Most preppers will have food for a couple of weeks stored in their preppers pantry, and generally speaking, these food items are only for emergency situations. Some preppers use a mixed pantry, a portion of their pantry is for everyday use while another portion is only for emergency situations. Even if you do not have a separate room or a basement for a pantry you can still make a smaller emergency pantry, just in case anything happens.
Some preppers will have food in their pantry which lasts for a couple of years, while others will have food for a couple of weeks. This of course depends on what your goal as a prepper is with the pantry. Preppers who tend to prepare for an end of the world scenario will stockpile foods that have a long shelf life, others who prepare for local disasters have emergency food for a couple of weeks in their pantry.
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Generally speaking for disasters like floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and so on it will take around 2-3 weeks for the authorities to provide the affected people with food and water. Although most countries and local governments have plenty of emergency food stockpiles at hand it can still take a fairly long time until they get it to the victims. Most people do not have food that lasts them even a week in their home at this point, and a lot of them will struggle if it takes 2-3 weeks for the authorities to deliver aid.
The good news is that you can set up a prepper’s pantry for relatively cheap, your main goal should be to have emergency food for around 2-3 weeks. In addition to food, you should also stockpile water, as in a lot of local disasters you will not have access to the local water supply for a period of time. As a general rule, you should follow the survival rule of 3 when you are setting up your pantry, for more information check out my recent article Survival rule of 3 ( Step by Step Guide ).
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1. Calculate what the preppers pantry needs to have based on your needs
A lot of people set up their preppers pantry without a lot of thought, and then wonder why their food didn’t last for as long as it should have. As I have previously mentioned you should have around 2-3 weeks’ worth of food and water in your pantry. Bigger families will need bigger emergency pantries as they do consume a lot more food and water. First, calculate what a person in your family needs in terms of food and water for 3 weeks, and then just multiply it by the number of how many members your family has.
The biggest problem will be stockpiling enough water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. In this case, you should also have a backup plan for water, grab a couple of emergency water filters just in case you run out of water during the emergency situation. If you live in a house then it is a good idea to get a couple of water barrels, as you can use your gutters to harvest water in case of an emergency. In case you are also storing charcoal for a long time and you are wondering if it will go bad then check out my recent article Does charcoal go bad? ( Fact or Fiction? ).
2. Choose your preppers pantry location
Ideally, you should have a separate room for your pantry, the main reason for this is because a lot of food items are very sensitive to temperature fluctuations even if they have a long shelf life. This is why people who have basements tend to keep their pantry in the basement, the temperatures are fairly constant and a lot lower than in the rest of the house. If you live in an apartment and you do not have the option for making the food pantry in a separate room then you have to use a room that you do not often use.
No matter what you do, never ever have the emergency food in your kitchen, as the temperature fluctuations in the kitchen are the highest here than in any other room. In addition to this if you stockpile vegetables like potatoes and onions then you have to come up with some kind of ventilation for them.
3. Store water in the preppers pantry
Your biggest challenge in an emergency situation will be the lack of water, this is especially true in the case of a flood. Floodwaters tend to contaminate the local water supply and it can take several weeks if not longer for the water from the tap to be safe to drink. The biggest problem with storing plenty of water is that you will find it difficult to store enough. Ideally, you should set up a water storage tank as this would have plenty of water for several months, even if you have a large family.
If you do not have the possibility to set up a water storage tank then your best option is to use stackable water bricks. There are a lot of different water bricks on the market, just make sure that they are stackable, in this way you can store a lot more water. You can also store water in water bottles although this is not ideal as water bottles tend to occupy a lot of space and some water bottles have a fairly low shelf life, for more information check out my recent article How long can you store bottled water? ( In your Home, Garage or Car ).
4. Get pantry utensils
There are some utensils which you will need if you are making a pantry, such as can openers and canning tools. If you can food every year then you most likely have these utensils, if not then make sure to get them. Although you can easily open canned food with a knife, but most knives are not designed to be can openers and they will lose their sharpness sooner or later. In addition to this make sure to get some plastic containers and zip-lock bags as well.
5. Have cookware for your pantry
Depending on the severity of the emergency situation, you might find yourself without power and even gas for who knows how long time. If you have your pantry full of food but you do not have the ability to cook them then you will struggle. The good news is that you can still cook without fire and even electricity for more information check out my recent article How to cook food without fire and electricity? ( Top 5 Methods ).
6. Store high-calorie foods in your prepper’s pantry
You should fill your prepper’s pantry with high-calorie foods, like rice, potatoes, and canned food. Keep in mind that your main goal with the emergency pantry is to have food and water for as long as possible. Even after the government’s aid will arrive, there is no guarantee that there will be plenty of food and water for everybody especially if there are a lot of people affected by the local disaster.
People tend to use a lot more energy during stressful times, and a lot more during the wintertime, so you should stock up on high-calorie foods. These high-calorie foods are not the best when it comes to taste, so make sure to add some spices to your pantry.
