It's important to have a well-stocked pantry during an emergency situation
A working pantry is what we all normally have. It is just a regular pantry where you can keep the items you often use to cook. It includes food that can stay fresh for a while, but is not necessarily non-perishable. It is not intended to be kept long-term or used for emergencies. On the other hand, a prepper pantry is designed to be long lasting. It is a long-term pantry where you can keep non-perishable food supplies, such as beans, pasta, rice, and canned goods. This food can stay good for years and remain suitable for consumption when a needed. Not all food is ideal to be included in a prepper pantry. The following are the basic criteria that you should keep in mind when deciding what food to buy. There are a few things to consider when creating your long term AKA prepper pantry, like: Family Preferences & Restrictions During an emergency, your pantry will probably be your only source of food. With this in mind, it is best that you fill it with the types of food that your family prefers, while taking into consideration nutritional value. You want to store food that resemble your daily meals. This can give a sense of normalcy during a disaster, which can help in keeping your family's mental state stable despite the situation. Remember that children are neophobic by nature and will have a hard time consuming new foods -- adding additional stress to an already stressful situation. When storing food it is essential to take any dietary restrictions and allergies into account. If a member has an allergy to a particular food, avoid or minimize buying those. A severe allergic reaction can be deadly during a disaster since transportation and hospitals will become hard to access.
Remember to throw in some goodies. A treat during an emergency situation can lift the spirits and comfort children -- even keeping them quiet if needed.
Shelf Life The main goal of a prepper pantry is to provide a food source when it HTF. However, you don’t know when it will happen. So, your pantry should be long-lasting. Stockpile food that can last on your shelf for a long time and ones that don’t necessarily need refrigeration. Avoid fresh fruit and vegetables (unless it is properly canned or dehydrated) bread, or anything that spoils quickly. Buy non-perishables instead, like grains, canned goods and dried products. The food’s shelf life should be long, but it does not necessarily have to last for many years. Being able to last at least a year is a good enough shelf life because you will be rotating, changing, and replenishing your pantry every year or two to ensure that the food supplies are always at the optimum quality for consumption. Your Budget When stocking up for your prepper pantry aim for buying in bulk, as it will help you save some money. If money is tight, you can build your pantry by purchasing extra food items every time you go grocery shopping. This way, you won’t need to spend a large amount of money at once. You can also set aside a portion of your monthly allowance or salary for this purpose. Once you’ve saved enough, you can buy bulk food supplies for your prepper pantry. When you buy, always check the “best-by” or “use-before” label. Sometimes, food products sold in bulk have nearer expiration dates. So, make sure to take a look at it first to avoid spending money on supplies that you can’t store long-term. Also, keep storage in mind -- this will be discussed further down. Nutritional Value Your body needs vitamins, minerals, and calories to function properly, especially during an emergency. This is why it is important to have food that can provide you with these nutrients. Make your prepper pantry as diverse as possible to avoid nutrient-deficiency. Have dried and canned fruit, vegetable, and meat to supply your body with various nutrients. You can add vitamin and mineral supplements in your pantry as well -- just make sure it is frequently rotated and updated, as to not waste money and have expired items. Think about buying and prioritizing calorie-dense food such as grains and beans. They don’t require too much storage space, yet they are packed with calories that fuel the body to give it energy.
Storage Requirements Food items that don’t need additional packaging are ideal, such as canned goods and other readily packed products. However, for dry food, including grains and beans, you can use airtight jars, mylar bags, and buckets with gamma lids. Make sure to also put oxygen and moisture absorbers in these containers to prolong the food’s shelf life. Learning how to can and dehydrate foods is essential for a prepper as they add diversity to your pantry and last a long time when properly done. Preparation Requirements Knowing how to cook from scratch is essential when preparing for emergencies. Having a way to prepare foods is also essential, so make sure you can build a fire and have the items necessary to cook on (like a cast iron skillet). Even the best cooks can be limited during major emergencies and disasters, so you want to include foods that can be eaten as-is or ones that need minimal preparation. You can buy MREs (Meal, Ready-to-Eat), which is a type of food mainly intended as military rations. These typically last about five years, making them an ideal addition to your prepper pantry. However, they are a bit expensive, and their taste don’t usually appeal to most. They can also be nutritionally deficient, but work during a pinch until you can prepare foods. Water Many overlook water when prepping. Water is essential for survival and making sure you have a backup source is imperative. Safe, food grade, non-toxic rain collection containers are a great way to collect water. If you live in an area where you cannot do this, your instinct may be to buy a bunch of water bottles. While this is okay short term or if you are constantly using and rotating the water, it is not a good long term solution as plastic breaks down causing toxicity. A solution to this is water stored in glass. It will keep for decades if properly sterilized first. Canning jars are the perfect way to store water for emergency use, as it’s easy to sterilize and seal the jars at home in a water bath canner.
