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How to Store Food: A Complete Guide to DIY Long-Term Food Storage

Last Updated: August 3, 2022

For long-term food storage, bear in mind that 53% of Americans do not have a 3-day supply of non-perishable food and water (U.S. Poll, 2012) in their homes. Little by little, build a supply of food that will last throughout any prolonged period without access to readily available food or water. Treat these items as staples in your cupboard, pantry, shelves, and long-term food storage. Any portion can be rotated into your normal diet in cycles.

lifespan of different types of food for long-term food storage

What Foods Are Good for Long-Term and How Long Do They Last?

Table of Contents

Properly contained, low-moisture foods stored at room temperature or cooler (24°C/75°F or lower) remain nutritious and edible. While there is a decline in nutritional quality and taste over time, depending on the original quality of food and how it was processed, packaged, and stored, the studies show that even after being stored long-term (properly), your stored food supplies will help sustain life in an emergency.

Wheat30+ years
White rice30+ years
Corn30+ years
Sugar30+ years
Pinto beans30 years
Rolled oats30 years
Pasta30 years
Potato flakes30 years
Non-fat powdered milk20 years
Dehydrated carrots20 years
Foods lasting 20 years or more

How Much Food Should Be Stored Per Adult?

Quantity for One Month of Sustenance Per AdultRecommended ProductsLong-Term Storage Life
11.5 kg / 25 lbsWheat, white rice, corn, and other grains30+ years
2.5 kg / 5 lbsDry beans30+ years
The approximate weight of uncooked food in storage for roughly 30 days of survival nutrition for one normal adult

Add other items to your longer-term storage such as spices, sugar, salt, baking soda, and cooking oil. To meet nutritional needs, also store foods containing vitamin C and other essential nutrients as the human body does not store these vitamins long-term. See the disease, scurvy. Below are stockpiling items and other general items, on later in this article, the freeze-dried food section.

What Kind of Containers Should My Food Be Stored In?

  • Mylar Bags or Pouches – vacuum-sealed or impulse-sealed bags, used with oxygen absorber packets. Immediate oxygen control upon storage.
  • Glass Extra Large Airtight Food Storage Containers – available in a wide variety of brands, check for quality and seal guarantees. Non-porous, and the best protection against insects, rodents, and vermin.
  • PETE Bottles – for dry products such as wheat, corn, and beans. Used with oxygen absorber packets, eliminate food-borne insects and help preserve nutritional quality and taste.
  • Metal Cans (Canned Goods) – Cans are perfect for long-term storage of dry (10 percent moisture or less), shelf-stable, and low-oil content foods. The foods inside do not react with the metal can due to the food-grade enamel coating that lines the inside of the can.

How Long Will Food Last In Mylar Bags?

How long food will last in mylar bags
Food TypeShelf-Life (in a sealed Mylar bag with oxygen absorbers)
Granola1 year
Nuts1-5 years
Brown Rice2-5 years
Home-Dehydrated Fruits and Veggies2-5 years
Yeast3-5 years
Powdered Eggs5-10 years
Soft Whole Grains (Oats, quinoa, rye, barley)8+ years
White Flour10-15 years
Whole-Wheat Flour10 years
Corn Meal5-10 years
Hard Whole Grains (Dry corn, buckwheat, hard red wheat, soft white wheat, Kamut, durum wheat, Spelt)10+ years
TVP10-15 years
Professionally-Dehydrated Fruits10-15 years
Dry Non-Fat Milk15 years
Cheese Powder10-15 years
Professionally-Dehydrated Vegetables10-20 years
Freeze-Dried Fruits and Vegetables25 years
Legumes (Beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas)25+ years
Pasta20-30 years
White Rice10-30 years
Baking Soda, Baking Powder30 years
Potato Flakes30 years
SugarAlmost Indefinitely
HoneyAlmost Indefinitely
SaltAlmost Indefinitely
(Sources: 4, 5)

How Long Will Food Last in Glass Containers with Airtight Lids?

Glass has a non-porous surface that doesn’t absorb like plastic and can be safely washed at higher temperatures. Most food storage containers made of glass are designed to withstand high heat without breaking. The additional benefit of glass over all other containers is that it’s impossible for an insect, rodent, or creature to chew through, depending on the quality of your lid. For the shelf-life of food in glass containers refer to the table on mylar bags as a general guide (used in tandem with oxygen absorber packets).

