I don’t talk about issues on this blog which would bum you out, such as supply chain issues, because I would rather just encourage the importance of preparation in all circumstances, and have joy in the journey. I love the saying, “don’t be panicked, be prepared.” I’ve been urging people to prepare for “what may come.” Well, it’s come, and it’s time to get serious.
Now, there is still plenty of food on the shelves in my area for now, but here there are thin spots for instance like pasta, certain hygiene products, crackers and some nuts depending on the store. I had to go to three stores to find sub rolls. My aunt couldn’t find eggs in her local grocery store. These are just examples, and it will depend on where you live and which store. Here is the pasta section at my Aldi. I can find the pasta I need, I just might need to visit a few stores.
Augason Farms, a food storage company where I buy many dry goods, was affected by the supply chain and several of their goods are sold out. Should you frantically go buy everything you can? Absolutely not. Should you be upset and worried if you are just getting started? Please don’t. There is still plenty of food, you just might have to shop at several stores to fulfill your grocery list, or do without a few things. We just don’t know what’s coming around the corner, so it’s best to prep your pantry.
First, I think it’s interesting to see other people’s pantries and there are plenty of prepper pantry tours on You Tube. However, your pantry should reflect what your family eats and uses. Don’t buy things you won’t eat. I typically tell people to start out slow, by stocking up for two weeks, then a month, then two months, etc . . My advice right now is to go ahead and start preparing for six months of food and supplies. If you already prepped up for six months, go ahead and make provisions for a year. Here are categories to focus on:
Butter – it freezes well, and you can also buy butter powder. I’ve also canned butter, following instructions from Homestead Heart. Canning butter is not approved by the USDA and is considered a rebel canning method. However, I’ve seen enough trusted You Tubers do this, so I tried it myself and it works just fine. Do your own research and make that call for yourself. You can buy commercially canned butter, but it’s expensive. However, Costco has a great price on ghee.
Coconut, avocado, corn, olive and vegetable oils are different options to have on hand. Store what you use, but coconut oil does have a very long shelf life and I would have one large container of that without a doubt. Costco has a good price on coconut oil. Azure Standard has the best deal on avocado oil I could find.
Yeast and Sourdough Starter
I think every well stocked pantry should contain both sourdough starter and yeast. When Covid hit, yeast was sparse and I gave more than one friend yeast so they could bake bread. The ability to bake your own bread is basic food security. Sourdough is a backup to yeast, and a fun, healthy pantry staple as well.
Flour and Grains
With flour, you can make bread, pasta, pancakes, naan, tortillas, baked goods, and a host of other things. I would store 25 to 50 pounds if possible. Wheat grain is a valuable staple because it has a long shelf life, and beyond grinding for bread, it can be sprouted for salads, cooked for sides dishes, breakfasts and even desserts. I suggest getting a grain mill if possible. I have a Wondermill, which is an investment.
I keep barley, wild rice, white rice, quinoa and other grains in stock. If you eat rice, I would buy a 25 pound bag. Brown rice does not keep well long term, so I would not recommend buying large quantities.
Canned Vegetables and Fruits
I can all my fruits, but only some of my vegetables for now. Aldi has canned vegetables for 38 cents a can, and Harris Teeter just had them for 37 cents a can. When people say they can’t afford to stock up, I remind them picking up a few extra cans of vegetables a week is very affordable, for instance. If I purchased canned fruit I would buy from Aldi and Costco.
Canned tomatoes are versatile – you can make pasta sauce, salsa, tiki marsala, etc . . I keep #10 cans of various types of tomatoes, including whole, crushed and even ketchup. The best price I’ve found on diced tomatoes are the 14 ounce cans from Aldi, so instead of a big can I buy several smaller. My Costco has #10 cans (6 pounds, 6 ounce) of crushed tomatoes for $3.69. I keep industrial sized cans because it’s more economical, and I use them for canning barbecue sauce, pizza sauce, pasta sauce, and much more. I’ve seen a thinner supply of industrial canned tomatoes in the restaurant supply store and Costco, so if that’s something you want to stock, I would make that purchase.
Canning meat has allowed me to save space in my freezer and to make quick dinners, especially with meal starters like chicken marsala and meatballs. You can buy canned roast beef, chicken and various canned fish varieties from Costco if you aren’t yet canning meat. You can also can ground beef, and even season it with taco seasoning.
Potatoes are a staple in my house, so I make sure we have plenty. Besides storing fresh, I can potatoes, dehydrate hash browns and sliced potatoes, and buy instant mashed potatoes for emergency purposes. I also make mashed potatoes ahead of time and freeze in a vacuumed sealed bags.
Keep dried beans, but also canned beans in case electricity goes out, and for ease. Canning beans is easy, but if you are short on time just buy some to get started. If you have access to Restaurant Depot, they have the best price on beans.
Oats can be ground into flour for bread, is a binder for meat, a base for granola bars and some desserts, and of course a healthy breakfast choice. Restaurant Depot has the best price on oats I can find, at 50 cents a pound.
With powdered milk you can amend fresh milk with no one noticing, make mixes, and even your own evaporated milk. You can choose from non-fat, low-fat and whole powdered milks. I’m going to write a post on this soon.
Spouting seeds such as broccoli and red clover take up a small amount of space, and a smart way to grow your own produce in a jar in a few days.
Seasonings and Condiments
Keep plenty of salt, pepper, and other seasonings and condiments to make your pantry staples enjoyable to eat, and to give you versatility. I buy my seasonings in bulk, and make my own taco seasoning, ranch mix, and meat rubs.
I keep 50 pounds of sugar, and a couple gallons of honey in my food stores. The best price and quality I could find on commercial honey is from Azure Standard. Whichever sweeteners you prefer, keep them in stock. I also purchased honey powder from Augason Farms.
Coffee, Tea and Drink Mixes
Aside from plain water, other types of drinks are a luxury. However, why needlessly go without when you can just stock beverage items? I can lemonade concentrate, and other juices I make with my steam juicer, and stock coffee and tea. You can also flavor water with dehydrated citrus, including lemonade wheels. Protein powder is another great emergency item you can add to drinks, or baked goods.
No matter your nut butter of choice, it’s a fantastic, protein-packed staple to use for a quick snack with crackers.
This is a short idea list just for food – you should also consider heating and cooking resources, alternative light sources, water, first aide, medicines, paper products and cleaning supplies.
There’s a lot to consider, and it’s actually fun to plan and stock up when you don’t feel panicked, and I hope you don’t feel that way. However, you should have a healthy dose of concern, enough to take steps to make sure your family is taken care of, and maybe a little extra to help someone in need like an elderly neighbor. Encourage your friends and family to do their own stocking up too, as most people don’t have the time, money and space to make provisions for much more than their own families.
I would love to hear ideas in the comments section about ways you are stocking up, and am happy to answer questions about food storage as well.