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How to Stockpile Food for Emergencies​

Learn how to correctly stockpile food and deal with any emergency or disaster that forces you to stay at home and limit your mobility.

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Have you ever found yourself thinking of various ways to keep your family safe in the face of a disaster or an emergency? Don't let anyone tell you that you're being overly cautious.

Millions of people all over the planet have already joined the survivor movement. In this constantly changing world, the importance of prepping cannot be overstated.

The first, and perhaps most important step in preparing for the unexpected, is stocking up on emergency food.

Survival Foods - The Key to Safety

Many years ago, most households had a pantry filled with foods that kept for a long time.

In the absence of refrigerators, these storage areas were typically located in cold, dark basements. Unfortunately, the food was stored under less than perfect conditions.

Even so, despite the lack of proper cooling, many of these foods remained edible for months, years, or even decades.

These days, stocking up is made easier than ever - after all, we all have a fridge and a freezer. Most of us also have some sort of a pantry, be it a single cupboard or an entire room dedicated to storing non-perishable foods.

This is definitely a good thing that can help you and your family stay well-fed. However, in the true spirit of prepping, ask yourself - how often do you have to go grocery shopping?

If the answer is "frequently", then that means that in the face of disaster, you and your family may find yourselves in need of a proper emergency food supply.

But how big a supply are we talking about?

If you would like to know more about the best foods to stockpile for emergencies, have a look over our guide about the best survival food.

Preparing for a Rainy Day or a 25-year Emergency Food Supply?

Stockpiling food is not strictly limited to wanting to protect yourself in the event of a complete catastrophe.

An emergency that might threaten the food supply in your home might lead you to search for non-perishable foods for hurricanes, power outages or snowstorms.

Those are just some examples of things that happen quite often in many parts of the world. Unfortunately, they can also leave you without the means to refill your supplies. 

While a power outage eventually gets fixed and no one stays snowed-in forever, most preppers choose to stockpile with a larger disaster in mind.

It's only sensible to think ahead and try to be ready for anything that may happen in these uncertain times.

Stockpiling gets much easier when you are following a plan!

With proper stockpiling, your family will be safe even in a situation where you may have to live off what's found in your storage for over a year.

For beginner preppers, there are more questions than there are answers:

  • What are the best survival foods with a long shelf life?
  • How much food to store for an emergency?
  • How to stockpile food on a budget?
Strolling with a shopping cart through a supermarket
How often do you find yourself without supplies in the house?

Whether you want to prepare for a minor inconvenience or for over a year spent in the safety of your home, read on to learn more about stockpiling food for beginners.

Stockpiling For Emergencies - A Step By Step Guide

You've decided to get into prepping, but you don't know where to start? Stockpiling, just like almost anything else, gets much easier when you are following a plan.

We recommend sitting down with your family and mapping out a route that will lead you to full preparation and safety.

Here are some things to keep in mind while building your food stockpile.

Emergency Duration

One of the things that you will have to ask yourself when starting your DIY long-term food storage is going to be the duration of it.

Feeding a family of five for a week is much, much different than feeding that same family over the course of a year or, in some situations, even longer.

In the case of the latter, you will need to consider not just the shelf life of your food items, but also further sustainability.

Some people choose to keep livestock or a garden to not only store but also replenish their food supply.

A 3-day emergency food supply list will differ vastly from an emergency supply list meant to cover a year.

If you wish to stay prepared for a longer time, the foods you will choose to keep will be ones that have a very long shelf life, such as canned foods, grains, salt, honey, and more.

Believe it or not, but some foods last forever - honey is one of them.


Location and Furniture

The location of your storage is going to depend on the length of time that you want to be prepared for.

Some people choose to build massive pantries with foods that will last them for over ten years. If this is you, you will need to carefully consider the placement of your storage, as well as the various ways to store food.

Stockpile foods with jars of pickled vegetables and fruits
A cellar with pickled vegetables and fruits can be a great way to start your food stockpile.

Many homes were not designed to be storage-friendly, but that shouldn't stop you from preparing for any type of disaster.

A little bit of creativity goes a long way in ensuring that your pantry is as well-stocked and preserved as it can possibly be.

The Perfect Pantry

The ideal place to stockpile food is going to be cool and dry. For most people, this will be in the basement, which also has the added benefit of providing shelter if it is ever needed.

If you too decide to use your basement for storing your non-perishable foods, we recommend doing as much as possible to adapt it into the perfect pantry.

An important first step are the shelves. We recommend heavy-duty shelving that will allow for easy access to your supplies.

Metal shelves are ideal for this - if it looks like something you may find in a hardware store, it will probably serve your pantry perfectly.

Apart from water, some of the heaviest things found in a typical list of things to stockpile are cans.

Canned food offers a large variety of meals that last a long time, and as such, it's a staple type of product in any stockpiler's pantry.

On the other hand, cans are usually smaller and aren't easy to access on a large shelf.  A good solution for storing cans is either purchasing or making a can storage rack.

These racks, while sturdy, offer a good alternative to a typical shelf and allow you to pick and choose from your supplies without any issues.

Of course, not everyone has a basement that they can turn into storage, but that's not a reason not to stockpile. Depending on the type of food, you may be able to get creative!

Some other pantry options are:

  • A food storage closet or a spare room
  • Storage furniture
  • Laundry room
  • Garage
  • Shed
  • The attic 
  • The cellar
  • Over-the-door shelves
  • Under the bed or sofa

For an excellent guide on how to build and stock your prepper pantry check out the video below from Guildbrook Farm.

