How long is long term?
Most people tend to just have a short-term food supply for three days or three months. One reason is that thinking long term, like 10 or 30 years down the road, scares a lot of people so they don’t even start. They think it’s impossible to pay for and store how much they need for a long-term food storage supply, especially if they have a big family—but it’s not impossible.
In its basic definition, a long-term food storage supply is meant to meet your longer-term needs. That can be one year or one decade. The best way to start having a long-term food storage supply is having foods that, when properly packaged and stored, will last for a long time.
Items You Need
The following is a list of foods you want in your long-term food storage and how long each will last.
To help keep these foods good for their projected years, store them in tightly-sealed containers inside a cool, dry area that’s away from direct heat or sunlight.
Another important item in your long-term food storage supply is water. You need clean water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene. For longer-term needs, many food storage gurus will tell you the best way to store water is in heavy-duty, 55-gallon water barrels. Some also use smaller stainless steel and plastic containers. With the latter, only use PETE plastic containers. And with whatever storage method you use, make sure to thoroughly clean and rinse out the containers before adding water.
How to Start
Now that you know some things you need, here are some helpful tips to get you started storing food for your longer-term needs.
Make and keep a running list
Know what your family eats and write it down so you know what to buy. Keep a running list so you know every week what you have and what you lack. This way you can see what you need to save for and buy on your next grocery store trip.
Set aside money each week
Have a grocery budget for the week and stick to it. And if you happen to stay under budget (go you!) or find some spare change or a dollar in your coat pocket, set that money aside to put toward your food storage supply. Then at the end of the month, use that leftover money to buy a few extra cans of corn or boxes of pasta.
Buy more of something when it goes on sale
Sales are your best friend. Study your local grocery store’s ad every week to see what’s on sale. Watch for special deals during the holidays. Get on the mailing list for local grocery stores and food storage supply companies. When you’ve got a few bucks to spare, buy more of the foods you need the week they’re on sale.
Buy certain foods in bulk
Sometimes it’s a better deal to buy in bulk. Wheat, sugar, pasta, and salt are good things to buy in bulk. Just make sure to compare prices of buying in bulk vs. individual packages to double check you really are saving money.
Make it a priority
Buying a little here and there for your long-term food storage is better than trying to buy it all at once. Even just $5 a week goes a long way. And although you’re on a tight budget, you can make $5 a week work. You just have to make food storage a priority. That might mean not eating out as much or buying a few extra cans of beans instead of that carton of ice cream.
No matter how small your budget is—start now. Every small step you take is still a step forward, and you’ll quickly notice your long-term food storage supply increasing without really having to increase your weekly or monthly expenses.