35 Top Tips For Food Storage and Mistakes to Avoid


Emergency Food

You’re not crazy for storing food; you’re self-reliant  

Emergency food storage has fallen out of fashion over the last century, but the dependence on modern conveniences has made us more susceptible to going hungry if SHTF. If the trucks stopped delivering food to the grocery store, many of us would be in a world of hurt.  

The following 35 tips will give you some things to consider before you plan your emergency food storage.  

Emergency Food Supplies Aren’t Just for Natural Disasters

Have food on-hand to sustain your family in times of financial hardship or to help those around you if they need a boost. There are any number of situations where having an emergency stockpile of food saves the day:

  • You lose your job or get furloughed
  • Everything goes south at once and your on a limited budget
  • Your only car breaks-down
  • Someone in the family gets seriously ill
  • A close friend or family member needs help 

It’s times like these when you can depend on a substantial emergency food supply to get you through. 

Volcano Erupting

27 Disasters to Consider When Planning Food Storage 

Avalanche
Bioterrorism
Chemical Emergencies
Cybersecurity
Drought
Earthquakes
Explosions
Extreme Heat
Floods
Hazardous Materials Incidences
Home Fires
Household Chemical Emergencies
Hurricanes
Landslides and Debris Flow
Nuclear Explosion
Nuclear Power Plants
Pandemic
Power Outages
Radiological Dispersion Device
Severe Weather
Snow-storms and Extreme Cold
Space Weather
Thunderstorms and Lightening
Tornadoes
Tsunamis
Volcanoes
Wildfires
Disaster and Emergencies/Ready.gov

Prepare Your Food Storage for the 3 Scenarios

The most common disaster in the United States is flooding; for your location, it might be tornadoes or another natural disaster. Figure out which emergencies are most likely in your area and plan for the three scenarios.

The three scenarios affecting food storage in a disaster

Each natural disaster and emergency are different. Location, severity, and length of the event will determine if you: will walk out of an emergency, leave the disaster in a vehicle, or shelter in place.

  1. Walking out of an emergency: in this case, you’ll need gear and food you can pack-out. Including a way to filter/purify water. Pack weight should be no more than 20% of your body weight.
  2. Leaving from a disaster in a vehicle: Your family and food need to fit into the car. Realize roads may be closed before you get to your planned destination, and you could end up on foot.
  3. Sheltering in place: This is the best scenario you could face in an emergency. All of your emergency food is available along with all of your gear.

You should have stored food and gear that fit all three scenarios.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and local governments have contingencies for populations walking out of emergencies. You should too.

A Significant Consideration: The Weight of Emergency Food & Water

Disaster strikes, and you have 275 gallons of perfectly purified water in 55-gallon barrels, each weighing 460 lbs.

If forced to drive or walk away from your home because of a nuclear plant meltdown, the amount of water you can take will be dependent on what you can carry on your back, or load into a vehicle. This same scenario goes for the food you have stored.

Bulk Food Storage is Cheaper Than Purchasing Prepackaged Items

If you have cooking skills or if you are willing to learn how to cook, purchase staple foods in bulk, and save money. Bulk items like:

  • Hard Grains (e.g. wheat)
  • Soft Grains (e.g. buckwheat, oats)
  • Flour 
  • Salt
  • Sugar 
  • Dry Beans
  • Dry Pasta
  • White Rice

Using staples to make food from scratch is cheaper than buying prepackaged items, and it’s easier to incorporate garden produce, home-canned goods, orchard fruit, and foraged or bartered food-stuff into your meal plan.

Cooking from scratch is usually healthier, and it’s a more appealing and enjoyable way to eat.

How Location & Environment Affect Food Storage Planning

To help you think about planning for emergency food storage, I’ve summarized my thought process regarding food reserves I need in my location.

