Food Storage Mistakes

1: The Food Storage Mentality:


foodIf you care anything at all about being prepared for whatever life throws at you then the best thing you can do is completely eliminate the term “food storage” from your vocabulary.  We’re humans; not squirrels. Mentally we recognize that there’s something inherently wrong with the notion of spending money on something that we’re only go to store away in a dark corner of the attic only to forget it, while our investment decays. It’s not an interest-bearing savings account after all. Food is perishable even under the best of circumstances thanks to dishonest manufacturers and hungry vermin. As such, the money you spend on food for tomorrow should never be built around a “buy and forget it” mentality. Yes, we absolutely should be concerned about the shelf-life of our food investments—but not so that we can ignore them for the period of time, rather we can know how they will fit in our rotation plans.


2. Food Rotation:


foodWhat? You don’t have a rotation plan? Well, it’s simple. You put the new perishable items that you bring home at the back of your shelves and rotate the older items to the front so that you use them first. Front, back, side to side. It doesn’t matter so long as you end up using that which is older first. That way you maximize your spending ability and never waste the effort, time, or money that you put into acquiring it in the first place. Yes, you’ve heard it a hundred times, no doubt, but it’s true. Buy what you eat and eat what you buy.


3. Production:


Having food on your shelves doesn’t provide you with a future full of security. It only serves the purpose of giving you sufficient time after a crisis—time that you need in order to wait for the weather, water, and work you’ll need to put forth so that you can properly produce your own food. Yeah, such an assignment is an overwhelming thought to city slickers like myself who aren’t pros at gardening. So I might need a little more “time” to get things right. But a person who never reconciles their Food Preparedness with the reality of them having to produce their own food to survive is betting it all on a poker hand with nothing but a pair of 2’s.


The ability to produce more food means that you’ve got to learn about animal husbandry, ranching/homesteading, and animal care, as well as purchasing and using heirloom seeds that will continue to provide you with seeds forever and ever so long as you garden. I’ve done a LOT of comparisons of seed companies and I’ve got to tell you that time after time I find Baker’s Creek Heirlooms to be the BEST quality and BEST retail pricing consistently.


4: Inventory Evaluation:


foodNumbers and lists from other people that you trust may be a good place to start when it comes to having “enough”, but ultimately you need to use your experiences from feeding yourself and your family and friends under the worst of circumstances. What I mean by that is it’s a big mistake to naively PLAN on only having 2 meals a day, because the fact of the matter is, you’re more likely to want AND NEED more than you’re presently accustomed to eating now as a result of the additional energy you may have to expend in order to cook, clean, play, and just plain function.

Additionally, pay no attention to the “serving sizes” on those cans and boxes. You’ve fed your family before. You know darn well that the 11 year old will consume an entire can of mandarin oranges after school now, so don’t kid yourself into thinking that that one can will feed him for three servings of mandarin oranges later. Ignore that the recipe says “feeds 6-8”. 6-8 what? Anorexic models, fussy 4 year olds, or growing teenage boys? As you inventory what you’ve got, be sure that you’re keeping it real. Inventory systems based on servings is a great idea but the servings need to be real for YOUR family.


5. Experience!

foodIn order to know how many servings my fabulous Chicken Poppyseed Casserole will feed in your family, you must do more than just have the items on hand for it. Investing in any kind of “Someday” foods (meaning “we can eat these someday if we had to”) will only cause you stress and unpleasant surprises at the very worst times. Make sure that you are familiar not only with the dishes that you plan to enjoy for your targeted period of time (a year is HIGHLY recommended) but your also confident in their preparation and success with your family members.


Seriously, you do NOT want to use your kids as guinea pigs when they are already freaked out with whatever events have led up to you making 2 meals a day, everyday suddenly, right?  If you’ve ever tried to help someone out in their own kitchen you know how frustrating it can be, and in fact, downright stressful. Even having help in my kitchen can be stressful to me. In the midst of a crisis, I do NOT plan to make things worse by making the food I feed my loved ones stressful. But the most sure way to do it is to “plan” on preparing and serving new foods made with the same tools that you would have to use in the event of a long-term power outage.


