Building Your Emergency Food Supply

Building Your Emergency Food Supply

After you’ve implemented your basic 72-hour emergency pantry and supplies plan, the next step is your longer-term food supply and storage. A three-month supply is a good benchmark to start from, and you can work your way up from there, based on your household’s needs and desired level of preparedness.

The sooner you get started, the more prepared you’ll be! You will save both time and money by starting today—not to mention the peace of mind that comes with knowing you and your family are well protected, whether in a short-term weather emergency, natural disaster scenario, or long-term food supply crisis.

Here are some step-by-step tips to guide you:
  • Identify your storage space(s). Find a cool, dim area in your home (light increases the possibility of food spoilage) where you can store your pantry supply. Is there an empty room, closet, or nook you can turn into an extra pantry? A crawlspace, basement, shed, or garage can do, if it is not vulnerable to freezing or rodents. It’s helpful to have shelves, cabinets, drawers, and totes to help you organize it.
  • Establish your basic eating priorities. One thing you DON’T want to do is save a bunch of food you won’t eat. Make a list of all the foods/meals you enjoy eating, and all the dietary preferences and restrictions in your household. You will want to store foods you LIKE and CAN EAT.
  • Find economical sources of food. You can save a tremendous amount of money by buying in bulk and shopping sales/clearance/outlets. Box stores (like Costco) and online food sources (like Azure Standard)  are great options for bulk food buying. The regular grocery or outlet stores are good for items on sale or clearance, but look out for the “best by” dates. Save even more money by watching weekly ads for “loss leaders” and buying the limit of those items. (Note: If you are single, or have a small household, go in with others on bulk orders and enjoy a “food-bagging party” when you divvy it up!)
  • Utilize multiple storage methods. You can freeze, dehydrate, can, freeze dry, ferment, and vacuum seal your food for long-term storage. Flour, sugar, rice, pasta, and beans, for example, can be purchased in bulk and then sealed in smaller packages (flour can be frozen for even longer-term storage). Try to use multiple methods. For example, if the power goes out, you don’t want to have all your emergency foods in the freezer!
  • Start a garden. Everyone can grow something, even if you only have a balcony or patio and a few pots. In the winter, try growing salad greens near a sunny window or sprouting seeds on your kitchen counter. If fruits or vegetables become unavailable or extremely expensive, you’ll be glad you did.
  • Resurrect the biblical principle of “gleaning.” Does a neighbor have an apple tree they never harvest? Overgrown blackberry bushes they haven’t pruned? Ask if you can pick and use the unused fruit. Elderly or busy residents who may not be able to harvest their own crops might be glad to have you do the work in exchange for a part of the harvest.
  •  Stock your shelves intentionally and be consistent with rotation. Try to avoid the “random” approach to shopping and storage, as it will not serve you well in the long run. Make a list of what you need and stick to your list. Have a system for what goes where on your shelves. Food is not generally something you can leave on the shelf for a few years and then go back and hope it’s good! You will likely use some of your food storage in your daily life, and rotate items by date to keep your reserves fresh.
  • Look for long-lasting foods. Be leery of anything that could put you at risk of bacteria, mold, and fungus growth. Anything that is not dry will need to be monitored closely for “best by” date (although note that they are generally good for quite a while beyond the recommended date).
Items to Include in Your Pantry
Here is a (not exhaustive) list of foods you will want to include in your long-term storage plan (subject to your own dietary preferences, of course):
Applesauce (and other fruit/veggie combos, in jars or squeeze pouches)
Baking soda and baking powder
Beans (good source of protein—refried, black, kidney, navy (white), baked, etc.)
Bouillon or stock (chicken, beef)
Bread crumbs and stuffing
Cake/muffin/brownie mixes
Candy and other “feel good” foods
Cereal and granola
Chocolate chips
Coffee, tea, hot chocolate
Corn starch
Cookies and crackers
Drinks (canned, bottled, or powdered)
Eggs (powdered)
Electrolytes (Liquid IV or Gatorade, etc.)
Flours and baking powders/sodas
Fruits, dehydrated and canned
Jams and jellies
Juice (in bottles or cartons)
Lemon juice, lime juice
Meat (canned–tuna, salmon, chicken; dried – jerky, etc.)
Milk (dried or canned)
Oils (avocado, coconut, olive, vegetable, etc.)
Pancake mix
Pasta, pasta meals (like macaroni & cheese)
Peanut butter
Pet food
Potato flakes (and au gratin potatoes, etc., boxed)
Protein bars and shake mixes
Rice, rice mixes
Salt and pepper
Salad dressings
Sauces (in cans, jars, bottles, or packages)
Seltzer water
Soups and soup mixes
Spaghetti sauce
Spices and seasonings
Sugars (white, brown, powdered)
Tomato sauce/puree
Vegetables (dehydrated or canned)
Vitamins and supplements
 (Need more specific ideas? This handy list of foods to stock up on might help further.)

Again, don’t be overwhelmed.  You can do this! Partner with friends,  neighbors, and family. Make it a household adventure; bring the kids in on the fun of planning and implementing your long-term food storage plan.  You will all enjoy the warm feeling of looking at a fully stocked pantry and knowing you will be well-provided for in an emergency!
Take a lesson from the ants . . .
they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.
(Proverbs 6: 6,8)
Next Week’s Topic: Protecting and Storing a Water Supply

HF Preparedness Leadership Team

Action Steps:
  • I have identified a place (or places) in my home suitable for long-term food storage.
  • I have made of list of the foods and meals we enjoy/require on a regular basis.
  • I have made a list for our desired pantry inventory that will serve as a planning guide and rotation checklist.
  • I have taken advantage of several different methods of food buying, packaging, preservation, and storage.
  • I have connected with others with whom I can share costs and responsibilities.
  • I am watching the results of my labor grow in my pantry; I can rejoice in the process and breathe deeply with relaxation that my household is becoming more and more prepared every day!

In the News:
Grocery Store Shelves Empty in Winter Storm
Why Your Favorite Foods Might Not Be on Store Shelves This Year
Impending Food Shortages; Coffee Crops Failing
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