There’s no denying the instability we face in this world today. With soaring food costs and bare supermarket shelves, power grid issues, and inflation, there’s no denying we should be prepared. And no, this is not about a zombie apocalypse or an alien attack, but it’s about having a stockpile of food in case something does happen.
Then again who could forget the great toilet paper shortage of 2020?
We’ve seen some catastrophic weather in recent years throughout the country. Devastating flooding, dangerous storms, and other events as well as rising food prices and shortages all add up to make the idea of an apocalypse at least plausible. And we should never take it for granted that we will always have access to the things we need.
Are you prepared? Could you feed your family if you couldn’t get to the grocery store or if there was no grocery store? How long could you and your family survive if the power grid went down or the grocery store was closed? We don’t even need a complete economic collapse to feel the pressure or even experience an apocalyptic situation.
The reality of the situation is that the U.S. economy is in trouble. There isn’t much we can do about that, but we can prepare our families for survival regardless of whether it’s a weather event or a storm of another kind.
Stockpiling is NOT Hoarding (and other myths busted)
To be clear, stockpiling is about survival after a crisis. It is not about creating a hoarding situation. It is also not exclusive to conspiracy theories or any sci-fi-esque scenarios. It is about being prepared for a time when resources are limited or cut off completely.
It seems that stockpiling has gotten a bum rap, though, and in the minds of many people it is reserved for fringe groups and “tin hat people.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. There are many myths that surround stockpiling so let’s address a few before we get into the meat of this post:
- Stockpiling is maintaining a regularly rotating supply of food and supplies that are intended to sustain survival in the wake of a catastrophic event or when resources are limited.
- Stockpiling is not hoarding.
- You don’t need a ton of money to get a stockpile started.
- Stockpiling is a normal and healthy behavior.
- Stockpiling is driven by rationality while hoarding and panic buying are driven by anxiety
Preparation is a smart move, especially when you have a family.
Types of Food to Include in Your Stockpile
It’s always a good idea to have a variety of foods in your stockpile. There are several reasons for this. One very good reason is tolerance. For instance, dried beans are a great stockpile item. However, they can cause some gastrointestinal issues, specifically gas that can be uncomfortable and even painful. Giving your body a break between bean meals can cut down on that discomfort until your body adjusts to the extra fiber. But even if you cut back on beans, there are still many survival foods that are also high in fiber (like dried fruit and certain cereals) so it is prudent to pay attention to the fiber content of the foods you consume.
Include these different types of foods in your stockpile for the best variety and supply.
- Canned foods – Vegetables, fruits, ready-to-eat meats, tuna, chicken, soups, pasta sauces, canned stews
- Food pouches – Fruit smoothie, ready-to-eat “survival” food, yogurt
- Dry food – Dried beans, cereal, oatmeal, granola, rice, pasta, crackers
- Dehydrated foods – Dried fruit, dehydrated vegetables, jerky, powdered eggs, potato flakes
- Shelf-stable foods – Peanut butter, protein bars, fruit bars, crackers, powdered milk, powdered buttermilk, powdered butter
- Milk and juice – Canned juice, shelf-stable milk, sports drinks, tea bags, coffee
- Pantry items – All purpose flour, herbs, spices, salt, sugar, bouillon, baking soda, baking powder, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar
- Fats – Olive oil, coconut oil, rendered animal fat
- For infants and babies – Infant formula, baby food, toddler snacks
- Pet food – Dry kibble, canned food, treats
- Comfort foods – Survival cookies, high energy foods, pasta with powdered cheese
- Treats – Hard candies, peppermints, popcorn
If you have refrigeration (working electricity) then you can store lean meats and other refrigerated items. However, after most storms, the power is at best unstable. Typically, people lose a lot of food due to power outages so it is in your best interest to keep the bulk of your stockpile focused on non-perishable, shelf-stable foods.
The Scoop on Survival Foods
MREs and emergency food kits are popular choices for some people who want a quick, easy way to increase their stockpile. They can be convenient and useful in an emergency, but you don’t always get the types of foods that your family will eat or that you like.
Take the time to research different types of meals if this is the route you choose. Buy a kit and eat a few of the meals to see if you can actually live off of them for several days. It’s better to spend the money to try out some of the foods in a kit than it is to wait until you need it and find that the food is completely unedible for you.
Meals ready to eat, or MREs, are very handy meal kits used by the military and emergency response teams. Each meal is packaged individually, often with several items included. Typically they only require water to prepare and self-heat in the container.
Some people love MREs and some people don’t care for them at all. It’s just a matter of taste. Again, if you plan to use MREs, try a few first to make sure you can live off of them for a period of time. Have children in the house? Be sure they can eat them too.
Emergency meal kits are the same way. Don’t let the appetizing pictures on the advertisements and containers fool you. These are not fancy dinners, they are emergency meals that usually only require water. You may be able to spruce them up a bit with some seasoning, but for the most part, they are food for survival – basic survival.