The characteristics of my survival location  

  • I’m 60 miles from 8.3 million people  
  • Sub-zero temperatures are common in winter months 
  • Power outages are a regular occurrence
  • 6 nuclear plants are close enough to cause a problem
  • National catastrophes affect this area (COVID-19 shut my state down)
  • Mildly affected by hurricanes
  • Flooding is possible

How the characteristics of my emergency environment will affect my food supply

  • I will likely be cooking without electricity
  • I will probably be without heat
  • It may be too cold to go outside to cook
  • Vehicle traffic restrictions will be enforced during certain significant events because of the enormous local population
  • I may not be able to drive out of the situation with a bunch of food and water
  • If there is an issue with a Nuclear power plant, I will probably be sheltering in place or forced to walk out on foot

What I need to plan for in my emergency food pantry

  • Long-term food storage for something that disrupts supply lines, like a pandemic
  • Lightweight, short-term food storage like freeze-dried foods, water purification, and gear in case I’m hiking out of a situation. 
  • A supply of no-cook food or boil food I can make with a Jetboil hiker’s stove for hiking out 
  • Food I can prepare indoors without electricity when I can’t go outside 
  • Foods that don’t require a lot of clean-up

I’m sure there are some holes in this plan, but it kind of gives you an idea of the thought process.

Freeze-dried food

Consider Freeze-dried Food for Your Short-Term Food Supply

  • Vacuum packed freeze-dried food has a shelf-life of up to 30 years 
  • Retains 93% of the nutritional value and tastes good 
  • Doesn’t require rotation
  • Is lightweight, which fits the bill for a more mobile situation where you have to walk out of an emergency area  
  • Requires boiling water to reconstitute

Freeze-dried food is an excellent option for a short-term emergency food supply like FEMA’s 72-hour kit

Read Ready Squirrel’s Article:What Is Freeze-dried Food? click here

Emergency Food Storage For Special Circumstances

Certain individuals require emergency supplies that are special. Plan in advance to ensure you have the supplies you need. Some examples of special needs:

  • Age-dependent (baby or elderly) 
  • Pregnancies
  • Illness
  • Special diet requirements (nut allergies or gluten intolerance) 
  • Health risks
  • Medication (Insulin, Heart, High blood pressure, etc.)

Don’t Get Overwhelmed: Slow and Steady Food Storage 

  • Creating your first pantry doesn’t mean you have to run out and purchase 100 lbs of grain or go broke building a huge post-apocalyptic survival supply.
  • If you rush out and purchase a bunch of stuff you will waste money on supplies you don’t need.
  • Start your pantry by slowly adding a few extra items to your cart every time you go grocery shopping. 
  • Begin with canned foods and non-perishables that your family eats regularly.

Store What You Eat

Start your emergency pantry by collecting non-perishable items that your family regularly eats.  

  • Store foods you are familiar with and enjoy
  • Stock rotation and expiration dates are easier to track with foods you eat regularly
  • Cut down on waste by avoiding large purchases of foods you haven’t eaten and tested (like the 10-year-old can of lima beans…it seemed like a good idea at the time)  

Stock Multi-Vitamins

If you are depending on your emergency food storage you may have some gaps in nutrition. It’s a good idea to store multi-vitamins for everyone in the house.

Woman Camping

Know How You Will Cook Without Electricity

Cooking indoors when the power is out is one of the most challenging aspects of survival in your home. If you live in a warm-weather environment it’s no big deal, just go outside and spark up the propane grill.

What if your power is out, you have no heat, it’s -15° F, and there’s 30-mile an hour winds outside?

If you go outside you’re letting cold air into your shelter.

  • Store enough fuel, like propane or wood for alternate cooking methods
  • Have a method to cook food indoors without producing carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide

Store Foods That Fill You Up 

It’s good for morale to have a feeling of fullness. Dried beans, lentils, and white rice are the foods that fit this need in my emergency pantry.

