Anyone who knows anything about prepping knows that building a survival pantry or stockpile is a big part of prepping. For most of us, that’s where we started, and no matter how long we’ve been at it, we’re probably still adding to it. That can cause problems at times, both in trying to find places to put all the food and trying to keep track of what we have in our pantry.
As anyone who has had trouble finding something can tell you, not being able to find it is just about as bad as not having it at all. When push comes to shove, you may not remember what you have and you won’t really have time to go searching for it. Your stockpile needs to be well organized and easy to work with.
That doesn’t preclude the need to split your stockpile up though. There’s always the possibility of a home invasion, so you need to have your food split up and stored in different parts of your home. That just adds to the challenge of organizing your pantry to make it usable.
There are always things you can do to make your prepper pantry better. So just like continually adding to it, you should also be continually improving it. Taking the time to do these things now will surely make it better for you, when the time comes that you actually have to eat the food in your pantry.
Develop a Printed Inventory
Taking the time to develop a printed inventory of what you have in your pantry and put it in a notebook is a great idea. But don’t just put quantities of items; write down where you’ve got each of those things stashed away.
If you’re doing it right, you’ll split each item up, so you’ll need to note each location you’ve put it in, as well as how much you have in that location.
The first thing you’ll notice, if you do this, is that you have more of some things than you thought you do and less of others. So the first benefit you’re going to get out of your inventory is a chance to rectify those shortages. Make sure you amend your count, when you put the new items away, so that your inventory stays accurate.
When the time comes, that inventory will help you with meal planning, as well as finding where you put everything, saving time and hassles. Just make sure that you update the inventory as you use things, so that you’ll always have an accurate count of what you’ve got.
Building a Survival Recipe Book
Speaking of your inventory; do you have recipes you can cook with that food? Surprisingly, most of the people I talk to, don’t. They just assume that they can cook whatever they have. But unless your stockpile is made up of just canned goods, you’re going to have to do some actual cooking. Not only that, but you’re going to be cooking over a fire, not like you’re used to.
You’re either going to need totally different recipes than you’re used to using, or to find ways of modifying the recipes you’re using, so as to cook them with the methods and foodstuffs you’ll have available to you. It would be a good idea to try those modifications now, just to make sure that they’ll work, without wasting food when your supplies are limited.
In addition to that, there’s a good chance that you’re going to have to doctor up some recipes, adding spices to them, in order to get your family to eat them. Once again, it’s better to figure that out now, while it doesn’t hurt you to throw away food that doesn’t turn out right, than to wait until you can’t afford to throw it away.
Automatic Stock Rotators for Canned Goods
There are two basic philosophies for your prepping pantry; either having a stockpile of food that is separate from you regular pantry and is left undisturbed until a crisis, or integrating your prepping stock with your day-to-day food usage and rotating your food stock.
Rotating your stock is a great idea, if you can. But rotating your stock can be a big hassle, requiring that you empty out your shelves, so that you can put the newer items in back of the older ones. The easy solution to this is to make racks that allow you to put the new inventory in behind the old, without having to move the old.
The easy way to do this, especially with canned goods, is to build racks that the cans can roll down. I’ve seen a number of different configurations of these, from ones that hang on the wall to entire racks which can hold dozens of different types of food.
Regardless of how they are physically configured, you load the new cans into the rack from the back or top, and those cans roll down the track until they meet the existing stock. When you need to take a can, you do so from the front of the rack, where the oldest can will automatically be.
The same idea can be used with boxed goods as well, although that isn’t quite so easy. But doing it with boxed goods will help ensure that your food stockpile is as fresh as possible, as you are constantly replacing the old food with new.
One of the least utilized storage areas in most homes is under the beds. While most people have something stored under the bed, it’s not much, not well organized and certainly not taking up all the available space.
What makes this even worse is that box springs no longer exist. If you buy a mattress and “box” now, that’s literally what you get; a box. Look in the bottom of it and you’ll see that it’s empty. All that space is going to waste.
All you need to do is build a box that will take up the space underneath the bed and that taken up by the now empty box springs. It can either replace the existing bed frame or if you have a fancy bed frame, it can be put just inside the frame. Put a hinged platform on top of it, with the hinge at the head of the bed and some prop rods to hold it up. Then fill up the space with food, making sure you annotate your inventory with what’s in there.
Putting In a Water Cistern
Water is probably the hardest thing to stockpile, mostly because we need so much of it. It’s hard to find enough space in your home to fit enough water to last very long. Filling your basement with blue plastic barrels might be one solution, but most of us need that space for other things as well.
One of the easiest ways to store a lot of water is with a swimming pool. You can buy a decent above-ground pool for a few hundred dollars. That will allow you to store a lot of water, without taking up space that you need for other things. Not only that, but caring for the pool and adding chlorine regularly will keep the water clean and safe to drink. Your neighbors won’t even know that it’s a cistern.
So, how much water can you store in an above-ground pool? That depends on the size of the pool. A 12 foot diameter pool, 30 inches deep will hold about 2,100 gallons of water. One that’s 16 feet in diameter and three feet deep will hold 4,500 gallons.
Related: Does Water Really Expire?
You Need Some Survival Caches
One of the more important and commonly overlooked needs for any prepping pantry is to have remote caches of food for use in an emergency. Any preppers living in Paradise, California lost their entire stockpile, when their town burnt to the ground in November of 2018. While the town had evacuated and the residents were safe, I’m sure that there were some of them who were short on cash and wished they had some food stashed away in a cache somewhere.
Remote survival caches can be located near or far, just as long as they are in places which make sense for your overall survival plan. It is better to have several of them, rather than just one big one. While it might be a hassle to go retrieve that food in the midst of a crisis, having it located away from your home may also be just the thing that helps you to survive.
There are many ways of making a cache, including storing food at relatives and friends houses, or renting a small storage “mini-warehouse”. You can also bury food underground. Five-gallon buckets are great for this, as they are moisture-proof and sturdy enough that rodents and insects can’t eat their way through. Just be sure to pick good landmarks for anything you bury, so that you’ll be able to find it again.
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