Whether you are storing food for an emergency or just for the convenience of having a good supply of food handy, there are certain strategies that can make your supply last longer. If you aren’t careful, stored food can go to waste as unused items spoil. Let’s look at some of the ways to make sure your stored food lasts as long as possible.
Avoid Wasting Food
Many people are in the habit of wasting food. Here are a few ways to cut back on waste.
- Find creative ways to use up all parts of food items. You can often make soups out of foods that would otherwise be discarded or perish in the refrigerator. For example, broccoli stalks can be made into a nutritious and hearty soup. The same is true for bones from meat.
- Have a special area in your refrigerator for foods that should be used immediately. Otherwise, they are likely to get forgotten until they must be thrown away. Put such items in a box and mark it “use first.”
- Note expiration dates on groceries so you know which items to use first.
- Use up leftovers for lunches and snacks.
- Pickle vegetables and fruits so they last longer.
Finding the Best Storage Containers
When it comes to making food last, the type of storage container you use makes a big difference. The ideal type of container will vary depending on the type of food it is.
Airtight plastic containers are good for keeping food in the refrigerator. Some people, however, have health concerns regarding plastic as there is a chance that certain chemicals may seep into food. If you want to dry a healthier alternative, look for airtight glass containers.
For long term storage of dried foods, you want to find containers that will protect the items from both spoilage and pest invasions. Both glass and metal containers are good for this purpose. With metal, you have to be careful of rust in moist areas. Glass containers have the disadvantage of being fragile, so you must be very careful to avoid exposing them to any kind of impact. In either case, you want to make sure that the can or container is airtight.
Have a Root Cellar
If you don’t already have a root cellar or can your own food, this is a great way to store foods that can last for a long time. Some foods that are good to store in a root cellar include:
There are many ways to preserve food, such as by pickling or making jams. This can be an enjoyable hobby as well as a way to have a good storehouse of food available at all times.
Ways to Make Food Last Longer
There are certain processes that can make food last longer.
- An oxygen absorber is made to reduce residual oxygen in food so that it has a longer shelf life. You have probably seen them in food you’ve purchased commercially. Oxygen absorbers are not hard to find and they are inexpensive.
- Using green bags rather than conventional plastic bags can help produce and other items last several times longer. Not only can these bags allow you to keep things like fruits and vegetables fresh for several weeks, but they also help retain the vitamins and other nutrients contained in these foods.
- Food stored in jars can be preserved longer by getting jar sealers. These can be used for storing items such as dry foods, liquids and jams. They can make the food last three times longer or even more.
- Another tool that can help food last longer is a vacuum sealing system. These can be useful for keeping many types of food for longer periods of time in the refrigerator, such as produce, meats and dairy products.
Rotate Stored Food
If you are storing food for long term storage, make sure you rotate it. No matter how long the shelf life of any food maybe, it isn’t going to last forever. For this reason, once you have a certain amount stored up, you should begin consuming it and replacing it. Don’t make the common mistake of storing a large amount of food and forgetting about it.
Lee Flynn is an avid prepper with a passion for the outdoors. He has been writing on topics like food storage for over 10 years, and hopes to help his readers better prepare themselves for any unforeseeable situation.