How Long Will Food Last in PETE Bottles and BPA-free Plastic Containers?

Bottles made of PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic can be used with oxygen absorbers. PETE bottles are identified on the container with the letters PETE or PET under the recycle symbol. PETE bottles can also be used for shorter-term storage (up to 5 years) of other shelf-stable dry foods such as white rice. Other types of plastic bottles typically do not provide an adequate moisture or oxygen barrier for use with oxygen absorbers. Do not use containers that were previously used to store non-food items.

How Long Will Food Last in Metal Cans?

Cans will provide a complete oxygen and moisture barrier to protect the contents of the can. Thought of as the best choice for optimal long-term dry food product preservation, cans are light and easy to manage. The size is perfect for individuals or smaller families to ensure only a small amount of product is opened at a time.

Cans may rust in humid environments. Cans are generally not resealable for storage but may be re-purposed for other uses. Protect cans from moisture to prevent rust. Do not store in direct contact with concrete floors or walls. All dry foods packaged in #10 cans, except sugar, should be packed with an oxygen absorber to prevent insect infestation and preserve the quality of food.

A number 10 can is 6 1/4″ tall and 7″ in diameter and holds 3 quarts of liquid. The dry weight capacity of the can will vary by specific contents.

A #10 can of wheat weights 5.5 lbs, pinto beans 5.2 lbs., regular rolled oats 2.8 lbs., dry macaroni 3.0 lbs., dried apple slices 1.0 lbs., dry onions 2.1 lbs., and white flour 4.0 lbs.


How to Check the Lids of My Containers?

Use containers with airtight, screw-on, metal, glass, or BPA-free plastic lids with airtight seals; additional seals can be made of plastic or rubber.

Verify that the lid seal will not leak by placing a sealed empty container under water and immersing it. If you see bubbles escape from the bottle, it is not airtight.

How to Clean My Containers?

Clean used containers with dish soap, and rinse them thoroughly to remove any residue.

Drain out the water, and allow the bottles to dry completely before you use them for packaging food products.

Place an oxygen absorber in each bottle. The absorbers can be used with containers of up to one gallon capacity (4 liters).

After storing your food, wipe the top sealing edge of each container clean with a dry cloth and screw the lid on tightly.

Use a new oxygen absorber each time you refill a bottle for storage.

What are Oxygen Absorbers?

Types of containers that can be used with oxygen absorbers

Oxygen absorbers are small packets that contain an iron powder. The packets are made of a material that allows oxygen and moisture to enter but does not allow the iron powder to leak out.

How do oxygen absorbers work?

Moisture in the packaged food causes the iron in the oxygen absorber to rust. As it oxidizes, the iron absorbs oxygen, decreasing the overall level of oxygen. Oxygen absorbers rated for 300 cubic centimeters (cc) of oxygen work well for properly packaged dry food in containers of up to one gallon capacity (4 liters).

Is the use of oxygen absorbers equivalent to vacuum packaging?

Oxygen absorbers remove oxygen more effectively than vacuum packaging. Air is about 20 percent oxygen and 80 percent nitrogen. Absorbers remove only the oxygen. The air left in the container is mostly nitrogen and will not affect the food or allow the growth of insects.

What types of products can be stored using oxygen absorbers?

Dry products should be low in moisture and oil content. If the moisture content is not low enough (about 10 percent or less), storing products in reduced oxygen packaging may result in botulism poisoning.

What types of containers can be used with oxygen absorbers for food storage?

  • Mylar bags or pouches
  • Glass canning jars with metal lids that have gaskets.
  • PETE plastic bottles with airtight, screw-on lids.
  • Metal cans with seamed lids.

Note: Oxygen absorbers are not an effective treatment method for plastic buckets, milk bottles, or other types of plastic bottles not identified as PETE or PET under the recycle symbol.

What is the proper way to use oxygen absorbers?

Cut open the top of the bag of absorbers. Do not open the individual absorber packets yet.

Remove the number of absorbers from the bag that you will use in the next 20 to 30 minutes, and spread them out on a tray. Remove additional groups of absorbers from the supply as you need them during the packaging process, but do not open and close the bag repeatedly.

Reseal the remaining supply of absorbers by one of the following methods.

Do not store absorbers in ziplock bags. Remove the absorbers from the bag and place them into a glass canning jar that has a metal lid with a gasket. A one-pint jar (500 ml) will hold 25 absorbers.

