Alongside water, food is integral to life and in an emergency or SHTF situation as seen in areas affected by adverse weather such as flooding, access to food and the ability to nip to the shops is either dangerous, the shops themselves are shut, or have no food on the shelves.
Did you know all major super markets only hold a stock of 3 days, once its gone.... its gone unless they have a delivery. We've all seen shoppers go crazy at the first sign of a snow flake, so for me it makes sense to have a bit put by just in case.
Every prepper has a food storage plan for their own reasons, some people store extra food in case of flooding, heavy snow and adverse weather, some people are self employed, not entitled to sick pay and store extra food to take the financial pressure of grocery shopping off them in the event that injury forces them to stop working for a prolonged period.... and of course there are some stockpiling for TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It).
Regardless why you want to build a food storage supply, the same rules and advice applies.
Buy what you eat, and try what you buy!!
There is no point stockpiling things like dried beans, lentils and spam, if you don't eat it! If you want to start storing long terms storage items such as the above, then you should try to introduce it into your meals and diet, especially if you have young kids who are notoriously fussy eaters.
Look at the types of things you and your family consume for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks and buy accordingly. There are ways to extend the shelf lives of food well past their expiry dates; a number of our community members swear by vacuum sealing certain foods which in many cases can give you an extra couple of years if you want to store and forget certain items.
Rotate your stores
A good way to store what you eat is get a rotation system in place, this will encourage you to buy foods you eat regularly. Everytime you buy something put it at the back of the shelf and eat the nearest to you, this will also help eliminate wastage where you may end up with old out of date cans and packets (although most will still be fine for some time after expiry).
Rotation can be applied to everything in your "pantry", from tins, packets, cereals, pasta, rice, beans, you name it.
Store it correctly
One of the main reasons that food spoils is due to the environment it's stored in. A fluctuation in temperature can encourage bacterial growth and ruin consumables, in particular those with high moisture, fat and oxygen content.
The best place to store food is out of direct sunlight and away from a heat source such as a radiator, somewhere cool, dark and dry and if you can remove any remaining oxygen from the packaging, even better.
Avoid garages and sheds if possible as they can be subject to extreme temperature changes, they get freezing in the winter and very warm in summer.
Also when storing food, take into account the accessibility to rodents and pests. Either store high off the ground, or store in heavy duty containers which are unlikely to be compromised. If you can do both, great!!
Store actual meals
One piece of advice I received some time ago was to prep for actual meals and remember to allow for 2000-2500 calories a day as you will likely be physically active.
Pick 7-10 meals that you and your family like, and eat regularly
Work out the ingredients required for you to make these meals using cupboard staples and long term storage items.
Decide how long you will be prepping for (how many days, weeks, months etc you would like the food to last)
Purchase the meals as a whole and store as a meal.
Eg: A stew for 4 people = 2 tins stewed beef, 2 tins of mixed veg, 1 tin of potatoes, 1 stock cube, 2 cups of water, 3g seasoning
Prepping for 3 months food storage and allowing for the above meal once a week, you will need to store... 24 tins of stewed beef, 24 tins of mixed veg, 12 tins of potatoes, 12 stock cubes, 8.5ltrs of water and 36g of seasoning.
This puts into perpective the amount of food you actually need to store for a prolonged period.
This will allow you to organise your "pantry", and itemise your stores which will be integral to making them last.
Don't forget to take into account the water required for cooking, and the amount required for each meal, this can be for anything from boiling pasta and rice, making sauces or increasing the volume of stews and soups. Use the bare minimum required to do what you need to and document the amounts used for reference later when water is being rationed.
Remember variety is the spice of life, so make sure when building your stores that you bear in mind that Food Fatigue is a real thing and even with a fully stocked store, if you have been eating the same thing over and over, you won't be able to eat what you have.
Herbs and spices are a fantastic way of changing up the taste of any meals, also condiments such as ketchup, brown sauce, salad creme, soy sauce, sweet chilli, hot sauce and such like shouldn't be ignored and will bring much needed flavour to bland meals.
Forget all the low fat stuff, in a survival situation you won't be on slimming world or weight watchers for very long, in fact you may not be eating as often or the same quantities you are currently used to, as such you need to make sure that the foods you are eating are calorie rich. Things like complex carbohydrates such as pasta and rice, peanut butter, nuts, dried fruits, chocolate bars and sweets will give you much needed calories and sugars.
So you've got your food sorted, all meals planned, prepped and ready to go. How do you plan to cook the meals. If the gas or electric went off tomorrow could you cook any of the meals you have stored? If yes how long for? Have you sorted enough fuel for the stove or fire you intend to use?
To give you an idea the standard camping stoves use approx 1 x Can of Butane a day when used regularly, so for a 3 months supply you would be looking at around 90 canisters. If that was to be your main method of cooking it may worth considering other means to use alongside this.