Before starting your food storage program, you should figure out where you’re going to keep it. The conditions need to be right, there needs to be plenty of room, and it needs to be in a convenient place. Look around your home and find a place that you can dedicate to food storage. Be creative. You might need to move things around.
The Right Conditions
Temperature. Ideally, you want to keep your food below 65 degrees F. Keeping your thermostat at 65 degrees or less could be a strain on your electric bill (and your skin) in the summer, but keep it as cool as you can afford or tolerate. You’ll also want the temperature to stay constant. Temperature variations can ruin the nutritional value of your food.
Humidity. This will make your food spoil far more quickly. Avoid storing food near the dryer, the water heater, in the kitchen, in the bathroom, or anywhere there is water.
Sunlight. You’ll need to keep your food somewhere dark. Not just a dimly lit room, but a closet or a place with no windows. It’s imperative that you keep your food away from direct sunlight. Never keep your food in clear plastic or glass containers.
In addition to having the right conditions, your food storage area should be large, depending on how many people live in your home. Think of it this way: How much food do you buy in a week, and how much space does that take? Now multiply that by the number of weeks of food you’d like to have on hand. Even when packing efficiently, your food could easily fill up a large closet.
Food does not last forever, and hopefully you won’t be forced to eat it to survive. But if you’re not, you’ll need to rotate through it. As the saying goes, “Store what you eat, and eat what you store.” This means your food should be somewhere accessible. If you have to walk to the far end of your house, go through several doors, and dig through piles of clothes and boxes, then you probably won’t bother eating your storage food and it will go bad. This is money down the drain. Instead, keep your food in a room near the kitchen and install shelves so you can find what you’re looking for.
It is very important that you don’t keep your food out in the open. When the SHTF, people are going to remember the guy who had a room full of extra food. It will be both difficult and dangerous to turn people away, so it’s better if no one knows you have extra food in the first place, not even friends. If even one of your friends knows about your supply, he’s liable to tell a dozen others and your food won’t last a week. Make sure your food is in a locked room or closet that a house guest cannot open. Only the people who are meant to eat the food should know it’s there.
With all this in mind, consider these locations. Some of them aren’t usually good locations for storing food, but it depends on where you live. See if the conditions are right.
- The basement. Nice and cool. Watch out for dryer vents and furnaces.
- Under the stairs. Think about installing hooks and shelves.
- Closets. Another place where you can install shelves. It’s a good idea to have a lock on the door.
- Utility room. This might be okay if it is very well ventilated, otherwise the heat and moisture from your washer and dryer could be a problem.
- The kitchen. If you have tons of cupboard space, go for it! But try to only use cupboards that aren’t right next to the sink, refrigerator or oven (if there are any such cupboards in your kitchen).
- Under the bed. Measure how high your bed is from the floor and find some appropriate-sized totes with wheels that will slide underneath.
- Inside coffee or end tables. A large chest can be used as a coffee table, or a bucket with a cloth draped over it can make a good end table.
- The garage. Usually a bad place unless you keep it closed and the temperature is constant.
- The attic. Also a bad place unless it is well-insulated and the temperature is constant. Probably too inconvenient.
Once you’ve settled on a good location for your food, you’ll be ready to start stocking up. There’s no excuse for putting it off any longer. Good luck!