A prepared pantry is one of the most important things one can do to protect and safeguard yourself and your family from emergencies. Those emergencies may present themselves in the form of tropical storms, snow/ice storms, a pandemic, a national emergency such as a terrorist attack or a host of other reasons which may make access to basic necessities difficult or impossible.
Most grocery stores are resupplied every 48-72 hours, which means even routine buying habits will see most items depleted within three days if not restocked routinely. The threat or occurrence of one of the events above will hasten that process to a matter of hours. One has only to visit a store the day before a hurricane or snow storm to see this process happen in real time and, of course, who has forgotten the great toilet paper shortages of 2020?
DON’T RATIONALIZE – It is easy for many to believe they will hunt, fish or garden themselves into a sustenance existence based on current conditions and their bushcraft skills. Based on multiple trips to war torn regions of the world, it is clear that in anything beyond a short-term emergency wild game and edible plants will quickly become difficult to find. This includes things not normally considered game, like squirrels, bird of all types and yes, even things like rats and mice. A “country boy will survive” in a country song, but in the reality of an emergency that last beyond thirty days, hunting, fishing and gardening will supplement your food preps, but will not replace them (read
START SMALL – Do not feel like you need to be prepared overnight. In truth, preparedness is a constant activity. Acquiring and improving your preparations are actions which should occur constantly, but can be done in stages. You do not need a walk in closet or pantry to be prepared.
Phase I Two Weeks - The bare minimum one needs to be reasonably prepared for a short duration emergency is two weeks of food. When preparing your first phase of pantry stocking think in terms of days and individual meals that. You can store and prepare without the use of electricity.
Phase II - Four Weeks – When you have acquired two weeks of food, you can begin buying a few extra items each trip to the store until you’ve accumulated four weeks of food. Again, think individual days and meals. The easiest way to accomplish this is to simply double the items you put in your two-week preps.
Phase III - Ninety Days (and beyond) – After you have acquired and stored your initial preparations, you may want to continue to build out your stores to reach ninety-days of supply as your circumstances and space allow. Build on the supplies you acquired in Phase I and II, but now you can start adding in additional staples which will allow you to create different and unique dishes than the carefully managed items you obtained for your one-month supply.
One note here, avoid storing your foodstuffs in non-climate controlled areas such as the garage or attic as your food will more quickly break down due to heat, cold and humidity.
DON’T BE OVERWHELMED – It is easy to fill overwhelmed with the task of preparing your pantry to feed yourself or your family for an extended period of time. Most Americans go to the store once or twice a week (if not more) for food items. Others eat more meal out than in, so the idea of sustaining yourself for a month of more can be overwhelming. Don’t let that happen. For those that shop once a week, it is simply a matter of doubling your shopping trip once and “Voila” Phase I is complete. it is tart small as suggested above and work your way up. It is about leaning new ways of doing things and adjusting to your new-found self-sufficiency.
DON’T FORGET THE “LITTLE THINGS” – While it may be easy to live on pasta, bean and, our favorite, SPAM for a couple of weeks, after that routine may quickly become monetary, so don’t for the little things to break things up. Special spices or a special meal once a week are important. Also, when fresh items such as fruits, milk and bread become scare, be prepared to supplement with canned fruit, boxed/powered milk and easy to make bread items such as tortillas.
USE YOUR PANTRY- The easiest way to maintain your pantry is to USE IT. You do this by selecting shelf stable foods that you routinely eat at home or away anyway and the work these into your weekly menu. In this way you accomplish a few things all at the same time. First, you’ll ensure your pantry is routinely rotated and that the food you have in it is within the expiration dates on the packaging. Second, you will become familiar and comfortable with the meals in your “emergency preps”, so when it comes time to use them in an emergency, you are comfortable preparing and eating them. In many cases, your meals will be exactly what you normally eat, just prepared differently. If you do not use your panty, you will simply have a relatively expensive insurance policy you will have to replace every couple of years. By using your pantry, you will never have to “run to the store” for a meal item. You will simply use what you have and replace and resupply when it is convenient for you. No more last-minute trips to the store to eat.
IGNORE THE NEY SAYERS – Lastly, a word about those in your house that may giggle or ridicule you for making basic preparations. Ignore them. YOU are the one buying for and preparing your pantry items, but more importantly YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE for taking care of them in an emergency. There is no more feeling of empowerment than knowing you can take care and feed your tribe for a day or a month or more without relying on the incredible systems we have in place to feed us…systems which are all too dependent on power, electricity and functioning infrastructure.
Creating a Prepared Pantry is one of the best things you can do to safeguard your family. By following the simply steps above and following a logical, rather than emotional, path to achive that end state, you too will sleep confidently knowing that you have done all you can and all you dared to be “Be Prepared”.