Self-Reliance

Prepper Pantry Guide: How To and 40 Must-Haves

Having a pantry used to be a completely normal way of life but our modern lifestyle has made them not as common as they should be.

Most grocery stores only carry enough food to last less than a week and some people have that same amount at home.

There are many reasons that could easily cause prepackaged food to become unavailable to people and considering that the vast majority of the population does not produce their own food, it would be wise and logical to create your own prepper pantry.

But what is a prepper pantry? What should go into it? Are they difficult to create and maintain?

I hear questions like this often and thought it would be beneficial to lay out an easy-to-follow guide for creating a food pantry at home. Let’s start out by covering the basics.

Prepper Pantry vs Working Pantry 

From what I have learned there is a difference between what is considered a prepper pantry and a working pantry.

 To me they are similar but I grew up with the mentality of having a pantry, so I lean more towards the working pantry method. But choose the one that best suits you.

Prepper Pantry 

An area in which food or supplies are stored to be used specifically for emergencies. 

Working Pantry 

An area in which food or supplies are stored where the items are used regularly according to the expiration date.


Why Have a Prepper Pantry?

When asked in the past as to whether someone should have a pantry, either prepper or working, I have always and will always answer, yes!

Some people will only purchase

enough food for a few days while others will load up on food to last a week or longer.

People grocery shop differently depending on budget, proximity to the store, and the number of people being shopped for. 

But there are several good reasons to have a pantry that has more supplies than you think you will need. Those extra items on the shelf are nice to have when:

  • The power goes out
  • You cannot get to the store because of a bad storm
  • You are sick or injured and physically cannot go to the store
  • There is a food shortage 
  • When a job is lost or during times of financial difficulties

Having experienced all of the above I can attest to the validity of having a well-stocked pantry.


How To Start a Prepper Pantry

I wanted to quickly assure you that creating a pantry is not at all difficult. It will require a bit of time and effort on your part, but anyone can do it. 

Put Pen to Paper 

 The first thing you are going to want to do is to grab a writing utensil and a pad of paper. 

Next, go into your kitchen and start going through your refrigerator, freezer, and cabinets. 

Write down everything that is used regularly and estimate how much of it is used within one month. 

Everything that is used for cooking should be recorded. Including food, oils, sprays, spices, condiments, sauces, aluminum foil, etc. 

Having a one-month supply of food in your pantry is a great initial goal to strive for and not to worry because it is not as expensive as you might think. 

Budget 

The cost of a pantry is understandably everyone’s first concern.

 But a prepper pantry can be stored with a one month supply of emergency food for a family of four for a few hundred dollars. 

This may sound like a lot if it were to be purchased all at once, but consistency is the key to this race. 

Dedicate a portion, no matter how small, of each paycheck to buying a few extra items at the store every time you go. 

Even if you pick up just a couple of items each time you go to the store and put them into the pantry, you will be amazed at how quickly they will add up. 

Organization

Keeping items organized in a pantry is extremely important.

As the items begin to stack up it will become frustrating trying to find what you want if they are not kept organized. 

Keep like items all together and stacked neatly. 

It is also important to remember to rotate items out according to the expiration date so that nothing goes to waste. 

Food should be taken from the front of the stack and newly bought food should be placed to the rear. 

Any food items that are not sealed in long term packaging should be transferred into proper containers. 

For example, sugar bought in paper bags should be put into pouches or containers that are waterproof and airtight. 

Items to Store 

 The food that is listed below is by no means an all-inclusive list. They are simply examples of what I and others have found to work well. Feel free to substitute or add items based on your dietary requirements and tastes.

