Two main considerations when picking a place to store emergency food are heat and moisture. Where you store your survival food has a major impact on how long your food lasts—no matter where your store your food, it should meet the following criteria.
Store your non-perishable survival food in a cool, dry, well-ventilated location up off the floor and out of direct sunlight. Storage temperatures should be steady, above 32° F and below 75°F. Food should be stored in a location accessible after your most likely emergency or natural disaster.
The prime storage temperature for emergency food is above freezing, but that is not realistic for the average prepper. Instead, try to make sure temps don’t get super hot and then super cold.
The optimal food storage temperature is in the cool toBrian Nummer Food Safety Specialist, University of Utah, [Brigham Young University (Green et al., 2005)]
moderate range, approximately 40 to 70° F.
A dry storage location should be dry, i.e., no standing water and less than 50% humidity, especially store-bought foods in the original cardboard packaging.
Freezing survival food is just as bad as letting it bake in a hot garage, and major fluctuations in storage temperature will reduce shelf-life decades. Looking at these temperature requirements, it’s easy to see why and structure that isn’t climate controlled is not ideal for survival food storage.
When deciding on a location for emergency food storage, keep in mind that light oxidizes food and humidity, high temperatures, freezing temperatures, mice, rats, and bugs can ruin survival food and at the least will severely reduce shelf-life.
Ok, if you are ready to start storing food to protect your family, let’s talk storage locations.
Store Survival: Do What It Takes
You may be racking your brain to figure out where in your house or apartment you could actually store your food. You may be thinking you don’t have room for food storage, but you do. You definitely do.
I practice what I preach, though. Above are pictures of my bedroom and hallway closet converted to food storage. I didn’t think I had a spot for survival food, so I got creative and made it happen.
When we moved to Florida, I went minimalist on my clothing to store emergency supplies in my bedroom closet. My wife thought I was crazy. Suits, dress clothes, shoes, and anything I hadn’t worn in a year went to Good Will.
Make up your mind to start storing food for emergencies, and you will.
If you want to learn more about the food in long term storage check out comprehensive the Ready Squirrel article, Cheap Emergency Food Stockpile
13 Storage Locations For Survival Food
The best location to store survival food is inside your house or apartment. Preferable a food pantry or closet but this isn’t possible for the majority because we already have these areas stuff with our daily rations. For 13 additional food storage locations, read on.
Unless you have a root cellar, the coolest darkest location in your home is probably the basement. Because basements are below grade, they tend to sweat moisture. Consider using a dehumidifier to keep humidity below 50%.
Basement Flooding from rain, groundwater, or appliances is another risk of storing food in the basement.
Basements are out of site, out of mind locations so you may not notice water build up. A slow leak could go unnoticed for days and cause considerable damage to food-storage. Remedy this rick by placing a water sensor or alarm downstairs to alert you in case of water build up.Scott, Ready Squirrel
It’s not if a basement will flood, but when. Place your survival food up off the floor no matter what, but it is essential in a basement. Also, consider having our basement sealed if your area is prone to flooding. I had to have some foundation work done, and the basement sealed to keep it from leaking in heavy storms.
At my previous home, I used Gorilla-type racks to build my emergency pantry and
4 ideas for getting food off of concrete
Avoid keeping any food containers directly on the concrete because cans will rust from moisture. Plastic in food-grade buckets and water barrels will interact with the chemicals in concrete, which will break down the plastic and get into your food.
- Build shelving units from dimensional lumber
- Purchase heavy duty shelving units like Gorilla Racks. Food is heavy so don’t skimp.
- Place Dimensional Lumber & Plywood on the floor measure your floor space, lay some 2x4s or 4x4s on the concrete and place plywood over the top, drive-in some wood screws and then store food on top
- Place free Pallets on the Floor: get free wood pallets and place plywood on top. I’d run some wood screws in so the plywood doesn’t move around
Store These Foods In the Basement
- #10 Cans
- Sealed 5-gallon Food-grade buckets with lids
- Store Bought Cans
- Plastic Containers of food, beverages and juice
- Any foods in sealed Mylar bags (keep an eye out for mice and critters)
- Emergency water storage
Don’t Store These Foods in the basement
Don’t store any food other than canned food that is in store-bought packaging.
Carboard mildews and breaks down quickly in a high humidity basement. If you want to experiment with what foods will store downstairs, use a humidifier to reduce humidity to less than 50%.
#2 Extra Bedroom
Storing food in an extra bedroom might sound obvious, or it may be just too painful. You’ve waited your entire life to have a craft room, and you finally have one. No way are you storing emergency food in the bedroom.