Food Stockpile on a Budget

Once you've gotten past the initial stage of preparation, your next challenge is going to be tackling the budget.

Cheap foods are true lifesavers when it comes to cost-efficient stockpiling. Some of the survival foods that will kick start your storage are:

  1. Rice - found in any prepper's stock, rice is an absolute necessity for the majority of your food storage meals. It's also very cheap and will allow you to prepare countless tasty dishes.
  2. Pasta & pasta sauces - who doesn't love pasta? It's delicious, but it's also both inexpensive and easy to store for a very long time. Pasta sauces usually come in jars and have a reasonable shelf life.
  3. Flour, sugar, salt - there's no kitchen without these three food items. Fortunately, they can last almost indefinitely if stored properly.
  4. Canned food - when you are preparing your SHTF master list, we are certain that it will include lots and lots of canned food. How long does canned food last, you may ask? The answer is that most canned food items will last for a few years, and they also offer a wide variety of meal options. Canned food is usually quite cheap, and if you choose the right brands, you will fill up your pantry without having to use your credit card.
  5. Bread, cheese, meat - while you can't expect these to last forever, they will last a long time if frozen and defrosted when you need to use them. Bread is usually quite affordable, and the right brands of cheese will not hurt your wallet either. Cheap meat options include chicken, pork and beef.
  6. Eggs - you may not know this, but eggs that are properly stored will be good to eat for up to 9 months! Buy them on sale and stockpile - just remember to refresh your supply as required.

There are, of course, many other food options that will suit your pantry. Remember to buy accordingly to what you and your family enjoy eating.

In the event of a disaster, the last thing you want is having to eat bland, uninspired meals. That's why things like spices are going to be crucial additions to your pantry, even if they aren't always the cheapest.

Water Storage

While this may sound like a given, some preppers overlook or simply forget the importance of freshwater… and as you surely know, water is even more important than food.

Whether the issue in question is a broken water pipe or a catastrophe of massive magnitude, you are going to need water - there's no way around it! Water is necessary not just for drinking and cooking, but also for basic hygiene and a number of other things.

What's the emergency water supply per person? The answer to this question may differ based on the climate you live in, but experts generally estimate that at least a gallon of water is needed for every member of the family on a single day.

This includes cooking and drinking water, but not washing up. As such, you may need up to two gallons per person.

Water is difficult to store, simply due to the sheer amount of it that you will need to preserve. You may opt to buy purified water for drinking purposes, but if you normally drink from the tap, there's no reason to spend extra money.

A good way to ensure that the water in your tap is clean is to purchase a water filter. That way you can purify your own water and stockpile it in your pantry.

If you would like to learn about more ways to have drinkable water available in case of an emergency, check out our guide on how to purify water.

Multiple water bottles
Do you have a water storage plan?

Long Shelf Life Survival Foods

We've covered stockpiling on a budget, but what else do you need to consider when on the lookout for survival foods with a long shelf life?

The main thing to keep in mind is that while every food item has an expiration date, you don't need to follow it to a T. In fact, most foods will last much longer as long as they are stored properly.

Some of the things that you will find in most food storage recipes are:

  • Honey - believe it or not, honey has been discovered in Egyptian pyramids and it was still edible! Even if it crystallizes, all you have to do is warm it up and it will be as good as new.
  • Salt - as long as it's not seasoned salt, regular salt will last forever.
  • Sugar - all types of sugar will last forever, but it does harden over time. You can warm it up or break up the pieces and it's good as new even after many years.
  • Ghee - this type of butter is ideal for stockpiling as it never goes bad. All you have to do is keep it sealed and in a cool location.
  • Alcohol - hard liquor remains good to drink forever, and while we don't recommend indulging in it every day, it has other uses than just being a means of escape. You may use it to disinfect wounds, cook, or ease physical pain.
  • Apple cider vinegar and white vinegar - as long as they are sealed, they will remain safe to eat for years.

As mentioned above, some of the other great options include rice, flour, or pasta. Don't forget things such as grains, spices or cereal, which also keep very well and are loved additions to any pantry.

Lastly, don't forget that while your budget and a particular item's shelf life are two of the most important things, the third is whether you actually like a given type of food.

There's no point in stockpiling canned fish if your entire family hates it.

Stick to what you know you will be able to eat because, in the event of a disaster, you will have to rely on your pantry to get you through the day.

Start Your Survival Food Stockpile

If you have considered the location of your storage, prepared it to the best of your ability, and taken a look at your budget, the only thing left to do is to simply get started.

We've gone over some of the best items that should be found in any stockpiler's home. But how do you actually fill up your pantry? The answer is step by step.

While the news of the world may scare you into urgent action, don't rush into stockpiling without a good plan in place.

If you want to ensure the absolute safety of your family, stock up slowly but surely.

Pick up some of the staples whenever you visit a grocery store and have a bit of money to spare. Look out for sales, as they are your best friends when you buy in bulk.

If there are no sales, we recommend simply buying a few of each of the staple items. That way, should you get snowed in the next day, you won't have to find yourself with hardly anything else than flour and sugar.

Just by choosing to look into survivor foods, you've taken a very important first step. Keep on expanding your food stockpile, and over time, you will be able to sleep soundly knowing that you and your loved ones are prepared for anything.

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Hi, I'm Russ!

I've been prepping for a long time, but 2020 convinced me that I need to take it to the next level.

This website started as a way to keep me going forward on the path to being better prepared.

Now, I’m turning it into a complete blueprint for anyone else looking to do the same!
Russell M. Morgan
Telson Survival

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