Food & Water Storage Conditions


What conditions should I store my food and water storage prepper supplies in?

Good question!  You must first understand that light destroys nutrients and shelf-life.  Oxygen also causes nutrient decay and increases risk of food-borne illness due to bacterial growth. Reducing oxygen levels in your food with Oxygen Absorbers is the best way to maintain food quality and shelf life.  Temperature plays a role as well, too hot and nutrients and proteins will be damaged, too cold and product quality and taste will suffer.  Pests can eat up your food storage and spread disease.  Moisture can cause bacterial and mold growth as well as rust to form on metal cans or canning lids.

So what conditions do I need?

Someplace COOL (around 6oF is perfect)

Someplace DARK (no natural or artificial light shining on your food storage)

Someplace DRY (no moisture to cause rust or bacterial or mold growth)

Someplace PEST FREE (no bugs or rodents to destroy and contaminate your food and water)

Storage Conditions

There are six conditions to be aware of when storing food for emergency preparedness food storage, or outdoor recreation.  The foods being referred to in this post are shelf-stable freeze-dried, dehydrated, dried commodities.  Optimal storage conditions can also be applied to wet pack:  retort, MRE’s, canned goods, and other specialty longer term wet pack foods.

  • Temperature– This is the primary factor affecting the storage life of foods.  The cooler the better. 40 degrees-50 degrees would be great. Room temperature (65 degrees-72 degrees) or below is generally fine.  Avoid above 90 degrees for extended periods of time. The longer food is exposed to very high temperatures the shorter the edible life and the faster the degeneration of nutritional value.  Note:  There are some “foods” available for emergency preparedness that are known as “emergency food or ration bars.”  These products are generally referred to as “life raft bars” because they were originally designed for life rafts and can withstand high heat for extended periods of time.  They primarily consist of white sugar and white flour, and were not meant to be the sole source of nutrition for a long period of time.
  • Moisture– The lower the better.  Moisture can deteriorate food value rapidly and create conditions that promote the growth of harmful organisms.  The moisture level contained in foods varies depending on the type of product it is.  Have foods in moisture barrier containers (metal, glass) in high humidity areas. Note:  Mylar bags or plastic buckets are not a long term (over 3 years) moisture or oxygen barrier. The moisture and gas transmission rates through these materials vary depending upon the specifications of the manufacturers.  Plastic absorbs gases, moisture, and odors.  Note 2:  Be careful where you store dry foods in cans.  Very cold flooring or any condition where there is a dramatic temperature differential may cause a build up of condensation inside the container.
  • Oxygen – A high oxygen environment causes oxidation, which leads to discoloration, flavor loss, odors, rancidity and the breakdown of nutritional value in foods. It also allows insects to feed on dried food reserves. Without oxygen, insects cannot live, nor can aerobic (oxygen dependent) organisms. Whole grain and beans have natural oxygen barriers and can store for long periods of time in low humidity and if free from infestation. All other processed grains, vegetables, fruits, etc. must be in a very reduced (2% or less) oxygen environment for long term storage.  Note:  Mylar bags or plastic buckets are not a long term (over 3 years) moisture or oxygen barrier. The moisture and gas transmission rates through these materials vary depending upon the specifications of the manufacturers.  Plastic absorbs gases, moisture, and odors.  The best long term storage containers are glass and metal.
  • Infestation – Examples include rodents, insects in all their stages of growth, mold, microorganisms, and any other creatures that get hungry – large or small.  The proper packaging and storage conditions are required to control infestation and not allow critters to both get into the food, or have the necessary environment for them to flourish if they are sealed into a container – such as in the form of eggs or spores.
  • Handling – Rough handling can not only damage the food itself, but it can also adversely effect and compromise the integrity of the container in which the food is stored.  Glass of course can break; any pouched item can develop pin holes, tears, or cracks.  The seams on buckets and cans can be tweaked, twisted, or damaged to allow oxygen to enter the container.
  • Light – Food should not be stored in direct sunlight.  Both for the potential of high temperature, and its affect on food value.  Sunlight directly on stored foods can destroy nutritional value and hasten the degeneration of food quality, taste, and appearance.  Foods packed in light barrier containers do not pose a problem with the affects of light.