At the end of the day, you are far better off stockpiling your own foods because then you can choose the best foods that pack the most nutritional and caloric punch. Plus you can get stuff you and your family will actually eat.
Tools of the Trade for Stockpile Success
Many people get so caught up in stockpiling food that they forget the tools they may need in order to use those foods. These items are the bare minimum and you still may be able to pare it down some based on your family’s needs.
You may want to invest in a small propane stove or camping stove. The small propane bottles are inexpensive and the setup can really come in handy if you are without power but live in an urban setting or even the suburbs. You can set the stove up outside and heat water, cook beans, and make bread in a frying pan. They are not expensive but worth their weight in gold in a survival situation. You might also want to include the following items.
- Several sharp knives (serrated and smooth edge)
- Large pot with a lid that can be used over a campfire
- Medium-sized pot with a lid that can be used over a campfire
- Pan (cast iron frying pan is very good)
- Wooden spoons
- Serving utensils (wooden spoons may double as serving spoons as well as cooking)
- Manual can openers (ideally several)
- Oven mitts or other protection for handling hot pots
- Spoon, fork, and knife set for each family member
- Plate for each family member
- Bowl for each family member
- Cup for each family member
- Dish soap
- Rags or towels
- Vinegar for cleaning and sanitizing
- Cutting board
- Set of measuring cups and spoons
- Purified or filtered water for cooking and cleaning
There may be other necessities that you would add to this list, but this covers the basics. The point is to keep it as basic as possible. You may already own some of these tools and use them regularly in your kitchen. If you are using pots though, make sure they can be used over a campfire or similar type of situation. Looking for pots that are oven safe is a good idea. You can be sure they will stand up to the heat.
Where To Store Your Stockpile?
You don’t need a fancy setup for storing your stockpile. You can keep it in a closet, the basement, or a room in your home. Some people keep their stockpile under their beds while others keep theirs in aluminum garbage cans. There are only really a few things that you need to keep in mind when setting up your stockpile:
- Use an area that is not prone to extreme temperatures
- Use an area that is not prone to excessive moisture
- Keep food in airtight, pest-proof, rodent-proof containers
- Use storage materials like glass, tin, and other materials that rodents can’t chew through
- Mylar bags are popular but not pest-proof. If you use them you will need to keep them in a pest-proof container like glass or aluminum
Make sure your stockpile is as easily accessible as possible and take the necessary precautions to protect your food. For instance, if you store your food in glass jars, keep them protected from light. Also, stabilize your shelving so that the jars won’t be knocked off or broken during an earthquake or storm. You can also use rags to cushion the jars so they don’t jostle against each other and break.
These twenty stockpiling tips will help ensure the safety of your food and that you have what you need when the time comes to use your stockpile.
- Rotate your stockpile regularly so that your food does not expire.
- Know the shelf life of the foods you stockpile. You will rotate your cooking oil much more frequently than you do your rice. Knowing how long items last will ensure that you keep good food in your stockpile at all times.
- Make the most of your stockpile foods by choosing those that are calorically dense and nutrient rich with protein, fiber, and some fat if possible. Avoid empty calorie foods.
- Some foods, like honey, never go bad. Know what those are.
- Bouillon cubes are a great addition to your stockpile. You can use it to flavor beans, rice, potatoes, and other foods.
- Keep the necessary tools with your food items. All those cans will be tough to open if you don’t have a manual can opener. Best to have several on hand.
- Check your stockpile regularly for outdated food or food that has spoiled.
- Keep any dietary needs in mind, such as diabetes or other health concerns.
- Make sure you have enough water – one gallon per person per day at a minimum.
- Try to include one treat per family member. This can help with morale while enduring the stress of an emergency situation.
- Store nonperishable food for at least 72 hours or three days, more if possible.
- It’s OK to start small and gradually build your stockpile.
- Don’t forget your pets. Keep pet food, litter, and other supplies stockpiled as well – and make sure you rotate them regularly.
- Choose foods that your kids and family will eat.
- Avoid overly salty foods because they will make you thirstier which can be a problem if water is not readily available or there is a shortage.
- Store spices, herbs, and salt with your food. Many can also double as medicine.
- Inspect cans regularly for bulging or other malformations and discard them accordingly.
- Make sure your food supplies match your cooking or heating capabilities. Dried beans are great, but do require a rather long cooking time over high heat. If you don’t have a way to build a fire or have a propane stove you may be better off choosing another type of food.
- Try to store a variety of foods and foods that can be combined.
- Don’t wait until a crisis is looming, start creating a stockpile today.
No one wants to think about worst case scenarios, but when disaster strikes you want to be ready. And you never know when you might need it.
Rory Witkowski is a adventurous and outgoing contributor to Tech Writer EDC. His work appears on several websites and he strives to put forth interesting and meaningful content. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Rory is a senior creator at Coastal Market Strategies.