Place one absorber into each storage container of food as it is packaged, keeping in mind that one absorber per 300 cc, 4 liters, or one gallon of dry goods.

What are the Factors Impacting Long-Term Food Storage?

Storage life can be significantly impacted by the following conditions:

Temperature: Store products at a temperature of 75°F/24°C or lower whenever possible. If storage temperatures are higher, rotate products as needed to maintain quality.

Moisture in the Air: Keep storage areas dry. It is best to keep containers off of the floor to allow for air circulation. Products intended for longer-term storage must be dry (about 10% or less moisture content).

Light: Protect cooking oil and products stored in PETE bottles from light.Insects and rodents: Protect products stored in foil pouches and PETE bottles from rodent and insect damage.

Oxygen: As oxygen is a corrosive gas, the various effects of oxygen on preserved foods and beverages include rancidity of unsaturated fats, darkening of fresh meat pigments by promoting the growth of aerobic bacteria and fungi, stale odor of soft bakery foods, and phenolic browning of fruit/vegetables. Additionally, naturally occurring enzymes in food can react with oxygen to cause spoiling and ripening.

Water in Food: Removing water keeps food from spoiling for a long period of time. Food spoils when microorganisms, such as bacteria, feed on the matter and decompose it. Bacteria may release chemicals that cause disease, or they may just release chemicals that make food taste bad. Like people, microorganisms need water to survive, so if you remove water from food, it won’t spoil. Enzymes also need water to react with food, so dehydrating food will also stop ripening.

Generally, What Shouldn’t I Store for Decades?

Barley, pearledMeat, dried (such as jerky)Eggs, driedNutsFlour, whole wheat
Grains, milled (other than rolled oats)Fresh or wet foodsGranolaSugar, brownVegetables, and fruits, dehydrated (unless dry enough, inside and out, to snap when bent)
Whole-wheat flourChips and greasy junk foodNutsSeedsBrown Rice
Some of these foods can still be stored in Mylar bags and freeze-dried, but you’ll have to rotate through them about every 1-10 years, depending on the food.

How Much Does A Mylar Pouch Hold?

Each pouch holds 1 gallon (4 liters) of product. The weight varies by product. For some standards, a pouch holds 7 pounds (3.2 kg) of wheat, 6.8 pounds (3.1 kg) of white rice, or 5 pounds (2.3 kg) of dry milk.

Filling pouches

Fill a pouch with one gallon (4 liters) of product.

Overfilling will result in a poor seal.

A two-quart (2-liter) pitcher, cut off at the two-quart (2-liter) line, is a good measure to use when you are filling pouches.

Fill with two-level measures, and tap down.

Place an oxygen absorber packet on top of the product in each pouch.

For powdered products, wipe product dust from inside the seal area using a dry towel.

How to Seal My Mylar Pouches?

Pouches should be sealed using an impulse sealer. Do not use an iron or another household heating device because it will not provide an adequate seal, especially for powdered products such as flour or dry milk.

Sealing pouches

Turn the power switch on. Do not allow small children in the area when the sealer is on.

Place the pouch in an upright position in front of the sealer. Rest its weight on the table or shelf; do not let it hang.

Close the pouch by grasping the side seams and firmly pulling them outward.

Fold the top 1½ inches of the pouch (30–40 mm) over at a right angle, and push down on the pouch to expel extra air from the package.

Settle the product, and flatten the pouch opening.

If the top will not flatten and fold over easily, check if the pouch is too full.

Hold the pouch by the side seams, and insert the top edge of the pouch into the jaw opening.

Keep fingers clear of the jaw.

Position the pouch to seal it near the top.

Stretch outward on the side seams to remove wrinkles.

Press the foot switch to activate the sealer.

Release hold on to the pouch after the jaw closes.

Remove the pouch when the cycle is finished.

Label the pouch with contents and packaging date.

Testing seals

Inspect the seams to ensure that they are adequate and without burned spots. The seam should resemble factory seams.

Check to see if the seam can be pulled apart.

Push on the pouch to see if air or product can be forced out.

If seams pull apart, check for inadequate cleaning of seam area or for overfill.

If necessary, increase the sealing setting by ¼ step (for example, from 4 to 4.25).

Verify that the congealing setting is at 6. If seams are burned, decrease the sealing setting by a quarter.

Is it necessary to remove all the air from the pouches?