Life of Stored Food


This is a generalized table of how long food will last if properly stored (no light, no heat, no oxygen, no bugs, etc) and kept at 60F or lower (but not freezing).




CANNING (STOREBOUGHT OR HOME CANNED)- 3 TO 5 YEARS, (possibly longer if stored properly)




Why Prep?


Why Prep?

Have you ever wondered how you would take care of yourself and your family if you lost your job? How about if there was a bad hurricane? Tornado? Rioting? Civil Unrest? Economic Collapse? Martial Law? Pandemic? Even Zombies?

If these thoughts have crossed your mind or haunted your dreams lately, then you might be considering becoming a Prepper.

Have you already started stocking up on extra canned goods, bottles of water, pet food, first aid supplies and self-defense weapons? Then you are already a Prepper.

Have you looked into solar and wind options for heating/cooling/powering your home and appliances? Have you considered buying land and keeping livestock and a garden? Want to live off-grid?  Then you are a Homestead Prepper.

Have you taken survival classes, learned the arts of bushcraft, fire making, escape & evasion? Are you comfortable living in the woods for a long period of time, living off the land, and using Mother Nature for all your provisions, protection, shelter, and camouflage? Then you are a Survivalist.

All and any of these labels means you are Self-Reliant or want to become Self-Reliant.

Many folks enter into prepping because they have this unexplainable feeling in their gut that something is not “right” with the world. That things are slowly getting more restrictive, less-free, more expensive and more intrusive in our private lives. That unsettling feeling is your 6th sense telling you to prepare.

For others, prepping and being self-reliant is comforting because it is a return to a simpler life much like what our grandparents and great-grandparents experienced (and we remember being told through family-handed down stories). It is a way to exit the “Rat Race” and ensure all their basic needs are met without all the hustle and bustle of big city life.  It is a way of reducing stress and anxiety in their lives, because they are providing for themselves and their families by means of a garden, food & water storage, re-learning basic DIY skills, and saving money by not spending it frivolously.  It is also a sense of accomplishing something with purpose .  It has its rewards and self-gratification.

Whatever your reasons for prepping, rest easy in the fact that your time, money and efforts have not been wasted.  Whether its a natural disaster, extended unemployment, or a true SHTF scenario, you will probably use your preps and skills at some point in your life, or at least be able to pass them down to your children for their future security.


Survival & Prepper Classes We Offer



Please contact us at:   to inquire about upcoming survival or prepper classes.   You can also visit our website at:    for even more classes not listed here!





(All CLASS courses include refreshments and snacks, all participants must be 18 or older, or at least 15 years old with a paying, participating adult in attendance with the minor child.)

Emergency Scenarios & Preparedness 1 day (5 hours) $50/person or $75/couple CLASS

What To Do In The Event Of:

-Martial Law & Civil Unrest

-Foreign Invasion/UN Troops/ War

-Nuclear/Biological/Chemical Attack or Economic Collapse


-Natural Disaster (hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes, etc)

-Bug-Out-Bags and what to put in them & Emergency Planning

Food & Water Storage 1 day (up to 5 hours) $50/person or $75/couple CLASS

-Preparing you and your family for 1 year storage and rotation

-Individual Plan Preparation

-What is Food Storage? Why do I need to store food and water?

-What can I store and what can I not store?

-Shelf-life and extending it

-Freeze-dried, Canned, Dehydrated Foods

Personal Awareness and Self-Defense 1 day (5 hours) $50/person or $75/couple CLASS

-Learning to Assess your own Home for Security and Planning/Prevention

-Learning to Assess your surroundings when out and about

-Personal Safety and Awareness

-Basic Self-Defense

Off The Grid 1 day (up to5 hours) $50/person or $75/couple CLASS

-Wind, Solar, and Water Power, Alternative Energies

-Going off the grid- how and why

-Hobby Farm/Homesteading, being self-reliant

-Raising your own animals and gardening for food and material

Beginner Outdoor Survival & Confidence 2 days (1 overnight) $200/person or $325/couple OUTDOOR

-Fire Building Plus $25/person food cost

-Shelter Making

-Food Gathering, Hunting, and Trapping

-Water Collection and Purification Vs. Filter

-Basic Land Navigation and Using a Compass

-Knives and other Outdoor Survival Gear

Advanced Outdoor Survival & Confidence 3 days (2 overnights) $250/person or $350/couple OUTDOOR

-Primitive Fire Building Plus $35/person food cost

-Primitive Bush craft

-Winter/Snow Survival

-Advanced Shelter, Food Gathering, Hunting, Trapping, Water Collection

***Must have taken and passed Beginner Outdoor Survival to take Advanced Outdoor Class!***


CLASS= classroom only, held indoors

OUTDOOR= outdoor training, dress appropriately for weather, held in New Buffalo, Michigan

School of Self Reliance Find us on Facebook!