Consider using extra closets or place food under the guest bed. You could also throw up a shelving unit(s) next to your craft supplies, cover it with a cloth, or buy shelving with cupboards and doors.
#3 Extra Shelves
Let’s face it; nobody has extra shelves in their house. As humans, we tend to rat-pack every nook and cranny. This section should probably be called, “which shelf can you dedicate to survival food.”
The hardest part about using extra shelving for survival food is you might find it unsightly to have 400 cans of food or buckets of dry goods sitting in the middle of your living room. Remedy this by using shelving or cupboards with doors or getting creative and hanging the decorative cloth to hide the food.
#4 Under Every Bed In the House
You can store a tremendous amount of food under beds
#5 An extra closet
You may not have an extra closet so consider moving stuff that doesn’t need environmental control to another location and use that indoor closet for food storage.
#6 Under or inside furniture
This is a perfect idea if you live in a super small space like an apartment. Buy furniture that has storage; coffee tables, sofas, benches, and footstools are sold that have interior storage.
#7 Root Cellar
Root cellars have been around for thousands of years because they provide the ideal temperature and humidity for storing semi-perishable foods like root vegetables, canned and sealed foods.
Many do not have a root cellar. I’ve always wanted one, and it’s on the bucket list.
The downside to root cellars is they are prone to flooding. This is a risk you take for an awesome food storage environment. Another downside is that most root sellers aren’t attached to the house, so you may risk the elements to get at your food.
#8 Inside empty storage containers
Use all of the extra suitcases, backpacks, plastic storage containers, and buckets lying in closets or under beds. Stuff them full of food and put them back in their location.
#9 Garage On Shelves
Avoid storing food in the garage unless it’s necessary. Garages get super hot, super cold and break the cardinal rule of food storage, high and low fluctuating temperatures.
Most garage doors have a huge crack underneath, allowing any bug or critter to come and go, and they definitely don’t keep out groundwater in the event of flooding.
Garages aren’t secure. We leave our garage door open, on accident, at least once a month. Anyone can walk up and steal food. I have teenagers.
I lived in Arizona for almost ten years. When I moved, everything in my garage had heat damage. A bag of SCUBA gear had a bunch of neoprene and rubber items all damaged beyond repair. Heat will do the same to food.
Research at Brigham Young University on long-term [food]Brian Nummer, Food Safety Specialist, Utah State University
storage has shown that wheat retained an acceptable quality
for 25 years when stored cool (basement) and only 5 years
when stored [in a hot] garage or attic.
Freezing-garage temperatures will cause canned foods to bulge, crack and weep. Canned food damaged by super cold temperatures mimics the signs of canned food with botulism (deadly food poisoning.) If food cans bulge, you will have to assume it is bad and throw it out.
If your garage is temperature-controlled, then, by all means, store survival food out there.
Survival Items to store in the garage
I just had an idea, swap items that can handle the heat from inside your abode outside in the garage and store food in the vacant inside space. Here are some ideas
- Camping gear
- Cooking gear
- Storage Containers
- Empty Food-grade buckets
- Cleaning Solvents
- Industrial Soaps
- Natural Disaster repair materials
- Contractor Grade Trashbags
- Sanitation Products (Check out the Ready Squirrel Article, 53 Must Have Items For Emergency Santitation)
- Poo Bucket
- Rope, line and parachord
#10 Crawl Spaces
If you have a big enough crawl space, this is a good place to store emergency food as long as you can keep the humidity below 50%.
#11 Storage Shed
I have a pretty good storage shed. You could almost say it’s a small cabin-like structure. It has a window air conditioner, but I don’t want to spend the money to run it full-time, so it’s basically like a garage—fluctuations of high and low temperatures and high humidity. Not good for food storage.
If you can control the temperature and humidity, a storage shed is pretty good for food storage, otherwise, not so good.
If my soil weren’t all sand, I would consider putting a trap door in the floor of the shed, and I’d dig a food cellar underneath.
When Storing Food: Consider Weight
Before stacking survival food to the ceiling, consider the floor, furniture, or shelving strength. The weight of dry and canned foods can add up quickly, and emergency water is super heavy. Consider if you are on a second floor or think you might need to move your food storage from one location to another—plan to avoid the headache.
I stored a 55-gallon food-grade barrel of water in the basement and it weighed 459lbs. I filled it through the basement window not even thinking of how heavy it would be. Once filled my only option was to empty the container. When I moved I had to do that by filling and carrying a 5-gallon buckets up the stairs and through the house to empty it.Scott, Ready Squirrel
Utah State University Brian Nummer, Food Safety Specialist: A Guide To Food Storage, Link located on Ready Squirrel site