No. Oxygen absorbers remove the oxygen from the air in the pouches. The low oxygen content eliminates food-borne insects and helps preserve product quality.

How should pouches of food be stored?

The pouches store best in a cool, dry, rodent-free area. Storage containers should not be in direct contact with concrete floors or walls.

How To Select Which Food To Stockpile

There are a number of factors to consider while selecting food for a survival scenario. This isn’t buying ten times the food for a week; it’s purchasing food you’ll consume in place of your normal purchases. It may be difficult to eat things that are different from what your family is used to. Nonetheless, eating strange meals is preferable to not eating anything at all.

Consider the following as you’re building your emergency stockpile:

  • Food should be consumed or frozen within a short period of time since they are not intended to endure for long-term storage. The exception is canned goods.
  • You want meals that are high in nutrition while being light on your stomach.
  • Avoid all forms of “snack foods,” as they can’t be kept for long periods of time.
  • Many food items that you buy in the supermarket are packaged with the goal of being used within a few months.

As a result, most of what you buy will have to be repackaged in order to avoid spoilage.

Not all foods, however, will keep for lengthy periods of time after repackaging. In general, the more a food is refined, the worse it is for long-term storage. What you really need to store are staple foods. You can create a fairly healthy diet out of grains, beans, and canned goods. These items will keep for years if properly stored and will still be as delicious and nutritious when you remove them; as they were the day you bought them.

Here’s a list of foods that you should stock up on to ensure your family’s survival in the event of an emergency:

Stockpile Food #1 – Pasta
Pasta is a vegetable that’s high in carbohydrates. It also keeps for an extremely long time and maybe cooked in many different ways. Ingredients

Stockpile Food #2 – Freeze-Dried Food
When properly stored, your freeze-dried meal will be ready whenever you need it. They have a shelf life of 25 years.

Stockpile Food #3 – Apple cider vinegar
It’s also worth noting that apple cider vinegar has been shown to help with the healing of wounds. ACV is a necessary component in homemade salad dressings, as well as having a number of health advantages.

Stockpile Food #4 – Leavening agents
Without the inclusion of baking powders and other rising agents required for making bread and other baked goods, no stockpile is complete.

Stockpile Food #5 – Protein powders
Whey, egg whites, and other protein powders are excellent for adding to smoothies and increasing your protein intake when other options are limited.

Stockpile Food #6 – Dried corn
Corn is a nutritious and versatile food that may be ground into cornmeal, popped to make popcorn, or used as a seed to grow fresh corn for eating.

Stockpile Food #7 – Ready to eat dried meals
When you don’t have the ingredients or energy to prepare meals from scratch, pre-cooked dinners provide a nutritious option.

Stockpile Food #8 – Whole grains
Flour, however, does not keep well. Whole grains, on the other hand, do. You can make your own bread, pancakes, cakes, cookies, and other baked items if you have a grain mill and whole grains.

Stockpile Food #9 – Rice
Rice is a good source of carbohydrates, which keep for a long time. Choose rice that is made from whole grains instead of quick rice. The shelf life of rapid rice is extremely limited. Rice may be cooked in many different ways, much like pasta.

Stockpile Food #10 – Breakfast cereal
This is a type of comfort food that children particularly enjoy. Avoid purchasing the sweeter kid’s cereals, but go for more basic options like Cheerios instead. This will keep well if properly stored.

Stockpile Food #11 – Beans
Dried beans are a wonderful source of high-quality protein and other nutrients, and they’re one of the few non-meat sources.

Stockpile Food #12 – Canned meat
Canned chicken, tuna, salmon, and other meat items are available for purchase. Spam may be ridiculed by many individuals, but it is nutritious red meat. The meat will be the most difficult sort of food to come by in an emergency, so prepare well.

Stockpile Food #13 – Beef (or turkey) jerky
Dried meat, whether jerky or dehydrated meat, is excellent for long-term storage. Trim off any fat and salt your own jerky heavily for preservation if you prepare it yourself. You can use the jerky in soups after it has been reconstituted.

Stockpile Food #14 -Summer sausage
Sausage, like many “cured meat products” (lunchmeat), is manufactured to be kept for a long period of time. It’s generally vacuum-packed as well, making it perfect for long-term storage. It may be eaten plain or chopped to add flavor to soups and casseroles during survival conditions.

