When storing for survival situations, there are certain foods that keep the best and certain foods that must be in your pantry no matter what. Really, a little of everything should be in your survivalist panty; however, before you start stockpiling willy-nilly, there are some rules to follow in order to make your food store is well balanced and able to last you and your family through any type of emergency survival situation.
Building your survival pantry is a little like building a pyramid: you start broad and work your way up. Step number one actually doesn’t require any labor-intensive preserving of food or storing food in specific ways. It’s actually very simple: buy food. That’s right; the first thing you need to do in order to start a survival food pantry is buy traditional preserved and canned food from your local grocery store. None of these types of food should need to be stored in a refrigerator or freezer. It should be simply canned and dried food that has a very long shelf life. All of these foods basically include things that you can’t make yourself and that don’t need much more than a can opener or hot water to prepare. Start with pasta and grains because they’re the easiest to buy and store. A short list of basic pasta and grains would include:
- At least ten pounds or more of dried pasta (plus one jar of pasta sauce per pound of pasta noodles)
- At least twenty pounds of dried beans
- Up to five pounds of barley
- Up to ten pounds of oatmeal
- Twenty pounds or more of rice. These can be packed into Mylar bags in five-gallon buckets for better storage.
Pasta and grains are very important because they last for the longest amount of time, besides canned goods. They are also fairly cheap, especially if you buy them in bulk, which is exactly what you want to do for a survival pantry. Most of the time, they store just fine in their original packaging, but rice can last longer and stack better when it’s in buckets. Pasta should stay in its original packaging, but if you have a large amount of dried beans, you can pack them like you would rice, in five-gallon buckets and Mylar bags. Besides beans, you should also store a variety of canned foods that are difficult to can yourself, or that are cheaper to buy by the case than they are to can in large quantities. A basic list for these would include:
- Up to five pounds of peanut butter
- Over thirty or more cans of vegetables. This should include a variety of vegetables as well as cans of mixed vegetables.
- Up to six cans of every type of tomato product. This means tomato paste, diced tomatoes, whole tomatoes, and tomato sauce.
- Over twenty cans of fruit. If you plan to can your own fruit, you can reduce this number.
- Over twenty cans of a variety of soup. Try to avoid the soup that needs to be mixed with water, because you never know how long your water supply has to last. You should include several cans of beef stew since it’s the hardiest of canned soup.
- Twelve cans of meat products. This includes canned fish, Spam, and other potted meat. Add another twelve cans of meat sauce and pasta, like ravioli.
- Three or more packages of mixed nuts. Keep them in the original package.
All of these supplies for your pantry are easier to buy than make, unless you normally can a lot of fruit and berries during the proper seasons. Vegetables can also be canned, but sometimes you can get a better variety at the grocery store. However, that isn’t to say that you shouldn’t can your own food. Canning your own fruits and vegetables should be top priority for your survival pantry—but unless you already have a large surplus on hand, you will need to start with some store-bought products to begin your stockpile. The last step in step one is baking supplies, which aren’t usually possible to harvest yourself. Some of these items take a bit of preparation, like the rice in Mylar bags and five -gallon buckets, but nothing too strenuous. For these last items in step one of building a survival pantry, you will need to store:
- About thirty pounds of sugar
- About thirty pounds of flour
- Stock at least two or three boxes of baking powder, soda, and at least twenty packets of yeast. Don’t forget to buy packet yeast, as the yeast in jars doesn’t keep that long once they’ve been opened.
- Vegetable shortening or lard. Get an extra-large can.
- A mix of spices. The list for spices to stock up on is way too long to mention individually. Go wild.
- Coffee, tea, and cocoa mix. Definitely get coffee, and make sure it’s stored properly. If you think the mornings are long without coffee, you don’t want to go through an emergency without it.
- Powdered lemonade or Gatorade mix.
- About twenty pounds of powdered milk. Also get plenty of canned milk.
The flour and sugar should be stored like the rice, but first put it in a freezer for a week after you Mylar bag it up and seal it inside a five-gallon bucket. This will get rid of anything that might be living inside. Leave the powdered milk inside the original packaging as well as the baking powder and soda. If you want, you can seal the coffee, tea, and cocoa mix in vacuum sealed bags, but still in their original packaging.
Step two is everything else; it’s a very blunt pyramid. Everything else, however, amounts to quite a bit of food and provisions. This is when you go to stores that specifically sell emergency rations and supplies. You can get these supplies from online stores as well. These provisions include MREs (meals ready to eat), energy bars, and dried meats and fruits. If you don’t have the equipment necessary to dry your own fruits and meats, then either look into getting the equipment or buy what you need. If you do want to dry your own meats and fruits, you will find it’s much less expensive in the long run. Still buy the energy bars and MREs though, because they are good food if you need to grab and run. Buy freeze-dried foods as well. This is a good way to get vegetables that can be added to soups and casseroles.
Along with all these different types of foods, you need to also store water. Buy lots of bottled water, because you really can’t have enough. Bottled water doesn’t go bad, even though it has an expiration date. This date is just because many states have a mandatory date marking law for all food and drink products. Water could be hard to come by in an emergency situation, especially if the power is out. Remember, if you’re drinking it, cooking with it, and bathing with it, your water supply could be gone before you know it. Be smart, figure out how much water you and your family use on a weekly basis for everything, then multiply that for up to a year if you can, and let the stocking begin!
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