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  • Writer's pictureAndrea Wenzel

FIVE Questions to Ask BEFORE Starting your Survival Pantry

Updated: Feb 7

Food storage isn't all about storing flavorless, freeze-dried foods that cost an arm and a leg. It's about being wise and preparing for anything from a job loss to an illness in the family. Think of your emergency pantry as an additional insurance that your family can rely on no matter what. Here are a few questions that you need to ask as you start your pantry. There are also a few tips to get you started today!

Where is your supply going to be stored?

Clean out a space for your prepper's pantry before you submit your grocery order. This can be anywhere in your home to start. Don't get hung up on all the beautiful pantry tours online because you'll never measure up and you might get discouraged to start at all. Instead, dust off that ratty old bookshelf in your basement and begin right away. This is very important for a lot of reasons especially if you have a spouse who isn't fully onboard with having a preparedness plan or hates clutter. The last thing you want is to bring home food and have no clue where to put it. Getting organized will save you time, help prevent food waste, and maintain everyone's sanity.

How much food do you need to store?

Do you want enough to get through an ice storm or short-term power outage or do you want a doomsday stash that will last a year or two? There is no wrong answer here. Knowing this information will help you decide if the initial space you cleared out will be enough, or if you need more space. Again, getting started right away is what's most important and you'll have time to make additional room later, if you wish, as your pantry grows.

What does your family like to eat?

Never stock up and store food or supplies that your family doesn't like. I don't care how good of a deal you get on it because when times get tough, it will be much harder if you have to eat beans and rice for 3 months straight. To start you might decide to pick 2-3 family favorite dinners and go buy ingredients to make all of them. Fill your pantry with actual meals. While this may seem obvious, it can be easy to get distracted in the canned goods aisle. You could quickly spend hundreds of dollars and not have much; in the long run to create meals for weeks or days. Look for recipes that are made with 100% shelf-stable ingredients. This makes it easy to keep your pantry separate from everything else and the food won't get consumed before it's needed. At the same time, you need to eat the food regularly enough so that it doesn't spoil. Cans and dried goods are also great for power outages because you won't have to worry about your food spoiling. Plus, you will always have good go-to meals on hand when your family has had a long, stressful week.

How much do you want to spend on your survival pantry each shopping trip?

Set a realistic budget and stick to it. Even $5-10 a trip will add up very fast if you're consistent with building up your stock every week. Look for great deals at your usual store, shop scratch and dent items and even Dollar Tree has some decent prepper items for your family. One of the best benefits of having a prepper pantry is being able to purchase goods when the prices are low. Just be realistic about how much your family can consume to avoid waste.

Who will you be preparing for?

It is always best to prepare for your family first. Just like putting on an oxygen mask in an airplane before helping the person next to you, the same goes for preparedness. It's not uncommon for other preppers and homesteaders to admit that they are prepping for an elderly parent, kids, or grandkids, but you might want to wait. I would highly encourage you to do the same once your family is ready.

Additional Tips:

  • Diversify your shelves with a mix of long-term and shorter-term food items. Some foods are packed to last up to 30 years while cans might last 2-4. It's good to have variety so not everything is expiring at once.

  • Store water and a way to filter water. (1 gallon a day per person)

  • Write expiration dates (with a black Sharpie) on products to help quickly identify when something is near its expiration.

  • Rotate stock. First in, first out!

  • Don't forget about the essentials for your pets.

If you're new to the idea of building a prepper pantry, what questions do you have about getting started? What did I miss? Please comment below and let me know.

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