Food preservation and food storage are two terms we often see used interchangeably, but what is the difference between food preservation and food storage? Are they the same thing?

This is one of the most critical questions that beginner preppers ask, and with the right knowledge, you can choose the food preservation and storage methods that best suit you and your family’s needs. 

The major difference between food preservation and food storage is that food preservation involves caring for and treating food so that it will be in its best condition for as long as possible. In contrast, food storage involves storing food in a safe and suitable environment.

In this blog, we will dive deeper into the differences between food preservation and food storage. By the end of this blog, you will not only have an understanding of these differences, but you will be equipped with different methods for both food preservation and food storage.

We want you to have all the knowledge you need to prepare for emergencies and maximize your food. So, let’s get started!

Food Preservation vs. Food Storage

Food Preservation: A Brief Overview

Food preservation has been practiced by humans for centuries. Salting was the very first food preservation method known to man, but we have several food preservation methods available today.

But what is food preservation?

In simpler terms, food preservation includes implementing physical or chemical treatment to increase the shelf-life of a given food item. For example, pickles! With the use of salt and vinegar brine, cucumbers can become what we know as pickles.

Pickles are a great example because most people are familiar with them, but there are other food items, such as jalapenos or onions, that can be preserved to stay fresh for years.

These food preservation methods can be useful to both beginner and advanced preppers who want to create a diverse, extensive DIY emergency food supply. This brings us to our next topic: What is food storage?

Food Storage: A Brief Overview

Much like food preservation, humans have practiced food storage for ages. When farmers and homesteaders had a surplus of food, they would store it to be prepared for scarcity or famine.

Food storage can be defined simply as the act of gathering large amounts of preserved food to store it in case of an emergency. A basic example of food storage would be buying grains or rice in bulk, so you can store it for as long as possible in containers that protect it from oxygen, moisture, light, insects, and more.

Not only can food storage help you and your family survive an emergency, but it can provide you with a sense of security, control, and peace of mind.

Building your own emergency food storage plan is detrimental to ensuring the health and well-being of your family. You may not have control over emergencies, like pandemics, natural disasters, wars, and food shortages, but you can control how you prepare for them!

There are a few different long-term food storage methods, so let’s take a quick look at the best methods you can utilize to prepare for an emergency.

Food Storage and Preservation Methods

There are a few different ways you can preserve food to be stored short-term and long-term.

  • Freezing


Freezing is one of the most universal methods used for food preservation and storage. Whether you use your refrigerator or your deep freezer, you can preserve many different types of food items.

For example, you can preserve and store butter, cheese, milk, meat, and more in your freezer long-term. You can also extend the shelf life of these foods short-term in your refrigerator. 

  • Freeze Drying

Food can be preserved with a freeze dryer, and then stored long-term in Mylar bags.

Freeze-dried fruits and vegetables, like tomatoes, zucchini, apples, and strawberries can stay fresh for up to 30 years if they are stored properly in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers

Freeze Drying

You might be wondering how this is possible. Well, the answer is simple: these fruits and veggies are dried to reduce their water and bacteria content while maintaining their nutrients. 

Freeze drying is a food preservation method. Freeze-dried food will naturally stay fresher for longer, but you can further extend the shelf life of your freeze-dried food by implementing a long-term food storage method, which in this case, is Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers.

  • Vacuum Packaging

Air and moisture can spoil food items quickly, and that’s why vacuum packaging is so helpful when it comes to food preservation and storage!

When you vacuum seal food, it removes the air from the bag and creates a seal. This helps keep the moisture and air out, and it keeps the food fresh by preventing bacteria from growing.

Vacuum Packaging

This is a food preservation method, but it also serves as a long-term food storage method because there is no need to transfer the food to be stored elsewhere— the food will simply stay fresher for longer when it is preserved and stored in the vacuum sealed package.

Generally, vacuum sealed food will last two to three times longer than food that is not vacuum sealed.

  • Smoking

smoking meat

Smoking is a great food preservation method that involves exposing your food to smoke from burning wood.

There are a few different types of smoking that can be used to preserve your food, such as smoke roasting, cold smoking, hot smoking, and smoke baking. These are all effective ways to smoke your food, but we recommend that you do your own independent research based on what food you are trying to preserve. 

Much like other food preservation methods, you will need to utilize smoking in tandem with a long-term food storage method to truly maximize the shelf life.

  • Canning 

Food Canning

Another method to preserve food for long-term storage is canning. Water-bath canning is the most practiced technique! Cooked fruits, vegetables, and pulses, like beans, lentils, and peas, can be canned to extend their shelf-life.

  • Pickling and Salting

Salting & Pickling

Lastly, you can use the good old-fashioned pickling and salting method to preserve food for long-term storage! Meat can be preserved long-term by salting, whereas vegetables can be preserved and stored using pickling. 

Food Storage Vs. Food Preservation: The Difference

Now, you know what food storage and food preservation really mean! 

Often, these methods are used in tandem with each other; food preservation is how you care for the food using the above-mentioned methods, while food storage is how you store the preserved food to further increase its shelf-life.

Food preservation will likely require some trial and error. That’s why we recommend beginner preppers start with easier food preservation and storage methods.

If you are new to prepping, stockpiling store bought canned goods, freezing meats, and storing dried goods in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers is the best way to start! It is so easy, and it won’t take up too much of your time.

If you want to have everything you need to start storing food long-term, check out Wallaby’s online store. They sell Mylar bag bundles that include all the necessary tools you need to easily preserve and store your food for emergencies.

Head to our website to see how easy it is to prep with Wallaby!