All participants must be 18 or older and must sign a waiver

All participants are responsible for their own safety and well being

Participants 15 through 18 must have a paying/participating adult to attend.

Children under the age of 15 are not advised for safety reasons.


My Favorite Food Storage Method

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For long term food and water storage, my favorite is the 5 gallon bucket with a gamma seal lid.  They are easily portable, easy to label the contents, easy to stack, easy to open and re-seal, etc!  They are a great way to store food, water, and supplies.  You can pick up any 5-gallon bucket from a hardware or paint store (darker in color, the better). You can get Gamma Seal lids online, in surplus stores, and some hardware stores (again, darker in color, the better).  Make sure they are new, have never had paint, chemicals, oils/fats, gasoline, stored in them before because those chemicals can leach back into your food/water and contaminate your stored goods.


I like to do my buckets this way:


-Several Complete Buckets that have MRE/Mylar Food Pouches (food & water for 2 or 3 people for 72 hours), Mylar water pouches, a can opener, some matches, a small water filter/water purification tablets, a roll of toilet paper, a small basic first aid kit, and some basic medication like aspirin, Tylenol or Ibprofen.   I call these Complete Buckets because if you had to Bug Out, if you grab a few of these buckets AND your Bug Out Bag (that should be properly stocked and ready to go), you can easily throw all of these in a vehicle and Bug Out or carry these items if you had to walk out of an emergency situation.  A Complete Bucket gives you supplies for a few days to a few weeks to hopefully get to a better location and away from the emergency. Label COMPLETE


-Several buckets that are just food (whether that be canned goods, mylar pouches, freeze dried foods, or grains/beans/rice/sugars)  If doing a whole bucket of grains, beans, rice, sugars, etc, make sure you purchase a mylar bag liner for the bucket to protect your stores. Label FOOD


-Several buckets that are just water pouches, water filtration/purification items  Label WATER


-Several buckets that are just first aid/medication products  Label FIRST AID/MEDICINE


-Several buckets that are just toilet paper  Label TP or BATH SUPPLY


-Several buckets that are just matches, lighters, firebuilding supplies, Sterno cooking fuel, candles LabelFIRE


-A bucket or two of Baby Supplies  (see Putting up for Baby post), more if you already have a baby or are/will be expecting a baby for sure.  Label BABY


-A bucket or two of Pet Supplies (see Putting up for Fido and Fluffy post)  Label PETS


-A few buckets of alcohol and tobacco products-  even if you don’t drink or smoke, these make great barter items in an emergency Label BARTER


-A bucket of “fun stuff”-  books, games, cards, toys for kids (children get easily bored in an emergency situation and may not have electricity to play their Game Boys or cell phone games)  Label RECREATION or FUN


-Several buckets of comfort foods-  candy, chocolate, hot chocolate mix, coffee mix, or other favorite treats


-Several buckets of feminine products- not only are these great barter items, need items for women every month, but can also use to stop heavy bleeding on a wound (cut, gunshot wound).  Label FEMININE HYGIENE

-Several buckets of soap, wash rags, shampoo, comb/brush, razors, a bath towel or two rolled up, and other hygiene products you prefer  Label HYGIENE


Infant/Baby Bug Out Bag


We have compiled a list of items that you should make for a Bug Out Bag/Pouch for your Infant/Baby under the age of 2.

You should have enough food, water, clothing, and supplies for at least 72 hours.

(Infant to 2 years of age or until potty-trained)

Remember you are going to have to carry the baby, your own Bug Out Bag, and supplies for your baby, so either make a smaller bag for the baby, or add the baby supplies to a bigger adult Bug Out Bag. It’s kind of like putting together a more thorough diaper bag, but with enough supplies for the baby for at least 72 hours.

