What Should I Do?: The Basics of Resilience (Part 3 – Storing Food)

Note:  This article is part of a series on personal preparation to help you answer the question, "What should I do?"  Our goal is to provide a safe, rational, relatively comfortable experience for those who are just coming to the realization that it would be prudent to take precautionary steps against an uncertain future.  Those who have already taken these basic steps (and more) are invited to help us improve what is offered here by contributing comments, as this content is meant to be dynamic and improve over time.

Storing Food

Everyone should have a minimum of three months' worth of food stored.  It's cheap; it's easy; it's a no-brainer.

Three good reasons for storing food are:

  1. Because it's cheap
  2. Because it's prudent
  3. Because your great-grandparents would yell at you for not doing it

Once upon a time, there was a person in every community whose job it was to ensure that sufficient food stocks existed in their town to carry the people through the winter.  Their job was to travel to all the farms and granaries, total up all the food, divide by the number of people in town, and assess whether the community would be able to make it through the winter.  In fact, it is only very recently that we have lost this function, and today most people think it rather odd to even wonder about food security.

But for all of human history, and even up until about a hundred years ago in the United States, this was not odd at all.  In fact, the reverse—going into winter without ensuring a local store of food sufficient to feed the community—would have been considered incomprehensible.

After I examined the "just-in-time" delivery system that keeps us fed in this country, I began to grow concerned.  Most communities have, at most, a total of three to five days’ worth of food on hand in their local grocery stores and supermarkets at any given time.  In other words, if delivery trucks stopped rolling into town and everyone then went down to the store to buy what they needed, the stores would be stripped bare in no time at all.  I've seen this happen several times living down in hurricane country—which were formative experiences I can tell you—but for people who haven't seen this dynamic at play it may sound quite foreign.

The list of things that could disrupt the food-distribution chain is frightfully long.  Fuel scarcity, flu epidemics, terrorist events, martial law, and economic breakdown are but a few of them.  So our food-distribution system is best described as both highly cost-efficient (with low inventories and rolling stock) and extremely brittle.

Step 1 - The Deep Pantry

Given this knowledge, Becca and I decided that putting some food into storage made sense.  The first step that you should take is to simply take a peek at your current pantry and then buy more of whatever is in there.  This is called the "deep pantry" strategy, and it is simple and easy.

The first rule of increasing your food security is to buy what you already know you like to eat.  Obviously you should consider the storage limits for the foods you would seek to store, as there is no sense in buying three years' worth of something that has a shelf life of 12 months.  And this strategy requires some sort of a rotation process, but it need be no more complicated than simply placing newly purchased items at the back of the shelf while pulling forward the items that are already there.  As an added bonus, when the price of food is rising, buying food in advance of when you plan to use it is a real money-saver.

But once the deep pantry is stocked up, then what? 

Step 2 - Long-Term Storage 

Having researched food storage for a while, we discovered that we could store food in a manner that would last for thirty years and would cost us less than $3 per person per day's worth of food.  A burst of concerted effort and we would not have to think about food security again for up to 30 years. 

So we made that a priority.  But instead of sweating it out alone, we held a food-storage packing day with fourteen local families and made a grand old time of it.  Many people opt to buy food already prepackaged for long shelf storage; there are many sources providing such products.

Today we have eight months’ worth of food stored for our entire family, plus additional food set aside in case it will be needed by anybody else.  It's been a year since our food-packing day, I have not worried about food security or storage since then, and I won't have to think about it for twenty-nine more years.  All for $3 per person per day.  That is the cheapest peace of mind one can buy. 

There are a lot of resources to help you decide what foods to store, how much, and where to get them.  Knowledgeable members in our community forums have amassed links to many of the better providers. 

And if you’re the ‘set it and forget it’ type who gets peace of mind by purchasing everything in one fell swoop, there are convenient food storage kits available for a variety of time lengths and budgets.  We like the packages offered by PrepareDirect and The Ready Store, many of which offer complete daily meals and a 30-year shelf life:

Whether you decide to store a little food or a lot, I encourage you to get started right away.  If the idea of food insecurity has been gnawing away at the back of your mind, you might be surprised by the amount of relief you feel at having taken the relatively simple and inexpensive steps that I've outlined above.  I was.

And make sure you have sufficient resources available for cooking your food if access to conventional power sources becomes unavailable.  We’ll have more on cooking/heating/lighting in an upcoming post.

These first steps are only a start toward increasing personal resilience through food security by building a deeper pantry and developing a food storage plan.  Much more can be learned about growing, preparing, storing, and cooking food in our community discussion forum.

