It can send your head spinning when you think about taking on the task of Food Storage for you and your loved ones. With all of the varying complexities of personally doing your own food storage and even buying from food storage companies, it may be difficult to sort through and prioritize what is important and what is not. I don’t know about you but with the dizzying choices of things to take into consideration, you just might want to throw you hands up in frustration and hollar “What do I do?!”.
I do not claim to be an expert by any means when it comes to all of the selections of what you can store, however over the years, I have learned some things about food storage and food storage companies. Setting aside the very real concern of where to store everything which is a separate topic altogether, today I want to break down what you should look for when shopping for food storage.
15 Tips for Shopping for Food Storage
How many calories are needed per day to feed your family and friends
When it comes to nutrition and getting the needed calories your body needs each day, if you don’t do that for a living as a dietician you are pretty much bottoms up on where to start. Before you even begin to investigate specific food storage products, you need to do your homework closer to home. How many calories per day will it take to sustain the caloric needs of you and your family? Yeah, I hadn’t a clue either – try one of the many online calorie calculators. I happen to like this one on the American Cancer Society website.
You need to answer a few question based upon your age, current weight and lifestyle (that you now live, not what you anticipate to have in the future), and you will get an approximation of what you need to maintain your current weight. Do this for every person that will be in your family.
Two things to keep in mind are that if you are currently robust in size, you can use your optimal weight instead. If you do however, keep in mind that if you are ever called upon to use your food storage, you might transcend for a moderate activity level to a high activity level. Your calorie needs will increase accordingly.
Be mindful of the stated servings per on each package
When you are looking to grow food reserves, whether it is in our garden, at your local stores, or even from those bulk meal prep companies it is important to pay close attention to the servings info on the packaging. For instance, if a bulk meal packet states that it contains 800 calories total and is contains 3 servings, then know from the get go that is probably not realistic to adequately feed 3 people.
Say your calorie needs are 2,500 calories per day. That would break down into 833 calories per meal. There is no snowball’s chance in hades that amount of calories stated on the package can adequately feed 3 people in that situation! Couldn’t even feed two.
Keep a close eye when you are seeking out those valuable items for your food stores, on the Servings per estimated calories per package or serving.
Note: for the purpose of this article I may refer to a meal package but the same principal applies to servings per tin, per box, per package, etc., etc.
Planning what to plant when
It takes more effort and brain power than just plowing up a patch of land and dropping some seeds in the soil. If you are tired of paying the inflated prices for the food on the stores’ shelves, you can look to growing your own food to assist you in your Food Security. When you make that decision you have a lot more that you need to consider.
Make sure you get the heirloom seeds that will grow in your region, with the proper soil preparation and infusion of minerals and nutrients for robust growth. Adding into that the right amount of watering and sunlight and you have a food growing system humming towards your family’s food independence! Put in the work and you can literally reap the benefits.
Here’s an Article about how to do that: The Penultimate Sub-Urbian Farmer
How you are choosing to preserve the food you grow
There is more to food storage than shelf life. But talking about Shelf Life… the way you choose to preserve the food or the way it is packaged from the store or the companies plays into how long will what you buy retain it’s bio-availability.Most foods have a definite shelf life, the more processed or mass produced the longer it can retain some form of nutrition for your body. For instance, anything that is canned, vacuum sealed or frozen from the grocery store can last up to a year or two and in the case of canned food, up to 5 to 6 years would be safe to eat.
If you are looking to doing the growing, prepping, cooking or preserving there are a few ways that can give your food more time to be scrumptious. They are:
- Dehydrating – up to 3-9 months shelf life
- Canning – Bath Method – up to 3-5 years shelf life
- Canning – Pressure Method – up to 7-8 years shelf life
- Vacuum Sealing – and freezing can lead up to 2 years shelf life
- Freeze Drying – said to be up to 25 years bio-available
Perpetuating year after year
As you get into the swing of things growing your own food for your dinner table, a great way to keep that momentum going is preserving yoru heirloom seeds from what you have grown from the last season. Of course you need to choose the resulting vegetables, and fruit the most hardy of the the bunch but by properly harvesting the seeds and drying them naturally to plant next season is a way to retain your “wealth” without being rich.
Here’s an Article that talks about how to go about doing that: Harvesting Seeds – What to Watch Out For
Shelf life is important but not the be all end all
After you consider the shelf life of the food… there still is more to decide. You bet, it is great to purchase items that are already packaged for the long term but don’t get caught up with just purchasing 25-year food items.