Foods you might consider:

  • Oatmeal
  • Canned soups and stews
  • Nut butters
  • Canned fish
  • Canned poultry
  • Canned meats
  • Dried and canned beans
  • Lentils
  • Peanuts
  • Nuts
  • Popcorn
  • Grains
  • Instant potatoes
  • Granola bars
  • Protein powder
  • Dried fruit

Store Foods that Last Forever

  • Honey has been found in Egyptian tombs that is still edible. 
  • Rice; if hermetically sealed and properly stored, it can last 30 Years
  • Vinegar is used to pickle garden produce and for cleaning.
  • Salt is used for food preservation, food flavoring, and cleaning cast iron pans
  • Maple Syrup Bake with it, and use it as a sweetener for bread and meat
Green Sprouts

Sprouting Indoors: The Secret Survival Weapon

Most long-term storage pantries lack anything fresh and green. Sprouting seeds indoors fills that gap.   

Why sprouting seeds are so incredible for the Emergency Pantry:

  • Sprouts are extremely nutritious
  • Sprout seeds just about anywhere, in any season, with a regular ball jar.  

Check out the fantastic nutritional value of sprouts in the chart below.

Seed Chart includes: type of seed, days to germination and nutritional profile

SeedDays to GerminationTaste ProfileNutrition
1.Adzuki3 -5Mild FlavorA,B,C & E, All Amino Acids accept Tryptophan, 25% Protein
2.Alfalfa5 -7 Mild FlavorA,B,C,E & K, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Potassium, Zinc, Carotene, Chlorophyll, Amino Acids, 35% Protein
3.Almonds3-5 Almond FlavorVitamin A, B, C, & E, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Niacin,  Phosphorus, Potassium, All essential Amino Acids, 20-25% Protein
4.Broccoli7-10 Spicy/Radish-likeVitamin A, B, C, E & K, Calcium, Iron,  Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Carotene, Chlorophyll, Amino Acids, Antioxidants, 35% Protein
5.Buckwheat1-2 Mild FlavorVitamin A, B, C & E, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Niacin, Phosphorus, Potassium, Amino Acids, 15% Protein
6.Cabbage3-5 Cabbage flavoredVitamins A, B, C, E & K, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Carotene, Chlorophyll, Amino Acids, 20 – 25% Protein
7.Fenugreek6-8 Bitter FlavorVitamins A, B, C, & E, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Amino Acids, 30% protein
8.Garbanzo2-4 Substantial EatingVitamins A & C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Amino Acids, Protein
9.Kale2-5 Strong FlavorVitamins A, B, C, E & K, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Amino Acids,
30-35% Protein
10.Lentils3 -5 Substantial EatingVitamin A, B, C, & E, Calcium, Iron, Niacin, Phosphorus, Amino Acids, 25% Protein
11.Millet2-3 Sweet and NuttyVitamins B, C, & E, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Amino Acids, 15% Protein
12.Mung Beans3-5 Mild FlavorVitamins A, B, C & E, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Amino Acids, 20% Protein
13.Peanut5-10 Fresh Pea or chickpeaVitamins A, B, C & E, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Niacin, Phosphorus, Potassium, Amino Acids
20-25% Protein
14.Peas5-7 Mild FlavorVitamins A, B, C & E, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Niacin, Phosphorus, Potassium, Amino Acids,
20-25% Protein
15.Radish3-5 Peppery FlavorVitamins A, B, C, E & K, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Amino Acids, Trace Elements, Carotene, Chlorophyll, Antioxidants, 30-35% Protein
16.Crimson Clover4-6 Mild-EarthyVitamins A, B, C, E & K, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc,Carotene, Chlorophyll, Amino Acids, Trace Elements,
35% Protein
17.Rye2-3 Nutty FlavorVitamins B, C, & E, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Amino Acids, 15% Protein
18.Sesame2-3 Nutty FlavorVitamins B, C, & E, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Amino Acids, 15% Protein
19.Sunflower3-5 Mild FlavorVitamins A, B, C & E, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Niacin, Phosphorus, Potassium, 25% Protein
20.Wheat2-3 Days Corn FlavorVitamins B, C, & E, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Amino Acids, 15% Protein
Sprout Information Compliments of Sproutpeople.org

Ready Squirrel article: Sprouts Are An Excellent Survival Food click here

Water is More Important Than Food

In an emergency, your standard water supply may fail due to groundwater pollution, physical damage, or power outage.  Clean water is the most important resource in your survival pantry. You can last 3 weeks without food, but only 3 days without water.