Stockpile Food #15 – Canned vegetables and fruit
Vitamins are included in this drink since it provides them. It is excellent for long-term storage and has a long shelf life. The packing water should not be thrown away; it contains vitamins as well. Instead, create soup stock from it by using the

Stockpile Food #16 – Powdered milk
When you don’t have any other milk, powdered milk is quite appreciated. It’s also useful for cooking and provides essential calcium for healthy bone development.

Stockpile Food #17 – Spaghetti sauce
You can always go back and add a little more of any ingredient to make it smoother. You’ve already got the foundation of a dinner with pasta and spaghetti sauce. What else do you want to add?

Stockpile Food #18 – Soups
The wonderful thing about preparing soup in a survival scenario is that you may create almost anything into it. I’m talking about the cream of mushroom soup, not chicken noodle soup, here.

Stockpile Food #19 – Sugar
Sugar, like all fruits, has a lot of beneficial nutrients and is a great source of energy. It’s also used to make jams and jellies, as well as for fruit preservation. It will also be required for your baking. Sugar will keep for eternity if stored correctly.

Stockpile Food #20 – Honey
Honey will keep a lot longer than sugar, which may be kept for decades. Honey will definitely keep forever because it is produced by nature. You can’t beat nature’s techniques for producing things that are both useful and nutritious.

Stockpile Food #21 – Salt
Salt is a must-have for human existence. It’s also used in the majority of food canning procedures, especially those involving meat. You may preserve meats, salt fish, and smoked meats with a good supply of salt.

Stockpile Food #22 – Spices
You may have to get used to eating different foods than you are used to. Spices can be used to cover up or add flavor to food that is bland. Make sure you have enough of the spices your family like so you can cook the food they’ll enjoy.

Stockpile Food #23 – Peanut butter
Okay, this is pure comfort food. However, it is also quite nutritious.

Stockpile Food #24 – Dried fruit
A fantastic method of keeping fruit on hand. It can keep for many years if properly dried and packed.

Stockpile Food #25 – Nuts
Another excellent source of protein, as well as fats. Nuts will keep for a long time and are useful in a variety of cuisines, especially baked goods, vegetables, and also meat dishes.

Stockpile Food #26 – Cooking oil
Necessary ingredients for cooking and baking.

Stockpile Food #27 – Coffee and Tea
Comfort food for the adults, once again. Many of us don’t perform well until after our second cup of coffee in the morning.

Why Should I Freeze-Dry My Food?

Freeze-dried foods retain 97% of their nutrients. Dehydrated foods retain 60% of their nutrients.

Freeze-dry food, drugs, and just about any other biological material by setting it into your freeze-dryer. Depending on the method you’re using, it takes 20 hours to a month to freeze-dry your food.

There will be a range of settings and temperatures to utilize in balancing your main variables: airflow, heat, and time. Each factor affects bacterial growth, the eventual flavor, shelf-life, and the quality of your freeze-dry operation.

The basic idea of freeze-drying is to “lock in” the structural and chemical composition of the material by drying it without applying the heat necessary for a 90-95% water evaporation. Instead, the freeze-drying process converts solid water — ice — directly into water vapor, skipping the liquid phase entirely.

Home freeze-drying is a great option outside of purchasing commercially freeze-dried goods. New technology offers near commercial-grade preservation barring that procedures, seals, and temperatures have been tightly managed. The longevity and the range of options you can create with your freeze-drying setup will round out and personalize your family’s long-term food storage. Your most difficult choices will be in choosing an appropriate freeze-dryer for your family, as each component and material used vary greatly, affecting the overall final result of your process, which also does depend on the type of food you’re freeze-drying.

You Can Also Freeze-Dry Medicine, Vitamins, and Pharmaceuticals

Many pharmaceuticals will degrade quickly when exposed to water and air, for the chemical processes that food degrades. You can stockpile and store any medical supplies, greatly extending pharmaceutical shelf life by freeze-drying the material and storing it in a container free of oxygen and water. If you’re feeling extra prepared, freeze-dried biological samples can grow again, ready for you to experiment.

Freeze-drying also significantly reduces the total weight of food

Most food is largely made up of water. As a matter of fact, many fruits are more than 80 to 90 percent water. Removing this water makes food a lot lighter, which means it’s easier to organize and transport. For logistical benefits, military groups and camping supply companies freeze-dry foods to make them easier for one person to carry. Even NASA has freeze-dried foods for the Axiom Space Mission.

Photo courtesy NASAFreeze-dried foods have been a staple onboard many of NASA's space missions.

