When Do I Start Stockpiling Food?

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I apologize for asking a question like this but I really am not sure as to when I should seriously begin stock-piling large amounts of food. I guess my biggest concern is that the expiration dates aren't far enough away yet. If I start to stock-pile now, do I start using this food and then replacing with newer food? I am really not sure how to go about all this and figured a lot of you would have some good answers for me. Thanks Mary

-- Mary Howe (doesnotmatter@thistime.com), October 26, 1998


Hi, Mary

The sooner the better! You're right about rotating the food as you use it, that a very good idea.

The tough part is trying to figure out how much you need. I went nuts for about a month trying to decide if we needed to plan for a month, 6 months or years!!! I finally gave up on trying to come up with an exact length of time... too overwhelming. Now I just grab extras of whatever is on sale during any particular week. i.e., I must have 8 cases of canned baked beans in the basement, way more than I hope we'll ever really NEED. But, we can always trade the excess, or donate to food pantries.

A couple of thoughts:

Do you have a source of clean water that's not from a city or community water system? If not, you need to think about addressing water storage or procurement right now. It should be right up there. If you will have to depend on stored water, try to avoid stocking up on foods that need water to be consumed. Stick to ready-to-eat or heat (also, watch out for high salt in processed foods).

There are loads of sites that provide guidance on food storage & requirements. Start at the Cassandra Project:


Good luck. Take it one step at a time, and don't allow it to overwhelm you (yeah, okay, easy to say...)

-- Arewyn (nordic@northnet.net), October 26, 1998.

Mary, you don't have to apologize for asking questions! That is the best part about this forum. We are here to learn from each other. (OK, maybe a few are just here to argue....) There are lots of food items that have a long shelf life. That would be a great place to start. For example, tuna has a shelf life of 5 years. Honey can virtually be stored forever! There are lots of other items that have expiration dates on them, and those dates are well into 2000. Check out Campbells soups, Ragu, etc. Here is a chart for the shelf life of many items:


Start with items that will store for several years. Learn how to read the date codes so you will know how fresh a product is when you buy it. When I go to Sam's, there are many Del Monte vegetables that are already a year old. So learn to look for the freshest product. Good luck and get started!

-- Gayla Dunbar (privacy@please.com), October 26, 1998.

This is a balancing act. If you buy too soon, you may be tempted to eat up your stores. If you wait people may wake up and run to the store ahead of you.

You're getting good advice, Mary. Start now, and get it done. Rotate your food if you can, and learn to read those labels.

While Carla focused on canned foods, you'll also want rice, beans, and grains for staples. These can be purchased in large sacks (20-25 # at Sams) and stored, or if you're putting away for an unknown period, you might want to get food grade buckets to store them in. (www.glitchproof.com). If you're really fancy about it, you can get oxygen absorbers (moisture and oxygen are the spoilers) for bucket stored food.

A lot of things, including juices, store longer in jars than in cans.

-- rocky (rknolls@hotmail.com), October 26, 1998.

Try what I do. Look for buy 1 get 1 free coupons, specials, etc. I've accumulated 3 mos worth of food by spending an extra $30.00 per week on groceries and MREs. Buy what you can afford, but most importantly if you buy canned goods, rotate them. I am working off of a worst case scenario, planning on two full meals per day plus water. When you put your plan together, plan for the worst, hope for the best. I am in the process of relocating, so I'm not buying any more food at the moment, but this will change soon. Good luck in your preperations.

-- John Galt (jgaltfla@hotmail.com), October 26, 1998.

Just a couple of additions. The Mormons have a great week-by-week or month-by-month food buying plan. I'm sorry I don't remember the URL - hopefully others do!

Also check out www.usplastic.com for buckets and lids, although you can usually get the buckets locally at the deli or other food service establish. The buckets I've picked up are in good shape but the lids were 'brute-forced' and will need to be replaced. Thus the US Plastic site.

This is something you start and never figure on finishing, or at least that's my perspective. I think food storage is a _continuing_ process. You can go for the pre-packaged stuff or do it yourself. I guess most do some combination of both. I'm soon to try my hand at using the pressure cooker and doing a bit of canning.

Good luck and stay in the loop of sharing what's happening.

-- j (hemwat@bellsouth.net), October 26, 1998.

Good site in Utah is www.BePrepared.com. I assume they are Mormon. Lots of great survival stuff. Even a hand-powered washing machine.

-- Nancy (Taurus91@webtv.net), October 27, 1998.

I've been stockpiling for 2 months now and keeping things in a cool, dry place. I bought a vacuum packer to be used with bags and cans from Tilia at 1-800-777-5452. Beans, rice , peanut etc. Really there is no end to vacuum packing.

-- Dena T. Finch (dfinch8919@aol.com), November 01, 1998.

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