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For many people, stocking up on food is a huge part of their family’s preparedness plan–as it should be! While this may seem as simple as buying a little extra food each time you go to the store, it’s actually a bit more complicated.
You can’t just stick your food in the pantry and forget about it until a disaster strikes. If you do, then when the time comes to eat it, you may find that most of it has gone bad or become infested. If you want your food to last for years, you need to repackage it before storing it.
While there are some foods that store just fine in the original package (for example, canned goods), most foods need to be repackaged. Below is a list of such foods. It mostly includes foods that come in thin plastic, paper, or cardboard packages. These foods should be repackaged into canning jars, airtight containers, mylar bags, food grade buckets, and vacuum sealer bags.
1. Baking Mixes – Pancake, quick bread, muffin, or cake mixes can be a good way to add some interest to your food storage. To ensure it keeps, you’ll need to replace the flimsy packaging it typically comes in.
2. Baking Powder – Anyone who bakes knows the importance of baking powder, and it’s cheap to stock up on. However, in longterm storage, there’s no telling if those little cardboard containers will hold up. Opt instead for small vacuum sealed bags or mylar bags with oxygen absorbers.
3. Baking Soda – Baking soda is a great multi-purpose item to have in your food storage. It’s an important ingredient and can be used for cleaning! Unfortunately, in its original packaging, it can be quite susceptible to moisture, so it should be vacuumed sealed in a container or bag instead.
4. Bread Crumbs – A cheap way to bulk up meals and food storage, bread crumbs should be vacuum sealed or stored with oxygen absorbers to keep them from getting stale.
5. Breakfast Cereal – Cereal can be a quick, no-heat breakfast or snack in a survival situation, especially if you have young children. Most cereal is also fortified with important vitamins and minerals, helping you to stay healthy. Surprisingly, if vacuumed sealed, cereal will last for a long time without going stale. It’s probably wise to vacuum seal it in containers rather than bags so you don’t end up with cereal powder.
6. Coffee – While it may not be absolutely necessary for your survival, for many having coffee is essential for morale. Both instant and regular coffee should be vacuum sealed to keep it fresh and delicious.
7. Cookies – Cookies last a surprisingly long time when correctly repackaged. Opt for a container to keep them from being smashed and either vacuum seal them or add oxygen absorbers.
8. Cornmeal – If packaged properly, cornmeal will last a very long time. However, it is great at absorbing moisture. Plus, the package it comes in it’s susceptible to insects and rodents. So make sure you vacuum seal it or put it in an airtight container.
9. Crackers – If you’ve ever eaten a stale cracker, you know how important it is to keep them fresh. Yes, you can eat stale crackers if you have to, but if you think ahead and store them properly, you won’t have to.
10. Dried Fruit or Fruit Leathers – It may seem like dried fruit or fruit leathers last forever, but in their original packaging, they’re actually quite susceptible to mold and moisture. Repacking them in a vacuum sealed container or bag can keep them good for years.
11. Dry Beans – Dry beans are a great cheap protein source to stock up on at your local grocery store. Keeping them dry is important to their long-term storage viability. Vacuum sealing them or putting them in Mylar bags or food grade buckets with oxygen absorbers is a much better idea than leaving them as is.
12. Flour or Wheat Berries – Both flour and wheat berries typically come in large paper bags, which is definitely not ideal for long-term storage. Keeping them dry and away from insects like grain weevils is important. Instead of their original packaging, store them in large food grade containers with oxygen absorbers.
13. Hard Candy – Hard candy is often a popular choice as a moral boosting treat to include in food storage, and while it doesn’t really go bad, it can be susceptible to moisture and temperature. For best results, store it in an airtight container with an oxygen absorber. Containers instead of bags will also keep it from being crushed.
14. Instant Mashed Potatoes – Instant potatoes are great for long-term storage. However, they’re super susceptible to moisture. Don’t risk leaving them in the original packing. Vacuum seal them or store them in containers with oxygen absorbers.
15. Oatmeal – A favorite prepper breakfast, oatmeal is a super easy meal that keeps well when it’s properly stored. As it typically comes in cardboard and/or paper containers, it’s best to swap it to vacuum sealed bags or containers.
16. Pasta – Typically, pasta comes in thin cardboard or plastic packages which can easily be torn or damaged and are very tempting to rodents and insects. Instead of risking your pasta going to waste, you should repack into canning jars or buckets. Vacuum sealer or mylar bags will work as well, though you’ll want to ensure the pasta doesn’t get crushed in storage.
17. Popcorn – Popcorn is an excellent space saving snack with good storage abilities. As with many grains, it’s packaging is far from ideal for keeping out rodents and moisture. Repackage it in something sturdier and airtight.
18. Powdered Eggs – Powdered eggs can be great for baking or slipping into meals to bulk up on calories and nutrition. You definitely don’t want rotten eggs though, so repackage them into a vacuum sealed container, bag, or mylar bag.
19. Powdered Milk – No one likes drinking powdered milk. However, in a true survival situation, it is very handy to have around. It can add a lot of calories to a meal and is great for baking. Unless you’re purchasing it in cans, it’s best to vacuum seal or package it with oxygen absorbers in mylar bags to avoid spoilage.
20. Salt – In many situations, salt’s moisture absorbing qualities can be very helpful, but not if you’re trying to store it in the cardboard container it comes in. If your pantry is exposed to any moisture and humidity, you could end up with a very soggy package of salt. Putting salt into airtight containers like food grade buckets or canning jars is best.
21. Shortening or Lard – Solid fats have long been used for food preservation, so of course they’re great for long-term storage. However, most shortening now comes in packages that are easily eaten through by insects or rodents or damaged by moisture. To keep shortening or lard safe, pack it into canning jars and vacuum seal it.
22. Spices – Spices do last a long time as is. However, if not vacuumed sealed, they tend to lose a lot of their flavor over time. Vacuuming sealing fairly small amounts in bags or canning jars can keep your spices fresh and flavorful.
23. Sugar – Most sugar comes in paper bags. Just tossing these bags into the pantry can lead to issues with ants and other insects or moisture problems. Storing bulk sugar in a large food grade bucket with oxygen absorbers is probably the best option.
24. Tea – Even if you’re not a big tea drinker, both black and herbal teas are great to add to your food storage for their medicinal properties. Unfortunately, most come in paper or cardboard which can let in moisture and air, causing them to go bad or lose their potency. Both loose leaf tea and tea bags can be resealed into canning jars, vacuum bags, or mylar bags to keep them fresh for years. You’ll want to package them in small containers, that way you can use up what you’ve opened before it goes to waste.
25. White Rice – Though brown rice is slightly more nutritious, it will go rancid faster than white rice. Rice can be vacuum sealed into canning jars, vacuum sealer bags, or placed into mylar bags or food grade buckets with an oxygen absorber.
Keeping a stock of food on hand can greatly increase your family’s chance of survival in an emergency. However, you can’t just stick food in the pantry and expect it to last. Following this list of foods and ways to repackage them will help you fill your survival cache and make it last for a long time.