September 9

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10 Top Emergency Food Storage Mistakes You Must Avoid

By The Unintentional Prepper

September 9, 2022


Are you guilty of one of the 10 top emergency food storage mistakes? Let’s find out.

Growing your emergency food stores can be a fantastically mind-easing activity. Imagine knowing that should the worst happen, you’ve got the foods you and your family will need to live through it without experiencing hunger.

What can go wrong, right?

Actually there are a number of things that can spoil all the hard work and expense you’ve invested building up your emergency supplies. In this article, we explore the top 10 food storage mistakes that we see people making every day.

1. Storing foods you really don’t care to eat.

It’s been said that, if you’re hungry enough, you’ll eat anything. But don’t let that describe you and your food pantry.

So many people make the mistake of storing foods they don’t enjoy, either because of the taste, the trouble it takes to prepare, or some other reason.

Don’t buy emergency foods just because your prepper neighbor does or because it’s on sale. Buy foods you know you and your family will enjoy eating. You’ll thank yourself should an emergency occur.

2. Forgetting to rotate out-of-date food items.

Imagine the day you need to use a food item you stored a couple of years ago, but upon opening it you find it’s long past its expiration date…and it smells bad.

Be sure expiration dates are visible on each item. If not, we recommend you mark them on cans or packages with a bold black marker, and at regular intervals, double check your inventory to spot items nearing their expiration date.

When that date, comes, replace the item for a newer one.

While you’re at it, watch for leaking cans. That could signal compromised cans and you may need to dispose of them immediately.

3. Putting all your eggs in one basket (storage-wise).

Be very careful about storing all your foods in the same place—such as your basement.

If that location were suddenly flooded or destroyed somehow, you could lose your entire inventory in a single stroke of bad luck.

Instead, break up the locations, storing some in  your basement, some in the garage, some in a spare room, etc.

Incidentally, avoid placing your canned goods on the floor; keep them high and dry on a shelf. Secure your shelves or food racks to the wall to avoid some shattering event like an earthquake or wind storm, or whatever natural threats there may be in your area.

4. Know how to prepare and cook what you plan to eat.

Packaged good come with cooking instructions, but what about raw materials such as rice or wheat. Do you know how to prepare them for consumption?

Do you have a grain mill to prepare the wheat? And after you have it, do you have a recipe you can use it with?

How about your supply of beans? Do you know beans about cooking beans?

Be sure your pantry has a good supply of recipes, particularly those that call for raw foods that make up a sizeable part of your emergency meal plans.

5. Don’t forget comfort foods.

It’s easy at first to focus all your efforts upon building up long-term storable food staples and healthy meals. But don’t forget comfort foods.

In stressful times, the foods you’ve been storing will be invaluable. But at the same time, little things like comfort foods can be a huge morale booster.

There’s nothing more fun than opening up an occasional cookie jar or bag of chips when an emergency shuts down your world for days and weeks. Add several comfort food surprises to your lager, keeping an eye on expiration dates as you do.

6. Ignoring food storage temperatures.

Conditions like excessive heat can damage certain food storage items. I remember storing a big jar of mayo in my garage a couple of years back. Unfortunately, summer temps in the 90’s completely ruined it and I had to discard it.

If possible, keep your foods in a cool place where high temperatures won’t be an issue. An ideal temperature range runs from the low 40’s to the 70s or low 80’s (Fahrenheit).

Avoid locations subject to freezing or excessive heat levels.

7. Storing fuel for cooking.

Unless you’re planning to rely upon the sun for your cooking fuel (not always a great idea when the sun disappears behind clouds), you need to plan in advance for different fuel sources.

For example, in addition to your solar stove, you might add a propane stove to your supplies. Or if you have a plentiful wood source, identify a grill, camp fire, or portable stove you can use.

top 10 emergency food storage mistakes

Don’t forget a supply of matches or a good fire starter, by the way. Here’s a good selection of fire starter survival tools that are compact, reliable and affordable.

8. Forgetting to spice things up.

Let’s admit it: survival foods can be a bit bland. Don’t make the mistake of forgetting to add a supply of condiments and spices to your emergency pantry.

There’s a huge list of things that can turn ordinary recipes into very tasty ones. Everything from the basics like salt and pepper, sugar and honey, to things like chili powder, mustard and more.

Fortunately, most of these items are small and don’t take up much shelf space. But in a long term emergency, they can add  flavor and zest to otherwise boring emergency foods and recipes.

9. Forgetting to add variety.

In our family, we have a couple of very picky eaters. So if we let our meals consist of the same ole foods day after day—especially if it was food they weren’t thrilled about—we’d have a disaster on our hands.

When you’re planning which foods to purchase, allow for a variety of items. Most people tend to store only the four basic items: wheat, milk, honey and salt. Don’t stop with those.

Add multiple other grains besides wheat, especially grains your family likes. Add flavorings such as tomato, bouillon, cheese and onions. Add things like cooking oil, shortening, baking powder, soda, yeast and powdered eggs.

Not only will items like these help keep spirits up, but along with filled tummies will provide a full assortment of nutrition and vitamins to all of your meals.

10. Using the wrong containers for storage.

Don’t fool yourself into tossing your newly purchased emergency foods onto a shelf and leaving them there in the hopes that they don’t spoil, get attacked by insects or rodents or worse.

Always store your bulk foods in food grade storage containers. Never use trash can liners (they’re often treated with pesticides). Also, avoid stacking your containers so high that they can topple in an earthquake and burst open.

We found these tin cans with air-tight, screw-on lids that work well for smaller food items, and are reasonably priced. Find other great, pre-packaged storage containers here.

Which 10 top emergency food storage mistakes are you making?

Now is a good time to take an objective look at your storage pantry to see how you can improve it or make it more suitable to your long-term goals.

The more you double check, the more successful your emergency food program will be.

The Unintentional Prepper

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