Survival Food Storage: A Quick Rundown

Survival food storage is the practice of stockpiling food for emergencies and disasters. It is a practice that has been in use since the dawn of civilization.

In Genesis 41:29-36 God warns the Pharaoh of Egypt that 7 years of abundance will be followed by 7 years of famine. The Pharaoh is further instructed to take 1/5 of the harvest during the 7 years of abundance so that the people of the land would not perish during the famine. The plan was followed and Egypt was saved.

Not even the most radical survivalist today would recommend 7 years of food storage. That is just  a crazy amount of good storage; isn’t it?

I hope so. If there was a worldwide famine that lasted 7 years in today’s world, there would probably be billions of people who starve to death. That is a whole lot of misery.

How Much Food Do You Really Need To Store?

That is a good question that no one can answer for sure. Some think that a years worth of survival food stored away is more than enough; others think you only need 2 weeks worth. My thought is that the more food you have stored away for an emergency, the better off you will be when a food shortage arises. I am one of those who  thinks a years supply of food is a good amount to aim for. The true best answer for you depends on the amount of space you have to store food, how long and severe your winters are, and the amount of disposable income you have.

If you are having trouble figuring out how much food to put into storage, you are not alone. Many people struggle with this. The good news is three is a very cool application that will help you figure all of that out. Jason over at has a survival food storage calculator that is simply marvelous. Just input the number of adults and children that are in your household and it will tell you how much food your household needs. It is a very detailed application. Go check it out!

Is there a real threat to our food supply?

Solar flares can disrupt food production.

Solar flares can cause havok to the eletical grid..

You bet there is. There is one threat that all by itself could send the entire worlds food production and distribution capabilities back 150 years. A direct hit by a strong Solar Storm could cripple societies infrastructure by delivering a death blow to the power grids all over the globe. If that were to happen millions would starve to death because food would not get distributed far and wide enough to feed the masses.

What factors are needed in survival food storage containers?

The kind of survival food storage container you use will depends on several factors. There are several different food storage systems available; what works well for one type of food isn’t necessarily good for another.

Some foods just need to be kept in a cool, dry environment. Others need to be heated first to kill microbes and then vacuum sealed. Still others need to be pressure cooked at 240°F in order to kill off the botulism spores that produce deadly botulism toxins.

Long-term food storage should always be done in a dry, cool environment out of the reach of vermin. Root cellars are an ideal environment for storing food. A partitioned and insulated portion of a basement will also serve this purpose very well. If you don’t have either of those a pantry or closet that isn’t heated during the winter will work. The cooler and drier the food is stored…the better. Keep in mind:

  • Water and high humidity can spoil some foods quickly.
  • Warm temperatures will cause the food to lose its nutritional value quicker and accelerates the spoilage.
  • Keeping the food away from vermin is self-explanatory.

So, your food containers need to be:

  • Non-reactive.You don’t want the material of the container to have a chemical reaction with your food.
  • Air-tight. If you use oxygen absorbers you don’t want oxygen to seep into the container. An air-tight container also helps keep away the vermin.
  • Non Toxic. Some plastics leach dangerous toxins into food after awhile.
  • Kept in a cool, dry environment.

Food-Grade Buckets

Food grade buckets are used in survival food storage.

Food-grade poly buckets.

A good option for  storing beans, grains, and legumes is to store them in food-grade poly buckets.  You can find used food grade buckets at restaurants, your supermarkets deli, hamburger joints, ice cream shops, etc. Reusable air and water tight lids are available for these buckets. These Gamma Seal Bucket Lids are resealable and give easy access to your food. You can use the regular lids if you want, just be sure to use Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers.

When storing your food in these food grade buckets it is a good idea to get Mylar bags to create an oxygen barrier. If y9u use them with oxygen absorbers the food can be stored longer. Oxygen absorbers suck out the oxygen out of the air in the container leaving a nitrogen rich environment.

Here is a quick tutorial highlighting the basics of survival food storage using food-grade buckets.



Of course there is always canning as a way to preserve food too. There are two kinds of canning practiced; canning in a boiling water bath and pressure canning. The method of canning that is used depends on the acidity of the food that is going to be canned. Highly acidic food like fruit and tomatoes are usually canned with the water bath method while foods that aren’t acidic are canned using the pressure canning method. Pressure canning involves a special piece of equipment; the pressure canner.

There are plenty of websites that have good canning recipes. Here are two:

Here is an excellent, concise video covering water-bath canning.

