How to Properly Store Food for the Long Term

When you’re preparing for survival, food should be among the top priorities on your list. Granted, a human can survive quite some time without food, but we’ll need our rations in order to keep our energies up. When we’re going camping or trying to make it during an emergency, we must get a sufficient amount of calories per day. Without this, we’d probably be at the mercy of the elements much sooner.

Whether you’re packing a survival kit for emergencies or simply planning a camping trip, it can be hard to determine how to store food. With disasters like floods, earthquakes, war, and tornadoes hitting developed areas all over the world, everyone should know how to store food for the long term.

Storing food for emergencies can be a complicated process, as you don’t want it to spoil or cause you any harm when it’s consumed. Junk food consists mainly of empty calories, so you don’t want to depend on packets of chips or bars of candy.

Below are some tips on proper food storage, gleaned from survival experts and bloggers on the subject. While these may not cover everything there is to know about the subject, they’d be a decent start. After the tips, we’ll take a look at some essential items for food storage as well:

The Dry Pack Canning Method

The dry pack canning method is a popular way to store food for a long time. This will come in handy when you go on trips or find yourself in a high-risk zone for natural/manmade disasters. It’s a process that we use for storing foods with less than 10 percent moisture content. They’re also low in oil content. Think of essentials like flour, dry cereal, powdered eggs, powdered milk, pasta, sugar, rice, etc.

Dehydrated vegetables, beans, and corn are also good options for dry pack canning. If you manage to get this method right, these foods can last for quite a few years, perhaps even decades. You may test the food beforehand by knocking at them with a hammer. If they crack, they’re dry enough for this process. If the result is more of a smashed look, the moisture content is probably too high.  

After you’ve conducted this test, you have to decide which kind of storage you want. Some housewives might choose to use mason jars, while food-grade buckets will provide a less delicate option. A FoodSaver machine, PETE bottles, and other containers might also work well. What you need with all these are oxygen absorbers.

Once you have the containers and oxygen absorbers, the rest is fairly easy. Simply place the food in the container, and put in one or two oxygen absorbers inside as well. Screw or place on the lid tightly and wait for the absorber to remove the air. The lid will make a specific sound when this is done and your food is sealed for storage.

Some food storage machines already have a jar attachment, which will make the oxygen absorbers unnecessary. Using these machines will automatically remove the air from the container at the time of packing.

If you do mean to use this method, keep in mind that you’d need to have a decent amount of storage space for all those containers. The jars, boxes, and absorbers aren’t difficult to find, especially if you look online, but make sure to make the most of your space. If you want to store a large amount of food, the buckets are the best option.  

Choosing the Right Space

A basement is usually the most common and most logical choice for long term food storage. No matter what kind of space you choose, it should be relatively cool, dry, and dark. If your basement is susceptible to flooding or you simply don’t have one, a large closet or garage would also do.

Before buying or packing any food containers, you should measure the intended space. This will help you make your choices more realistically. Finally, mark out the designated areas for water, cans, boxes, bottles, or bins. You may also want to install some shelving if necessary, as this will help you make use of the vertical space.

Selecting the Right Items

Choosing the right items for your long term storage is also essential. Rotten food will be a frustrating matter, not to mention a waste of storage space. This is why the cracking test is essential to make sure the food is dry and as free of oils as possible. If you do have to store wet foods, they’ll need their own preserving and packaging process.

Before you think about storing food, the first thought should be about water. We can’t survive for long without water, so make sure to have at least a gallon per person for every estimated day of survival. This alone will take up quite a bit of space. If that’s an issue, a water purifier, bleach, water purification tablets, and other methods should be on hand. You might want to read up on a few ways to purify your water for survival purposes.

Coming back to the food, the most important items to stock up on are those with a high amount of carbohydrates. A crisis requires a lot of energy and stamina, which is mainly provided through carbs. Grains, rice, and pasta are the basic choices here, so make sure they account for about 50-60% of your total food storage.

After the carbs, you’d need some decent sources of protein for more energy and health. Canned beans, canned or dried meat, and protein bars are the best choices here. These should make up about a quarter of your food storage for the long term.

