“Location is Key” to Your Food Storage

Written by Brandon Garrett

Imagine an emergency occurs and you have to open your food storage only to discover that it’s not good anymore. That would be horrible.

How and where you store your food can have a huge impact on the life of your food storage.

Cool temperatures
Make sure that your food is in a consistently cool place. Many times your garage is cool during the winter but without air conditioning in the summer it can get pretty hot in there.

Make sure that the location of your food storage is consistently cooler. Canned goods will store for longer periods of time when they’re stored below 70 degrees compared to those that store at 90 degrees. Remember that being in the shade doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cool.

Where to store food storageAlso be sure to not place your food next to a heat source. Pipes and walls can be cool during certain times of the year and hot at others. Be sure to think about the effects of changing seasons. Make sure that other utilities like freezers, refrigerators, furnaces and water heaters are not in the same room.

Dark places
Speaking of shade – it’s important to make sure that your food isn’t stored in clear or see-through containers. Now, if you buy food at The Ready Store, you don’t need to worry about that because all of our stuff comes in #10 cans, boxes, pouches or barrels. However, if you can your own foods and have them in glass jars, make sure that you store them in a dark place. Consistent light can fade colors, zap your food of vitamins and make fat go rancid.

Make sure it’s dry
One of the reasons that freeze-dried and dehydrated foods last so long is because water is taken out of them. Water and moisture leads to deterioration and corruption. Freeze-dried foods typically have a shelf life of 20-30 years. Dehydrated foods typically can stay on the shelf for 10-20 years.

You’ll want to make sure that moisture is not an equation in your storage room. No puddles, drips or high moisture content in the air (as much as possible).

Airtight canning
While you can’t have an airtight room, you can have airtight cans of food. This will prevent odors and smells getting out of the container. In fact, many people use Mylar bags inside of their plastic barrels and containers. This keeps rats and other vermin away because they can’t smell the food. They also place oxygen absorbers inside the Mylar bags to ensure that insects don’t grow a colony inside the bag.

Oxygen will strip food of its nutritional value. The majority of foods contain enzymes that, when exposed to oxygen, start to break down the food by a process known as oxidation. Nutritional value is lost little by little as food breaks down. That is why it is important to remove the oxygen from the containers before you seal them.

Signs of oxidation include discoloration, mold growth, and swelling in the package. That’s why it’s important that the food has a quality oxygen absorber and canning quality that doesn’t allow oxygen in to corrupt the food.

What have you found?
Comment below to tell us what features you’ve looked for in your food storage pantry. What worked best for you in your house? Comment below to help others prepare.

Updated February 24, 2015


  1. S Albin wrote:

    So is there a “mean effect” to food storage? In other words, if my storage area ranges from 55 in the winter and up to 85 in the summer does that equate to a 70 degree year round temp? And should food be ordered during the summer, when it may be delivered and exposed to 100 temps while sitting on the porch waiting several hours for me to get home?

    January 26th, 2012 at 6:52 am
  2. Mike Grandy wrote:

    What about storage in the luggage compartment of a class A RV? It’s dark, but otherwise not climate controlled; that is, it will get below freezing in winter, and heat up in summer. Like the writer above, what effect will these temperature changes have on duration of of storage? I want my RV to be outfitted as our “bug-out” rig, stocked with extra food and water.

    January 26th, 2012 at 9:30 am
  3. admin wrote:

    Hey Mike and S Albin,
    The overall thing that you want to avoid is high temperatures and large changes in temperature. Try to keep the temperature as constant as you can. The more the temperature changes, the shelf life will decrease. Also a rule of thumb that we’ve seen is to make sure that your food is stored below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. We posted this video a while back that talks about open cans:

    January 26th, 2012 at 10:15 am
  4. Kelly wrote:

    What if I have 2 out of the three factors? I have somewhere cool (54 degrees all the time) and dark, but it’s humid (50% humidity). Is that ok?

    January 27th, 2012 at 8:26 am
  5. admin wrote:

    Having all of those attributes in a storage location is the most ideal but we understand that many times it’s hard to find that in your home.
    We can’t speak for other companies but if you use The Ready Store food storage, we make sure that our cans are sealed tightly to ensure that humidity doesn’t get in the can. (Check out our previous post on our seals – http://www.thereadystore.com/food-storage/2322/part-ii-why-some-food-storage-wont-last-can-seams/)
    If you’ve already opened the can, we’ve found that using the can lid will keep out the majority of the moisture. We’ve also had many people tell us that they’ll pour all of the can into a plastic bag, squeeze all the air out and put it back in the can. This tends to help keep the air and moisture out of the food.