It’s Easy Now. And You Can Pretty Much Freeze-Dry Anything.


How to Freeze-Dry My Food?

Preparing Food for Freeze-Drying

Before freeze-drying your food, be sure to pick the freshest options. Wash your food to remove any particles, dirt, and contaminants. Then, cut the food into small pieces or chunks to facilitate the elimination of moisture. You can also freeze-dry cooked meals. Once you have prepared your food, you can begin the freeze-drying process.

Freeze-Drying Methods (In Order of Efficacy)

  • Freeze-Dryer
  • Freeze-Drying with a Food Vacuum
  • Freezer Bags and Dry Ice
  • Freezer

How to Freeze Dry Food in a Freeze-Dryer

Step 1: Place your foods in the trays — ensure the food doesn’t exceed the tray’s height.

Step 2: Place the trays in the dryer and close the doors.

Step 3: Freeze food at -40 to -50 degrees.

Step 4: Allow 24 hours for the process to complete, or as designated by the freeze-dryer.

Step 5: Retrieve your food and store in mylar bags, place in your oxygen absorber, and seal.

How to Freeze Dry Food With a Vacuum Chamber

person vacuum packing food.

Step 1: Spread the food on a tray or plate without clumping it together.

Step 2: Freeze the food until solid in a freezer.

Step 3: Place the food in the chamber at around 120 m Torr and set the temperature to 10 °C.

Step 4: Allow the food to stay in the chamber for at least a week for optimal sublimation.

Step 5: Once the process is complete, put the food in air-tight containers for storage.

How to Freeze-Dry Food With Dry Ice

glass bowl of shaved truffle sitting on dry ice.

Using dry ice is much faster than using the freezer. This is because dry ice evaporates moisture from the food quickly.

Step 1: Pack the food in freezer-safe bags.

Step 2: Place the bags in a cooler.

Step 3: Completely cover the bags with dry ice and leave them for about 24 hours.

Step 4: Retrieve your bags and store in your freezer. Note: this process has significantly less shelf-life than if you store your items in mylar bags.

How to Freeze Dry Food in a Freezer

Step 1: Place the food on a tray or plate after spreading the food out.

Step 2: Place the tray in the freezer — the food needs to be frozen at the lowest temperature.

Step 3: Allow the food to stay in the freezer until it’s completely freeze-dried (sublimation: solid to gas): 2-3 weeks.

Step 4: Retrieve your food and store in mylar bags, place in your oxygen absorber, and seal.

What foods cannot be freeze-dried? 

Butter, honey, jam, syrup, pure chocolate, and peanut butter (most oil-based components as water bonded to oil doesn’t sublimate well).

A Complete Guide to Freeze-Drying

How to Set Up My Food Storage Area

When designating your food storage area for dry goods and items containing less than 10% moisture, remember the four key factors above: light, temperature, moisture levels or humidity levels, and oxygen.

Organize your storage on racks or shelves with at least 5 centimeters of distance from direct contact with the ground or exterior/interior wall siding. Keep your family’s usage in mind, as the rotation of supplies in normal day-to-day pantry utilities is the best way to maximize the utility of your newly created storage area. Big, heavier items on the bottom shelves, with less frequently used smaller items on the next shelf up, generally nearby a person’s knees.

Items used on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis should always be within arm’s reach and easily accessible, just like the items of focus at supermarkets; that’s by design, and you can do it for your storage needs too.

At your top shelves, store infrequently used items with counterbalanced weight and geometric shapes to stabilize the overall weight distribution of your shelf or rack. Then, be sure to secure to the wall or ground in the event of an earthquake to prevent any damage to your inventory.

The walls and ground of your cool storage area should be of a long-term, sustainable material that’s difficult for the jaw size/strength of any creature wishing to access your stock. A general rule of thumb is that if your area is insulated, sided, and layered in most modern construction methods, it’s probably protected from the worst of the four factors affecting the longevity of your caloric survival inventory (light, temp, moisture, and oxygen). A small stocking table in the center of your area with clear walkways around will make any excursion into storage quick and efficient.

On the Light Factor:

Find a place where you use only artificial lighting to see your way; natural light means the sun – and that means radiation, energy, and the onset of chemical processes.

On Temperatures:

Make sure it is a temperate area; the temperature range of this room or area is limited to less than 15 degrees.

