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Putting together a food storage system takes a good deal of thought and some equipment. Having emergency food in your home can get you through any crisis created by unforeseen events that restrict your access to food and water.

 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends that you have at least three days worth of food, along with three gallons of drinking water for each person. However, other groups maintain that you need a more extensive supply to wait out an emergency. As long as you practice food safety and rotate your supply, investing in food storage isn't wasted money because you can eat it before its "use by" date has passed.

 

These steps will help you start putting your food supplies together:

 

    Decide how much food you want to store.

 

    Query your family members about the kinds of food they'd like to keep on hand, remembering that eating healthy during stressful periods will help everyone cope better.

 

    Find a space in your pantry or cabinets to store the food. You may want to separate it into categories based on type. If you plan to store food supplies for more than the three day minimum, you may want to use storage shelves and containers to keep it. Those with open shelves make it easier to find and rotate your food supply.

 

The food to consider is canned, dried, freeze-dried and shelf-stable at room temperatures. Nearly all food is available in these forms. Freeze-dried fruit and vegetables are easy to reconstitute, as are dried eggs, cheese and milk products. Shelf-stable dinner entrees are available in single-serving portions and don’t require refrigeration. Canned foods of all kinds will last slightly longer than its recommended use by date.Photo: modernsurvivalonline.com

 

Food Safety

 

Some kinds of food are vulnerable to insect infestations, especially those made from grains. It’s a good idea to continuously rotate your grain products to avoid wasting it because of bugs or worms that hatch inside the package. If you’re buying pancake or biscuit products, pay close attention to the expiration dates, since some of these products develop toxic compounds once they pass a certain date.

 

Other types of food, particularly those high in fats like nuts will become rancid and inedible. Exposure to light, air and warm temperatures hastens this process. Although many people prefer frozen to canned food, in an emergency it won’t last long enough for you to count on its safety once it thaws, particularly meat and low-acid fruit and vegetables.

 

Home canning is enjoying a resurgence, but before you eat any low-acid home canned food, listen carefully to the sound as you open the lid. It should make a hiss or a pop. If it doesn’t, it may not be safe to eat. Low-acid food and canned meat should always be boiled for 10 minutes before eating it. Any jar that has an off color, smell or has mold growing inside the jar needs to be discarded.

 

Preparation

 

Regardless of whether you use an electric or gas stove, it’s a good idea to have a backpacking stove, charcoal or a gas grill, or even a solar cooker. Solar ovens and cookers will cook your food nearly as quickly as those that use fuel, but they can’t be used at night or on cloudy days. These types of cookers use no fuel other than sunshine. Having a grill and a solar cooker is the ideal way to make sure you can cook regardless of the weather or time of day.

 

Water

 

Water is crucial to surviving a crisis. Have enough on hand, and watch the expiration dates carefully so that you use your supply before the date lapses. If you use tap water to refill the bottles, clean the bottles first with hot, soapy water, rinsing well.

 

Saving Money 

Save money with by taking advantage of grocery sales and specials, as well as coupon offers. Since there’s little urgency associated with stored food for emergencies, you don’t need to pay top dollar for it.

Lee Flynn is from the Wasatch Mountains near Salt Lake City, UT. After Lee spent years preparing himself, his home and his family, he decided he had to do more. In his free time, Lee helps educate those who want to do the same. Through small local workshops and articles, Lee trains and teaches others on home preparation, food storage techniques, wilderness survival and self reliance. After obtaining a bachelors degree from the University of Utah, Lee moved to the Salt Lake Valley where he now lives with his wife and daughter.

 

 

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Photo: modernsurvivalonline.com