The Only 15 Rules for Your Prepper Pantry

Diane
By Diane August 13, 2017 12:11

The Only 15 Rules for Your Prepper Pantry

Building a food pantry with enough of the right foods can be an overwhelming undertaking. Knowing what to stock requires research and planning. Keeping track of it all is another task entirely.  But don’t let yourself become discouraged, we are here to make it easier. While we won’t be giving you a specific list of foods to store, our goal is to provide you with strategies and ways to think about your food storage so that you have everything you need when the time comes.

If the whole idea leaves you stressed out and frustrated, start slowly. Prepare and pack away a 3-day emergency food supply. Then move up to a 2-week or 1- month supply. Gradually grow your storage as your time and funds permit. No matter how long your emergency supply, follow these rules to build a successful food storage pantry.

  1. Buy the foods your family eats on a regular basis. Food calculators that recommend hundreds of pounds of grains per person will help you stock up quickly, and whole grains store for long periods. But when hard times hit, will you know how to cook and consume hard red wheat in its natural form? No matter which foods you choose to store, make them part of your daily diet. You must know how to use the foods you store.

Another possibility is to store foods in a form that you use regularly. Buy rice, pasta, oats, and other grains thatyou know how to cook and enjoy eating.  One strategy is to develop a food storage alternative to the foods you eat regularly. For example, you might store 12 lbs. of pasta and 12 jars of pasta sauce for 12 pasta meals. Store 30 menus this way and you have a year’s supply of lunches or dinners.

  1. Consider nutritional content when planning your food storage. The pasta meal mentioned has plenty of carbs and a serving or two of vegetables, depending on your pasta sauce, but it may be seriously deficient in protein and possibly fat. Even meat pasta sauces are often low in protein. Make sure you store adequate amounts of carbohydrates, protein, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats.

In a survival situation, you will be stressed. Your body needs a full range of nutrients to keep you healthy. Also, consider adding multi-vitamins or supplements to your food storage.

  1. Plan for increased caloric needs. You will be working hard and need energy. Plan for a minimum of 2000 calories per person each day, and possibly more. Many of the commercial food storage companies sell all-in-one types of food storage that is deficient in calories. If you are considering purchasing one of these plans, consider it a basis to work from, but add fruits, protein, and fats to increase the nutrition and caloric values.
  2. Stock adequate Protein. Most low-cost food storage plans recommend storing lots of beans. Legumes and beans are a good choice, they are high in protein and fiber and are hearth Since they are cheap, you get a lot of food for your money with beans and legumes.

However, if no one in your family will touch a bean dish, they may not be a good choice for you. Instead, store canned or freeze-dried meats, or try textured vegetable protein (TVP). Whichever you choose, serve them regularly, so your family is accustomed to the flavor and texture.

  1. Use and rotate your food stocks regularly. Treat your storage pantry as a back-up supply. Use the foods and resupply the pantry on a regular basis. Follow a “First In, First Out” or FIFO strategy. The foods you buy this week go to the back of the pantry, with older items rotating to the front. Use the older supplies first. (You can ignore this advice if you have purchased a 15- or 20-year storage plan. However, you still need to rotate as expiration dates approach.)

Once your pantry is established, you’ll be able to save money on groceries by shopping sales and stocking up when prices are low. For example, when pasta is on sale, look over your pantry as you make your shopping list. Buy enough to replenish the used pasta and supply your daily needs until the next sale. If you are building a 3-month pantry, you might buy a 6 month supply on the first sale (3 month’s supply for storage and 3 month’s supply to use until next sale), then replace what is used with subsequent sales.