If you’ve ever had a horrible time trying to get the fussy 2 year old to eat their veggies, imagine multiplying that by every other member of your family that you anticipate feeding. Food is a very emotional connection for even the most disciplined of us all. You have the ability to plan on it being a positive emotional reinforcement now as you prepare. Oh, and speaking of experience, make sure that you’re not the only one who has experience preparing them. If I’ve got to learn how to shoot and defend myself, then HE sure as heck needs to learn how to make a handful of meals. After all, what would happen if I was sick and PF Changs is buried under 20 feet of rubble after an earthquake? Then what would he do, eh?


Confidence goes a LONG way in creating peace in stressful circumstances. So stock up on it now with plenty of practice in using your alternative cooking tools so you have ample experience in making delicious meals now that you KNOW your family will love later.


Lynn · May 24, 2012 at 8:12 am

It all makes perfect sense to me! Thanks Kellene. I totally agree especially on the food servings sizes that are stated on some food products. It sure varies from one company to another — for the same amount in the container!

Holly · May 24, 2012 at 11:50 am

You are right ON, Kellene! Thanks, once again for a terrific and accurate summary of what our mindset should be in regards to feeding our families. People look at me funny when I say that I am eating my ‘food storage’, but like you said, I don’t want to have a learning curve in my own kitchen if an emergency comes up! And I want to know that my family likes the recipes that I have stocked up on ingredients for. I made it my goal this year to be able to make bread without looking at a recipe, using only 4 or 5 ingredients. I’ve done it so many times that I am used to the ratio of ingredients and could mix up a batch of bread dough very easily now. I am working on learning all about sprouting now and making yogurt and Ricotta cheese. Thanks for the encouragement to keep improving our mindset and gaining self sufficiency!

    Kellene Bishop · May 24, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Way to go, Holly!!! Make sure you try mozzarella cheese too! Sooooo good and sooo easy.

    Jo · May 24, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Are you willing to share your bread recipe? How will you cook it if the SHTF? Solar? Are you grinding your own wheat? I really don’t want to buy a $300 wheat grinder if there is a way to NOT do that!

      Kellene Bishop · May 25, 2012 at 2:38 am

      Just look up “Kick butt whole wheat bread” with the quotation marks and you’ll find it. 🙂

VanMom · May 24, 2012 at 12:31 pm

I have a full pantry and need to take the time to go through it to toss expired items. What is the best way to formally get this started?

Would you suggest making a meal plan with what I have on hand? Building a game plan around what we currently eat, followed by rotating the new groceries to the back?

I greatly appreciate the articles and your website.

Thank you!

    Kellene Bishop · May 24, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Well, knowing me, I’d do a little bit of both. Meal plan for what I want, and then make sure I am comfortable with meal plans based on what I’ve got. (I kind of make myself do a little Iron Chef thing–“how many dishes can I make out of corn meal?”)

      diane gill · May 28, 2012 at 1:26 am

      Do you have a book out? I would buy it in a heartbeat and use it as my prepping bible. You are by far my favorite prepper, a person I would be proud to have as a friend. As a military wife and mother I am prepared for several contingencies but there will always be more to learn. Keep up the happy prepping and thanks for all your knowledge.

        Kellene Bishop · May 28, 2012 at 3:15 am

        We’ve officially got two in the works. 🙂 Welcome to the looney bin. 🙂

        Kellene Bishop · May 29, 2012 at 5:54 pm

        We literally have two in the works. Whew! It’s a LOT of work and it can’t just be squeezed in with everything else. It needs to be scheduled and I need to be disciplined not to let anything else get in the way of it. 🙂

K5Mom · May 24, 2012 at 1:11 pm


You know this could not have been better timing. I was just at my favorite shoping store yesterday. Saw some itmes on sale for .27 cents. Picked up what they had that I thought my family would eat. Then as I walked around the store getting my other targeted items and deals, it hit me. My family will Never eat this, I won’t eat this. Not going to waste my money on this item, and put it back. Instead I got boxes of pastas of all kinds, that I know they will eat. They cost more than .27 cents but only by a little. For me, they are sure to not go to waste.