-Baby formula either in the small pre-mixed plastic bottles or powdered formula sealed in Mylar bags

-Water packets

-Both disposable diapers and cloth diapers with safety pins in a Ziploc bag to keep them dry

-Baby waterproof diaper covers

-small changing mat (you won’t want to change a diaper on the dirty ground without a changing mat)

-a few changes of clothes, socks, shoes, hat

-blankets & jacket/fleece body suit

-Baby finger food snacks like puffs, cheerios, rice crackers, soft granola bars, etc

-Baby food jars wrapped in bubble wrap to prevent breakage or the sealed Gerber Graduates baby food bowls/trays, baby feeding spoons (if your baby is eating solid foods)

-Bottles, nipples, sippy cup

-Wipes (both wet and dehydrated)

-Sunscreen, bug spray, diaper rash cream, baby powder, baby lotion, baby body wash

-A few age appropriate toys/books/stuffed animals/rattles etc, pacifiers, lovey toy/blanket

-Baby chest rig for carrying baby hands free

-Baby Tylenol, baby ibuprofen, baby orajel, baby gas drops, and any prescription medications

-copy of birth certificate and shot record

-non-iodine water purification tablets (babies can’t have iodine) or some other small water filter device

-baby first aid kit

-baby grooming kit that has nail clippers, hair brush, suction bulb, and thermometer

-Baby liquid vitamins like Poly-VI Sol

-Baby powdered Pedialyte (oral rehydration solution)

Children’s Bug Out Bag



A list of good things to have in a Children’s Bug Out Bag.  We consider this bag to be for kids ages 2 through 12 (or potty-trained through age 12).  You should have enough food, water, clothing, and supplies for at least 72 hours.

(Ages 2 through 12, or potty-trained through 12)

Kids over 12 should carry a normal Basic Adult Bug Out Bag.

During a SHTF situation it will be important for your kids to feel as safe and secure as possible. Having their own child sized Bug Out Bag filled with familiar items and comfort foods can be a real life saver during an emergency. You shouldn’t expect young children to know how to start a fire or how to filter/purify water, or how to build a shelter, or find food by snaring/trapping. This is up to the adult in the group to provide for the basic needs of the child while their BOB provides mental and emotional comfort in a scary situation.  A child that is comforted by their BOB is a child that is less likely to cause you problems, wander off, or get into trouble.

What Items should go into a kids bug out bag:

Basic Survival Items: Make sure they are light weight and age appropriate, heavier items and gear should be in the adult’s bags.

  • Flash light (preferably a solar or shake-light kind that do not require batteries)
  • Emergency whistle (clipped to the outside of pack so they can easily find it if they become separated from you)
  • Laminated emergency contact list with name, home address, and telephone numbers.
  • Pre-paid cell phone (for kids who are old enough to use them)
  • Poncho
  • Extra socks, pair of gloves and knit hat or bandana (depending on your climate)
  • Dust mask or gas mask
  • Small pocket knife for the older kids
  • Band aids & wipes
  • Small bottle of hand sanitizer
  • Water packets
  • Food ration bars
  • Canteen & cup
  • Emergency sleeping bag
  • Change of clothes

Comfort Items  (pick a few, you don’t have to have every item listed here)

  • Stuffed animals
  • A couple small light weight toys
  • Pack of playing cards or travel size games
  • Baseball or small Nerf football
  • Harmonica
  • An IPod or small device to play games and listen to music
  • Hard candy
  • Bubble gum
  • Trail mix
  • Drink mix packets (like KoolAid or Gatorade)
  • Family photo & contact info

Remember a kid’s bug out bag is not meant to be an adult BOB. Its main purpose is to comfort your child during a stressful situation and give them a feeling of control. With younger children comfort items are a top priority and will help to ensure their overall mental health.

Make sure you customize the bag for your child’s age, personality and overall fitness level.

Also, kids need to know what to do if they’re separated from their parents. Work out a plan and a place. Be sure they know your cell phone number and give them some quarters to go with them whenever they’re separated from you. Also, teach them to make a collect call at a pay phone. Many kids these days don’t know how to operate a pay phone!