There is an incredible wealth of guidance amassed there by many PeakProsperity.com members who are passionate and experienced about developing personal and community resilience – and many are happy to help answer questions posted on the forums.  So please consider joining the forum discussion if you have questions.  And if you’re one of those experienced forum mavens, thank you for all that you’re doing to help new members start on building resiliency into their lives. 


If you have not yet seen the other articles in this series on resilience, you can find them here:







What Should I Do?: The Basics of Resilience (Part 8 – Community)




    What Should I Do?: The Basics of Resilience (Part 9 – Your Next Steps)

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    This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://peakprosperity.com/what-should-i-do-the-basics-of-resilience-part-3-storing-food-2/

     Dr. Martenson ,     Thank you for sharing your personal preps.  Leading by example is the best way .   People always appreciate thinking there is something they can do and if you are going to reach the people there has to be a trusting relationship.

    The link to food storage packing day doesn’t go anywhere. I was hoping it would give more info on what you put by and how you did it.
    Admin:  Try it now.

    Thanks for flagging. We’ve fixed the link. Please try it now - think it will provide the details you’re looking for.

    We do the deep pantry and some prepackaged too.  But we heard from others about bulk packaging and have that as plan B.  I can’t vouch for it (30 yeaars is a long time to wait around for testing) but here is what I did after reading a few forums on the subject.  Please do your own research on this.  The uncertainty is why we have plan A.
    We took food grade plastic gallon buckets and sanitized them with brewing saniizer.  In a pince you can use household bleach diluted 1/2 tsp/gallon of water.  I had the sanitizer because I brew my own beer.  (It’s a social expectation up here in the Pacific Northwest!).  Do not touch the inside surfaces of the bucket or lid after sanitizing - your hands are dirty even after you wash them.  To purge the oxygen, we then placed a small “fresh” (no frozen water vapor) chunck of dry ice in the bottom.  It is key not to use “old” dry ice as you will introduce water vapor into the bucket = rot) This was then covered by dryed beans or dried rice bought at Costco.  (Cubans live off of these two items almost exclusively…protien and carbohydrates).  The lid was placed partially sealed on top to provide sort of a check valve to let air out, but not let it back in.  We then let the dry ice “melt”.  This basically purges all of the air out and replaces it with CO2 which is mostly inert.  It is not as good a nitrogen, but this is what others have done.  I keep an overabundance of multivitamins in to round it out.  These are my plan B items, in case the world goes to heck much worse than I expect it to…we each have our own point of view.  But this was cheap insurance in case I am wrong and things get skinney.  If I am right, we will never touch thiese supplies. 

    This is the cheapest yet effective way I found to do this…it is our plan B.  Please do not rely on this.  I would feel terrible if you did and I was wrong.  If anyone out there can think of a better way to do this…please weigh in. 

    One thing people must consider and mentioned by bikemonkey is where you are going to get your nutrition .  Sure eating stored food will give you the calories, but more than likely after 3-5 years of food being stored, all nutrition will be for the most part non-existent.   So people must consider where they are going to get their source of nutrition.  In every day life we typically get our nutrition from our food and take supplements for the vitamins/minerals we may be missing.    If you end up eating from your food storage , you need to reverse this process and look to a supplement for most if not all of your nutriton.  Easier said then done ,since most  vitamins in pill form do not provide the necessary nutrition when compared to real food.   I like Dr. Schulze vitamin powder and Vega vitamin powder.   These are expensive , but all natural products.   Also, you must remember that even though you are packaging your food in  food grade plastic buckets,  air will still penetrate ,even if you have an airtight seal.   Their are microscopic holes in buckets made out of plastic.     I purchase wheat in buckets from waltonfeed.com  The wheat is first sealed in an airtight bag with nitrogen packets.  This will last 10-15 years.   Wheat is one of the hardiest grains.  It has a very hard outer shell  , which means it can be stored for very long periods(in the right conditions).  In fact wheat found in Egyptian Tombs was still edible have thousands of years.    Rice has a soft outer shell, so its shelf life is 6months to a year and maybe a couple years if stored in an airtight bucket.  Same with beans.   Just my two cents


      This will not be popular here but I do not   seal up the grains or beans .  This is  just from my experience of storing rotation  for the last 14 years . I keep a three year rotation going  .   I freeze the grains / rice for two days then put it in the bucket put the lids on and it lasts for years .  For dried beans and pop corn   I store them in one gallon pickle jars they last for five years now .
       If you are worried about your beans pressure cook them . Make your chili pressure cook it . Make your soup pressure cook it .  It will last for very many years … Do not store them with the rings on !

