Camping & Survival

Introduction to Stockpiling Non-Perishable Food for Novice Preppers

The task of gathering and storing large quantities of food can seem overwhelming and even a bit puzzling to some, but it does not have to be. Veteran preppers will often warn novice people that trying to shop, store and label a year’s worth of food in a short time frame can become a daunting and intimidating task.

Break It Down

Food falls into one of two categories; either perishable or non-perishable items. For those new to the stockpiling world, it is often easier to start with the non-perishable category first. The focus of this article will be on non-perishable food items only because non-perishable food items can be stored at room temperature thus eliminating the need for refrigeration or freezing.

First, you should note what items you and your family use on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Taking note of the items your family regularly consumes will be extremely helpful on your journey, as you would hate to stockpile a three-month supply of soup if you do not like soup. Start by focusing on items that keep popping up on your shopping list. For example, if you eat a lot of spaghetti with pasta sauce or you eat vegetables at every meal you want to focus on stockpiling dried pastas, canned or dried pasta sauces and canned vegetables.

After you determine which items you consume most you will then need to focus on building a stash of basic food staples such as sugar, flour, salt, grains, legumes, oil and honey to name a few. Another thing to consider is what kind of cook you are. If you know how to take the basic ingredients and create dishes, good for you and plan on such. If you depend on boxed, pre-made meals and your cooking skills are minimal then you probably need to concentrate on buying pre-made meals to get you started and then focus on learning some of the basics of cooking a meal from scratch.

Short Term and Long Term

Start with reasonable goals for your family such as building a stash of food to last for three days and then work up to building up your supply to last you two weeks, one month, six months and then a year or more. Remember it will take some time to build up your stockpile. Set yourself small goals.

Storage Strategy

A common mistake novice preppers make is not having a plan in place to store all the extra food and supplies they are gathering. The peace of mind that often comes from knowing you have enough food to feed your family for a year is often overshadowed when you find yourself trying to maneuver around cases of soup stacked in your hallway or tripping over mountains of five-gallon buckets of sugar that line your kitchen walls.

We would all love to have a large building dedicated exclusively to our stashes, but this is often not a reality for many. Instead, you will need to look for extra space around your house and garage and make the most of what you have all while being mindful of potential safety or fire issues. Maximize your space by eliminating as much space-stealers as possible. For example, instead of storing thirty boxes of dried cereal, consider combining the contents of all into one designated storage container.

Off-site rental storage units may seem like a viable option, but when you consider the amount of time to travel to a unit, plus gas required it quickly becomes obvious it is not. Not to mention the fact is you need to have quick and easy access to your stash in the event of an emergency. For many, the best option is simply a few stackable shelves in the corner of a laundry room, garage or closet. The time to figure out where you are going to put all this stuff should come before your first shopping trip so you can avoid headaches.

Are you stockpiling food? Share your storage tips with us in the comment section.

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Comments (12)

  1. We all have to think about storage areas we can use. Our heater was in a closet in the hall and we had to replace the central air. It was actually cheaper to get a whole new HVAC system than to do the air only, so we had it put in the attic(which has little headroom) The unit was hung from the eaves.
    The closet for the heater was made to resemble a clothes closet(new door, paint, and a light). It is not very big, but it is our second pantry where we keep bulk supplies and rotate supplies that are closer to expiration into it.
    Another space can be the hot water tank. When the unit goes bad, consider a tankless water heater replacement. The old tank can be used as a hiding place, or the cabinet or closet can be used for storage.

  2. If you go to your county Extension Service you may be able to go to a canning class there. I went and learned how to can and they even tested my pressure cooker for me. The costs are low. They have many valuable services that you many be interested in.

    1. Another good source for canning info, recipes and canning data is Rodale Presses “Stocking Up III”. it may be a little hard to find, but well worth the effort.

  3. Actually, having off site storage fairly close to your home is a good idea. Should a fire/flood disater hit your home you can have a secondary location so that all your stores are not lost…

  4. Being new to prepping I’m stockpiling water, medicines and first aid supplies, canned foods and dry food stuffs. My wife cans tomatoes and other veggies from the garden and I’m trying to copy some of the things I’ve seen on “Dommsday Preppers” on TV. Handling and storage of supplies is a problem, especially if you have a bad back. Rubbermaid and Sterling tubs hold a lot and stack well but they get heavy in a hurry. What I’ve found to be affordable and I think practical are five gallon orange plastic buckets from The Home Depot. The lids fit tight and I haven’t had a problem with insect pests so far. They stack well and even when they’re brim full they’re still light enough to manage safely. Storage has been restricted to the garage simply because we don’t have the room in the house beyond the pantry but I don’t think it’s any hotter in the garage than a lot of the warehouses I’ve been in where the stuff came from. I’d appreciate any suggestions.

  5. I knew an old women back in the early 70,s that had lived through the depression, she would can small bream fish with the bones still in. The bones would get soft like canned salmon. She only added salt, very good food if one needs to eat. She would not waste anything!!!

  6. The ideal temperature for long term food storage is 60 degrees, but that’s not practical for most of us. If you store it in your house and it’s around 72 degrees, it may not last quite as long, but it’s a lot better than keeping it in a hot garage or attic where the temperature will be much higher.

    When I started prepping, I bought a couple cheap shoe storage bins that slide under the bed, and I packed them with longer dated items to get it out of sight. I then emptied out a closet under the stairs that was full of junk, and cleaned out the back of a coat closet to get more storage space.

    The biggest thing I started doing was shopping by expiration date. Like the article says, but what you eat already- just buy more of it. For example, if your family goes through 2 boxes of cereal a month and the expiration date is 9 months away, then buy 4 boxes the next time you go to the store. That doesn’t work for milk and eggs, but it’s a great way to start stockpiling canned goods, which typically have a much longer shelf life. Then rotate it, so you eat the shortest dated stuff first.

  7. I have lots of space for storage but it is unheated and non airconditioned. How will this affect the shelf-life of non-perishable food?

  8. I’ll be waiting for the next steps. I have been tracking down recipes for canning meats, but as time has passed the ageing canners have been passing away. The main issue is finding people that have actually tasted the canned meats. What meats are tasty and which ones will be fit for the hog and chickens. I would love to see a list/chart that categorized by tastiness and ease of preparation. God blessed us with common seance. We just need to use it.

    Mike Richmond S.E. Indiana

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