One of the biggest things that holds us all back from creating a long-term, and even a short-term food storage, is not knowing how to cook and use the food and ingredients we pack away for a “rainy day.” It can seem like a daunting undertaking to take the first steps in creating a food storage, however, with a these 5 tips, you’ll be absolutely loving your food storage in no time.

1.) Use Your Food Storage Regularly

Wait, use my food storage regularly? I thought it was to be used when in an emergency? While that is certainly true, being able to use and rotate through your food storage on a regular basis is important for a couple of reasons: (1) It allows you to learn how to use and cook with your food storage and (2) it ensures that your food storage will never go old.

2.) FIFO

You may be familiar with the term, FIFO, which simply means, First In, First Out. This is the part of building a food storage that takes a bit of planning and organization. You may be already doing this without even realizing, however. When you purchase a few cans of beans, or other items, for normal cooking, it’s common to place the new cans at the back of the stack in the pantry, moving the older cans forward to be used first.

Apply this same rule when you begin to create your food storage. It can be helpful to review expiration dates on food storage goods and arrange them accordingly to ensure the items that are to expire first will be used first.

3.) Buy Extra

When first starting to build a food storage, a key way to ensure you’ll absolutely love it is to buy extra of what you normally purchase. If that means you normally buy three cans of black beans and two cans of canned pineapple, then simply purchase five or six cans of beans and four or five cans of pineapple during your next grocery run. This will allow you to begin to build a short-term food storage with items you already absolutely love. Keep in mind, however, that canned goods, while they offer a shelf-life of a few years, do not last as long as items specifically made for long-terms food storage.

4.) Start With Things You Already Love

Once you’ve begun to build a short-term food storage then making the jump to a long-term food storage is more easily done and more natural. However, making sure you regularly use your food storage continues to be an important aspect of growing and maintaining a food storage. The best rule here is to start with things you already love. For example, if you love apples then start with trying some freeze-dried apples. Freeze-dried products are great as they can be eaten dry with a delicious crunch, or they can be re-hydrated with a small amount of water. The key here is to find products that you would normally use and already love. Start with smaller purchases and try your items out to see how you like them and how best to cook with them. From there you can easily buy larger packages of the products you love the most.

5.) Be Patient with Yourself

Developing a long-term food storage that you know how to use and will absolutely love takes time and attention. It is important to be patient with yourself as you learn how to organize your food storage and begin to add more items. As with anything, there is a learning process and you will likely not be perfect at it right away. Keep practicing, keep learning, and keep storing and using your food storage.