You also need to consider – Price, the availability of space, and the environmental aspects of that space that dictate a more aggressive rotation of your food storage items. Also, the ages of your family members will play a role as well. Remember that tastes, eating habits, and calorie need will change over time.
That being said, unless the food item in question has turned rancid or is contaminated by vermin, most foods are still edible well beyond their stated shelf life. This, by the way, applies to canned goods used day to day and not just food storage. So, although a consistent food rotation program is a good practice, don’t beat yourself up if that can of string beans are 5 year beyond the “best eaten by” date.
Bonus Info Article:
Foods Enemies: 6 Spoilers of Food Storage
This is the age-old question – Do you stay or do you go now? History has shown that isn’t an easy answer to make. Do you plan to shelter in place, or head to a well-stocked pre-planned place to retreat, or get out of Dodge entirely? If there is any possibility that you will need to evacuate your home or even that place you’ve fallen back to, consider the portability of your food for at least of portion of your food storage.
Consider at a minimum, keeping an easy access to a three day provision of freeze dried meals in lightweight pouches that can be dispersed with those traveling with you. There would be nothing worse than to haul around 20 lb bucket of rice or beans while you are getting yourself out of the line of fire.
Look into getting one of those Food Storage company’s 3 day kits – they may be more pricey – and fill the rest of your shelves from the supermarket and your own backyard. It will be well worth the cost when you are looking to get out quick in emergencies.
Be informed of the nutritional value of your food storage
Succinctly put, don’t settle for junk food! I know it is easy to stock those comfort foods, Ding Dongs, Lil Debbies and all that empty-calories nutritional rubbish. During times of stress, you don’t want necessarily food that is as wholesome as it can be given the circumstances. Those types of foods are “boring” and take to long time to make… Grab a moon pie and fill your growling stomach! Nah, don’t take the easy way out. Seek out nutritious calories from many different food groups. An occasional treat or sugary dessert will help mitigate food fatigue, but at the end of the day, protein, vitamin and mineral rich foods will be better for you and help you keep a leg up on sickness.
When it comes to the food that you grow and put away for another day. One question to ask is are the nutritional claims verified? If you are seeking non-GMO foods, are they Non-GMO Project Verified. Likewise, if organic foods are important to you, are they USDA Certified Organic?
Is the meat in the meal real?
Does the food advertising and packaging imply meat content but lack a USDA mark? I recently learned that you can track down the final company of origin of a meat product from the number on the USDA mark on the packaging. The mark is only there for foods that contain real meat or poultry. Don’t get swindled with any meat substitutes!
Resource: How to Find the USDA Establishment (EST) Number on Food Packaging
Does it actually taste good?
Sometimes we get so busy in the accumulating and the watching of the sales and prices that we kinda skip over this very real question, “Does it taste good?”
This goes for all the types of foods and food sources that you put into storage. If you are getting things from the local grocer, try it before you start buying it in bulk. Sometimes the concept of a meal or food is good, but the actually eating of it is suspect. That said, many food storage companies offer sample packs for very little cost, and sometimes for free. If you have any doubts, purchase a small quantity and do a taste test when it comes to a given freeze dried food storage company.
Is the taste acceptable? Or is it too salty or too bland? How does it smell? Can you stand to eat it over and over again? You decide where that line is for you of affordability vs. palatability.
Simply said, before making a huge investment in food storage, if you have any doubts try before your make any large quantity purchase.
Quality of the packaging matters when it comes to food
You just don’t mess with a food’s packaging. If you have a choice, which one of us have picked up that damaged box or can from the local grocer’s over the one that is pristine? No one, and that goes as well for the materials you use to preserve the food you grow. Shoddy lids and seals have a many a canners’ ire and frustration. For those store-bought items you can repackage the food either in Mylar bags and buckets or in large mason jars stored in a cool, dark location. This would require you to look into a vacuum sealer or an oxygen extractor contraption. Regardless of how one stores the food, always include an oxygen absorber.
When purchasing packaged food for long term storage i.e. freeze dried meals, make sure the company you buy it all from states that oxygen has been removed from the packaging by using an oxygen absorber or by nitrogen flushing. If you are purchasing a bucket or bulk food, ensure that the product is sealed inside a metalized bag.
One way you can tell if something has been packaged correctly for the long term is a test of smell. If you can smell the food when you open the outer pouch or bucket then you know that the packaging is not properly protecting the food. The molecules that cause smell are bigger than oxygen molecules. If smells get through the packaging, you know for a fact oxygen can too.
