Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How to Start Prepping, Part 3: Food Storage Tips

I’ve seen people post things online saying ‘OMG, where am I going to put this stuff???’ with regard to stocking up, and I guess they think they are going to have to set aside a ton of room for food storage and supplies.  I don’t think it’s impossible in an apartment; it’s actually more crucial in an apartment to have supplies for emergencies. 

Why?  Because electricity, gas and water are so much more likely to be cut off in an apartment.

So…storage tips.  First of all, Google ‘where to put food storage’ and see what pops up.  There are a lot of suggestions out there to tell you where to put it. 

Second, first in, first out.  Rotate your food storage supplies (and anything else that has a shelf life).  Do look for items with the farthest expiration date, unless you have alternate storage methods like freezing ‘manager’s special’ meat that is on sale because it’s near the pull date, and make sure your ‘alternate storage’ (freezer) has a backup power source. 

Don’t get lazy and put new in front of old.  If you purchased three cans of beans just a couple of weeks ago and some more today, no problem.  If you have year old beans in back of brand new beans, problem. 

If you have shelves of canned goods, jars, etc., pieces of cardboard between a stack of X and a stack of Y help keep the stacks in place and upright; a lot of cans have bottoms made to stack, but some don’t (you know the difference when you stack them).  Also, pieces of cardboard between layers of cans are great for those cans that don’t have stackable bottoms, or for a layer of X with a layer of Y on top.

Make sure you have a spare flashlight where your food storage is.  With batteries.  Fresh batteries.  Dedicate that flashlight to that space and leave it there.

Make sure that an earthquake or a tree falling on your house won’t cause things to fall off your food storage shelves.  That includes making sure that glass jars won’t bang together.

Have can openers that are easy to use in with your food supplies, as well as outside of your food supplies, like in the kitchen drawer and in the camping gear.  Try them out first so you know you will be able to open cans with them easily and quickly.

Put the taller things at the back.  I know this is common sense, but sometimes it's easy to get kind of disorganized and forget this.

Write on the top of a can what it is (abbreviations are fine as long as you know what they mean) and the date you bought it if the can will be where you can see the top but not the label.  Make sure that labels don't fall off by spot checking them when you do your inventory.

Plan on a regular (semi-annual or more often) check of your supplies to see if there’s anything else you need, or if you are running low on something (because your food supplies aren’t static, to be drawn upon only in an emergency, but rather sort of a ‘super pantry’; this helps with rotation and you should be storing what you eat anyway), or if a can or jar has gone bad.  That doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.  Also, see if there's something you need to use up faster, or donate to a food bank.  Make sure if you do donate, the pull date is still in the future so the food bank can take it.  If you've researched food storage times, you know that they are shorter, in most cases, than the date by which the food will have neither taste nor nutritive value, but you eating four year old beans is not the issue here, the food bank's policies are.

If you use a vacuum sealer, check your sealed bags for leaks regularly.  They do happen…reseal, and check again 48 hours later, and if the bag still leaks, toss it and repack. The leaks tend to be small enough not to be easily found, and it is frustrating to go through the process yet again only to find that resealing has not worked.