    The biggest challenge is knowing how much you will need .  Each family is different  … Make your meal plans go from there .    You know how many times a week you eat fish , chicken ,hamburger etc .  Example , I know my husband drinks 1/2 pint of  home made tomato juice a day   the others do not .   So I know bare minimums .     Keeping a diary will help .

        Now HERE is the Challenge .   Getting your garden to produce most of your needs !    I still to this day glean what others will not take time to Put Up apples, plums , pears and so on  .

      This year I am planting more fruit trees on the edge of the hay field .   There is so much unused land it would amaze you .  In fact we get paid not to farm some fields .  This money pays the taxes for the rest of the place .  Sometimes I think what a waste !  I could be raising food on those acres .

      If you do not know how to can and dehydrate  go to your county extension office and they will know someone who can mentor you .  These supplies will need to be on your list .  Lemon juice , sea salt ,sugar , honey ,  sure jell ,  vinegar , spices , jars, flats .

     You know how simple I am this is not hard to do just get started . It will save you so much money just by not having to make a trip to the store for something you thought you had .   No one runs to their neighbor to borrow a cup of sugar anymore .

       Oh My Wow !   If you have not made freezer pickles you are missing out on a treat .




    I’m curious.  Does hubby have any problems with arthritis?

    ao ,
     Amazingly  no  he does not have arthritis at all !    Although there is a family history of it .   Everyone’s body has it’s own make up for certain .  It makes cooking meals challenging .  We use Kinesthiology to test what foods are not good for our body .   His is grains ,potatoes,  molasses and sugars .     So we know to watch the diabetic signs as well  . Even one of our young sons body reacts to these foods .

        Kinesthiology an interesting science … saves us many medical bills and are in our 50’s without meds.

      Curiosity is good .


    Bikemponkey…you are on the right track with the buckets.
    Having eaten out of a bucket of food stored for thrity years, I would like to add a few recommendations for those considering it.

    Place 1 to 2 inches of non iodized salt in the bottom of the bucket. This acts as a dessicant and will safely store any of the excess moisture during the dry ice stage or condensation due to temp changes throughout the storage life.

    Place your product (corn, wheat, rice, beans etc.) into the bucket, on top of the salt, leaving about 1/2 inch of room on the top. Place a small piece of wax paper, 3 inch by 3 inch maybe, on top of the product and centered. Put 1 0z of dry ice on the wax paper.

    Keep the buckets in a place where they will not be disturbed by anything, including air, while you are doing this. I use my garage, and I place a ring of old cardboard boxes around the buckets while the ice is melting off to help keep the area saturated with CO2.

    As the dry ice melts the CO2 drops into the bucket and displaces the oxygen, rendering the destructive life forms inside, inert.

    Once the ice is melted, gently remove the wax paper and place a couple oxygen absorbers onto the product if you want, then seal the lids on.

    Store your buckets out of direct sunlight, in an area that maintains fairly reasonable temps, preferably 70 or below. The bucket I ate out of had been stored in a garage, with huge temp variations for thirty years. The rice was fine, although at the bottom there was a clump of “burnt” rice due to his placing the dry ice in the bottom of his bucket wrapped in newspaper, on top of the salt. This is no longer recommended obviously, but it works.

    Best of luck.


    I’m wondering if someone has a list a goods that could be stored many months/years but which are not necessary canned food. Example, coconuts, peanut, dry prune…

    Thanks for sharing information !


    I’m interested in your opinion about the technique I employed.
    I looked through my welding gases and found the closest I had to pure CO2 was a combination of 75% Argon and 25% CO2. A quick check on the internet suggested that argon was safe, so I put the hose end in the bottom of  a mylar insert bag and turned it on while filling the bag with various foods. Ultimately I sealed the mylar leaving only the hose opening unsealed and let it purge for another min or so. Then I removed the hose, added several O2 packs and sealed the opening.

    I ask since I have not tested this long term and would hate to be surprised a few years from now.

    What do you think?





    Not being a chemist, I think you may have hit the jackpot. I am concerned about some of the issues raised with using mylar bags, dangerous chemical bleed over etc. But the food is for survival, while you re establish food sources, not for long term consumption.
    I wonder what other types of employment will lead to minor differences ins torage techniques. Reminds me of a guild or vocational school technique variation. Interesting and effective.