You are probably thinking "Wait, why can’t I just store water in canning jars without actually canning it?" The reason why you cannot do this is because water actually spoils if left to sit for a few months, even in glass jars. Things like moss and mold might proliferate, and you’ll notice an “off’ flavor in the water after a few months. I suggest you find a good tutorial and learn how to can water for long term storage. Having a water filtration system is as equally important because if you must collect water from outside sources, you will need a way to make it safe for consumption. Essential Food to Stockpile It is important to include a wide variety of food in your prepper pantry. Avoid buying just one type of product. A diverse pantry will ensure that majority of the essential nutrients are supplied and health problems due to nutrient deficiency are minimized. Here’s a list of what food you should buy and stockpile: • Grains Grains are filled with carbohydrates that provide the body with the calories it needs to function properly. White rice, such as jasmine and basmati, is excellent in a prepper pantry due to its indefinite shelf life and rich nutritional value. Brown rice, on the other hand, can only last for a maximum of one year. However, it is healthier than most types of rice, including white rice, so remember to rotate often. Aside from rice, you should also add other grains to your survival pantry. Wheat, oats, barley, quinoa, and rye are all great additions. Having the grains in its natural form and then grinding yourself extends its shelf like. However, for this, you will need a grain mill. • Beans and Legumes Similar to grains, beans are also filled with calories that fuel the body. They are high in fiber and protein, which are essential for health. They are easy to store and can last for an indefinite period when kept in an ideal environment and/or proper storage container. *The best beans and legumes to store are pinto beans, black beans, navy beans, lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, and lima beans. • Pasta Pasta can be prepared in many ways and can be an excellent addition to extend any meal. It is easy to prepare and can last on your shelf for a long time, especially dried pasta. It is also rich in micronutrients and has a low cholesterol content. It's best to rotate this item for best flavor. *If you learn how to cook from scratch, you can simply store wheat berries that you mill into flour, that you then turn into pasta and then you can eliminate this item or keep very little to have on hand when you don't feel like making fresh pasta. • Canned Fruits & Vegetables Fresh fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of various nutrients; however, you cannot add them to your prepper pantry due to their extremely short shelf life. Instead, you can store canned fruits and vegetables as an alternative. The nutritional value of canned fruits and veggies are lower compared to their uncanned counterparts. But, these canned items last for years and provide enough vitamins and minerals essential for survival. • Canned Meat Protein is an important nutrient for various bodily functions. However, a fresh source of it is unlikely available during disasters or emergencies. Canned meats are great at providing this nutrient. They do not need refrigeration and can last for a long time on your shelf if prepared and stored properly. Can your own meats following safe recipes and a pressure canner or find a variety of canned meats at the market, including canned pork, canned beef, and canned chicken. Choose whichever your family prefers. However, try to buy different types to have a diverse source of nutrients. • Freeze dried Meat Similar to canned meat, freeze-dried, vacuum-sealed meat is a great alternative to fresh meat as a protein source. It’s suitable for long-term storage and can be prepared easily by re-hydrating it with some water. It’s more expensive than canned meat, but it’s more tasteful and has higher nutritional value. • Canned Fish Canned fish like salmon, sardines, tuna, and herring provide almost as many nutrients as fresh fish. They give you protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are acids that help reduce the risk of heart-related diseases. They can also last on your shelf for a long time, making them an ideal addition to your prepper pantry. • Powdered and Canned Milks Milk is an excellent source of calcium and protein. However, fresh milk cannot be stored for too long, therefore not ideal in a prepper pantry. As an alternative, you can buy powdered or canned milk. It has a shelf life of around two years for powdered milk and about 3 to 4 years for canned milk -- these provide similar nutrients as fresh milk. • Bouillon Cubes Bouillon cubes are compressed stocks of beef, chicken, and sometimes vegetables. They are not necessarily sources of nutrients; however, they improve the taste of soup, ramen, rice, and noodles. • Protein Bars Protein bars or energy bars are packed with calories and other essential nutrients. They don’t taste good, but they last long, are compact, and are ready to eat, making them a great food substitute during emergencies. • Spices & Seasonings Most spices last for a long period when stored properly, hence ideal for your prepper pantry. They bring flavor to otherwise bland food; remember that good-tasting food improves morale during disasters. The essential long-lasting spices you need to stockpile are salt, sugar, maple syrup, vinegar, soy sauce, and honey. How to Organize a Prepper Pantry Just having all the essential items and supplies is not enough for an effective prepper pantry – you also must have a good storage area and an organized system of keeping them.
The Storage Area and Shelves The room for storage must be dry and cool. Elevated temperature is not ideal when storing food because it increases the activity of spoilage-promoting bacteria, which shortens the shelf life of food. A moist surrounding is also unwanted since it promotes the growth of mold, which also deteriorates the food quality. If you live in areas prone to earthquakes, bolt your shelves to the wall to make them more sturdy. Also, put a bar in front of your shelves so your supplies, especially those stored in glass containers, don’t fall to the ground easily. FIFO Method The First In, First Out method pertains to the rule of storing food long-term. The idea is basically to consume the oldest food in your storage first. When replenishing your stocks, place the newly bought food products at the back so that everything gets consumed based on the order you purchased them. *Always check the expiration dates of the food in your pantry. Consume those near their expiration dates and just restock them with newer ones. Device a Working System Properly organize your prepper pantry. Label everything, especially if you are repacking food items in Mylar bags. Do not forget to write their names, and their manufacturing and expiration dates. Always arrange the items on a shelf based on weight. Place heavier items at the bottom and the lighter ones on the top to make moving them easier. Keep the items you often use somewhere easily accessible to avoid digging through all items every time you need to use them. *Lastly, categorize your supplies properly. For example, place all canned fruit and vegetables on one shelf, meat and fish products on another, then use another shelf for all the grain and bean products. Make an Inventory of Your Stockpile Organizing your supplies is important, but making an inventory of all the items you have is essential. Having an organized list will help you monitor your supplies properly. It will also make the expiration date checking a lot faster. Make an excel file that tracks your current stockpile or keep an old school ledger notebook. This way, you’ll know which food and how much of it you’ll need to buy on your next visit to a grocery or supermarket. Final Thoughts Having a well-built prepper pantry will help your family survive unwanted situations like natural disasters or other crises. It is not cheap to build one, but if you plan it carefully, you can get it done. Start slowly or buy everything at once: it doesn’t really matter as long as you keep at it. Fill your prepper pantry wisely; only buy food that is ideal for long-term storage and ones that your family likes. Store enough supplies for your family and store them properly. Also, consider storing extra to help others in need. After all, what use is prepping if you cannot be a good steward with the blessin