7. Get freeze-dried foods for your prepper’s pantry
A lot of freeze-dried foods tend to have a lot longer shelf life than a lot of canned foods, although there are some exceptions. Generally speaking, freeze dried foods will last a lot longer if they are in a food pantry that is relatively cold, some people also place them in the freezer but it is not necessary for most cases. Freeze-dried foods can be bought relatively cheaply and in bulk, either in buckets or in #10 cans.
8. Have some comfort food in the pantry
From a survival stand of point, you should have a lot of high-calorie food in your pantry, but you should still add a couple of comfort foods as well. People tend to stress out during emergency situations, and long term stress can have very serious health implications. Add a couple of comfort foods like chocolate, and other sweets, these comfort foods will allow your family to relax a bit during stressful times.
9. Use a pantry rotation system to avoid food getting bad
Once you know what types of food you will use to fill your pantry with, then you will need to start thinking about a pantry rotation system. This system will allow you to use your pantry even if you are not in an emergency situation, in such a way that you will still have plenty of food stockpiled for emergency situations and for everyday use as well. The pantry rotation system simply means that you put the fresh items in the back and the oldest food items will be placed in the front this way you consume the oldest food items.
The pantry rotation system is fairly simple and it will prolong the shelf life of your entire pantry. A lot of people who have a pantry will throw a lot of their store food out from time to time, but with a rotation system, you will not have to throw almost anything out.
10. Learn to can and fill your pantry with canned foods
Canning is not that difficult if you have the utensils for it, although a lot of people do not have enough time to can food. If you decide to start canning then you will find that in a couple of weekends you will be able to fill your prepper’s pantry. The best part about canning is that it is a lot cheaper than buying canned or freeze-dried foods. In addition to this, you will also know the content of the canned food, as a lot of canned foods are jam-packed with preservatives and other chemicals.
Ideally, you should grow your own food and can them, but if you do not have space or time to grow your own food then you can simply buy meat, vegetables, fruits in bulk. If you buy them in bulk then they will be a lot cheaper, and you can start canning. If you are just about to set up your pantry and you do not want to start canning as well, then I will tell you a secret, you will start canning in a couple of years, especially once you notice how cheap canning food can be.
11. Buy food in bulk for your pantry
As a general rule, when you want to fill your pantry then you should think of buying in bulk. This way the food items will cost a lot less, especially if you are the one who is doing the canning. A lot of people tend to buy items for their pantry when they are on sale, this is a good idea, just keep in mind that some food items are on sale because they are close to their expiration date. Your main goal is to have long shelf life foods that do not require refrigeration and not short shelf life food items that will spoil before you can use them.
Ideally, you should buy fresh vegetables, fruits, and meat in bulk, this way you get them when they are still high quality. You can get them from supermarkets, but my personal recommendation is to buy them from the farmers market, as people who are selling at the farmers market will have high-quality products and they will be more than happy to sell in bulk.
12. Store the food items correctly in the pantry
A lot of people talk about what you should have in your prepper’s pantry, although this is rather pointless as every prepper’s pantry will be unique because the needs of every family are unique. Instead, you should focus on storing the food items correctly, and know what food items can be paired. For example, if you store vegetables in your food pantry then you should never have both potatoes and onions in your pantry at the same time.
The problem is that onions give out some chemicals or fumes, and this will kickstart the sprouting process in the potatoes. A couple of sprouts on your potatoes are not the end of the world but if the potatoes will start to germinate it will make a lot of sprouts and this will make the sprouted potatoes inedible, for more information about what to do with sprouted potatoes check out my recent article What to do with sprouted potatoes? ( Top 8 Uses ).
13. Ration your food and water from the pantry
During a local disaster, you might have a false sense of safety as you have plenty of food in your pantry. The problem is that you do not know when the situation will get back to normal and when the government aid will actually reach you. If you have stored food for a couple of months then odds are that you can eat and drink just as you did before the local disaster, but if you have food only for a couple of days or weeks then you should ration it.
Rationing your food and water will be extremely good for stretching out your food and water stockpile for as long time as possible. It is better to start rationing at the beginning of the disaster than when you see that your food and water supplies are getting low.
14. Don’t tell anybody about your pantry
As a general rule, you should never tell anybody that you have an emergency pantry, as the last thing you would want during a local disaster is to share food with your neighbors. It might seem harsh but in a crisis situation, your family will pay the price of your generosity. Your main goal is to protect your family by providing them with plenty of food and water, if you start giving food to your neighbors then more and more people will come asking for food.
So just save yourself the hassle and the problems and do not tell anybody that you have a prepper’s pantry. Make sure that every member of your family knows how important it is not to tell anybody about your emergency supplies.
15. Test out the prepper’s pantry
Not a lot of people actually test out their emergency pantry, and then wonder why their food and water tastes bad or in the worst-case scenario they do not last as long as they should have lasted. Pick a weekend and during that weekend only eat food items from your emergency pantry, this way you will know what is missing from your pantry and you will have feedback from your family, especially from your children which are picky eaters.
As you can see a prepper’s pantry is extremely important if you want to prepare for an emergency situation. Starting a prepper’s pantry is not that difficult, although it will take you some time to fill your pantry with enough food and water. Make sure that you have plenty of food and water which last you for at least 2-3 weeks.