Storing food is one of the core tenets of survivalism. With food stored, the effects of any crisis or disaster, whether long-term or short-term can be mitigated. As it is, many preppers invest a considerable amount of time and resources in stockpiling food. Needless to say, there is no room for mistakes when storing food for survival. Mistakes not only mean waste of resources and time but can also spell danger during emergency.
The following are 5 common food prepping mistakes to avoid.
1. Not having variety in your storage
Some novice preppers stockpile only ‘survival foods’ or mostly freeze-dried foods and MREs. But this is impractical due to the limited nutrients and lack of variety. Not to mention these foods are really expensive and difficult to rotate on a regular basis. Other people only store basic items like wheat, honey, milk and salt – and they store lots of these!
Adding variety to your food stockpile is important because it prevents appetite fatigue. When you eat the same thing over and over, you will eventually end up preferring not to eat rather than taste the same food again – this is appetite fatigue. This problem affects children and older people the most. Appetite fatigue can also lower morale and increase stress and agitation during times of crisis.
Do not just focus on the basic food types to store. For example, store less wheat than generally suggested and more of other types of grains that you like to eat. Your stockpile must be a mixture of store bought canned goods, home canned, dehydrated and freeze-dried foods.
You should also include your favorite spices and food flavorings. Add cooking oil, shortening, yeast, powdered eggs, baking powder and baking soda to your stockpile. These items are necessary for cooking basic meals.
2. Not having a proper storage area
There are three things to consider when choosing or preparing your food storage area: temperature, light and pests. The storage area’s temperature should be a stable 45-70 degrees. Anything lower can freeze the containers and compromise them and the foods within. Anything higher can slowly cook the foods in your stockpile. What you want is a stable and well regulated temperature.
The food storage area should also be away from direct sunlight as well as from any modern electrical lighting because these can significantly reduce food shelf life.
The area should also be free of pests like mice and insects that can attack your stored food. Keep insects and rodents away by making sure that the area does not smell of food. Use containers that can seal in the scent of food. Also, it would be a good idea to set up rodent traps around your food storage area.
3. Not using proper containers for food storage
Your food containers should be durable, air-tight and water proof.
Containers that are completely airtight can extend the life of your preps plus it will also seal in the smell of food to prevent rodents and insects from getting into your food storage area. Sealed commercial cans, sealed canning jars and sealed 5 gallon buckets are completely airtight. Vacuum-sealed bags are technically airtight but they are thin so pests can gnaw through them. When using vacuum sealed bags, put them inside plastic containers to double your food’s protection.
When packing your own food, use oxygen absorbers to remove any excess oxygen inside the containers. When storing flour, sugar and seasonings, make use of dark colored containers to prevent light from penetrating through.
4. Underestimating your water needs
Water storage should be separate from your food storage but I’ve included it here because among the common mistakes preppers make is not storing enough water in consideration to the type of foods they have in their stockpile. Usually, when storing water, novice preppers think only of the amount of water a person needs for drinking in a day and then add half a gallon or so for washing.
However, water is needed from the preparation to the cooking of most food. And if you have dehydrated foods, you definitely need water in order to eat your meals. Also, you will need water to clean your food containers – plastic containers, cans, jars – before you put them away. So plan out your food preps and include the amount of water you might need in preparing and cooking your meals. It may be a good idea to store water for drinking and water for food preps separately.
5. Not using or rotating your food storage
People often store food and just leave them there until the need arises for them to be used. This is not a good idea because 1] you don’t know when the crisis would hit and when it does, most of your stockpile might have gone bad therefore you cannot use them and 2] you’re not familiar with the food you have stored.
Using items from your storage and replacing them is a good way to keep your stockpile fresh. By using your storage, you also familiarize yourself on how to prepare the food and whether you and your family like it or not. A time of crisis or emergency is not a good time for a sudden change in diet. Go through your stockpile regularly, use items and replace them, try items out and change those that you don’t like.
Recognize any mistakes you might have made in storing food now that you still have time to make corrections.