  1. Don’t ignore basic cooking and baking needs. When planning your menus, make sure you store everything needed to make the meal. A 50-pound bag of flour is almost useless if you forget to stock yeast, baking soda, or baking powder. You’ll be stuck making tortillas for every meal – assuming you remembered to stock lard. Store everything that you normally keep in your pantry for everyday use.
  2. Don’t forget spices and condiments. This is another category that often gets ignored or understocked. Basic spices and condiments can make a big difference in flavor. That soup recipe that uses bouillon cubes or canned chicken stock will not be as tasty when prepared with water. Yes, the nutrition is still there, but you won’t enjoy it nearly as much. Stock all the basic herbs, spices, and condiments that you normally use.
  3. Store some easily prepared foods. In a survival situation, there will be days when you are too exhausted to spend long hours cooking. For these days, a supply of quick cooking meals, freeze-dried meals, or even a peanut butter sandwich can make all the difference. This is especially important if your food supply contains mostly long cooking proteins like beans.
  4. Store high-energy snacks that can double as a meal when time is short. Snacks like trail mix, granola bars, peanut butter crackers, nuts, or dehydrated fruit can substitute for a quick meal when necessary and keep your energy up during demanding tasks.
  5. Plan for a well-balanced and hearty breakfast. Oatmeal with fruit, eggs with hash browns, or other breakfast menus that will give you a protein and energy boost to start the day. When you are working hard, a good breakfast is a must.
  6. Don’t forget vegetables and fruits. Your plan may include a garden which will supply your fruits and vegetables. However, you need enough fruit and vegetable stores to last until the garden comes in. If you already supply all your fruits and vegetables from the garden, then you probably dehydrate, can, or freeze your excess to use in the winter. Your food storage plan should include enough fruits and vegetables to get you through the winter as a minimum.
  7. Store alternatives for refrigerated items. Store powdered milk, powdered or freeze-dried cheese and sour cream, powdered eggs, etc. Store everything you need to make your recipes. Assume that you may not have refrigeration during a survival event and plan accordingly.
  8. Plan a variety of meals. Many food storage plans make use of the same basic foods over and over. There may be plenty of food available, but you may experience a loss of appetite when you eat the same foods all the time. Instead, store a large variety of foods so that you have choices at all times.
  9. Plan reasonable serving sizes. A standard serving of rice is ½ to 1 cup, depending on your food plan. Likewise, a serving of beans is ½ to 1 cup in a normal daily food plan. But these serving sizes assume that they are being served as side dishes. In a situation where beans and rice are the main dish or the entire meal, you will want a larger serving.
  10. Keep track of expiration dates. While an expiration date is not a firm deadline, you want to make sure the food in your pantry is fresh. Using the FIFO method of food storage will make sure your food is fresh. Once a year, inventory your pantry and look for expiring foods. Many foods keep much longer than their expiration dates, but move expiring or expired foods to the front for use shortly. If you are not using the food often enough to keep the supply fresh, then perhaps it doesn’t need to be in your storage pantry.

Keeping a “deep pantry” doesn’t need to be stressful. If you are reasonably organized, you’ll have a successful experience. But even an unorganized person can successfully keep a deep pantry using the FIFO method and rotation.

I hope these rules make your food storage decisions easier and less stressful. If you follow them and consistently add to your pantry, you’ll build up an ample food supply over time and have what you need in an emergency.

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Diane
By Diane August 13, 2017 12:11
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14 Comments

  1. Bob August 15, 14:50

    Rule number 1 is the most important.

    All the other rules are useless if you don’t like the food you’ve stored. By the time you;re hungry enough to eat those that are not expired or you’re unprepared to cook, you and yours may be too debilitated for them to do much good.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Rick Fortune August 15, 14:57

    We follow the FIFO ideal with a simple date system. everything we buy gets a four digit code number when we get home from the market. The first two are the year, i.e. 17, the second two are the month of the year, like 08. every time you need an item you simply work from the smallest number, and your rotation is automatic.

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  3. Dropzone August 15, 15:39

    This is a good article, it has some very good points in it. I agree with BOB, Rule # 1 is paramount, I also use the FIFO rules.

    However this article let out perhaps the most important item to have in your pantry! This item is needed by almost all items mentioned in the article…….. Stored Safe Water to cook and wash with. You will need to have the water and at a minimum a way to purify more water to cook and clean with. If we are in an “emergency” safe water from your tap may not be available.

    If we are in “emergency mode” fuel and a way to prepare the meals are also needed, but that is a different article yet to be / has been sorta written.

    Just saying……..

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  4. Softballumpire August 15, 21:12

    While the passage instruction to keep track of expiration dates is applicable for most foods, I must tell you that where 2# bricks of cheese are involved; unless your and your family do not like sharp cheese, I can tell you that most cheese flavors do sharpen and texture changes with additional aging. Living on the West Coast, I find the flavor of Bandon cheese to be rather insipid until it has been kept aging for at least a year after the expiration date. Tillamook is not so bland the first year but really develops character after the expiration date.

    I was privileged to house-sit for one of the fork lift operators @ the factory in Tillamook after the big floods in the late 190’s when the Tillamook River, with its raw manure & sewage infused river flooded the lower warehouse of the factory. Way back in the back, the operator encountered a few full 30# wheels on the bottom of one of the pallets submerged in the river. Because it had been exposed to the raw contaminants, it obviously could not be sold or rendered safe for human consumption. I believe it was dated at a time in the early 1930’s, just after the depression. Because it was so old, it had long been lost in inventories so no record of it was available. He was allowed to keep it as most of the other employees were afraid to risk consumption.

    When he returned from his trip, he graciously sliced off a thin slice for me to taste. I thought it was very good.

    Personally I have kept bricks of Bandon for up to 5 years beyond expiration dates. Even if kept unrefrigerated, I have aged two to three years after expiration dates. I have lost only one brick to mold in the 15 years I have been using this technique.