The rest of the storage should be of supplemental foods such as dry milk, powdered eggs, dehydrated veggies and fruits, or dehydrated whole meals. Dried beans are a bit of a gamble, as you’ll need water to cook them. Make sure to include salt, pepper, and sugar or a sugar substitute in your stock as well. Some other seasonings such as garlic powder and onion powder might also come in handy when you’re preparing for emergencies. Don’t forget some oil for cooking as well. When you’re stuck somewhere, bland food will leave you low on motivation even if it fills you up.

Miscellaneous Tips

There are several other factors to keep in mind when storing food for a long time. This has a lot to do with organization, as you want to make sure that the necessary foods are easily accessible. The following pointers should make the tips easier to remember:

  • Make sure you have everything you need to open the containers and actually prepare the food. Eating and cooking utensils should have their own space, while a butane or gel-fuel stove with some fuel backups is also necessary.
  • Categorize the rice, pasta, and other foods so you don’t forget where a certain item is. It might be best to label every box, can, and jar. Make sure the labels are facing outwards while stocking up.
  • As you get new food for storage, use up the old kind first. This will prevent spoiling for the maximum time possible.
  • Avoid cans and any other containers with large dents in them. This can compromise the contents, leading to faster spoilage and possibly harm your health if they’re consumed.

Now that we’ve discussed the best ways to tackle food storage, let’s have look at some of the items we can get online:

Where to Buy
Ball Mason Jar-16 oz. Clear Glass Heritage Series
Emergency Cooking Fuel Storage Set with Stove
Grizzly Gear Emergency Food Rations
Oxy-Sorb Oxygen Absorbers for Food Storage
Food Storage for Self-Sufficiency and Survival


1. Ball Mason Jar-16 oz. Clear Glass Heritage Series

Mason jars come in handy for a number of projects, and dry food storage is just one of them. You can also use them for preserves, pickled food, and even as glasses once they’re empty. This particular kind is available in a set of four, so order according to your needs.

The lids of these jars fit quite tightly, which is ideal for food storage. You can also use them to make quick meals, such as overnight oats. The sides have measurements, which should make it easy to preserve food inside them. This way, you’ll know exactly how much you have stored and how much you have left.

 As these are made of glass, they’re good for keeping food fresh. However, this material also makes them most susceptible to breakage, so make sure you store them safely.

2. Emergency Cooking Fuel Storage Set with Stove

This emergency cooking set comes with a 24-pack of fuel cans and an impressive shelf life of 20 years. This means that you may use it for your camping trips as well as for keeping on hand in case of any emergency. The packing here makes sure that the fuel is safe and not prone to leakage.

What’s more, bringing the fuel in this stove is reportedly safe for our health, even if we want to cook indoors. This is especially handy in emergency situations, so consider this stove for your survival prep.

3. Grizzly Gear Emergency Food Rations

When you’re out camping, on a road trip, or venturing outside during an emergency, it’s best to have some calorie-rich rations on you. These Grizzly Gear bars are light to carry, but contain about 400 calories each! A whole pack of 9 bars should be enough for three days.

The shelf life for these rations is five years, which should be quite enough. The ingredients also contain a lot more nutrients and less sugar than competing brands. What’s even better is that eating these bars doesn’t make you thirsty.  The contents meet the requirement for both kosher and halal diets, so no one has to worry on any religious count.

4. Oxy-Sorb Oxygen Absorbers for Food Storage

These oxygen absorbers are a must-have for anyone who wants to sore dry foods for the long term. They have a 100 CC oxygen absorption capacity, which makes three of these enough to pack around 10 cans.

The instructions here might be a bit unclear, so make sure you know what you’re doing beforehand. A little research online will help, as it’s important that you handle these absorbers properly.

5. Food Storage for Self-Sufficiency and Survival: The Essential Guide for Family Preparedness Paperback

All the equipment in the world would probably not help you with proper food storage unless you know what to do with it. This book by Angela Paskett should set you on the right track in your emergency preparations.

When you’re in an emergency, you want to rely on your own stockpile, and this book helps to accomplish just that. Even if you’re a complete beginner when it comes to food storage, this book will soon put you at ease. It will also help to customize your storage according to the needs and requirements of your family.


When it comes to survival of any kind, preparedness is the key to success. As long as you’re vigilant about the right food storage methods now, you may hope to suffer less in an emergency situation. These tips might even save your life or that of a loved one later on, so get started as soon as possible!