Also, yesterday, I for the first time made cookies on the grill, charcoal grill none the less. I have to make all things like that from scratch due to my one daughters food allergy. So, a friend said, try to bake on the grill. Because here in AZ, I DO NOT turn the oven on in the summer. IT is why a solar oven is what I have told my family to buy me for my birthday. Anyway, they turned out great. A little dark in one spot of the grill, but we ate them all.

I agree with all you said here. It really reminds a person to practice and use what you have. Buy only what you will eat. Having 3 kids, I have bought some items that are great storage, but only small amount first. I make them in a meal. If my family likes I keep them and get more. If they don’t I donate them to the food banks. I have even begun to teach my kids how to cook, do dishes by hand, and laundry. I have begun to show them first aid basics. I have to have them prepared for if I am unable to do something. So thanks for the reminders as always. You continue to inspire me.

You are the BEST!

Dawn Lisinski · May 24, 2012 at 1:23 pm

well I am happy to say that I am on top of these five. Even our 2 yr old has already picked up the lingo around here, when he wants something he can’t see in the kitchen he will ask me to go to the “garage store” or the “table store” for food. We are building up a store that we can access at anytime, this is our thought on our food “storage”. And everything is rotated as it is bought or canned or dried. As each item is canned or dried we have one the following day and I start in small batches so as not to be wasteful (good thing too, we just did a tomato soup concentrate – YUCK)

We started gardening this year and have the kids involved and also are writing down everything we do so we know what works and don’t and under a stressful situation we won’t have to depend on memory. Our first hens will be here this month and I am in the process of working with someone to learn about goats and their care.

For our inventory we did start with one of the many lists out there to help us look at items we do not typically have in our diet but to try out and see if we like them and add them now if they are cost effective and enjoyable to our family. But our inventory is based on triple what we eat now, simply because at present our boys are 2 and 4, they WILL be eating more and also I believe I want to have more available as I think eating foods we enjoy will become a major comfort in times of stress when all else that we turned to in the past will likely not be around or easily accessed, so there is always the fall back of enjoying a wonderful cup of soothing hot chocolate and toast. So our inventory is built not only around 3 good meals but also enough to be comforted at night while relaxing playing a game of cards or something.

And as I have stated before on your blog, we do make and serve anything that is not a constant diet source now, such as the wheat meat. If it works (ie I am able to prepare, cost is good and taste is acceptable) then we (the husband and I) prepare it again and directions are clearly written down. I am a huge fan of writing everything down in different books (I have my canning book, cooking book, garden book, health care book) There are some things that I have found on the Net that are just better with pictures so those are printed off and laminated and added to the right book.

Looking forward to the rest of the steps to make sure we continue on the right path.

Deanna · May 24, 2012 at 1:55 pm

My family and I have been rotating and eating out of our food storage for about 6 months. We are trying different cooking techniques each time we make the same meal. That way we can see the difference in cook time, amount of energy required, which method of cooking tastes better etc.

The k

Lori · May 24, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Kellene said “The ability to produce more food means that you’ve got to learn about animal husbandry, ranching/homesteading, animal care as well as purchasing and using heirloom seeds that will continue to provide you with seeds forever and ever so long as you garden.”
AMEN!! My husband has farmed on the side for years. Each year we have a huge garden but have never had to completely rely on it. We practice as a hobby those things we may have to do for our sheer exsistance!
I talk to quite a few people about “prepping”. Their preps are done with the idea that peace and prosperity will be restored by the government after a relatively short period of time (usually 6 months to a year). Even if that were true… trying to learn how to hunt when you are starving is not a good idea.
Learn your skills when you can *afford* to make mistakes. I learned how to make soap years ago. My first attempt was “volcano soap”, soap that processed so hot it exploded hot heaping Lye filled soap out of the container I had stored it in. Learning how to garden when your pantry shelves are being depleted very fast with no way to restock them is mistake you cannot afford. Lots of bad thing happen to a garden, drought, bugs, excessive heat, excessive rain. Working through learning primitive skills *now* will prepare everyone for the bad times we seem to be hurtling towards. PREPPING MEANS PREPARING NOT JUST STORING! Storage is a small part of prepping in my humble opinion.

