One of the big issues with getting started with emergency food storage is that food takes up space. Before you get into storing any significant amount of food, you really need to have a plan on where you will keep it.
The plan isn’t just about making space for your emergency food. If you store your emergency foods in the inappropriate places, they could get damaged by humidity, heat, light, pests, or physical damage.
Here I will go over the main places where people keep their emergency food stores and the pros/cons of each place. If you have any suggestions, feel free to add them in the comments.
Storing Emergency Food in the Basement
As far as space goes, your basement is probably a good choice for your emergency food. Basements are also cool and dark, which is important for ensuring foods don’t go bad. However, humidity can be a major problem in basements. You’ll need to install a dehumidifier and check it regularly.
Never store your emergency foods on the basement floor as this will result in humidity problems and cause the internal temperature of the food to fluctuate. Instead, put pallets on the floor and keep your foods on top of the pallets.
Another thing to think about is whether your basement might flood. If you live in a hurricane zone or near a major body of water, look into options for preventing basement flooding.
- Lots of extra space
- May also be your safe room
- Experiences the least shaking during earthquakes
- Cool and dark environment
- Humidity can lead to mold growth
- Susceptible to pests
- Basement may flood during some disaster types
Best For: When in the proper containers, you can store items in air-tight, vacuum packed or sealed packaging. Never store store-bought foods in their original packaging in the basement. Cardboard packaging can quickly get moldy.
Storing Emergency Food in the Garage
Garages are another popular place for keeping emergency foods because of all the extra space. However, garages can be very problematic. First off, it is very difficult to control the temperature and humidity of a garage. The fluctuation between high and low temperatures can cause your emergency foods to go bad very quickly.
Another issue with garages is that they aren’t very resistant to disasters. Even if your garage survives a disaster, it would be easy for looters to break into the garage and steal your supplies. So, avoid keeping your emergency foods in your garage!
To safely store survival foods in the garage, you’ll need to get it to a humidity level of below 50%. Temperature should be kept below 75 degrees F.
- Lots of extra space
- Humidity levels are hard to control
- Temperatures quickly fluctuate to extremes
- Susceptible to pests
- Poorly secured and susceptible to looters
- Construction is generally poor and the structure can be easily damaged
Best For: Ideally you wouldn’t keep any survival food items in your garage. Instead, it is a better choice for hygiene products like toilet paper, hand soap, baby wipes, etc. If you must store food in your garage, it should be canned or vacuum-sealed and placed in buckets.
Storing Emergency Food in Pantries and Closets
These are great places to keep your emergency food because it is fairly easy to control temperature and humidity.
Not all of us are blessed with enough closet space for our long term food stockpile. However, with a good organizational system, you’ll find that you can really stockpile a lot of food in a standard pantry!
It is really important that you consider earthquake and high-wind safety when shelving your emergency foods. Cans are generally safe, but anything in glass or its original packaging could easily be damaged.
The main issue is making enough space in your closets for your stockpile. This can be achieved by investing some time and money into building a good reinforced shelving system. Organization really matters in small spaces because otherwise it will be nearly impossible to rotate your stockpile!
Northwest Edible Life has a great article with pictures on how to earthquake-proof your shelving.
- Easy to control temperature, humidity and light
- Fairly safe from pests
- Easily accessible
- Space limitations
Best For: I keep my 30 day emergency food supply in the pantry where it is easily accessible. So long as you rotate through your food stores, you can store any type of food in the pantry. Long term food stores aren’t kept here because of special constraints.
*Don’t Forget about the Space Under the Stairs!
If you have a two-floor home, then there is probably a lot of unused space under your staircase. This is a great place to make a secret closet! It gives you a hiding spot plus a large cache for some of your survival foods and supplies.
If you don’t already have a root cellar, I wouldn’t worry about building one yet. Focus on building your 30 day emergency food supply for starters, then move onto stockpiling other basic emergency supplies. After you have mastered that, you can start thinking about a root cellar. You may even want to build a survival shelter which can double as a root cellar.
Root cellars have the ideal temperature and humidity for food preservation, and can even be used for keeping fresh produce for longer periods of time. Your root cellar will also be protected from most elements, so it is really an ideal solution.
The only major issue to consider is how you will access your emergency foods during an emergency since the root cellar will likely be outdoors. This is why it is recommended that you keep your emergency foods in more than one location.
Read this article if you want to learn more about root cellars.
- Ideal conditions for food storage
- Lots of space
- May double as your survival shelter
- Generally safe from earthquakes, tornados, and hurricanes
- You have to build one and install shelfing
- May be difficult to access food stores during an emergency
Where do you store your emergency food? Let us know of any tips you have in the comments.