2 basic ways to organize your food storage.

pile of food storageIf you are reading this article you probably already have food storage, maybe 3 months, maybe 3 years. This article may help you better organize your food storage no matter how much food storage you might have.

When you look at your food storage you probably see lines/rows of food, some canned, some packaged. It looks good to you, you’re proud, and it gives you a Food storage shelvessense of security. But, is it organized correctly?

To briefly review, there are basically three kinds of food that is stored away:

  • 90-Day Pantry Food.
  • Medium-Term Food
  • Long-Term Staples

But, what if you had to move your food storage? Would it be easy to do and keep track of it? How would you pack it? Is it already packed? What would you take first? Have you even thought of what you would take first?

When all is said and done there are two basic types of food storage; 1) eat-in, and 2) take-out.

Eat In –

“Eat-In” food is an organization concept maybe better described as “warehousing.” This is where your food is grouped together by food type. Like all the cans of green beans together in one row, and all the vegetables together in one section of your shelves. All the cans of peaches are together in one row, and all of the fruits are together in one section of your shelves.

Imagine walking down the aisle of the grocery store and looking at all the shelves. Everything is nice and neatly stacked, and the foods are basically group together. And each aisle has different foods; 1) canned fruits on one aisle, 2) canned vegetables on another aisle, 3) spices on yet another and so forth. And that makes it really easy to keep track of quantities of each. And, when you want a can of corn you know right were to go to. Nice!

Are your long-term staples and even your medium-term food stored the same way? Kind of like a warehouse, tall rows of shelving with pallets of food in cases full of cans. Everything neatly arranged for easy and well-known access. Great for “eating in.”

Take Out –

Packed Car - bugoutBut, what if you had to leave your house…What cases of food do you take? What cases of food could you take? Would it be the right food?

Maybe your time is limited for loading the food into a truck. Or your space is limited and you can only take four cases of food. Now what do you do?

You already know what a grocery store looks like so you probably have a darn good idea how to arrange food like that. What I am proposing now is to share a slightly different idea. Arranging your food for “take-out.”

For this conversation let’s assume you have 12 months of food storage for your family. It is stored in 36 cases. You have cases of rice, wheat, oats, pinto beans, flour, instant milk, freeze dried meat, drink mix, pancake mix, etc. But, all of that food is grouped together in the boxes they were bought in. Your food storage looks similar to a grocery store for organizational purposes. It looks good, appears to be well organized, but is it ready to be moved efficiently?

Primary Boxes –

Let’s take a look at all the different kinds of foods again, especially the servings per can. Now, view your food storage in terms of fixing meals for just a minute. How many cases of food storage would you have to access to fix one or two meals?

Let’s do something creative…take a can of freeze dried meat, a can of vegetables, a can of fruits, can of rice, a can of wheat, and a can of flour. That is a nice assortment of food that is pretty well-rounded from a menu point of view. Put all of those cans in a single case. If you had to you could live off of that food for a period of time. While the meals might be a bit boring, the case of food now represents a variety of food with which you could prepare complete meals.

Do you agree?

Now, do another case of case of cans but with slightly different contents (beef vs. chicken, corn vs. beans, potatoes vs. rice) until you’ve made 12 cases of food comprising of 6 cans per case. You now have one case of food for each month. So theoretically you have complete meals from each case of food for some period of time, hopefully a month, or close to it, for one person. But each case has essentially one can each of the same kind of food; protein, vegetable, fruit, etc.

These cases are now each called a “primary case” of food. So you assign the letter “A” to each case. You mark that “A” on each side of the box. That gives you a “primary” case of food for each month all of which are labeled with an “A” for easy identification.

You put high quality menu items in the “primary A” cases. Here is an example of a primary A box (all #10 cans):

  • Beef, ground, freeze dried, 48 servings
  • Corn, sweet, 46 servings
  • Rice, white, 54 servings
  • Wheat, hard red winter, 58 servings
  • Strawberry, yogurt bites, 43 servings
  • Spices –
    • Steak seasoning
    • Chives
    • Garlic
    • Basil
    • Oregano
    • Cinnamon

The goal would be to have a Primary A box for each month of the year, or 12 total A‘s. That gives you a solid year of really good quality, nutritious food.