That brings up another point: pests such as mice are attracted to smell. If they can’t smell it, they don’t know its there.
The integrity of the company selling the food storage items
Now we are speaking directly to those companies that are out in the market selling their version of 3 months, 6 months or year’s supply of food that can last up to 25 years. This may be one of the more difficult aspects of food storage to evaluate. One of the first questions to ask yourself is “How long has the company been in business? Are they looking to make a quick buck and sacrificing quality for quantity?” Be weary of a new company that pops up within weeks of a major, public disaster or disruptive event.
There is no need for fear-mongering tactics, avoid them at all costs, even at sale price
In this calm before the storm that we are in, there is no need to fall for the Fear of Scarcity tactic that some send out to the public. No one is looking to go out of business if they are an honest establishment and using up all their resources in one last batch. These other fly-by-night companies have used (and continue to use) fear-mongering to promote their products. If you examine their web sites, you may find no mention of them having a “going out of business” sale because they don’t have enough to package in the future.
If a company’s advertising is based on fear or you feel any sort of pressure, run for the hills! There are plenty of credible choices out there both online and locally. Move on. Please.
Don’t become obsessed with the bottom line
In the past, quality has been measured by what you pay for a certain item. The more expensive, the higher quality… right? That doesn’t hold true when it comes to food storage purchases. As stated above, some companies will prey upon your fear and charge you way too much for too little of an inferior product. And when that happened that we got suckered into it in the past, it wasn’t a pleasant feeling to say the least.
A better way to approach price is to look at price per meal or price per serving. Just be mindful that the price per serving will be based upon your own calorie calculation and not those of the company selling you the product. After narrowing your choices, identify the other factors that are important: tastes, shelf life, packaging, and special considerations such as family allergies, likes, and full nutritional value of the the contents.
Be sure to also scrutinize shipping and handling costs and make those costs part of the total price proposition. Free shipping is sometimes truly free and sometimes not. You need to compare apples to apples and look at total costs. The results can surprise you.
Look for the sales to come along from those reputable companies that consistently and continually produce quality meals and options.
At the end of the day, trust your research
Ask the opinions of others of what companies and meals they have tried. Read reviews, try small quantities before you make a large purchase, and most of all ask a lot of questions of those that could have your nutritional sustenance in their hands. Any reputable food storage company will have knowledgeable staff on hand to answer your questions by phone or by email.
There are dumb questions. And those are the ones NOT asked! If at all in doubt, ask. One other thing: ask about their satisfaction guarantee. Look for a 30 day guaranteed and again, take advantage of it by taste testing a small portion of your purchase. Just remember that once you open a can, bag or bucket, it must be property resealed with O2 absorbers unless it is going to be consumed within a year.
TAG Food Deal – Get a 100% Satisfaction with Legacy Food Storage
So yes, I am here to sell you something. There is a company that has not only met all my expectations, but have surpassed them as well with the food that they are cranking out of Legacy Food Storage’s facilities. They provide you will all the nutritional and per serving information you could ever want, in the number of pouches you need for your family – and the food is delish!
Easy to prepare, and just like how you would make it from scratch, the pasta primavera is my favorite and the rest of the meals they have for you and me are as equally as tasty… There will not be any “meal fatigue” with Legacy.
Check them out with their sample packets that can be found by clicking here
Note: I do have a financial relationship with Legacy Food Storage but I put my money where my mouth is and I’ve tried their meals and I wouldn’t recommend them in this way if they didn’t go up and beyond with my expectation of bulk freeze dried food options.
I laid a lot of stuff on you in this article AND video and if you have made it this far, you have my congratulations and thank you! You now know more about shopping for food storage than 95% of the population. Just keep in mind that as you shop, taste preferences differ from person to person. What is good to one person, may be mediocre to another. Make an evaluation of what is best for you and your family based upon the tips I have outlines and you really can’t go wrong.
Finally, decide now to start your food storage. Don’t hesitate or procrastinate. Don’t fall into any of the excuses, ‘I’m too young, or old’ or ‘I don’t have the ….insert the excuse of time, space, money… they all pale in comparison when you are at that day when you need it and you don’t have it available for yourself or the ones you love.
Whatever methods you decide upon to build your storage up, please know that gathering a food storage is a wonderful thing. Three months, one year, two years? How much is enough? Go with your budget and your comfort level. You really can not go wrong as long as you just do something!