On Moisture Levels:

Using a hygrometer, you can estimate the percentage of humidity in the designated storage area or in-door room. 15% or less is the ideal humidity level for a long-term dry food storage space.

If you don’t have a hygrometer or want to use a simpler, albeit less accurate way: the Ice Cube Method.

You will fill the glass with water, place two to three ice cubes in it, and wait for about four minutes. After four minutes, go back and check the glass. If the glass has condensation forming or dripping on the outside, your humidity levels may be too high. On the other hand, if there is no condensation forming at all, then your humidity levels may be just right for long-term storage.

On Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide Measurements (Atmospheric Control):

To measure the oxygen concentration in a room, you can use a standard oxygen monitor used in most hospitals, but understand that you have exceeded a range of necessary preparations for the event of disasters from a simple home storage set up, to an atmospherically controlled environment. An oxygen monitor is a device that measures oxygen levels in the room, to ensure the air has enough oxygen for respiration; also called an oxygen deficiency monitor.

The normal oxygen concentration of indoor air is generally 21% and can be reduced to 1% to 3% by flushing the storage room with nitrogen gas. Normal safe levels of oxygen for prolonged periods of time over 12 hours should be kept at 19.5%. Carbon dioxide levels need to be maintained below a concentration of 3% for optimal storage.

Specialized nitrogen generators and liquid nitrogen are two methods of flushing a room. If the oxygen level drops below 1%, fermentation is likely, and will impair fruit quality. Good air circulation prevents the occurrence of areas in the room with oxygen concentrations that are too low. The fruit consume oxygen and decrease the concentration to below optimum if air circulation is poor. Bins should be arranged to allow air movement. A leaky storage room leads to above optimum oxygen and poor maintenance of fruit firmness. Some varieties have less tolerance for low oxygen storage and should not be placed in rooms with less than 2% oxygen. Where several varieties will be stored together in one room, maintain oxygen and carbon dioxide at levels suitable for the most sensitive variety. Fruit sensitivity to low oxygen varies with variety, maturity at harvest, and conditions during the growing season.


How to Set Up and Organize My Cold Storage Area?

Organizing is one of the keys to higher food safety in cold storage. To avoid cross-contamination, you must organize your cold storage in a manner that prevents contamination. This walk-in cooler food storage chart can help you figure out the best organizational strategies to protect your clients, increase inventory longevity, and decrease food waste.

Walk in cooler food storage chart

#1: Fruits and vegetables

Fruits, vegetables, and herbs should be stored on the top shelf in your walk-in. When compared to meat and dairy, produce contains less harmful germs. As a result, if produce condensation falls on other goods inside the fridge, it is significantly less dangerous.

#2: Precooked items

In an ideal situation, store precooked and previously frozen items on the shelf below fresh produce. Saves have reached an internal temperature of at least 145°F, destroying germs that may harm other foods if dripped to them.

#3: Dairy

The refrigerator is the worst place to keep dairy products such as eggs, milk, and cheese. Dairy has a greater risk of bacterial contamination than vegetables or stored goods. In general, dairy should not be concerned about items stored below it as long as it is kept at temperatures below 40°F.

#4: Raw Meat

Raw meats, such as fish, poultry, pork, and red meat, should be stored in a refrigerator or freezer. Fresh or thawed raw meat includes fish, poultry, pork, and red meat. Meat juices are high in germs and can cause serious health problems if consumed.

 #5: Thawing Foods

The lowest shelf of the walk-in should be used to defrost meats. Defrosting meat products has an increased chance of spreading germs because they are full of bacteria and defrosting creates extra liquid and drip dangers.

#6: Monitor Storage Temperatures

To maintain food safety, use remote monitoring technology such as Therma° to monitor food temperature on a regular basis. When the flurry of service doors opening, closing, and propping takes place quickly, there may be significant temperature fluctuations. These averages will go unnoticed unless services have extra time to check temperatures.


Okay! This article should have taken you through what food to stockpile, how to set up your dry and cold storage areas, and run you through the options on how to select the best way to store what you want to eat in the event of a disaster. Remember, not only is the storage system beneficial for your day-to-day routines, but also you gain security and stability in your daily life at home when all hell breaks loose outside. You’re choosing what to prepare for a nice meal with your loved ones, selecting what stock needs to rotate, and enjoying some peace as you enjoy the fruits of your preparation.

Thank you,

American Patriot Survivalist

“Always Be Ready” Max

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