Emergency food storage is an extremely interesting topic for me for two reasons. First, I kind of consider myself a foodie. I’m no Anthony Bourdain, but I have read enough Yelp reviews to know what “umami” means. Second, I thoroughly enjoy playing out survival scenarios in my head. And, in my mind, the most probable survival scenario that will occur in my lifetime will be an infection that causes zombie-like behavior. Yes, zombies.

How fast can they run? Will they be able to open doors? Is zombie saliva infectious? We do not know. These are zombie apocalypse variables, and they must be accounted for. Everybody has their favorite go-to spot in the case of a zombie apocalypse: The local tavern, the mall, the top of a mountain, a series of boats fueled by the bodies of the reanimated. These are your basic, standard go-tos. I like the idea of a zombie fortress that was previously some sort of living complex. It must closed in from the outside (not motel-style, but hotel-style), with multiple floors and lots of dedicated spaces for living. If you can demolish or otherwise render inaccessible the first few flights of any stairs, you will – presumably of course – disable zombie access entirely. This assumes zombies won’t be able to climb walls.

This potential zombie fortress, an abandoned coal mine in Kyushu, Japan, received widespread internet interest earlier this year. And by “received widespread internet interest,” I mean there were a lot of Reddit posts about it. It fits the bill perfectly:

Potential fortress originally noted by Abandoned Kansai, a blog about haikyo, the practice of finding impeccable zombie fortresses.

My plan is to replicate some of its better features in an indoor self-storage facility in a rural area. Each storage unit, depending on size, could hold a couple of individuals or even a family. Large 10×20 units could be allocated for water, weapons and emergency food storage. It may be a boring environment, but remember this is the zombie apocalypse. Boring is a blessing.

Regardless of the scenario, and whether or not you’ll join me in my self-storage zombie fortress, one thing is for sure in a survival situation: you absolutely must have food, water and some manner of shelter. Without those basics, all the munitions in the world won’t save you. And if you plan it right, you can have some decent eats to fulfill that first need. This blog post will explore what food to store and how to rotate expiring food.

Of course, you’ll need your basics: One gallon of water per person per day. That seems like a lot, but remember, you’ll probably be using it for cooking and bathing as well. Also grab any medications you may need. From there, it’s all you can grab quickly of the following: Basic sanitation products like toothpaste and soap, first aid stuff, tools, clothing, bedding and weapons.

On to the matter of food. You’re looking for food that:

  • You really like. A lot. Like, “I would eat that once a week for the rest of my life” a lot. Because that is a likely case in the event of a widespread outbreak of a zombie-like virus. You’ll also be able to easily spot if it’s spoiled by noting an unusual texture, smell or color. Plus, you’ll be eating this food as it expires if you’re frugal.
  • Requires no refrigeration (duh).
  • Requires little to no water and can be eaten raw. You don’t want to be the guy with a 50-pound bag of rice and no water.

Some companies will have you think that the best idea is to buy a ton of dehydrated food that lasts up to 25 years, but with preparedness and proper rotation of your food stores, you can eat like a normal human being instead of an astronaut for around the same cost.

Avoiding the fate of eating astronaut food for the rest of your days can be accomplished by keeping track of your food stores and rotating food before it goes bad. For example, I like canned tuna and round crackers. Canned tuna is good for 2 years or so, but round crackers go stale at about six months. Every six months or so, retrieve your dozen boxes of round crackers, bring them to the pantry and replace your emergency stores with a fresh dozen boxes of round crackers. With really great planning, you could rotate crackers, peanut butter and chili on the same month. Rotation is key, but you better really, really like that food.

Are you into gardening? No? How about canning? Well, get into them. Nothing says emergency preparedness like “I grew these cucumbers, then made them invincible with vinegar.” These auxiliary skills will help you survive in a long-term disaster environment, along with any armed combat, long-distance running, automotive, engineering, construction, medical, and interpersonal skills you may have acquired along the way. Oh, and I almost forgot, you need to have seen a lot of zombie movies as well. Zombie pop culture awareness skills may someday save your life.

In the event of a disaster, always throw away food that has an unusual texture, smell or color. If any flooding or fires occur, throw out all damaged food. In the case of cans tainted by flood water, remove the label and wash the can with a bleach and water solution. If any food or food packaging comes in contact with the undead, discard immediately and burn. If you do not burn your food, you may infect somebody in the future who comes across your discarded food. Never touch any item that has come in contact with zombies with your bare hands. Microbial lifespans for the zombie virus have not yet been determined, meaning we don’t know how long items remain contaminated. As with anything in the post-zombocalyptic world, you’re better safe than sorry.

Top photo from 28 Weeks Later