Questions and Answers With The Wolf Pack

Advice on Food Storage Temperature Control

Short background, I am a retired female deputy from Orange County, FL. DH is a retired fire chief. Olo.

We are newbies to prepping but the first thing we did was get out of the city, moved to the center of the state to high ground to 4 acres with a deep well on top of an underground springs. So, job one, we have good water. We have been here about a year. I discovered your blog around the same time and began storing stuff slowly. We have firearms and some ammo, oil lamps & some oil, a generator and about 6 months of food.

My question to the pack (which is starting to give me sleepless nights) is this. I only have storage in the garage. It’s well insulated and kept closed. I have been keeping my canned & bottled goods as well as some big bags of beans and some rice.

After noticing the temp was starting to reach 90s I started to leave house door open to cool which brings temp down to 75-78, and my electric bill up. I’m worried that I’m too late & my stores aren’t good anymore. How long can I keep this up till I can figure out (& afford) this Mylar/plastic bucket situation. Small town of 2000 has no buckets, so I’m trying to find economical way to accomplish this task. Any advise from your wise wolves would be appreciated.

Sara L

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Chuck Findlay says:

    Lots of info on the net about how to dig your own root cellar. It doesn’t have to be big and bricks are inexpensive, they can be bought for under $1.00 at most home stores. If you don’t want to dig it by hand (I wouldn’t ) you can hire a local contractor for $300.00 or less to do the hard digging and leveling of the floor with the bucket. Then you can build the walls, door and roof yourself with hand tools.

    • farmergranny says:

      Hi, one way that you will be able to disregard weather conditions is to oven can your dry goods (rice, flour, beans, etc.). I use 1/2 gallon jars, but smaller will work also. Oven on 250 degrees; put a sheet pan or cookie sheet on the middle shelf; add filled jars – DO NOT PUT ON THE RINGS OR LIDS. After 1 hour, carefully take out jars one at a time – they will be VERY HOT -. put the rings and lids on. You will hear them “pop” as the jars cool. The “pop” means the jars are sealing. I’ve used products that were oven canned over 5 years ago with no problem with freshness.

      • great idea. be sure to set the hot jars on a towel or thick cloth. If they are set directly on a hard surface that will be cooler than the glass they very well might break. Folks that can know this but I’m not sure a new prepper would.

  2. Chuck Findlay says:

    And being that you are on high-ground water should not be an issue if you have a good roof.

  3. I wouldn’t worry too much about what has already been stored there, but I would surely put it into your rotation as soon as you can. Use it up and replace it in a safer location.

    If you can find room in your house for storage, you should take the most sensitive items and put them there. Other preppers use closets, turn a spare bedroom into a storage room, etc. They stow stuff under beds, etc. If you have the funds, a well insulated pantry with access to the house works as do basements or cache rooms.

  4. Here’s an alternative to the dug root cellar:

  5. How far are you from a Home Depot? They carry Food Grade
    orange buckets and lids with gaskets. Fondly called Homer buckets. They do not carry Mylar bags however. The buckets where I am in Florida cost $2.60 each, the lids an about $1.90 each. You can also order on the web both buckets, lids and bags. Shop around to get the cheapest shipping costs. I try for free shipping but sometimes’ it is cheaper to pay for the shipping. Your garage in Florida is the worst place you could put any food storage. Too hot all summer with 90 degrees and much more. Try as they said under beds, behind sofas, closets in room with a/c and door cracked of closet. Buckets will not help the temperature and that’s your worst enemy here in Florida.

    • Be careful, Home Depot orange “Homer” buckets are NOT food grade. I don’t know if Home Depot sells food grade buckets (Lowes does, they are white and labeled “Food Grade”), but the orange ones are absolutely not food grade.

      • From

        PRODUCT OVERVIEW Model # 05GLHD2 Internet # 100087613 Store SKU # 131227
        Use the 5-gal. Orange Homer Bucket to haul parts, paint, topsoil and other household and work-site items. This orange, plastic bucket holds up to a 9 in. bucket grid and features the orange Home Depot logo on its side.
        Use for mixing paint, hauling topsoil, storing parts and for other purposes
        Ideal for use as a utility pail on work sites
        Holds up to a 9 in. bucket grid
        Plastic construction for durability
        Orange color with the Home Depot logo
        Buckets are not food grade
        Note: product may vary by store


          Look on the bottom of the bucket for the icon. The best is
          HDPE 2. Next best is PETE, LDPE and PD with the numbers 1, 4, and 5. Home Depot orange buckets are
          in the next best range. I checked them when I was working for Home Depot which I did for 17 years. I do not have one handy now or I would just make a scan to add to this comment. Always use a mylar bag with food in any bucket for the safest storage.

