Short Term Food Storage vs Long Term Food Storage


In the olden days, when I was first introduced to Food Storage (in the 1970’s), we were instructed to store a one year’s supply of wheat, beans, milk, and salt for each member of our family. These foods provide nearly complete nutrition and can be stored for long periods of time (30 years or more when packaged and stored properly).

In truth, it was an onerous task.  That was an enormous amount of food and it didn’t come in pre-packed #10 cans like you can get from a dozen places these days.  We used dry ice to pack it in buckets. Nevertheless, we did the best we could within our individual circumstances.  Most of the time, unfortunately, people treated it as a task to check off:  they got their food storage, packaged it, found a place to put it, and let it sit (sometimes for decades).

Of course, it was intended that you eat this stuff and keep it rotated by adding new supplies as you used them.  We had classes on how to make bread, use beans, how to make powdered milk more palatable, and learned to make cereal and “meat” out of wheat.  We even learned how to sprout wheat to provide greens in our diet. Even then, though, the grocery store was already taking over and most of us just didn’t eat that way.  To complicate things further, more and more women were entering the workforce and cooking that way just took too much time.

We got smarter through the years and found a different way to follow the adage “Store what you eat and eat what you store”.  Those four basics are great, and we still need to include them in our Long Term Food Storage (and incorporate them into our families’ diets).  With the advent of food storage companies who provided freeze-dried and dehydrated fruits, vegetables, meat, and other foods in #10 cans for long-term storage, we were able to store food with improved variety and nutrition. Still many people just collected their food storage and didn’t use it.

That’s when the concept of Short Term Food Storage was introduced.


Short Term Food Storage involves gathering a 3-month supply of foods that your family eats every day.  These are foods that you eat and rotate through on a regular basis. 

Short Term Food Storage is intended to get us through a short term crisis.  Each of us has likely had to weather issues from illness, job loss, food shortages, natural disasters, etc. With a three month supply of food, regardless of what is going wrong, you will still be able to put familiar foods on the table every day.

Short Term Food Storage will include things like canned fruits, vegetable, soups, meats, and pasta sauces; condiments; peanut butter and jam/jelly; cold and hot cereals; snacks like chips, crackers, cookies, fruit snacks; baking mixes for pancakes, muffins, cookies; pantry basics like flour, sugar, pasta, rice, salt, cooking oil/shortening, spices; boxed meal items like mac and cheese, ramen, hamburger helper.  The food in your freezer is also part of your Short Term Storage. 

The beauty of Short Term Food Storage is that it is fully customizable, allowing each household to adapt their food storage to special diets (gluten-free, dairy-free, keto, etc.), babies, pets, changing family size. It also allows you to adapt to changes in how and what you cook from one period of your life to another.

The weakness of Short Term Food Storage is that these kinds of foods can only be stored for a few months to 2 or 3 years.  That is why we need to have both Short Term Food Storage and Long Term Food Storage.


I have been grateful to have gained experience with having a food storage over many years and I have relied on it to sustain my family.  I enjoy finding new ways to make it work for me and have learned new skills that have continued to be useful.  I hope what I post on this Food Storage page will be helpful to others seeking better food security for their families.