Should You Prep Your Pantry?

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

A prepped pantry is well-stocked, organized, and rotated through regularly with three to six months worth of food for the household. A prepped pantry can help a family get through a job loss, financial hardship, supply chain shortages, and rationing on the shelves. Just two years ago, it would seem inconceivable for most Americans that there would be rationing in our grocery stores or empty shelves due to supply chain shortages. However, now that we know this is possible and happening in some places, we must prepare for that by having a prepped pantry. This way, we can purchase items when available and not go without during supply chain shortages or rationing.

When prepping your pantry, focus on the essential foods your family eats regularly. For example, if you consistently eat spaghetti on Friday nights, a very well-prepped pantry would be stocked with 52 meals worth of spaghetti noodles and 52 meals worth of sauce. This would ensure that every Friday for a year, your family can have spaghetti even if there’s no pasta on the shelves. The first task of someone wanting to have a well-prepped pantry is to make a list of all the meals eaten in a one to two-week period. Then multiply that by 13. So to explain it, if you have a whole roast chicken with 1 pound of potatoes and 1 pound of carrots every Saturday, to figure a three-month supply, you would multiply that by 13. That means you would need 13 whole chickens in your freezer, 13 pounds of potatoes, and 13 pounds of carrots. To make them last three months, the carrots should probably be cut, blanched, and frozen for future use.

You can do this with every meal you make and have a three-month supply of food. Another way to prep your pantry is to use more dry grains and beans in your cooking regularly and store those in large quantities. Our house, in particular, had a menu based on this sort of prepped pantry. We stored oatmeal, rice, Pinto beans, soybeans, lentils, kidney beans, jars of tomato sauce, cornmeal, powdered milk, molasses, sugar, salt, pasta, and vinegar. From this, I was capable of making oatmeal every morning for the children, Pinto beans and cornbread for lunch, and some rice-based stir fry for dinner. Typically for dinner, I would go out into the garden and collect whatever we had on hand, plus eggs from our chickens, and add them together to make a stir fry. The soybeans were helpful as I could make soy milk and tofu from them when we ran out of milk and meat. At any given time, we had 50 pounds of the above-dried goods. Shopping only had to occur every six months.

There is another more straightforward way to prep for food storage that doesn’t require rotation, changing your diet, or a lot of meal planning. The method is to buy freeze-dried vacuum-sealed cans of food from places like Be Prepared or Augusta farms. These items have a 10 to 25-year shelf life, so you can stack them in the back of the closet until they’re needed. Then, when you open them, write the date they were opened because most expire within a year.


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