What will you use water for in an emergency?:

  1. Hydration for humans and pets
  2. Food preparation
  3. Hygiene
  4. Sanitation to clean cooking equipment and the bathroom area  

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): Store, “A Three-day supply of water, which is 1 gallon of water, per 1 person, per 1 day.” Half of this water is for drinking, and half of it is for hygiene.

When it comes to water storage, you have options:

  • Purify water
  • Store water in food-grade, 55-gallon drums and chlorinate with bleach
  • Purchase water bottles
  • Filter water with portable water filters
  • Boil fresh-water
  • Chlorinate water with bleach 
  • Distill water
  • Combine these methods 

Tip: If you are using 55 Gallon drums to store water, figure out where you want them before you fill them up. A full 55-gallon drum weighs 468 lbs.

Read Ready Squirrel’s Article: 21 Surefire Ways to Store Water for Emergencies click here

People Gardening

Any Scale of Gardening is a Plus

A 100 sqft, highrise apartment has enough room to grow greens. A window herb garden, a grow-light, a small patio garden, or a jar in the closet can provide fresh produce. You would be surprised how precious a basil plant in the window becomes if the store is out of fresh-produce.

For me, the importance of fresh produce hit home during COVID lockdown. I live on the East coast, where things got a little crazy. Our grocery store ran out of salad, which I eat every day.

Garden In The Yard:

  • Start small and keep from getting overwhelmed
  • Raised beds are easy to amend and weed
  • Plant what you like to eat
  • Start with easy plants (see list below)
  • Use inexpensive gardening methods like permaculture to create garden beds on the cheap
One Yard Revolution: How to Grow a Lot of Food in a Small Garden

Limited Space and Container Gardening

  • Plant in containers (just about any container will work)
  • Start an herb garden in a window 
  • Plant in a container, on a balcony
  • Learn about hydroponics
  • Sprout seeds or plant micro-greens
Urban Oko : Container Urban Gardening

Tip: If you live in a space with limited sunlight, get a bookcase and a grow-light and start a mini garden inside. Locate your container garden close to your dining area so you can enjoy the beauty of your bounty.

Easy-to-Grow Herbs & Vegetables For Emergency Gardening

CilantroThe entire plant is edible. You may know the seeds as Coriander
KaleDoes well in containers, eat raw, cooked or baked into chips
TarragonUsed in classic French cooking, use as a spice with fish, red meat and vegetables
OreganoUsed in tomato-based sauces, fried in olive oil, added to salad dressings and marinades
ParsleyAdd to soups and sauces or eat raw
Garlic ChivesThese are one of my favorite perennials (they come up year after year) Tastes like a mix of mild garlic and onion
MintMakes an excellent hot tea. I use honey in mine.
Lemon BalmUsed in teas, marinades or added to baked goods
RosemaryAdd to soups, stews and roasted meats for flavor
SageAdd to bean dishes and tomato sauces
ThymeCommonly used as a spice in soups and sauces
Baby Lettuce & Salad GreensEat raw or mix with other garden greens and cover with your favorite dressing
RadishesI eat radishes raw and cut them up in my salad
TomatoesWhat can’t you do with tomatoes?
MicrogreensOver-plant (more than what the package states) indoors or outdoors to harvest tiny edible greens
Chili PeppersSpicy goodness: can be eaten fresh, chopped or dried and turned into a spice
StrawberriesGreat for a sunny window or balcony. Just real good.
Dwarf Citrus in a PotDepending on your location and your growing zone, you can plant citrus. Citrus isn’t one I would start with; it can be finicky.

