When the pandemic began and the grocery store shelves became bare, I began to think that if the stores cannot even stay stocked during a pandemic, how will they possibly have food available during severe emergencies. This made me decide to store some food for an emergency situation. The food I have stored certainly will not qualify for gourmet, but it will sustain my wife and I for close to a year.
Currently, my food stockpile consists of rice and beans. 25 pounds of rice and 75 pounds of beans. The rule of thumb is 50 pounds of dried beans can sustain one person for a full year. So my bean stockpile should sustain the two of us for 9 months if necessary. Add in some rice and we are probably close to a year of food stored. We also have access to some property to hunt, so I think we will be fine for long enough.
Our entire food stockpile, including storage containers, cost less than $150. But the peace of mind that it brings me is priceless. I hope it is a waste of $150, but that is money well spent knowing that we can outlast the majority of the population.
We store our emergency supplies in 5 gallon food-safe buckets. Each 5 gallon bucket holds roughly 25 pounds of rice or beans. We obtained our buckets for free from a local restaurant. Most busy restaurants will have many extra 5 gallon buckets and would be happy to give them to you. All you need to do is ask.
After obtaining the 5 gallon buckets, they need to be thoroughly washed and sanitized. We were able to fit our buckets (one at a time) in a standard home dishwasher. But we did need to remove the top rack for it to fit. Consult your dishwasher’s instructions for information on how to remove the rack. Our dishwasher has a “sanitize” function which is what we selected to ensure the buckets were completely clean. We also used the “heavy” wash cycle.
We do not recommend placing your rice or beans directly into the buckets. The best way to store your food is in a mylar bag. We purchased heavy duty Mylar bags large enough to fill a 5 gallon bucket with room to spare for sealing. Place the Mylar bag into the bucket along with a 1000cc oxygen absorber packet and fill with 25 pounds of either rice or beans. Place another 1000cc oxygen absorber at the top. The oxygen absorbers are an important part to storing your food. By eliminating the oxygen, the food can store for 20 years or more, but without the oxygen absorber, the food will likely go bad within a few years. We recommend filling each bucket/bag with a single type of food. For instance, kidney beans should be in their own bucket, pinto beans in another bucket, black beans in their own, rice in its own. That way there isn’t any cross contamination.
After filling the bags with 25 pounds of food and placing the oxygen absorbers in the bags, it is time to seal. The best way to seal these Mylar bags is with a standard hair straightening iron. A curling iron might work. We did not have either of these, so we just used a regular iron set to high heat and ironing board. We squeezed out as much air as we could, then straightened out the bag trying to eliminate as many wrinkles as possible. Then we placed the ironing board sideways on top of the bucket and ironed the bags shut. After letting the bags cool for a few minutes, we arranged the extra part of the bags so they would fit comfortably into the buckets and placed the lids on the buckets.
We recommend keeping your emergency food buckets inside a climate controlled room. You do not want your rice and beans becoming too hot or cold, otherwise you risk the food deteriorating.
One other thing I thought about is that during an emergency when food is unavailable, hungry people will be looking for food and willing to steal. But hungry people will not be interested in stealing a bucket of paint. So we recommend “spilling” paint on the buckets to hide them in plain sight. A bucket with paint on it will appear to be just leftover paint, when in reality it is full of life sustaining food.
We hope this time, effort, and money was completely wasted and never needed in our lifetimes. But we do consider it all well spent. The comfort it gives us to know we have enough food to last nearly a year is priceless. Combine that with the fact that we have access to land to hunt should allow us to live better than most during a food crisis.
Be safe out there.