The Basics Of Food Storage Part 5: The Meat Problem

The Meat Problem

The meat problem isn’t really a meat problem at all. It is actually a fat problem.

Protein is relatively easy to store for long periods of time. Dried beans, for example, can easily be stored for years or even decades but fats by their very nature don’t last nearly that long. A few years is the best that can be hoped for with most fats. So what, fat is bad right?

Wrong. Too much fat (like an excess of just about anything) is bad. Despite what the current talking heads will tell you, we humans definitely need fat in our diet. Without it we will suffer health issues including skin problems such as rashes and dry skin, vision problems, slowed healing and even cognitive disorders similar to dementia.

You can get needed fats from oils like olive oil or from meats but regardless of where they come from you can count on one thing they don’t have a shelf life much over a few years so it is important to make sure to rotate what you store.


You can store the same oils you use for cooking (Crisco, olive oil, corn oil, etc.) but be very aware of the shelf life and make sure you rotate your stock regularly. Oil will go rancid and rancid oil not only tastes bad but can be very bad for you as well. You can extend the shelf life of some oils by storing them in the fridge or freezer but that counts on you having a working fridge/freezer…and electricity. Depending on what disasters you are preparing for this could be a complication.

Here are some helpful hints on storing oils:

– Store oils in their original containers (if those containers are glass or plastic).

-If the container is made of cardboard you may want to store it in glass jars like canning jars.

-Store oils in a cool, dark place. If you have a cellar that would be great. On the Texas Gulf Coast that’s not an option…

-Lighter colored oils have less flavor and nutrition but store longer.

-Use solid shortening, like Crisco, for longer term storage. It lasts longer than other forms of oil but you still have to rotate it.

-Coconut oil is another alternative as it lasts a good while even in warmer temperatures.

don’t forget to consider other sources of oils such as mayonnaise. All the same warnings apply but it is another choice.

Canned or Pickled Meats

Spam, canned ham, deviled ham and their like can have a place in your long term food storage strategy but only if you are willing and able to consume them, remember the Golden Rule. Anchovies and sardines are another option that will appeal to some people. More mainstream options like canned tuna, chicken or salmon is another good source of meat-based oils and fats and most folks are willing to work it into their diets. Look at the options out there, see what you like and will eat and go from there but keep in mind that proper rotation and eating what you store is absolutely critical.

My Choices

Keep in mind my primary disaster preparedness goals center around hurricanes with economic disruptions (job loss, economic downturn, etc.) as secondary concerns. So, oils and fats with 1-3 year self lives are not too concerning for me nor am I as concerned with long term power loss (more that two weeks).

We keep several months worth of meat in the freezer most of it is ground beef or sausage. I have a generator and several days worth of fuel on hand. I can keep foods frozen (as long as we are careful) for at least a week. We like tuna and keep a pretty good supply on hand but don’t have to worry about it sitting on the shelf too long. Wonderful Wife also likes vienna sausages (yuk!) so we keep a half a case or so of those on the shelves too. Canned chili is another source of fat that we can keep on hand without worrying about spoilage.

This is the end of my series on the basics of food storage. I will continue to post a few articles here and there on food storage but I think we’ve covered the basics in sufficient detail so you can get started.

I hope you find it helpful.

Have questions? Post ’em!

Comments? Post ’em!

God Bless!


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