Purchase Garden Seeds Before You Need Them

If you wait until you need garden seeds in an emergency, it may be too late.

During the COVID pandemic, I did the majority of my garden-seed ordering after the lockdown. Two of my orders were canceled, and many of the seeds I wanted to purchase were unavailable. 

6 Tips for Storing Seeds in Your Emergency Food Pantry

  1. Store in low humidity
  2. Store in low temperature
  3. Keep seeds in a sealed glass jar in the refrigerator or a cool dark location like a pantry
  4. Include a desiccant in each storage jar to reduce moisture
  5. Know that seed viability declines with the age of the seed and refers to how vigorous your seedlings will be when they “do” sprout
  6. Germination rates decline with the age of the seed and refers to whether or not your seeds sprout

Average Shelf-life of Stored Vegetable Seeds

Vegetable TypeYears
Asparagus3-4
Bean2-4
Beet2-5
Broccoli3-5
Brussel Sprout3-5
Cabbage3-5
Carrot3-4
Cauliflower4-5
Celery3-5
Chard3-5
Chinese Cabbage3-5
Collards3-5
Corn1-3
Cucumber3-6
Eggplant4-5
Endive5
Fennel3-4
Kale3-5
Kohlrabi3-5
Leek2-3
Lettuce1-6
Muskmelon3-6
Mustard4
Okra2-3
Onion1-2
Parsley1
Parsnip1-3
Peas2-4
Spinach1-5
Tomato3-7
Information Compliments of Johnny’s Seeds
To see the full PDF document on Johnny’s website click here

Start Saving Garden Seeds

Work towards saving seeds from your garden produce by using cross-pollinating plants often referred to as “heirloom” varieties. Avoid planting hybrids because you won’t get the same fruit or vegetable type from the offspring.

Easy Seeds To Store

  • Tomato
  • Pepper
  • Beans
  • Lettuce
  • Peas

Why Save Your Own Seeds for the Emergency Pantry?

  • Save money on seeds
  • It’s enjoyable
  • Cultivate delicious varieties of garden produce that are specifically adapted to your exact location, referred to as landrace variety
  • Work towards seed self-reliance

Learn Food Preservation

Combine food preservation skills with a garden, and you are way ahead of the curve when it comes to emergency food storage.

The 7 Food Preservation Skills

  • Canning: kills micro-organisms and creates a vacuum seal
  • Smoking: smoke creates an acidic coating that deters bacteria
  • Fermenting: food is preserved with alcohol or organic acid
  • Pickling: lactic acid is used as a food preservative
  • Freeze-drying: low-temperature, low-pressure dehydration
  • Dehydrating: removing moisture with heat 
  • Salting: Salt draws water out of food and dehydrates it

FIFO Stock Rotation/Food Rotation

Restaurants use a method of stock rotation called FIFO or “first in, first out.” FIFO works well to keep track of the expiration dates on your emergency food supplies.

5 Steps for using FIFO (First in, First Out)

  1. Maintain a logbook listing food type
  2. Track expiration dates in the logbook; be really meticulous about this
  3. Store like supplies together
  4. Keep items that are close to expiration close to the front for easy access.  
  5. Use a permanent marker to put large, “use-by dates” on the outside of your food packaging before you store them

If you purchase food and it doesn’t get eaten, rotate is out of your stock by donating or trading to make room for items you regularly eat. 

Test Foods You Plan on Storing   

By purchasing small amounts of unfamiliar foods, you can make sure it’s something everyone likes and that you will use it in your food rotation.

I bought a 50 lb bag of quinoa, which is considered one of the perfect superfoods.  My entire family thinks quinoa tastes awful, so I wasted food and money. I now have a 50lb bag of quinoa sitting in my pantry taking up space.

Match Your Survival Food to Your Skills and Needs

If you don’t know how to cook and your regular diet consists of frozen or microwave dinners, go with ready-made meals like canned soups or freeze-dried meals.  