But what if that isn’t enough food for the month? OK, you create a “B” case of food. Each case of “B” food is also high quality food, provides lots of nutrition, and meets the same overall goal of an “A” box but may be lacking in terms of the best quality. Example: An “A” box might have sausage crumbles, where a “B” box has sausage flavored TVP. You still have a can of protein, you still have sausage flavor, but the TVP is a fraction of the cost of actual freeze dried sausage crumbles.

Here is an example of what a primary “B” box (all #10 cans) might look like:

  • Beans, pinto, 50 servings
  • Oats, 40 servings
  • Milk, nonfat, dry, 69 servings
  • Cheese, colby, shredded, 45 servings
  • Potatoes, sweet, 43 servings
  • TVP, sausage flavored, 45 servings

When you look at the “A” & “B” boxes of food combined, they represents a very respectable combination and variety of food. You’ve doubled the amount of food, good food, that you can feed your family with.Granted, the “B” boxes of food don’t list spices, but technically you don’t have to use spices to cook with. Yes, it might be a bit dull and boring but you can stay alive with food in your belly.

But, we aren’t done yet. What if 24 cases of food broken down into “A” & “B” boxes still isn’t enough food to feed your family? Yup, you guessed it…”Primary C” boxes of food. Now, bear with me, I will tie it together before much longer and it will make all the sense in the world.

Here is an example of a “Primary “C” box (all #10 cans):

  • Rice, 60 servings
  • Sugar, 693 servings
  • Flour, white, 64 servings
  • Pineapple, chunks, freeze dried, 41 servings
  • Chicken, chopped, freeze dried (or another flavor of TVP), 48 servings
  • Peas, green, 41 servings

Each one of the primary boxes (A, B & C) can stand alone to feed a family decent meals. Or combined, a single set of one each of A, B, & C boxes is a pretty decent variety of food…along with spices.

You have 12 Primary A’s, 12 B’s, and 12 C’s. Each of the boxes can stand alone to feed decent menus by themselves for a given period of time. But combined, it is an awesome combination of basic food items to mix and match to create a very respectable menu.

So, are you wondering where I am going next? If you guessed ‘support” boxes you would be right.Did you guess it?

Support Boxes –

A support box supplements a primary box, extending a menu of items that your family can eat in any given month.  The food in support box is designed to round-out the menu that could be put together from the primary boxes. So the primary box gives you the basics; meat, fruits, vegetable, etc. The support box gives you more depth and breadth of food items that can enhance and extend your primary box(es) of food.

Let’s take a look at a support “A” box (all #10 cans):

  • Onion, chopped, dehydrated, 318 servings
  • Potatoes, cheese, freeze dried, 18 servings
  • Apple, slices, dehydrated, 16 servings
  • Beans, black, 50 servings
  • Pasta, macaroni, 27 servings
  • Butter, powder, 48 servings

Notice that the support box contents don’t have a meat or TVP item to provide protein. But there are “extenders” in the box such as pinto beans, black beans, potatoes, and another pasta. But we also added in a luxury item such as butter and some tasty cheesy potatoes. You could even throw in fudge brownie mix or a fruit drink. These support boxes just make life a little nicer and reduces the chance of food fatigue. You put any Primary A Box together with any Support Box and the menu capabilities are really decent.

You can also have support “A” “B” &  “C” boxes for variation if you would like and if you have enough food.That way you can mix and match any Primary Box with any Support Box. Or, you could match any Primary A Box with any Support B Box, etc.

To keep the discussion going…all your available food storage is now all re-boxed in this methodology. Now, here is the real kicker, the genius behind this methodology, but before I share that…remember you have A boxes which are the primary box for each month (12 A boxes). B boxes are the next best quality of basic food for each month (12 B boxes) and C boxes (12 C boxes) are the next best quality food once again. Each of these boxes are stand alone and can provide a very decent overall diet for any given period of time. And you have the “support” boxes in the exact same packaging method –

  • You can take a Primary A and a Support A…nice variety of food, great menu options, and a complete package.
  • You can take a Primary B and a Support B…nice variety of food, great menu options, and a complete package.
  • You can take a Primary C and a Support C…nice variety of food, great menu options, and a complete package.
The Genius Factor –

There are several ways this now pays off and how they can be used with each other…

  1. When time is limited and you have to “bug-out” and you have to grab boxes of food to start using…grab any Primary Box and any Support Box, you have complete meals in the box, and they compliment each other.
  2. You have just a bit more time to load your truck to “bug-out” and you know you need more food than those two boxes can provide…grab another Primary Box and any Support Box, you have more complete meals, and they compliment each other.