Stephanie · May 24, 2012 at 2:39 pm

I had someone tell me the other day that they were “doomsday prepping” and had gotten a great deal on cases of those instant Asian noodles that you add water and a little foil seasoning packet for a single meal. I said that we didn’t eat those as we didn’t care for them and she said they didn’t like them either but if things got bad they woud be easy meals. I don’t understand the logic behind that thinking. Just what about that is going to make you a happy camper? Food is such a comfort item, it instills memories with its smell and taste and gives you a sense of well being even when your not being “well”. I believe I would be a lot happier opening a jar of my homemade soup and eat that with a chunk of my homemade cornbread than adding boiling water to some dried noodles . But each to their own and I hope she doesn’t come begging me for a piece of pie or a plate of lasagna when she’s tired of noodles.

MikeyDee · May 24, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Well done Kellene. Great food for thought.

VanMom · May 24, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Good points, ladies!

Also, do you purchase the meal packages from the companies who offer 4-person 3-6-9 month supply of food? Or do you coupon shop and/or can your own?
I’m trying to do the best for my family. Buying food they won’t eat isn’t a great choice.

    Kellene Bishop · May 24, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    I personally am not a fan of the meal packages. I’ve found them to be erroneous in their claims far too many times. Just like I mentioned in the article, someone else’s ideas of serving sizes is not realistic for my scenario. I take advantage of awesome sales, coupon, and meal plan to get my stores. I can do a heck of a lot more, a heck of a lot faster with a heck of a lot less.

    WombatWarrior · May 24, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    I do and have bought some of the 4-person 6 month food packs you can find. I bought them originally as a tester and slipped them into the meals for my family. For the most part things were well received some not so much. So when they were gone, I ordered more but just of the stuff we all liked.
    Also, I looked at the food calculators and doubled what they suggested. Simply, I am a large man and I have a 9 year old son who is growing fast and likes to eat.
    As far as rotating your stock, I just built a simple and cheap slope on shelves so as I pull a can, others roll into place. Also everything is marked using a sharpie.
    When going to the store, I do coupon shop. I also look around for sales.

    Quiverfull4x · May 26, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    We are actually using some of the dehydrated food for our 72 hour packs. We live in a hurricane area and may need to leave home for a bit. Our kids put their packs in the car when they are headed on trips, just in case we have a car or other issue. The food is generally good and very lightweight so we can use the weight saved for other items (first aid kit, spare clothes, etc). Thanks for all the tips, Kellene!

Amy · May 24, 2012 at 4:49 pm

I wonder if anyone out there has an opinion about using used glass or plastic containers (think peanut butter jars, gallon pickle jars, spaghetti sauce jars, etc) to store beans, rice, flour or other dried foods. I have an abundance of glass and plastic containers, but have yet to purchase 5-gal buckets or mylar bags for storage. Much of the items I have bought, like rice, comes in a 10 or 20 # bag…not sure how to store it once I start using it. Can a used gallon jar be filled and oxygen pkt added then screw the lid on tightly? Also, I’m not sure how a plastic container can “breathe”. Any ideas?

    Sharon · May 29, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    I was wondering same thing! Any response you can share?