    I think I would recommend reprocessing and waxing after about 5 years as the water drains out and the cheese remains in a pool of whey. With that drained off in a sterile atmosphere and fresh wax or vacuum sealing applied, I will wait and see. The cheese has always been outstanding.

    This has been done on a few other cheeses and I can tell you that it doesn’t work well on the Pepper Jack. I attribute that to contaminant on the peppers, but it will hold for about 6 months. Without peppers, Jack displays aging character in 6 months or so.

    I would encourage home experimentation to find just what you really like.

    Reply to this comment
    • Homesteader August 16, 15:04

      Do you have a cool storage area for your cheese or does it keep well just on a shelf? I’d love to store blocks of cheese but don’t have any place cool enough since I don’t have a basement and my crawlspace isn’t always safe from little four-footed cheese thieves.

      Reply to this comment
  5. mbl August 16, 02:49

    I’d also add have a backup for the recipes you plan on using. If you are preparing for your family, and you are the primary cook, you might not need instructions on how to prepare the meal, but others in your family might. Something as simple as an card box with index cards and recipes would work. Or storing a few recipe cards with the food items themselves. You may also need to list substitutes for items in the recipes, too (e.g., if butter not available use olive oil or coconut oil) so the novice cooks would have an idea of what to try.

    I’ve tried a couple different recipes of things I like using different means of heat as well so I can get an idea how much longer something might take. Cooking over an open fire is different from using a gas grill where you can control the flame with a dial, for example. Perhaps adding that info to the recipe card would also be useful for the noncook. In an emergency, that might be the only person who is able to prepare the food.

    Ideally, everyone will know how to prepare the foods you have stocked, but in an emergency sometimes people seem to drink a cup of stupid, so providing easy-to-follow instructions can make things much easier.

    Reply to this comment
    • Lucy August 17, 02:41

      Wow, you’re right! It’s also good discipline to write down the recipes, because it makes you think about what matters most, what innovations would still taste good, and how little some of our family member and friends know about cooking! Next problem… How to persuade the fearful-of-cooking population to get crackin’ and learn at least some of the basics?

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  6. poorman August 16, 12:51

    While I agree with the buy what you eat theory I don’t go with the FIFO on most basic storage. I store large amounts of wheat,rice,beans ect in mylar and 5 gal buckets. Do I eat bread? of course, do I grind my own wheat each time I want a loaf? No. Do I eat rice and beans? Of course. Do I open up a 5 gal pail to do that? No. I think knowing how to cook with your preps is much more important than worrying about when you bought it ( at least long term storage items ) Now if we are talking canned goods,which I don’t eat much of that’s a different story.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Bob August 17, 03:58

    Ration your electricity and conserve your cold.

    Refrigeration is needed until the food in the freezer and refrigerator is gone:

    The first day or so will have heavy use on the generator if you haven’t stored some ice. Half liter and gallon bottles are useful. Some half gallon OJ bottles are square and can be packed closer together in chest freezer. If starting from scratch, plan on 3 hours running and 3 hours off for a day or until all the water is frozen. Then twice a day until the compressor turns off. Exchange the still partly melted ice bottles in the refrigerator with the frozen ones in he freezer section.

    Non Refrigeration Electricity:
    Charge a 12VDC battery even if it’s you’re car.
    battery: A trolling motor batter is a better choice Cost can put off the purchase purchase When you do purchase it, get a desulfator to go with it to keep the battery in full capacity.. A

    AC For Small Items:
    200 or 400 hundred watt inverter will charge things like tooth brushes and run TVs and radios.and rechargeable AA /AAA cell chargers.

    C/D Cell
    A set of size adapters will allow C and D cell items to be powered, just not as long a “real” C or D cell.

    Chargers:
    There are AA/AAA chargers that work off of 12 volts. There are 12 volt USB chargers. If your 5 volt needs are low or can be sequenced, a 12 volt cigarette lighter USB adapter can be a good substitute. Some FRS/GMRS (and other hand held transceivers) have 12 volt chargers.

    Communications:
    A pair or two FRS/GMRS walkie talkies are good for short range family communication and listening for what’s going on around you. They can be charged with the mains charger or a 12VDC charger if available

    General Light:
    There are LED lanterns that can be recharged with 12 volts. Many of them have a yellow night light which is very useful after you get used to the dark.

    Area/Night Lighting
    There are some single AA cell, lights with a small solar panel, the same idea as the solar garden walkway lights. By alternating two lights in a few pairs on low power I was able to light several areas continuously for a month of winter nights without running out of light.

    Portable Light:
    Single and double AA cell flashlights with rechargeable cells will provide portable light. For those preparing for EMP, the incandescent flashlight are still available from Mag Lite.