It makes it real easy now to “grab & go” as far as food storage is concerned. No longer do you stand there saying to the people loading your truck, “Ah, grab one of these cases of peaches. Oh, and then dig down and grab that box of meat. And then when you get a minute try to find that case of wheat.”

When time is limited and the pressure is on…is not the time to try and figure out which cases of food to take and which has to stay behind. You need to be able to say, “Grab that stack of boxes makes ‘A’ and that stack marked ‘B’ and let’s get going.”

This keeps your food organized and grouped together as you would actually use the food. It eliminates having case after case after case of food laying around all disorganized. And then trying to keep track of where the different food items are. But I’m not done yet…

What happens if you need to help out a family, a group, etc.? What do you give them? Do you start digging through your boxes and boxes of food till you get six cans of various food items together? It might take you 15 – 20 minutes to get that done. And then did you give them a variety of food that they can actually use?

Well, since you are organized with the “Take Out” methodology you simply go into your stash of food and pull a Primary C Box and maybe a Support Box. You hand them the two boxes of food with a smile knowing you just gave them a balanced variety of food that they can actually turn into meals.

The possibilities are endless when you properly organize and store your food storage a head of time. It can make your life much easier when under stress. And there is one more HUGE benefit…using this method, you are now viewing your food storage in terms of “meals” vs. just having a bunch of food stored. And that my friend gives you a huge advantage to ensuring you have the right food ready to thrive vs. simply survive.


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6 thoughts on “2 basic ways to organize your food storage.

  1. I’ve read about and have been trying to come up with a 90 day meal plan where you actually have a menu of easy to fix meals you rotate through every 2 weeks so you’d eat the same meal 6 times in a 3 month period.I have a lot of food storage that’s not in #10 cans, most of it expiring in the next year or two. To make this system work with more of the meal plan, would I fit smaller cans/packages like tuna, Hamburger Helper, beef stew or green beans in with #10 cans/mylar bags in the same box and if I run out of room of a can needed for a specific menu, just include those ingredients in the next numbered box? I was thinking of maybe putting all my spices, things not used regularly in a separate box. I just need to decide on what to do instead of stewing over it for weeks on end.

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  2. This makes a lot of sense, but it also seems like a ton of work trying to get those boxes filled. Mine is all stacked nicely so it would be challenging to fill my A’s, B’s, and C’s. On the other hand, It would be a whole lot easier to do it now in a less stressful situation rather than in a bugou t situation. So what happens if your are ‘eating in’ and you need that can of yogurt bites. How do you know which of the A, B,or C boxes it is in? Do you label each box with the exact contents???

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    • Yes, it was a fairly decent amount of work. It took my wife and I about 3/4 of one Saturday to get it done. But it was a great exercise all-round. Yes, We print on each box what is in the box. Example: (1) Sausage Crumbles, (1) Rice, (2) Wheat, (1) Pinto Beans, (1) grits.
      But, I also have just a touch of OCD in play. Yeah, go figure! So we didn’t do all of our food storage that way. Yes, we have a pretty fair supply. We left about 1/3 of our food in the “eat-in” configuration for situations like large-scale power outage where we can do a pancake breakfast for the neighborhood. I think it really has to do with what you figure your scenario is going to be…bug-in or bug-out.
      That’s why I titled it “2 basic ways” to give options and not force a single “best method” mentality on anyone. If you go with the “eat-in” you might seriously consider then grouping exact items together vs. spreading them out. We did that for awhile and missed that we had some of certain items because they weren’t all together in one spot and easily recognized and counted.

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      • It was a very organized way to be ready for a quick relocation. Or, in case of staying put, a way to quickly keep up with how many months of “well-balanced” meals are remaining. Also a way of making sure one type of food is not used up more quickly than others.
        I’m moving soon so I will make sure my long term food storage is stored using your system when I get where I’m going.

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