Benita Hyde · May 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm

I was wondering the name of your blog site were you have all your recipes, thank you. I’m currently writing down a book of recipes that can be made from shelf stable food and would like to look at some of your recipes. Thank You
Benita Hyde

Jozonesc · May 24, 2012 at 7:21 pm

I’m a new prepper, and can use ALL ideas! I’d like to know how to get some of your recipes, and how to find a LIST of your YouTube shows…I tried to can some strawberries yesterday (as jam and preserves), using the Ball canning book, but I’m unhappy with the results…followed directions to the letter, but the jam is not sweet and the preserves are TOO sweet, even tho’ I cut back on the sugar. Also, with the preserves, the fruit (I stirred it well) rose to the top. I was experimenting with an inexpensive item, before I try to can spaghetti sauce, meatloaf, chicken, butter, etc. can anyone offer suggestions or recipes? Thanks a bunch!

Heather · May 24, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Great points! I had never cooked real rice until about a year ago. I thought ‘real’ rice would be too hard to cook. There was an adjustment for the family as it does taste a little different, but I’m so glad we switched!

Jo · May 24, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Can anyone tell me where I can get instructions for making cheese? Yogurt? Thanks.

    Kellene Bishop · May 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    the search bar on here is your best friend. Use quotation marks when searching for a specific title/topic though or you’ll end up with all kinds of weird things.

Louise Raven · May 25, 2012 at 12:11 am

I think I am a squirrel. We do eat our stored food but I also stash and forget just like a squirrel. Our garden this year is going to be stupendous – about 60×120 – half with raised beds and all fertile soil with few weeds. I can everything I get my hands on even if we don’t like it much….if we are hungry we will eat it and it is free. I do not buy what we don’t like to eat. Our freezer went out last summer and a half of a cow went kind of bad. We won’t eat it but I canned it for dog food. Once dreamed I was trying to stuff kids red rubber boots into canning jars!


    Kellene Bishop · May 26, 2012 at 7:19 am

    you and me both, Louise. You and me both… 🙂

Suzie Queue · May 25, 2012 at 12:56 am


Plese explain in detail how you use the Food Saver to vacuum seal dry good in canning jars. I saw you use what looked like the top of one of the Food Saver containers with the vacuum tubing on the Food Saver on the Preppers show on National Geographic, but it went so fast, I couldn’t be sure. Since then, I have gone to several stores which carry the Food Saver (I have one plus 3 of their containers), but have never seen a separate attachment for vacuume packing in canning jars, like you did with the almonds. Thanks so much, if you would give a detailed explanation on what you used and how to use it with quart canning jars, as I would like to start dry storing in canning jars my dried goods and flour. (I have 1/2 gal canning jars, too.)

    Jv · May 25, 2012 at 3:16 am

    You can buy them on amazon. I don’t have a food saver, but I use it with a brake bleeder pump and tube. It just pulls all the air out of the jar. I also keep coconut, m&m’s, chocolate chips, nuts, spices etc in jars with the air taken out. They last a long time!

Rachel · May 25, 2012 at 1:49 am

Great article! I’m glad you also mentioned learning to grow your own food. I’ve seen lots of people talk about storing food but never mention what they plan on doing when it runs out. Better to learn now than in a crisis. I am starting small and will continue to expand my garden. This also gives me the opportunity to learn different methods other than the traditional garden. Thanks again for writing your articles. I’ve found many of them helpful!

Lauri · May 26, 2012 at 4:22 am

Kellene, Thank you, again for this website I read your articles over and over again and they have been so helpful. That was so funny when you said we are humans and not squirrels made me lol and then you read down and Louise says I think I am a squirrel because I stashed things away and don’t remember where I put them. I was lol again. It has been a hard week and also when I read about the 11 year old and the mandarin oranges I was lol. I grew up with four older brothers and I am the only girl in the family. When my family and I would sit down at the dinner table at night my dad would say the blessing and as soon as he said Amen there would be four forks in the meat plate of course it was the 4 boys. I know this might sound crazy to you but, you and Louise made me laugh tonight when I needed it the most and brought back a happy memory of my family. So your articles not only teach us but touch the hearts of people’s lives.