    January 27th, 2012 at 10:25 am
  6. Laurie wrote:

    I have solved this temperature change problem by being sure my storage is contained in a cardboard box and all of it is stored tightly – covered with a mattress pad sheet. I have looked at my storage on a 100 degree day and it was cool to the touch. So the temperature does not vary since it is tightly packed. I also store smaller items between the #10 cans- like plastic ware and paper cups and the small glass bottles of spices. SO even in my vehicle, I have no worries of my dried items. I move my water when needed in the cold months. Summertime there’s always a few bottles in the vehicle.

    January 29th, 2012 at 11:33 am
  7. Susan wrote:

    I have buckets stored in a bedroom and we keep the house at 77 degrees. I live in Texas and we don’t have anywhere else to keep things colder in the summer. How will that effect our supplies?

    June 21st, 2012 at 5:20 pm
  8. Loree wrote:

    I live in Florida. As long as we have electricity storage does not appear to be a problem however when there is a “power outage” what should someone do to keep their food supplies cool? Use the worse case senerio because we have been without power for 3 weeks after hurricanes. Once a hurricane passes it sucks up the heat from the equator and we always experience really hot. humid temperatures. Advice please!

    July 8th, 2012 at 10:05 pm
  9. The Ready Store wrote:

    Hey Loree, good question! It depends on the type of food you want to preserve. Historically, people would use salt as a preservative with meats because it sucked the moisture out of the meat. They would also store them in a dark, cool place. The same principles can be followed today. Try to find a cool dark place and limit the moisture as much as possible. Whether that be with salt or oxygen absorbers. However, some foods just aren’t going to last once they’ve been opened. That’s why we recommend freeze-dried food. It’s light and lasts for 20-30 years without refrigeration.

    July 9th, 2012 at 9:26 am
  10. Don Hodge wrote:

    Ground temp below the frost line is constant 50-55 F. If you can dig/backhoe a few feet down and add bunker style earth roof, you get a ‘root cellar’. WARNING – ground water seepage or flooding will be a problem in some areas. Build bottom shelves 1′ off floor. Sump pump is a solution if you have electricity. Frequent checks AND a cat which has free access is recommended.

    January 20th, 2014 at 2:13 pm
  11. NameDaniel Galindo wrote:

    THANK you very much! I guess I will have to go shopping now!

    April 25th, 2014 at 10:05 am
  12. AUDIOMIND wrote:

    What effect do these temp variations have on freeze dried goods?

    November 15th, 2014 at 8:12 am
  13. NameKeith Beach wrote:

    One thing I like to do is date all my supplies as they come in . I do it on the labels so I can see the dates without moving anything .

    November 15th, 2014 at 8:49 am
  14. Farmer wrote:

    I think that for most people who might store large amounts of food (including canned, DH, and FD) … finding sufficient space that meets the cool, dry and dark criteria will be difficult. Rotation may help (first in, first out), but for example: I store 500+ pounds of rice in vac bags, O2 absorbers and 5 gallon buckets. The temp range is from 10 to 90 degrees. It’s impractical to store this much rice inside under the bed. And, it’s impractical to eat this much in rotation – after all, it is for long term storage.

    A root cellar would be ideal – if it could be constructed in a dry and vermin proof manner. For those with the space, I’d recommend that option – below ground, waterproofed – and starve the cat for a while. Roaches also love labels and glue, so mark your cans with indelible marker.

    Next best might be a crawl space under the house – difficult at best to access and prone to bugs and mice.

    November 15th, 2014 at 7:55 pm
  15. CJ wrote:

    I am lucky in that I have a daylight/walk-out basement. It never gets above 70 even in the summer, and is generally kept between 50 and 70 all year round. Since it is in the basement it does see some light from a small window, but no direct sunlight. It is cool, dim and dry.
    Failing a basement, a root cellar is ideal, if it’s rodent/vermin proof.

    March 5th, 2015 at 12:13 pm
  16. Edna wrote:

    Hi All,
    I have all my unopened #10 cans sealed in in the house and keep the house at 68 in summer and cooler in the winter but what I worry about is my wheat,sugar and salt in 5gal buckets with sealed mylar bags with 02 absorbers in my shed.(no 02 absorber in sugar) They’re on pallets not the ground. I wonder if they are going to be effected by Texas weather. I have a small house and can’t keep the buckets inside…suggestions or suggested shelf life please!

    March 12th, 2015 at 7:22 pm
  17. Kate wrote:

    How do you store food in your car for those emergencies when you are not near your food storage location? I keep a get home bag in my car in case of an emergency when I am at work. Temperatures range between 60s in winter and 100s in summer.

    April 14th, 2015 at 1:37 pm

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