Survivalists and preppers alike know how having a properly stocked pantry and surviving perilous times go hand in hand. Regardless of your reason for preparedness, every prepared home has a well-stocked food pantry. For generations, storing food has long been an important factor in preparing families for survival. Throughout history, there can always be found several examples of families whose frugality and forethought saved them through economic crisis. Recent changes to the American economy have prompted many who had never really considered stocking food to begin prepping for harder times. If you are alarmed with the way the economy is turning or are uneasy about the certainty of tomorrow, then it may be a good idea to start storing food at home. Some may be overwhelmed at first with the thought of storing food and water for an entire family! In addition, if you have pets such as cats or dogs, you would need to allot and store enough food for them as well. So where do you start?
Designate an Area
Yes, picking out an area, or designating a spot, is the best first step. You may have an extra room in your home or extra space in the basement to store. Ideally, a food pantry would be best in an area that is easily accessible by the family, that is cool and dark, and void of moisture. If you choose to start building your food pantry in your basement, make sure you perform preliminary moisture and mold checks before you start. Doing so will dramatically reduce the rate of food spoilage.
For the sake of example, we are going to choose a spare room in your home. This room will be the room with the least amount of sunlight per day and generally the coolest room in the house. This room need not be terribly big, but it should be large enough for a few storage shelves to hold your food items. A family who is serious about storing food may need to sacrifice an office or the like in order to make this happen. If you are among the ones who need to sacrifice for space, your family will thank you when you have stored up enough food for their survival! Remember even if you can’t designate an entire room, you could designate a corner area to achieve this task.
Proper shelving is imperative to creating a functional survival pantry system. Most families simply buy their shelving from department or hardware stores. You will be able to find a variety of options to suit your needs. Depending on what you plan on storing, you may opt to purchase heavy-duty plastic, metal, or steel shelving. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages. In order to find out what will suit your needs best, do preliminary research on the three types, and choose wisely. Take into consideration your space, your budget, and the amount of food you and your family plans on storing. It may seem like a daunting task, but read on— it’s easier than you realize!
What to Buy?
Okay, here is where most people begin to have mental spasms. They don’t know what foods to buy for their families, so anxiety sets in. This need not be the case with you! It’s quite simple. Buy foods that are ready to eat or need little preparation in order to eat. Why? In most true crisis situations, all normal utilities such as water, electricity, and gas are unavailable. Therefore, you need to think ahead to that time. You do not need to have a pantry full of food that needs to be cooked when you do not have electricity or gas to cook it… do you? Of course not! In disaster situations, time is precious when it comes to the survival of you and your family. And there’s certainly not a need to go buy out the grocery store all at once. Every time you and your family go to the market to buy your groceries, buy a little extra. Make room in your food budget every week in order to add a little bit at a time to your food pantry.
These are the first types of foods that may come to your mind, and rightly so, because canned foods are the primary stock in all home survival pantries. What kind of canned foods are good? Just about any kind you can think of. Most commonly are canned beans, vegetables, fruits, meats, soups, chili, pasta, and such. One good thing to remember is to buy what your family likes to eat now. In a survival situation, eating foods that are familiar to them will increase the morale and life expectancy of your family.
Breakfast Bars, Granola Bars, and Candy Bars
These are great for energy boosters. Include granola and breakfast bars into your pantry for a quick pick-me-up. Energy bars, although a little more expensive, can be a good option as well. Candy bars are widely available but can stale quickly. Be mindful of expiration dates when purchasing bars.
Oatmeal and Hot Cereals
Oatmeal is a favorite quick meal that can be made in just a minute and a little bit of water. Most supermarkets have large containers of oatmeal and hot cereal to purchase. Make sure you purchase the “quick cook” or “instant” variety for ease in cooking. Most quick cook oatmeal has a shelf life of two to three years.
Dry Beans & Dry Rice
Dried beans and rice are a favorite as well. These can be stored for long periods of time like they are when purchased from the grocery. For increased shelf life, remove the beans and rice from the bags and freeze them for about seventy-two hours. This will effectively kill any rice and bean bugs that may be inconspicuous. After this, repackage them into another airtight container and safely store your items.
Many do not think to include condiments such as salt, pepper, sugar, and other spices. Ketchup, mustard, and peanut butter can also be included in this category. Adding these items will benefit both you and your taste buds, and some of those common condiments serve other purposes, including medicinal needs. Condiments come cheap at some discount stores, so stock up!
Expiration Dates & Rotation
Be sure to check the expiration dates on all items that you purchase for your pantry. There isn’t anything worse than spending your hard-earned cash on a bunch of expired food. Be care when shopping at deep discount outlets because they tend to sell a lot of expired items to the public. This is not illegal, unfortunately, so just spend a little extra time and check the dates.
It is also important to rotate your food supply, eating the old food first and rotating the newer stock to the back. It is okay to prepare your family’s everyday meals from the stock of your emergency food pantry. What’s the point in having a pantry full of food if you don’t eat it, right? Just be sure to replace what you used with newer (expiring later) food. For instance, you are preparing a can of beans for dinner. Instinct tells us to eat the “fresher” things first, but fight this impulse and grab the can that is expiring within the current year. The next time you are at the market, grab a couple of cans to replace what you used. Most canned foods have a shelf life from three to four years, but shelf life can be extended by the condition of your pantry.
Planning your pantry is easier when you know how to get started, what you need to do, and what you need to buy. Preparing for a time when food is of shortage is not always a pleasant task and equally not a pleasant thought to entertain. But you can equip yourself with the knowledge and skills you need in order to plan and build your home emergency pantry. The website http://www.ready.gov/ offers handy tips for Americans to prepare for the next disaster. Using all information that is available to you, and applying that knowledge gained to the preparation process, you will efficiently stock your home emergency pantry with the proper foods needed for survival.