Preparing for the worst can be a challenging task, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you are stocking a prepper’s pantry to take you through a pandemic, a winter storm, or preparing for the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI), we want to help you get started.
First, some essentials should be included in any pantry. If you do not already have them, it is best to buy what you can now and acquire other supplies as you have the time and money. You can always use canned goods that are already in your pantry for many of these items, but they will not last forever. Let’s look at 15 essentials for your preppers pantry:
Salt helps the body maintain electrolyte balance, prevents muscle cramps, and has antibacterial properties. Foods are less likely to spoil if they contain salt. It lasts indefinitely if stored in an airtight container, away from moisture. This means that it can last forever like sugar or honey if you take care to prevent your salt shaker (or the bag of salt) from becoming moist over time.
The shelf life of white rice is long because it does not have a protective outer shell-like brown rice does. Rice is a major staple in our diet and for a good reason, it is a great source of carbohydrates, cheap and healthy. White rice is versatile and can be used to substitute for many other grains when cooking because it lacks any significant taste on its own. No prepper’s pantry should be without this essential staple.
White flour is a good source of protein, calcium, iron, and B-vitamins. You can use white flour to make bread, cookies, crackers, muffins, cakes, or pastries. White flour has a similar shelf life to that of white rice. Since it does not contain a protective shell. However, it can spoil quickly in high temperatures. It is best to store flour in a cool area and keep the container closed when you are not using it.
This one seems to be counterproductive, but honey is pure sugar and has so many uses. Honey contains vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, as well as several minerals including potassium and magnesium. It also has antibiotic properties which will help it last longer in storage. It can also be applied to burns and wounds to treat them. Honey helps to boost your memory and also acts as a natural energy booster.
Canned beans are great because they require no preparation time beforehand but do not have as long of a shelf life as dried beans do. Any type of beans can be eaten on their own or used in a recipe and provide high protein. Beans are versatile and inexpensive. Dried beans will last for about a year in a closed container, but you can make them last even longer by not opening the container until it is time to use in a meal or recipe.
Like dried beans, powdered milk lasts longer than its canned counterpart if stored properly. Powdered milk is a great source of proteins and vitamins such as Vitamins A, D, and B12. Powdered milk will last about 2 to 10 years, depending on how it is stored. Unopened containers of dried milk can last for about 2 to 3 years; opened or partially used containers will last for about 1 year. You may notice an off taste if your powdered milk has passed the expiration date on the container, but this does not necessarily mean that you should throw it away. If you feel confident that the “off” flavor is due only to the expired date and not spoilage, then you can use it in cooking or baking where its effects would be masked by other flavors.
Cooking Oils & Shortening
These two items can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 years past their expiration date but it’s best to check on these because they may go rancid before you get around to using them all up. With cooking oil, you can fry, bake, saute and even use it for dressings and marinades. Of course, nothing beats shortening for frying.
You can live longer without food than without water. This is essential in your prepper’s pantry for survival. We will have an upcoming series dealing with water, storage, and purification because it just can’t be stressed enough! We have to be sure to store enough to drink (including our animals), cook with, and for sanitation.
When it comes to convenience in a crisis, canned food just can’t be beat. The most important thing to remember is to store what you eat and eat what you store. There are plenty of videos out there showing the variety that other families have, but it isn’t helpful if your family doesn’t care for Spam or canned peas! Stretch your dollars by watching for weekly sales and also case lot sales to fill your prepper’s pantry. Always use the FIFO (First In, First Out) system with all of your food and keep an accurate inventory to take better advantage of sales. When you’re stocking up on canned meats and veggies, don’t forget the fruit. It can add vitamins, nutrients and provide a change of pace as well.
Barring any nut allergies, peanut butter is a great pantry item because not only can it be used for cooking and baking, but also as an excellent protein supplement eaten straight from the jar. All you need is a spoon, what could be more perfect? It’s high calorie to help provide energy, the protein will keep you full longer, and it just tastes great! Make sure to stock up on everyone’s favorite variety because we all know how heated the creamy/crunchy debate can become!
… and a Bonus Category…
As silly as it may sound, condiments can be a big morale booster. Having a little hot sauce or mustard and ketchup can help just another bowl of beans go down. Make sure to keep these in a cool, dry place and watch the dates on them. If you see something separating, just give it a little shake. Don’t forget soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, pancake syrup, and even the packets that you get from fast food taco restaurants!
As you can see, there are plenty of food options to choose from when putting together your prepper’s pantry. It is important to know what foods your family eats and store them properly so that they last for many years without loss of nutrition or flavor. We’ll cover this in more detail in future articles and recipes too!