  • If you’ve never cooked in your life, consider foods that don’t require cooking or foods that just need boiled water to prepare.
  • If you don’t cook, avoid staples that take up a lot of space and require processing or cooking skills.  
  • If you are using staples, incorporate them in your diet and use them with the other ingredients in your pantry to see what works for you
  • Start keeping a list of “go-to” recipes, and meals that work for you

How Food is Packaged is an Important Consideration 

The type of packaging used to store your emergency food can increase or decrease shelf-life by decades. Keep this in mind when planning food rotation.

As an example:

  • Dry white rice in the store-bought plastic bag will last 4 to 5 years.
  • Dry white rice stored in hermetically sealed #10 tin-can, will last up to 30 years!
  • Incorporate both packaging methods into your pantry but make sure ingredients are used before they go bad.

Don’t Rush to Build Your Food Storage 

Build your pantry slowly; find out what foods you use and what foods are missing. Try integrating pantry meals into your regular diet so you can see gaps in your storage supply. 

If you take your time and observe you will build a stronger, more useful pantry.

Weaknesses discovered in my emergency pantry during the COVID Lock-down:

  • I had a lot of rice and flour in my pantry but not enough protein. My local grocery store started rationing meat and dried beans. The local Costco was out of all meats. 
  • I have 100’s of lbs of rice and only one bottle of soy sauce.
  • I had plenty of wheat flour, but no yeast to make bread; the store ran out of yeast.

Consider What Foods are Rationed in Times of National Disaster or Emergency

Foods I noticed were rationed during the COVID Lockdown: 

  • Meat 
  • Flour 
  • Pasta 
  • Dry beans 
  • Lentils 
  • Canned beans 
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Peanut butter 
  • Bread 
  • Rice 

Items that were not available at the store: 

  • Lettuce (I eat a salad every night with dinner) 
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Fresh fruits 
  • Yeast (for bread making)
  • Frozen foods (fruits and vegetables) 
  • Flour 

Keep Copies of Manuals & How-to’s in an Emergency Folder

Keep how-to documents in a folder wherever your pantry is located.

When international travel stopped during the COVID, I began to consider the pandemic severe enough to add a 55-gallon drum of water to my emergency storage. When I was prepping the tank I had to look up the ratios of water to bleach to treat drinking water.

I didn’t have a hard copy of this information so I had to rely on electricity and look it up on the internet, which luckily was available.

Here are just a few examples of things you might keep in your emergency folder

  • Ratios of bleach to water for chlorinating drinking water
  • Uses for bulk ingredients you have
  • Recipe ideas for your emergency preparedness stock
  • How to process ingredients, i.e. users manual for your grain mill
  • Directions for how to use tools x,y, and z
  • Directions for how to make bread-starter 
  • Directions for using natural ingredients, like vinegar, to clean 

Read Ready Squirrel’s Article: Easily Make Bread Yeast From Flour And Water click here

Build Redundancy into Your Emergency Food Supply

Certain food items serve so many purposes they are worth having in your emergency pantry. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Salt: Spices food, preserves meat, cleans cast iron, replaces electrolytes
  • Hard alcohol/spirits: acts as a disinfectant, a base for tinctures and herbal remedies, fruit preservation, and barter
  • Baking Soda: Wash your hair, soothe an upset stomach, leavening agent for baking
  • Soy Sauce: I see soy sauce as one of the master flavor enhancers of emergency food storage. It lasts, virtually, forever, and it adds flavors to everything from rice to stir-fry
  • Peanut Butter: Eat it on bread, crackers, off the spoon, or add it to smoothies and baked goods.
  • Dried Pasta: It’s the most commonly eaten food in the world for a reason, eat it hot with any number of sauces, with meat and spices, or use it with fresh produce and herbs to make a cold salad
  • White Rice: Yeah, way too obvious. What can’t you make with white rice? Cook it and eat it with soy sauce, my favorite way to eat it; top it with just about anything, and it fills you up. You can also make rice noodles or ferment rice wine

31 Hygiene & Sanitation Supplies for Emergency Food Storage

During the COVID pandemic cleaning supplies were more challenging to find than most food items. Take a look at this list, plan to store extras of the things that fit your situation.