Canned Food 

  • Meats. Includes sardines, chicken, SPAM, tuna, salmon, and any other meat you enjoy. 
  • Soups
  • Stews
  • Chilis
  • Baked beans 
  • Cream of mushroom soup
  • Fruits. Although these and canned vegetables are not as good as the fresh version, it is nice to have them when going to the store is not an option. 
  • Vegetables 
  • Tomatoes. can be used to create sauces
  • Broths 

Other food

  • Rice 
  • Dried beans
  • Pasta 
  • Oats and oatmeal 
  • Pickles 
  • Peanut butter 
  • Olives 
  • Trail mixes
  • Granola 
  • Popcorn
  • Flour 
  • Powdered food. Examples of this would be potato flakes, pancake mix, and powdered milk and eggs.
  • Assorted nuts

Spices and Condiments 

  • Salt 
  • Pepper 
  • Garlic powder 
  • Chili pepper 
  • Basil 
  • Ketchup 
  • Salad dressings  
  • Yeast 
  • Baking powder 
  • Corn starch
  • Sauces 
  • Honey 
  • Sugar 

Oils 

  • Olive oil 
  • Coconut oil 
  • Vegetable oil 
  • Bacon grease. This is a great cooking aid and adds a lot of flavor to a variety of different foods. This can be bought or filtered and saved from bacon that is cooked at home.  

Drinks 

Storing different types of drinks will help to prevent menu fatigue, provide an energy boost, aid in relaxation, and can be a simple comfort. 

  • Coffee. Instant coffee will last the longest
  • Tea 
  • Water. As much clean water as possible should be stored as well as methods for making water potable.  
  • Hot chocolate. You do not have to be a kid to enjoy this tasty drink, especially during the cold months. 
  • Energy drink powders. An easy way of replacing lost electrolytes. 
  • Wines and alcohol. These have several uses other than consumption.

Refrigerated Alternatives 

It can be easy to get hung up on items that we generally refrigerate. However, there are alternatives to many of these items that have long shelf lives and do not require refrigeration. Below are a few examples. 

  • Frozen meats can be substituted for canned, smoked, or dehydrated meat. 
  • Milk can be substituted with powdered milk and the same goes for eggs. 
  • Homemade cheese is not difficult to make and can store for a very long time.

Long Term Foods

There are several companies now that cater to survival minded people. These freeze-dried, dehydrated foods are intended for emergencies because they generally only require the addition of water to be prepared, require no refrigeration, and are shelf-stable for decades.

Companies that offer this type of food are:

  • Mountain House
  • Ready Wise 
  • Ready Hour 
  • Augason Farms

Going The Extra Mile

If you really want to step up your prepper pantry game, then there are some additional items you should consider adding to your shelves. 

  • Paper plates 
  • Disposable eating utensils 
  • Extra cooking utensils 
  • Resealable plastic bags
  • Extra food storage containers
  • Paper towels and coffee filters
  • Garbage bags 
  • Canning supplies for food preservation 
  • Extra dish soap 
  • Extra cleaning sponges or pads
  • Manual can openers 
  • Alternative cooking methods. This can include solar ovens or camp stoves. Do not forget any special utensils, cookware, or fuel that may be needed.
  • Lighters and matches 
  • Aluminum foil
  • Wax paper

Finding Storage 

Storage is yet another concern of people wanting to create a prepper pantry. 

An average-size home with a basement usually offers an ideal setup for storage space but that is not always the case. 

There is a lot of wasted space in most living areas that people don’t think about. Finding and utilizing that space simply takes a change of perception. 

Here are a few ideas for finding space in your home for prepper supplies. 

  • Condense the dishes in your kitchen or hang pots and pans to free up cabinet space.
  • Use space on top of or on the side of the refrigerator. 
  • Use space under or behind furniture such as beds, coffee tables, couches, and chairs. 
  • If the furniture is kiddie cornered, items can be store behind them without being seen. 
  • Attics can offer a lot of space but be careful about storing items in this location if you live in a region with temperature extremes.
  • Garages can also offer a lot of space but again be mindful of extreme temperatures. 
  • Closets can be a refuge for junk that we have not used for years. A little spring cleaning can quickly clear up some storage space.

How To Store

To get the most out of a food’s shelf life, it should be stored in a cool, dry, location out of direct sunlight. 

This is why basements are generally a good location for a pantry. 

But as long as the room temperature remains comfortable, say between 60-72 degrees, most of the foods on the above list will be just fine.


Wrapping It Up

I know that I discussed quite a bit in this article and it may seem like a lot to take in. 

But I promise if you start with a pen and paper, take it one step at a time, and remain consistent in the process, you will reach your goal of having a prepper pantry that is there for you when you need it. 

What are your thoughts on a prepper pantry? Sound off in the comment section below and let us know. Thanks for reading and stay prepared! 

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