Storing food is the cornerstone of prepping for all sorts of disasters or emergencies. Out here in Montana, it’s right up there with firewood for winter importance. Survival food can also keep your family secure during times of financial hardship as well.
Food storage comes in all flavors, too; you can buy meal kits, bulk freeze-dried, or even pack and can your own after hunting, gardening, or even raising some meat. If you’re just starting out with prepping or looking to make it through a bad winter, you might be wondering what direction is best for you and your family. If you’ve already started storing up food, you might be looking for a good way to diversify your stock. Let’s talk options.
Pre-Made Meal Kits
Pros: Convenience, ease of storage
Cons: Price, possible quality concerns
Several vendors sell prepared survival food kits that only require heat and water to use. They come packaged for long-term storage with a variety of foods. It’s by far the most convenient option; you simply buy and store.
Prices vary widely depending on the quantity, quality and type of food. Mountain House (non-sponsored link), for instance, produces meals that are widely regarded as some of the highest quality you can buy with incredibly long shelf lives; their prices, however, are often reflective of that quality.
On the other hand, highly affordable long-term food storage can also come with some negatives. Make sure that what might seem like a great deal actually provides you with enough caloric intake to survive for the amount of time the manufacturer claims.
Before choosing to purchase any ready-made meal kits, make sure to research more than just the price; look at ingredients, length of storability, quantity and calorie load in each meal.
DIY Long-Term Storage
Pros: Knowing what you’re getting, lower cost
Cons: Limited use, requirement to use it all after opening
Another option is to get some 5-gallon buckets, oxygen absorbers and mylar bags, and pack your own survival food storage. This is best for staple goods like corn, wheat, rice or beans. You can buy the supplies fairly cheaply at a number of vendors online, and if you’ve done it yourself you know exactly what the quality and quantity is. The downside is that once you open the bucket, you’ll need to have a plan to use all of the contents in a short timeframe.
Before deciding to take the plunge and do your own, you’ll want to do some cost analysis, and be honest with yourself about what you’ll use. If you aren’t a fan of beans today, for instance, it’s not an effective use of your supplies, time or money to start prepping them in huge quantities.
Pros: Low cost, wide range of recipes and options available
Cons: Shorter storage time
Home canning is a time-honored method of putting food aside. Done correctly, it can provide you with hundreds of foods, including jams, meats, vegetables and even some desserts. It’s easy to learn, and while it requires the biggest time commitment, it also arguably offers the highest return on your investment — especially if you have your own garden. With a few solid sessions of canning, you can eat fresh food both in and out of season.
The best way to maximize your home canning is to put up foods you’ll eat, use food that you’ve grown or raised yourself, and rotate your stock, eating your oldest food first. Canned food can last at least 18 months; many experienced home canners say it can last far longer than that if you’ve performed the process correctly.
You may choose one of the listed methods above, or a variety of them. What’s best for you and your family might be different than your neighbors or friends. It all comes down to what you can afford, and what you’re willing to do. Regardless of your chosen method, however, whatever you stock now can help you later.
This article was originally posted at Springfield Armory’s blog, The Armory Life.