31 Hygiene & Sanitation Supplies

  1. Bleach (unscented), or Calcium hypochlorite to make bleach mixes (Used in Swimming Pools, has a longer storage life than bleach)
  2. Lysol or a spray bottle to mix bleach/ water combo for cleaning surfaces
  3. Contractor Grade Trash Bags
  4. 5-Gallon bucket for body waste (line with trash bags)
  5. Soap
  6. Clean Water
  7. Toothpaste
  8. Toothbrush
  9. Shampoo or body soap
  10. Bar soap
  11. Toilet paper
  12. Feminine hygiene products
  13. Baby products
  14. Infant formula
  15. Bottles
  16. Diapers
  17. Wipes
  18. Diaper rash cream
  19. Dish soap
  20. Laundry detergent
  21. Two five-gallon buckets to wash clothes
  22. 2 plastic tubs to wash and rinse dishes
  23. Quick-dry towels
  24. Paper cups
  25. Paper towels
  26. Plastic utensils
  27. Tarps
  28. Duct tape
  29. Twist ties
  30. Small rope, twine or paracord
  31. Gravity-fed water filtration The small back-pack/Sawyer filters are excellent for drinking water, but if you are cleaning clothes, keeping a bathroom area clean, and practicing personal hygiene you will need a higher volume of water

During COVID-19, two of the main things either rationed or not available were cleaning supplies and toilet paper. Why toilet paper? Your guess is as good as mine.  

Cleaning Supplies Rationed or Unavailable Where I Live

All antibacterial cleaning items were rationed, or not available in my state

  • Bleach (Next time I will have calcium hypochlorite on hand and make my own bleach) Bleach cut with water in a spray bottle is an excellent way to disinfect. I ruined some clothing, but it was worth it.
  • Lysol (I couldn’t find it anywhere for over two months)
  • Antibacterial hand soap Bar soap and water work just as well if you wash your hands properly
  • Toilet paper 
  • Toothpaste 
  • Laundry detergent 
  • Antibacterial wipes

Know Your Ideal Storage Environment

Everyone has a different situation. Some people live in a 4000-square ft. mansion on 20 acres and some live in a tiny high-rise apartment. Use what space you have that is as close to the ideal storage environment as possible.

Ideal Food Storage Environment:

  • Cool
  • Dry
  • Dark
  • Protected from sunlight
  • No significant temperature fluctuations
  • 80° or lower
  • Away from heat sources like stovetops, ovens, venting electronics or furnaces
  • Low Humidity
  • Store food in airtight containers
  • If you are storing food in a basement, try to get items off of the floor and onto something like a guerilla rack, cheap plastic bookshelf, or even an old pallet.

If you can avoid storing your emergency food in your garage or an outside shed that would be best. Fluctuations in temperature can be drastic and wreak havoc with food.

As an example of what heat does to food items, the Military Meal Ready-to-Eat (MRE) has a shelf life of up to 7 years if stored at 70°. If stored in temperatures above 80° that shelf -life drops to 1.5 years.

Emergency Food Storage: Try It, Test It, Use It, Plan It, Learn it

Maybe this should be the very first tip. I’ll keep it short and sweet. Don’t depend on anything: a tool, a food, a piece of equipment, or a plan without first testing it and/ or learning how to use it.

  • Don’t wait until you depend on something for survival before you find out it isn’t there to back you up.
  • Build Redundancy into your emergency food storage and survival gear; have backups, for your backups

Useful Links

Federal Emergency Management Agency PDF: Food and Water in an Emergency  click here

Utah State University Extension: A Guide to Food Storage For Emergencies click here

If you are going hardcore on your emergency food storage this is a must-read. LDS Preparedness Manual click here

Check out Scott’s summary of, 35 Top Tips For Food Storage and Mistakes to Avoid on YouTube

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