Many years ago, stockpiles of food were common in households. It was difficult to make regular trips to the market, and most people were responsible for the production of their own food through hunting or gardening. Today, the practice of setting aside food and other emergency items is becoming more popular. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic - and the accompanying supply chain issues - many people began storing food for an emergency. Though the practice is becoming more common, people still have questions about the best ways to store food. Which supplies are needed? What materials are best?
In this post, we will cover these topics:
- The benefits of food stockpiling
- Which foods work best for food storage
- What is required for proper food storage
- Are Mylar bags necessary for food storage?
The benefits of long-term food storage
There are many advantages to preparing and storing food in a pantry or even an area designed for longer-term storage such as a basement or emergency shelter.
- Emergency preparedness - Building a home food saving pantry helps individuals prepare for either short or long-term emergencies. There are so many scenarios that make it impossible to get to a grocery store (a natural disaster, a biological attack, a pandemic, etc.) Food shortages can happen anywhere, at any time. Practical individuals will be better prepared for these shortages if they have taken steps ahead of time.
- Saving money - Typically, buying in bulk is more economical than buying smaller amounts. Food storage solutions allow you to buy large quantities of dry or canned goods and then use them over time. Plus, having food available within the home already saves on trips to the store. That not only saves time, but reduces overall grocery spend and decreases impulse buys on those trips.
- Food security - There are few things more important than peace of mind. Being able to be self-sufficient and know that your family will be fed in spite of a potential illness, job loss, or emergency provides a sense of security. The more food that you can stockpile for the future, the better you’ll feel about any uncertainties that might come your way.
Which foods are best for long-term food storage?
Low moisture, low fat foods are ideal for storing long-term. Dry goods like white rice, quinoa, flour, beans, sugar, and oats are all good choices for storing in things like Mylar bags or pouches. You could also try freeze dried foods like fruits, vegetables, and even full meals (MRE).
It’s important to note that whole foods store better than ground versions (such as dry whole grains or dry whole corn vs. cornmeal). Also, you can package dehydrated fruits and vegetables in Mylar or vacuum sealed bags, but it’s essential that the foods are completely dry and that you use an oxygen absorber. It’s typically not worth the risk for those categories of foods.
Generally speaking, the more moisture and fat content a food has, the worse it will fare in food storage. Any food items should be dehydrated as much as possible before storing. You also want to think about the temperature of the environment. In general, food lasts longer in cooler temperatures. For a more detailed list of foods that are best stored, read our past post: Which Foods Store Best in Mylar Bags?
On the other hand, there are many foods that do not store well. As you might expect, fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, and dairy products. Foods with a high fat or moisture content will turn rancid quickly, no matter what precautions you’ve taken.
What is required for proper food storage?
First and foremost, you’ll need all of the foods that you plan to store. You can gradually build up a stock by buying some extra dry goods each time you go to the store, or you can do one large shopping trip where you obtain everything on your list. You also must determine where your food will be stored. Are you just adding some items to your pantry? Or do you plan to fully stock an emergency shelter?
These are the materials you’ll need:
- Mylar bags or pouches in a variety of sizes
- Oxygen absorbers*
- Sharpie marker
- A vacuum sealer
- A few 5-gallon, food-grade buckets
*We suggest investing in a bundle solution, which comes with mylar bags, oxygen absorbers, and labels. This will save time and make the process easier. For example, Wallaby has several different bundles that come with everything you need to store several types of food.
Are mylar bags necessary for food storage?
In a word, yes.
If you do much research on long-term food storage, you’ll see the term “mylar” come up over and over. That’s because this material is the gold standard when it comes to safely and effectively storing food.
Mylar pouches are essentially bags made from several layers of laminated food-grade plastic and aluminum. Food doesn’t react with the aluminum because it is separated by a special lining. They provide a strong light, moisture, and oxygen barrier which protects the items in the bag. High quality pouches will do a better job of storing food products.
There are several Mylar bag and pouch options available. If you really want to protect your food, it’s important to invest in the right, high quality Mylar bag products. There are several thicknesses, and the higher the mil rating, the thicker and stronger the bag is. 5 mil or thicker are best for packaging dry goods for long term storage.
Do not make the mistake of thinking regular freezer bags or other plastic bags will work. Neither will Tupperware, tin foil, or plastic wrap. Lack of oxygen is essential for keeping food edible over the long term and only mylar bags with oxygen absorbers have been shown to limit air appropriately. These products have been designed specifically to block air, light, moisture, and insects. No other material comes close.Visit our website to learn more about Mylar bags and their advantages, or contact our expert staff with questions on which products will work best for your food-storage needs.