I would keep at least a one month supply of food on hand at all times. By choosing the correct foods, in the right storage containers, it can last years and years, and when it gets close to going bad, you just eat it and replace it! Most of us these days are on a tight budget, and it must be daunting just thinking of spending the money to store up so much food. Well, the easiest way i've found to do it, is just every time you go to the grocery store, get 4 or 5 cans of extra food to store. Depending on what you get, that can be as low as $1 per trip. And after a few months, you'll be amazed at how much food you have.
I've found that by storing food I can save around $100 a month. Every 6 weeks the local supermarkets have price/sale battles, and I take advantage of that, by only shopping and getting needed items when they are on sale, instead of going out every week and buying them at normal price.
If you want a good idea of what you need to store per person over a given time period, try out this handy Food Storage Calculator.
Long-Lasting Cheap Food Items
- Peanut Butter
- Elbow Macaroni (or any pasta) with powdered cheese
- Ramen Noodles
- Beans (lots of beans!)
- SPAM/DAK Ham/Vienna Sausages (most any canned meats)
- Rice (white or brown, white has a longer shelf life, store a bunch!)
- Powdered Milk (Non-fat, preferably nitrogen packed dry milk)
- Canned Fruits and Vegetables
- Sugars (Honey, Molasses, Sorghum, Maple Syrup, Jams, Jellies)
- Spices (a good variety of spices can make even the most bland meal great)
- Fats and Oils (Olive Oil, Vegetable Oil, Corn Oil - they last about 2 years, but you can get up to 4 years out of them if frozen. If you don't have oils, you will be boiling all of your food.)
- Salt (one of the most important preservatives, wars have been fought over salt. Essential in food preservation and attracting game. Get as much as possible.)
- Vitamins (in a bad situation you may not be able to get all the nutrition you need, and vitamins will be important to stay healthy)
If you are planning to store large amounts of found for a long period of time, the best way is to purchase 5-gallon food-grade buckets and lids. Line the buckets with mylar sheets to keep the temperature from fluxuating, and add oxygen absorber packets (depending on what size the absorbers are, look online for the amount to add per bucket). The oxygen absorbers will keep out/kill bugs. Also, freezing the contents of a bucket for three days will kill any eggs that are already in the food (yes, most food already has weevil eggs in it). Make sure to write the contents and date stored on the outside of the bucket.
There are major food shortages going on all over the world right now, and it is forcing the price of all foods to go up. BBC Reports on Food Shortages , Fox News warns of Food Shortages causing Riots. Storing food now could not only save your life, but it can save you a great deal of money in the long term.
Regardless of what the future holds, I would rather be safe than sorry. One more person prepping is one less person that needs handouts later. Spread the word!