      • While the buckets from HD may not be food grade if you are packaging in mylar this shouldn’t matter. I wouldn’t package anything long term in any bucket if mylar was not used. From what I have learned food grade buckets will still let oxygen leach through the plastic which will defeat the long term storage process. Food grade just means that the plastic that the bucket is made from is ok to come in contact with food. I may be wrong on this but that is MY understanding.

      • If you turn them over and look at the icon that tells you what kind of plastic they are you will see it is Food Grade plastic.
        They do not say it on a sign it is just on the icon.

  6. I’m on the east coast of Florida, so root cellars are out of the question. I turned a walk-in closet into my food storage pantry: it has an A/C vent in it, so it stays cooler than the house when the door is kept closed. Perhaps you could have an insulated closet built in your garage and drop an A/C vent in the ceiling so you’re not cooling the whole garage.

  7. UrbanCityGirl says:

    This is a really good question. Right now we have a basement that spans under the entire house and stays cool year round. So no problems there. But we plan on purchasing land, and we ourselves have been wondering about sufficient storage since we expect to build a small cabin on the property-at least that’s what is in our vision.

    I’ve been in a few cellars since childhood and my experience is they have a lot of bugs/spiders. Ok, yes-I am a baby about spiders. In fact, waiting for DH to get home from work to take down a huge web that was spun overnight at my tomatoes and I need to pick them.

    • Vacuum up the spiders, bugs and webs. Then spray with a mix of 2 cups water, 50 drops peppermint oil and 30 drops orange oil. Repels spiders and most bugs, even mice, so they say. Very strong smell, wear a mask and goggles. It dissipates fairly quick.

  8. riverrider says:

    or a small window unit to cool things down. i keep on running 24/7 in my shop for about 10 bucks a month.

  9. It’s really all about the temperature and not how the food is canned or preserved. The simle fact is higher temperatures will cause faster deterioation of the food. It may only affect the taste but it can also affect the quality and safety of the food. The only fix is to get the ambient temperature down. I would suggest a air conditioner connected to a thermostat. If the entire garage is unsuitable to be a conditioned space either because it isn’t adequately insulated or it is opened daily to move a car in or out then perhaps build a seperate room or closet in the garage and air condition that. Another alternative is to build a shed and over insulate it and install an air conditioner. Pay the extra money to get a high SEER air conditioner and along with good insulation and the electric bill could be lower then you might at first guess.

    • if you do this possibly solar collector roof shingles could power the air conditioner.
      used to live in florida and florida plunder and loot was notoriously unreliable at the best of times.
      i hope that in days to come southwesterners especially will begin to power at least their air conditioners with solar power since it i necessary for survival.
      it would use a free source, lessen drain on the grid, and the electric bills would lessen.

  10. If your food cans aren’t swollen, the food should be fine. If they are swollen, then no matter how new they are, I wouldn’t touch them. If the tops aren’t bending upwards you should be OK.

    Any construction project to store foods drives the total cost of the food through the roof…pun intended. Anyway, if buckets are out of the budget, then construction is, too.

    I’m inclined to think that the key is getting them into the house and make rotating them, first in, first out, part of the storage design. I think any part of the house in which you can stand to live during the summer is going to be fine for commercially canned goods for a year. If you plan on food for six months, then you have no problem there.

    If you also have food sealed for long term storage, like the LDS (Mormon) cans of rice, beans, wheat, rolled oats, and such, you won’t be using those routinely, so they could go into dead storage under a bed, on the floor of closets, behind furniture, under couches if they are high enough. If the bed is too low, you can get risers for the legs which create taller space and also make it easier to get into and out of bed. That’s what we did, and it works fine, but only for stuff packed for long term storage. No good for canned goods you use routinely.

    You mentioned bottled goods, but I’m not sure what. Aspartame sweetener in diet drinks will break down in the heat. They won’t get poisonous, but they do taste lousy. Liquor should be OK, but beer, no. Bleach breaks down faster in the heat: Clorox actually makes their summer sales bleach a bit more concentrated then bleach produced for winter sales.

    If there is no place in the house to create a pantry, then I guess the garage is what you have to work with. As sweatpea said, maybe you could block off part of the garage without spending a lot of money. In any case, I would definitely rotate all the stock as you get new stuff. My Dad used to live in Collier county, and I remember how hot it got in the summer. It is tough to deal with.