    I recommend Low Self Discharge rechargeable cells. They will hold their 80% of their charge for over 5 years.

    bought a couple of 10 packs about 3 years ago. The two cells, one from each pack, I kept for testing are almost full charge according to my el cheapo cell tester.

    Reply to this comment
  8. left coast chuck August 20, 04:19

    With garden solar lights reaching ever-decreasing lows, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to go scurrying around looking for expensive lights. I always check when I buy garden solar lights to see if they have an on/off switch. That’s the only kind I buy. Be aware that in an EOTW situation, you do not want your house lit up like a Las Vegas casino. You are much better off with dim lights or red shielded lights. It is surprising how your eyes adjust to very dim light after a bit of time. With all of my flashlights, I have a clear lens and I have a matching flashlight with the lens covered with Rubylith tape. Fortunately for me, I have Rubylith left over from when I sold my printing business, so I have several lifetimes of Rubylith. I think they are out of business as no one is masking negatives for plates in the offset printing business these days. It is direct computer to platemaker and the market for Rubylith has disappeared. If you have a printing supply store nearby, check it and see if they have any Rubylith in stock and buy it up. It is the best source for turning a white light into a red safe light on the market. I don’t own any interest in the company. I don’t even know where they are based, but their product is the best available for making a red lens for your flashlights. I have a cheap plastic circle guide that has a circle that fits perfectly on the lens of the free Harbor Freight 9 led flashlights. It allows you enough light to see what you are doing, but is dim enough that it won’t be seen at a distance. The biggest advantage is that it preserves your night vision. I don’t care how good your eyes are, if you have been using white light, it will take some period of time for your eyes to adjust to darkness. If you are using a red light, there is no adjustment necessary when you switch your light off to keep from being shot. More than one novel about survival talks about sentries sitting staring at a campfire and when attacked cannot see to defend themselves. I think that is an important point to remember for survival.If you are on sentry duty and are staring into a campfire, it is going to take your eyes some period of time to adjust. The older you are, the longer it will take to adjust. Sure, if you are using a white flashlight, things look clearer than with red, but if you need to shut the light off and defend yourself, you are at a disadvantage from the git-go.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Bob August 20, 15:26

    In my second Bob Post I wrote, in the Area/Night Lighting paragraph:

    “There are some single AA cell, lights with a small solar panel, the same idea as the solar garden walkway lights..

    Please notice ” ‘the same idea as’ the solar garden walkway lights”

    I did not recommend recommend using solar garden walkway lights,

    The hang up solar charged lights are placed at the inside bottom of a window, usually an upstairs window because that makes them less noticeable

    Reply to this comment
    • Left coast chuck August 20, 20:50

      Just bear in mind that eventually the battery in the solar light will go bad. I just bought a new solar light for outdoors. The information included in it is very helpful. It gives an outside range for life of both the battery and the solar panel. Five years is their estimated outside range of life for the solar panel. Even assuming they are wrong by 50%, that is still 7.5 years of life and then darkness.

      It is amazing how far light can be seen when there are no other visible lights around.

      When I went through Advanced Infantry Training, we had one night were we did nighttime light training. The flare of a match is visible at 5000 yards. A drag on a cigarette is visible at 100 yards. In total darkness those small lights stand out like a beacon. If someone drags on a cigarette you know exactly where to aim so for the next drag on the cigarette you are in position and ready to put a bullet in his pie hole. If he is walking and smoking you know which direction he is traveling and approximately how far he moves between drags on his cigarette. I am sure everyone is familiar with the old saying, “Three on a match is unlucky.” That came from trench warfare in WWI. By the time the third soldier was lined up to light his cigarette the Hun sniper had been alerted and sighted in and the third smoker got a bullet instead of a light.

      In an EOTW situation, white light at night is dangerous.

      Reply to this comment
  10. Bob August 21, 15:29

    Thank You Left Coast Chuck:
    In my effort to be concise and brief, I left out two pieces of pertinent information.

    1. Ligheights that had replaceable AA cells were chosen. The 1200 (about) mAh cells were replaced with some Low Self Discharge (LSD), 2300 mAh cells. The extra capacity cells provide a reserve if a few bad sun days are experienced.

    2. After testing the lights, few more more light pairs were purchased and stored them iin EMP resistant packaging after taking the AA cells out. Spare LSD high mAh cells are stored. The LSD cells are reated to have 80% of capacity after 10 years storage.

    Bug in and out chargers are also stored in EMP resistant packaging.

    Suggestion: When acquiring electronic devices for EMP resistant storage, Keep the Original Packaging. It will be one layer of electric insulation inside the shielding material and will be the most compact packaging.

    I apologize to all for omitting the information.

    There is a lot more to prepping than buying something and storing it.

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