How To Build a Food Storage Stockpile

Are you prepared for the next extended survival situation? It could be a large earthquake, another Hurricane Katrina, major power outage, or even civil unrest like in Egypt and Tunisia in 2011 when stores, transportation, and public services were inaccessible for several weeks.

In our pop quiz on how to buy freeze dried food, we asked what are the most important items to stock in a survival situation?.

I don’t care what else you’ve read or how many Rambo movies you’ve seen, the secret to surviving an emergency is simply…


Humans need food. Humans need water.

(Humans need air too, but we’ll assume you have that. If not, well, you’ve got troubles.)

So you before you worry about stocking guns and ammo or other fancy survival gear, let’s tackle the basic requirement… Valkyrie needs food, badly!


Now let’s get started on building your food storage stockpile:

Step 1:  Add Non-perishables Slowly But Consistently

The simplest way to add to your food storage is to buy a little extra non-perishable food with every grocery trip. For example, a family that spends $120 per week could add an extra $20 per week.


Think of food storage as insurance and allocate a certain amount of money per month to this “food insurance fund”.

So how should we add to this insurance fund? By increasing your current supply of non-perishables to your pantry (I say “pantry” but mean your entire storage area, including garage/basementl).

There are 3 key things you need to do when stocking non-perishables:

  • Buy only sale items to stretch your budget.
  • Buy items you would normally eat anyways.
  • Buy items that will last at least 1-year, so you can rotate it out over time.

Here are some common pantry and garage food storage items to consider:

  • Cans of tuna, chicken, spam and other meats
  • Cans of vegetables
  • Cans of soup
  • Pasta & pasta sauce
  • Starchy foods: rice, cereal
  • Easy eats: granola bars, cereal bars

If you these items are not part of your normal food rotation, consider expanding your use of non-perishable foods. The more you are used to eating these types of food, the easier it will be for the family to eat normally during a survival situation.

And in case I didn’t emphasize it enough above…


Always, always check the recommended expiration date on the food packaging!

Sometimes you find items on sale because they are nearing (or even passed) their recommended expiration. You can eat almost all non-perishables past the expiration date (depending on storage conditions), but the entire purpose of stocking non-perishables is to provide you a rotation of food items you would normally buy anyways.

Step 2:  Add Long-Term Food Storage Supplies

Once you have a comfortable food pantry rotation setup, you should have enough food to survive at least 72-hours in an emergency, but preferably 1-full week of food living out of your pantry alone.

But what happens if you need more than 1 week of food? Is this realistic to expect to not have access to food for more than 1-week?  YES!  Since 9/11, many “preppers” have been reparing for the possibility of the next terrorist attack on our utilities such as power, water and sewage systems which could result in a state of emergency lasting several weeks. Worse still, some are preparing for the possibility of a massive power grid failure due to solar flares or other large scale event causing cascading power grid failures. A major failure of the power grid could last for months because some parts such as large transformers are not stored in bulk inventory as power companies only expect the occasional transformer blowout due to lightning and are not prepared to replace a large number of blown transformers due to a massive external attack on the power grid.

I personally recommend that everyone have at least a 3-month supply of food storage, including water, and ideally a 6-month supply. This can get expensive if not planned properly and can also take up a lot of space in your garage or basement. Freeze dried foods are ideal for long-term food storage because they can be stored up to 25-years or more and take up very little space.


Do not stock long-term food storage that you cannot prepare during an emergency!

Freeze dried food only requires adding water, sometimes hot water, but in a survival scenario all you need is water.

If you have to worry about cooking food it will take its toll in physical and emotional stress to the already difficult survival situation. Don’t get me wrong, I also stock barrels of rice, grains, beans, sugar, dry milk, and a few other items for an extended, really-long survival scenario, but my 3-month plan includes only freeze dried food and my extended pantry.

(BTW, I even own one of these wonderful Country Mill Grains to process my grain, and lots of yeast to bake bread.)

Step 3:  Gets lots of practice eating freeze dried food

They are good eating!  Don’t think of freeze dried food as just “survival food.”

I enjoy mixing freeze dried foods with my every day meals. Some of my family’s favorites are the Mountain House Chili Mac with Beef and the Chicken Teriyaki with Rice. These can also be mixed with many other dishes including canned foods. Since freeze dried food has such a long shelf-life, you can think of your investment in food storage as a long-term food pantry.

The shelf-life of the Mountain House pouches are 7-years, or 25-years for the #10 cans. The actual shelf-life will depend on the storage temperature, but if you store your freeze dried foods in a cool, dry place (below 75 degrees F), it can even last beyond the recommended shelf-life.

Find the Best Prices on Mountain House Freeze Dried Food

My absolute, favorite source for purchasing Mountain House, AlpineAire, and Provident Pantry freeze dried food is from Nitro-Pak. Many other freeze dried food stores charge shipping (and several cases of #10 cans can get quite heavy) so be sure to check shipping prices. Nitro-Pak has free shipping in most cases. Shipping costs are important to consider if you will be bulking in bulk.

You can also find good deals at Amazon by searching for Mountain House Freeze Dried Food. The best deals from Amazon are usually the #10 cans, and I always compare prices vs. Nitro-Pak.

If you are buying #10 cans from anywhere else other than Nitro-Pak or Amazon, and especially if you are buying it from a local survival or military outlet store or from an auction site, be sure to ask for the date of manufacture which is printed right on the can (or pouch).


Sometimes when you see a really low price, it may be because the #10 can was manufactured several years ago!

This means the remaining shelf life is less, sometimes by as much as 10 years (that’s why the cans go on sale for such great prices!) If you can physically inspect the #10 cans, check for color fading on the labels which is a sign that the can has been exposed to sunlight or heat which will reduce its shelf-life.

Be Secure by Preparing for the Worst

My family loves the feeling of security we have that if a disaster were to occur, we would have enough food and water to survive an extended emergency scenario. We have tried other brands in addition to Mountain House and while we enjoy a few different entrees and desserts from the other brands, Mountain House is the only one where we’ve enjoyed every entree, breakfast and dessert we’ve ever tried.

We all have insurance for our houses, cars, lives, etc. Having food insurance will bring you peace of mind and security.