  11. While people are talking about using AC, maybe look into a whole house fan that lets the hottest air out of the house that you can use with AC or as low power alternative. While no one has given answers for a grid down scenario a top opening freezer doesn’t use much power.

  12. Chuck Findlay says:

    For grid-down cooling you can insulate a room for food storage and install a solar chimney and earth tubes to cool it. A solar chimney is a chimney that has three walls (painted black on the inside) and the south side covered by glass. the idea is that the glass allows the sun in and heats up the brick, this creates a draft that draws air up from the bottom (the room) then the earth tube is a pipe that goes for 30 or more feet underground (under ground is cooler) You have one end of the pipe end in the room, the other end (after being under ground) comes up above ground. outside. The air is pulled through the tube (or tubes if you use more then one) by the vacuum being created in the room by the solar chimneys heat. As the air goes through the underground pipe(s) it is cooled and enters the room. These 2 systems were (may still be) used in Arab countries to help cool buildings.

    Make sure you put screen over the inlet pipe to keep bugs out and keep the room sealed so the solar chimney has to pull air from the pipes instead of the rest of the house.

    No these are not easy to make, but we as a people expect things to be way to easy any more. Take away the easy (the grid) and it requires work to do things. The advantage of this system is that while it’s hard work to build, once it’s up and working it requires only the sun to keep shinning and it also has zero moving parts to do it’s job. Better to put the work out now then after the grid falls.

    Look these up on Google to see how both of them work.

    PS: These can also be made for a cook closet to keep things like fruit in, no it won’t be refrigerator cold, but it will be cooler then sounding air temps.

  13. Chuck Findlay says:

    The auto correct on this Tablet sucks, it’s.

    Cool closet not, cook closet.

  14. if the water table is high enough , you could make a keel. a trench or small pit,( ours were about 2 feet deep, and with the hay and top were covered with at least 8 inches of straw, we made an easy acess point, and it was above the land, about a foot..overall height was about 2 1/2 feet..) lined with straw..put in supplies, cover with straw and something to shed the water, and divert it over the sides.. we always used tin, ( could use flat fiberglass, or a heavy plastic or tarp)when using these to store our turnips and other root crops for the winter. Cost a shovel , time, a couple bales of wheat straw, a tarp could be given to make it more like a cache, with enough insulation on top,the temp should be sufficiently lowered, even in 90 degree that kind of heat I would think 2 1/2 feet would have a temp well below what is in the garage. I would put that food into immediate rotation, get as much as possible into the inner closets, make into putting a piece of plywood on top and a lamp… a foot behind the couch will hold lot of goods.
    Is there a bakery in your town? the icing comes in food grade buckets., also the quick stops get pickles in food grade buckets…just clean them out well, and air outside for about a week. put food in gallon /2 gallon bags inside… also you can use the non food grade buckets, if you take certain preventing contact with the bucket. If you pack in mylar, you have that knocked. Be sure to include zip ties, or bread ties to fasten food pouch after it is opened.
    I put most of my rice and beans in two food grade bags( zip locks) and pack with oxygen absorbers, after running thru the freezer…I prefer to leave them in for about two weeks. if beans are in small lots, like 5 lb bags, they will be ok to leave for 7 days. By packing in two bags, if I need to give some to someone, I have bags already in place, just lift out and zipper shut.( I will put several quarts down in a gallon/2 gallon bag, and fill ..sometimes you can find food grade bags that actually fit inside the buckets.. hope this helps..

  15. Crazy Stevo says:

    Lived in St. Pete, FL. Moved out of state. While there I used a Foodsaver vacuum machine on mason jars. Placed them back in the box and stored in a closet, under beds, secret hiding places I had. Figured I could open one of those and not lose a 5 gallon bucket of food, from not using it fast enough.

  16. To be consistent, if you are concerned enough about having food for long term, and need to store it because you have no way to continuously supply yourself through a renewable source like a farm or animal husbandry, then you need to first consider an insulated, refrigerated storage room maintained by solar or other off grid energy system. After all, if you are storing food assuming the grid will always be up, then your assumption about the need to store food is inconsistent because if the grid is up, then it is very likely that food will be available as well ( obviously except for short term outages like due to hurricaine).

    My analogy is water procurement: it makes no sense to fetch a bucket of water to deliver to your house if the storage tank leaks. Fix the leaky storage tank first, then go get your water.

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