The recent events going on world-wide might have you wondering what a well stocked pantry looks like, and how to get there.
I am a firm believer in being prepared for emergencies, or even just the occasional rainy day. For most people, the idea of a prepper is associated with half-crazed, conspiracy theorists who have bunkers filled with 20 tons of dried beans, and an arsenal of weapons. I don’t believe that this is what truly being prepared looks like.
Many prepper sites recommend things like (obviously this is exaggerated) 2 tons of dried beans, 700 pounds of rice, 200 bags of flour, a freeze drier, and a year’s worth of MREs. Now, while this may work for some, it’s not feasible or desirable for most of us.
For me, being prepared (or prepping) takes the form of a well stocked pantry. When everyone else was freaking out and making a run on the toilet paper section of the grocery stores, I was able to relax and know that we were already prepared.
What does a well stocked pantry look like?
The first thing you need to consider when deciding how to stock your pantry is: What does your family typically eat? If you normally grab take-out or fast food, this will be a little a harder for you. But if you cook meals at home, start there.
Think about what meals you make on a regular basis. Then consider what you need to have in your pantry to make those meals. 200 bags of flour aren’t going to do you any good if your family is gluten-free, or if you’ve never baked bread before. 2 tons of dried beans won’t help if your family doesn’t like beans, or if you don’t have enough water stored up to make them (beans use a fair amount of water).
If your family loves Sloppy Joes, make sure you have plenty of ground beef in the freezer (or even some freeze dried or canned, if you’re up for that), as well as tomato sauce or ketchup. You’ll also want some buns in the freezer, the ability and ingredients to make buns, or an alternative to buns (we love sloppy Joe meat over rice).
If you make a lot of Granola at your house, make sure you have plenty of extra oats, nuts, brown sugar, and honey in your well stocked pantry. Keep an extra bottle of cooking oil, as well as an extra container of cinnamon.
Sit down and write out approximately 10 days’ worth of meals your family enjoys eating on a regular basis (don’t forget to add in breakfast and lunch), and then figure out what supplies you would need to have on hand to make those. Meals that can be made with frozen, dried, or canned foods will work even better, since they have a longer shelf-life.
Once you’ve figured out what you need to add in order to have a well stocked pantry, start purchasing those items. I don’t personally buy a ton of food and just let it sit on the shelf. Because it’s going towards meals we regularly eat, it gets used regularly. But I keep enough extra to make several meals 3 or 4 times each. As we use some of the ingredients, I replace them with more, never allowing myself to run out.
Here are some of the items I personally keep on hand at all times (because I use them– if you don’t use these, don’t buy them). This list is by no means exhaustive, it is simply to serve as ideas to help you figure out your own well stocked pantry.
Dry Goods for a Well-Stocked Pantry:
- A 5 gallon bucket of flour (I’m kind of a baking addict)
- A 5 gallon bucket of sugar (same reason)
- Several bags of rice
- Several bags of assorted beans (lentils, chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans, etc)
- At least 10 lbs. of oats (I use these to make granola, which we regularly eat for breakfast)
- Several bags of coffee beans
- Assorted nuts for granola and snacking (almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews, etc)
- Spices (garlic salt/ powder, onion salt/ powder, curry, basil, oregano, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon)
- Dried fruit: dried apple slices, raisins, dried mango slices, etc (these all make great snacks)
Canned Goods for a Well-Stocked Pantry:
- Canned tomatoes
- Canned tomato sauce
- Canned tomato paste
- Canned corn
- Canned green beans
- Canned beans
- Canned chicken and tuna fish
Frozen Goods for a Well-Stocked Pantry:
- Frozen beef (steaks, roasts, and ground beef)
- Frozen chicken (thighs, breasts, and whole chickens)
Toiletries for a Well-Stocked Pantry:
- Enough toilet paper for a month
- An extra bottle of dish soap
- An extra bottle each of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash
- At least one extra tube of toothpaste and an extra container of floss
- One extra of other items we use regularly, such as deodorant, eye drops, over-the counter and prescription meds, etc.
These are some of the staples I keep on hand at all times. I also think that it’s important to think about those items that would make life happier. While you definitely don’t need to have ice cream or chips or other treats on hand, they can raise the morale and make it easier to deal with being cooped up in your house, if it comes to that.
None of the items in a well-stocked pantry should be sitting there for years. They should be rotated through. When I open a bag of rice, I put rice on my grocery list to pick up another bag. This is the best way to make sure your pantry ingredients stay fresh, and you haven’t wasted your money on a bunker of unusable food.
Remember that having a well stocked pantry isn’t just for emergencies. It’s also helpful if you get laid off, have unexpected high bills, or even just to tide you over between pay checks. Being prepared is always a smart thing.
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