    Kellene Bishop · May 26, 2012 at 7:19 am

    thanks for the heart-warming note. 🙂

Dale · May 26, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Kellene, I am canning butter for the first time today–what a hoot! A friend just called and asked what I am doing as it is raining outside. When I said, “Canning butter”, she asked (after a looong pause), “what are you doing that for?” So I tried to explain, but she said she wasn’t convinced and laughed. Well, let them laugh, I guess. But if times do go downhill, my family will have butter! Thanks for teaching me how to do it.

    Kellene Bishop · May 26, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    Way to go, Dale!!!

    Deborah Brazil · January 10, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    Canning Butter? Really? How did I miss that article?

Grandpa · May 27, 2012 at 2:37 am

Someone mentioned ramen noodles. Not for longterm storage as the noodles are made with oil that does go rancid after a while. Rotate frequently or the chickens will get it all. Also the flavor pkts are mostly salt and MSG.

Sierra Brown · May 28, 2012 at 6:00 am

Im still so frustrated, my husband is scrooge when it comes to money. He does NOT want me “wasting” money on prepping. We have three teenagers, how am i supposed to protect my family when me husband keeps an iron fist on the money. Ive managed to build up about three months food, but he wont allow me to build up water storage. Killeen gave me some great advice before but nothing works for him. He told me the other day that we should just die or kill ourselves if something happens. Does anyone have any other ideas? I havent been able to meet any other preppers either…i feel so alone down here in Texas

    Kellene Bishop · May 28, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    I’m sorry to hear of your situation. I’m sure that it’s GOT to be frustrating. Just please keep on focusing on what you can though that doesn’t require money such as going to classes, researching the internet and the library for skills and knowledge.
    What I have done that I have found to do a moderate job of influencing people is to discuss with them “what if” scenarios based on real life occurrences that I see on the news. For example, “Honey, I read on the news yesterday about all of those passengers who were stranded at the airport for 4 days, many of them running out of medications. What do you think we should do so that we don’t suffer the same plight?”
    And above all, keep building your Spiritual Preparedness and ask Him for help to approach your sweetheart. It may be that he’s simply too scared or feels helpless to do anything about it. Or he feels too scared and vulnerable about your present state of finances. The nice thing about self-reliance is that even though Financial Preparedness is #9 on the list of priorities, if you live the other 8 before it, then you’ll find the position #9 to be strengthened.

    donna · June 9, 2012 at 12:56 am

    I bought a waterbob!! I have a small home and not alot of places for water storage. I also convinced my husband to purchase and install rain barrels. I told him it would cut cost on watering the yard. Also, look into a non electric water distiller or google how to make your own. I hope that helps.

    Ivan · June 8, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    If the reason he does not want to prep it because he is a scrooge, maybe you want to try a different tack with him.

    The cost of food has gone up more than the cost of living. Buying in bulk and stocking up when things are on sale actually save you money.

Razi · June 29, 2012 at 4:52 am

We have started prepping since 6 months ago and so far have been able to do it the smart way, we can lot of our own food, bought an amazing food dehydrator the size of a mini-refrigerator that has not stopped working since it has come through the door, it is summer and a fruits and vegetable are cheap and bountiful, so we dehydrate plenty of fruits and store in myler bags with oxygen absorbers. once a week we make doomsday food, that means we use what we store, so far everyone has been happy with the meals, important things to have are products such as precooked beans from Honeyville and they can be stored for 15 years, most dry beans take 4 hours to cook, precooked only 20 minutes. many products like rice, grains keep for 15 years. prepping investment can be made gradually and efficiently.

James Ulrich · September 7, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Have you or anyone reading /
Have you or anyone reading / commenting here considered the alternatives of using dry ice in food storage for oxygen removal vs. oxygen absorbers? Carbon dioxide is heavier than air or oxygen, so it would “remain on the bottom” and push out any air/O2 as it evaporates.
Once the dry ice has fully melted, seal as normal. No O2 in your container. To me, dry ice is cheaper and more readily available than O2 absorbers.

Renee Collins · January 15, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Thanks for the great article,
Thanks for the great article, I am always looking for new info, so helpful. This day and age we need to be more prepared than ever!!

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