated, and dry milk
- Dry smoked sausages, such as pepperoni and jerky
- Dried beans
- Freeze-dried pre-packaged foods
- Pre-bottled drinking water
What about you? Do you have a food cache? What are your creative ways of hiding it?