It is no secret that preparing for a long-term emergency can be expensive. This is especially true for those who are just starting out on their prepping journey. With that in mind, here are four simple and free ways that you can store your emergency food supplies. First, however, a few basics. It is important to always keep in mind that air, pests, and moisture are the main culprits with food spoilage. You want to minimize exposure to all of these for the longest shelf-life of foods. The use of any type of container that will allow one or more of these elements to enter should be avoided.
Many of the groceries that you buy each week come in good-quality glass jars. These jars can be used for food storage as well once the original product has been consumed and the jar is thoroughly cleaned. You cannot use these jars for canning, however, as the lids will not seal. You can, however, use them (with their original lids) for storing a variety of dried foods. They can be used for storing items such as nuts, cereal, dried fruit, coffee, tea bags, sugar, beans, barley, rice, pasta, flour, etc.
Please note that most of the above items, when purchased, come in paper or cardboard containers. These are exactly the types of containers that air, moisture, and pests can get into. Using a jar with a tight fitting lid prevents this from happening. Make sure you write the date you put the food into it on the jar. As an added layer of protection, food can be placed into zip-lock bags before being placed into the jar and sealed with the lid. This method will not keep food fresh for decades, but it will keep your emergency food safe for a couple of years. Remember to rotate your food every so often.
Plastic Soda Bottles:
Another free way to get some storage space for your emergency food stash is to use large soda bottles. Once the soda is gone, thoroughly wash and dry the bottle. Use bottles that have the PET or PETE stamp on the bottom. These bottles have a lower risk of breaking down (chemically) and are the best option for food storage. Make sure you date the bottles and don’t forget to rotate your stock. This method can keep certain foods good for 2 years or so, but they are not entirely rodent proof! Keep that in mind if you have a rodent problem. Soda bottles are best used for storing items such as salt, pepper, spices, beans, flour, rice, etc. They can also be used for your emergency water supply as long as you remember to empty, clean, and refill them once a month.
Food-Grade Plastic Buckets:
These are big pails (3 to 6 gallon) and can often be had for free simply be visiting a nearby restaurant and asking for their empties. You will have to wash them thoroughly, of course, and that includes the lids. Most restaurants will happily let you have them as it removes clutter from their work space. You can use these big buckets in a lot of ways, and not just for food storage.
For food storage, the absolute best method is to put your food into a Mylar bag, heat-seal the bag, and store it in the bucket along with a desiccant pouch or two. Then, seal the lid on tightly. This method will keep dried foods good for decades. If you do not have Mylar bags and heating tools (for sealing the bags), you can use large freezer bags. Just make sure you get as much air out of the bag as possible before sealing it. This method only keeps food good for about one year, but it does work.
If you are just getting started on your prepping adventure and have limited funds, follow these quick and easy tips to score storage containers for free.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of Patriot Surplus.