Another good video highlighting how to use a pressure canner:

What Foods Should You put into Storage?

That depends on what you want to eat and how much you want to cook.

Some foods such as hard wheat and white rice do excellently when properly stored and can still be good 10, 20, or even 40 years after they are put into storage. Keep in mind that temperature has a huge effect on how long these foods keep; the same food item that will last 40 years at 37.5oF will only last about 10 years at 70oF.

Honey is natures best answer for survival food storage.

Properly stored honey will still be good for your great-grandchildren.

Two of natures finest foods that will last practically forever before they go bad are also great sweeteners. Honey and maple syrup will both last at a lifetime if stored at room temperature, out of the sunlight and in a tightly sealed container. If they crystallize they are still good, just heat to turn it back to its liquid form.

You could get by for six months by eating only freeze dried and dehydrated food that you rehydrate with hot water…but I doubt that you would be happy. Freeze dried eggs and turkey-Ala-king get OLD after awhile. Unless you have absolutely no skill in the kitchen you will also want some canned meats, vegetables, and fish; and also some beans, rice, and other grains stored away in food grade buckets. With a good hand grain mill you will be able to turn the grains into flour to make fresh bread.

What other methods of food preservation are available?

There are other time tested methods of food preservation that can and should be included in your survival food storage.

Dehydrated Food

Drying food is one of the oldest forms of food preservation. It works well because the low moisture content won’t allow the organisms that spoil food to grow. Dehydrating food can be done simply at home using an electrical food dehydrators or your oven.

Pre-packaged dehydrated food is a good survival food.

Harmony House dehydrated food is convienient; just add water.

Many fruits and meats are wonderful when dehydrated. You can dry your meats turning them into jerky and sausage. Drying meats is one of the oldest ways of preserving food and has been used by mankind since the dawn of time. Today we can make the dried meats preserve for an even longer period of time by vacuum packing them. They will stay preserved nicely for years in a cool spot in the cellar until you are ready to consume them.

If you don’t want to dehydrate your own food you can always buy dehydrated food. Factory dried pasta will last for many years when properly stored. You can buy dehydrated food that is designed for camping and emergency supplies. Harmony House has a good selection of delicious dehydrated food that is perfect for survival food storage.

Smoking is an another way to dehydrate food. Both fish and pork smoke rather well. I prefer a smoker with an indirect fire that smolders the wood chips and provides an indirect heat to the fish and meat between 140 and 160 degrees F.

Freeze Dried Food

Mountain House Freeze Dried Food

Mountain House Freeze Dried Food

Freeze drying  is a high tech way to make emergency and survival food. Freeze dried vegetables are often the vegetables that you find at restaurants salad bars. When freeze dried vegetables are re-constituted they can be difficult to distinguish from fresh vegetables.

Most people prefer freeze dried food to dehydrated food because it’s flavor, nutritional value, and texture is almost identical to the original.

In some aspects dehydrated and freeze dried food are similar. Both freeze dried and dehydrated food have a shelf life of  20+ years. Both require water to rehydrate. But that is about it. Mountain House makes some very good dehydrated food.


Pickling is still another ancient way to store food for the long term. You can pickle many other foods beside cucumbers. Try pickling some green beans, cauliflower and carrots. You can also pickle onions, cabbage beets and peppers.

Fruit can be pickled too! Pickled lemons are famous in Morocco and Vietnam. Russians like their pickled watermelon while the Polish like pickled pumpkin.

Fish and meat is often pickled and I bet you have had some. Have you ever heard of pickled herring or pickled pigs feet? How about corned beef. That’s right…corned beef is pickled beef.


As you can see, there are lots of things to consider when you are developing your survival food storage plan. I suggest that you experiment with the different methods of preserving and storing food until you have a system that suits your needs and desired level of preparedness. Bt doing so you will come up with a diverse survival food storage plan that will keep you eating when food becomes scarce.

Featured image by: hazelowendmc

  1. Claudia

    I am worried about 2012. I think something is going to happen, even if it isn’t going to be the end of the world, I think there will be a major catastrophe that will set off others. So I’m preparing our family food stockpile for this reason. And your blog is a great knowledge base for me to tap into, thank you!

  2. Mike

    Excellent article. This is quickly becoming my favorite site for all things survival! Me and my wife have been prepping for about a year and one of the best things we did was learn to can our own food. I highly recommend
    everyone learn to do this.

    • James Sorick
      James Sorick12-30-2011

      Thanks for the kind comments Mike!

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