I'm always amazed at how many I run across who still haven't bothered to but food aside for that rainy day. If you are one of those please start now. Start with a 2 week supply and then build up from there.
What are the best things to store? Not fresh produce or dairy! Canned goods, dry goods are good options. Buy a case of soup and a bag of beans and a bag of rice. Didn't cost much but you started! A case of canned fruit or vegetables is another great option! If your water goes out this would give you liquids to drink in an emergency.
See how this works? Just a little at a time and it builds up real fast. I avoid things for our storage that requires refrigeration or freezer. If a crisis hits the last thing I want to worry about is what to do with all that stuff in the freezer, less alone what is in the fridge.
So you should choose canned foods and shelf stable foods that are good on the shelf for at least a year. Now a reminder about expiration dates! We now have a federal law that requires testing for expiration dates. Testing cost money and the longer you test for the more it cost. For that reason most expiration dates are now for a year or less. I've not seen any for more than 3 years. Most foods are good well past their listed expiration date. Is the can bulging? No, then it's still good! But some shelf ready foods do leave much to be desired after their expiration date. Things like the meals you peel back the lid and nuke tend to become undesirable faster then cans of soup, ect. So it's ok to keep a few of those meals but actual canned meals would be better for longer term storage.
Getting basic's like rice and beans and wheat is good but make sure you have other stuff to go with it. Include a good selection of spices, herbs, seasonings, and produce to add variety and nutrients to these basic's!
Many like to buy food that are packaged in cardboard boxes and waxed paper bags inside. Those are fine but will last much longer is you pour them into canning jars and vacuum seal them. In the box they will last anywhere from 1 to 3 years but sealing into canning jars will help them last for 10 years or more. Cut off the package instructions and put them right in the jar so you have it when you use it. Cheerios to Hamburger helper meals all seal up well for future use. Some folks prefer to add Oxy Paks to their jars when vacuum sealing them and I think it would be a good idea on these types of foods but not required if you can't find them.
Many will use an online list on what to store. That is ok but every family is different and your storage should be too! I store lots of wheat but my good friend June is gluten intolerant and can only use two grains, corn and rice. It would be silly for her to store wheat except for a small amount she might use as a barter item. It would make much more sense for June to store popcorn and rice in her storage. I have other friends who are vegetarians so they don't store meats or dairy. Your family allergies and likes and dislikes will be a gauge on what you should be storing not some online list.
Some think they should store food anywhere they can find like in the garage of storage shed out back. If you invest in food storage you should treat it as you would any item you invest in. Find a place in your home to store your food. You could cover cases of soups, veggies, or fruits with a cloth and make an end table out of it. Stash under your bed. Get creative and you will find the space.
Some buy freeze dried meals and call it storage. some freeze dried meals are fine but never get more than 1/3 of your total storage in freeze dried foods. I store freeze dried and dried foods but I store very few "meals". I would rather make up my own meals using freeze dried items then be stuck with #10 cans filled with lasagna, chicken a la king. I would think you would get sick of these very fast. Variety is the spice of life! When you start laying in food it's ok to settle for basic staples but after you get a good start you need to think about what your family likes to eat and try to make a plan to get their comfort foods and things they like. You might end up having to get beans a couple days at a time but then you can make it liveable by adding in those tried and true family favorites!
Now take a look at what you have and plan your food storage accordingly. If you have nothing don't panic, just start. Get a couple packages of rice and a bag of beans and you've started.
that's all you have to do is just start. Don't think of what you don't have or how much you want to get in the end. Just buy a little each time you go shopping and stash it away. With in a few month's you'll be surprised at how fast it piled up!
Most of all have fun! We take a good look a couple times a year and decide what we might want to stock up on next.