How to Shop for Food Storage

Have you finally decided to work on food storage, but suddenly got overwhelmed on where to buy it all?  Everyone is telling you where they get theirs, and which company not to buy from.  Knowing how to shop for food storage can be an overwhelming process.   Read these 10 tips on how to shop for food storage so you can feel confident with your process and purchases on money well spent.

How to Shop for Food Storage

1. Know what you need.

Having a planned food storage menu allows you to know exactly what you need and how much.  This will save you money from buying extras or bulk when you don’t need it.  Also, this will keep you from buying things you “think” you need, but never actually use or need.

2.  Realize that not all food storage needs to be 20-30 year shelf life.

Only 50% of our food storage is freeze dried or dehydrated.  The other half is canned food or packaged boxes.  We have a great rotating system and use our food storage so that these items never go bad (and we don’t get food fatigue from them).  It’s OK, in fact I recommend buying LOTS of food storage that’s not pre-packaged for 20-30 year shelf life.  The reasons why:

  • You save money.  If you typically use an 8 oz can of tomato sauce at 49 cents a can, you buy canned.  Instead of buying tomato powder where one #10 can gives me 9 1/4 cups of sauce (so rounded up to 10 cans) for $27.  That’s $2.70 per can of tomato sauce!
  • You know how to cook with canned food… so it’s easier for you to use and rotate your food storage.  And it doesn’t go bad.
  • Canned food is easier to “replenish” your food storage supply because you can buy it on the usual grocery shopping trips instead of having to make specific shopping trips, or buying #10 cans online.

Download your FREE Food Storage Meal Plan today

3. Find a trusted supplier.

A few things to look at is how long they have been in business, how well their customer support is, read the reviews about their products, tasting their products, and review their “satisfaction guarantee” or return options.

I recommend when you find a supplier that consistently has the lowest prices and a good shipping rate (along with the other items mentioned above), to stick with them.  Occasionally they may not have a specific item you need and then that’s ok to go to another supplier.  But, if you keep with one supplier you get to know the prices well and can save money on sales by knowing whats a good deal.

Read here about my favorite trusted suppliers.

4. Look for nutritious calories, not empty calories.

If you buy “bucket food storage” kits, most of those calories tend to be from sugary drinks or soups.  There isn’t much nutrition in them.  Also, a few pre-packaged freeze dried meals may not have the nutrients you need.  Look for a variety (that you will eat) for your food storage needs.  I should also throw in, that you food storage shouldn’t just be wheat, oats and other grains.  Be sure to plan nutrition meals so you can support your bodies daily needs.

5. Menu Fatigue.

I am a HUGE fan of planing means and picking recipes according to what your family eats.  Planing a food storage menu allows you to eat different meals EACH day, so you don’t get sick of them.  A few reasons you don’t want menu fatigue to happen:

  • You, and your kids, will quit eating the food… meaning not getting the calories they need.
  • Nutrition depletion.  If you are eating the same meals day after day, you aren’t getting the variety of nutrients your body needs.

6. Research the serving sizes.

You’ll want to look out for a few things:

  • Pre-planned meal serving sizes.  Some pre-packaged meals state it serves 4, but once cooked, it only fills up 1-2 people since you aren’t serving it with sides.  It’s important to try out those meals and make sure the serving sizes are sizes you are used to eating.
  • Not all serving sizes are the same from company to company.  Company A will have a #10 can stating it has 54 servings per can, each serving being 1/4 cup.  Company B will have a #10 can stating it has 45 servings per can, each serving being 1/3 cup.  Both cans are the same price.  At first glance, it looks like Company A has the best deal.  If you do the math, Company A only has 13.5 cups of food, where as Company B has 15 cups of food.  So the best deal would be Company B.

7. Check the weights and volumes.

Gross/shipping weight is the weight of the packaged materials.  You want to focus on net weight.  This is the weight of the food ONLY, and what you want to measure when comparing the same food across companies.  Focus on how many dollars it costs per ounce or per gallon.  Also keep in mind that freeze dried food weighs less than dehydrated.

8. Check the shipping costs.

This is one of the BIGGEST reasons I purchase from HoneyvilleFarms.  Some companies charge a flat rage shipping, where as others charge per weight.  I have found, 90% of the time, that flat rate shipping companies ALWAYS have the best shipping prices.

9. Know the difference between freeze dried and dehydrated food.

I sent my husband to the store.  He called and told me they had freeze dried bell peppers in #10 cans for #10.99.  Wow!  What a great deal!  Everywhere else was $20-30 a can!  I told him to buy me 3.  Well, it turns out, it was dehydrated bell peppers… not exactly what I was looking for.  Freeze dried food is more expensive because it is an expensive and time consuming process to do with the food.  Dehydrated food is easy, and most people can do it from home with an oven.  Most of the time Freeze dried will always be more expensive than dehydrated.  So, if you see a major price difference when something isn’t marked on sale, be sure to check if it’s dehydrated or not.

10.  Know the facts about food storage combo packages.

These are “bulk” food storage packages that sale as “a year supply of food for 1 person” all bought and kept in the same bulk package and price.  Be Prepared has a list of 9 things to ask when looking into these packages:

Questions to answer before buying a pre-designed year supply:

  1. What are the total calories?
  2. What are the total calories per person per day? (Should be 1500-2800, depending on needs.)
  3. Do “empty” calories comprise a high percentage of total calories? (Empty calories are calories whose source has little or no nutritional value. For example, beware if crackers, sugar drinks, and desserts provide half the calories.)
  4. How much cooking from scratch will be involved?
  5. Is there variety or flexibility in menu options?
  6. How much is freeze dried and how much is dehydrated? (Get more details if the answer is 100% freeze dried because that would be unlikely and impractical.)
  7. What is the daily average nutritional value? And if it´s deficient, what other food items would I need to adequately supplement this year supply or combo?
  8. How is the food stored, or what containers does it come in?
  9. What are the shipping & handling charges?

In conclusion

Knowing how to shop for food storage can be an overwhelming process.  I recommend taste testing some products and buying samples before investing a lot of money into long term food storage.  It’s important to enjoy eating what you buy… then when it comes time to using it, you’ll be willing to.  As you are shopping for food storage you may want to look at the top food storage mistakes, so you can store it well and keep your money in your pocket.

What’s your favorite food storage company to buy from?  Comment below.

Further Reading:

How Much Food is Enough for My Family?

What Type of Food Storage is Best?

6 Myths about #10 Cans

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