    Thanks for sharing…

    I am from New Jersey and am working on a very limited budget, but have been able to buy and store a years worth of food for my family and I .  My friend ownes a restaurant and gave me access to the restaurant supply store.  What I bought was 400lbs of white rice, 100lbs of dried beans and 100lbs of dried peas.  I know this does not sound like the best diet in the world, but I figure it is better then nothing. What I have been doing for friends and family who are interested is selling them this same amount for $350, which is $40 more then I pay.  I feel this is reasonable for my time and gas considering the supply house is 40 minuted from my house.  If anyone lives in the NY/NJ/PA area and is interested I would be willing to do the same for you.  I know the diet on here http://www.efoodsdirect.com/products/freedom-unit-food-supply.html  sounds a lot better, but I could not afford $1700 per person.  I spend less for a family of 4.  And the dried beans and rice will last for years if stored properly.  If interested you can email me at bandvbandv@yahoo.com  My personal opionion is that in the next couple of years things are going to start to crumble and if there is food available I dont think I will be able to afford it.

    Also there are many other items in the restaurant store that I can purchase for you.  If you are interested in something let me know and I will get the price for  you.  They have driend nuts and fruits, canned vegetables, canned fruits, canned sauces, different pasta, although when they are on sale in the suppermarket they are cheaper. So if intersted email me and let me know. bandvbandv@yahoo.com

    Thanx for the info. If you have issues with Mylar bags do you just put the food directly into Type 2 HDPE plastic buckets and are you concerned about what some have described as air infiltrating through the plastic buckets or past the seals over time? What are other peoples take on the use of mylar bags?

    I like the salt idea and does that meen you can use that salt as a spice in the future with your wheat or rice?

    It also sounds like most are storing whole grains and relying on grinding them in the future.

    If one was not a coffee drinker and one stored coffee, it could end up being a valuable bargaining tool for those in need of a coffee fix.


    Yes I put the food directly into the buckets. I am not concerned about the air infiltration really, since the buckets that I have seen stored prior to mylar have worked just fine. I think there might be an air contamination issue if there are large pressure variations due to heating and cooling on the sealed bucket.I did see a reasonable discussion about the potential for contamination of food stored in mylar due to the exposure of the mylar itself, but it is not the primary reason I choose not to use mylar. I think it’s unnecessary is all.

    The salt provides the added benefit of being edible when you unseal the bucket. It can also be spread out on a table and aloowed to sun dry and be reused in your next bucket if you like. Salt is mandatory for life sustainment, so its a win win having it on board with every bucket.

    Whole grain storage does require a grinder. I have two hand grinders, one that iincorporates a flywheel that will allow a v-belt to be added from a motor of some type and allow an electric or small gas engine to do the work for you. I recommend having two of everything that is required for life sustainment, as things break or don’t always work well enough and must be either fixed, improved upon, or replaced. I use this philosphy as a result of combat experience where needing something that has been found broken in someones pack can lead to what would have been a  preventable death. It sounds extreme, but it is exactly what we are doing here, storing food and supplies for the chance that the supermarket (current piece of equipment if you will) fails for any number of reasons that can be seen in the CC.

    A nice meat grinder is a good investment as well. While not many of us are butchers, anyone can push meat into a grinder and eat a nice ground meat patty. The ground meat can also be dehydrated in shaped form for easier, more consistant storage. Basic skills in hunting, trapping and carcass rendering are excellent to have ahead of time to make it all come together for a better chance at survival and increasing food diversity. It is possible to eat a meager diet and live, but some people wil have diet rejection. If this happens and you do have only basic supplies, have someone in mind to trade with, or increase your hunting/gathering and farming abilities now.

    Best of luck


    I have a bunch of canned stuff so I like redundancy in can openers (for those storing canned food).  Also, beans and grains can be sprouted and cooked; if you like sprouts and know how to keep from bacterial contamination (rinsing sprouts thoroughly and disinfecting the sprouters between uses) it can add a little variety to the dried food reserves.  And keeping lots of spices on hand (for me this means having a one gallon jug of hot sauce in storage…).  Hot sauce gets better with ageSmile


    A woodgas stove is an excellent option that burns mostly any woody material:


    Full Moon:
    This year’s Farmer’s Almanac has an AMAZING recipe for garlic dill refrigerator pickles. And you can rebrine new cuke slices into the empty jars. I’m stocking up on the spices and cider vinegar needed to make them. They are simple as pie, and as a bonus you get all the vitamins and minerals and fiber of fresh food to supplement the deep pantry. Cukes are easy to grow and these pickles last for months.

    Here in SC fresh dill grows fresh everywhere: it’s considered a weed.