Want to stock a prepper pantry but don’t know where to start? This complete guide will show you everything you need to know on how to start a prepper pantry and how to stock a prepper pantry with foods you will actually eat.
In this guide, I will walk you through what a prepper pantry is, how long you should stock up for, the reasons and benefits for starting a prepper pantry, the different types of prepper pantry supplies, the guidelines for starting a prepper pantry, and the various categories and ideas of what to stock in your prepper pantry.
A startling statistic shows that 78% of Americans aren’t prepared for a disaster when it comes to food and water. Considering the current state of the world, that is way too many. If recent events taught us anything, it is that having extra supplies on hand like food, water, and definitely toilet paper is no longer a luxury. It is a necessity!
How long could you comfortably survive if the food and supply chain comes to a complete halt?
If your answer is less than three months, then this post was designed for you. People surveyed about preparedness cited lack of knowledge on preparing effectively as one of the top reasons they were not prepared. This post aims to give you practical suggestions for building a prepper pantry in an easy to follow along with format.
What is a prepper pantry? The definition of a prepper pantry (also known as a survival pantry) varies. Still, for the purposes of this post, the definition will be a space or spaces for storing extra food and necessities to have on hand in case of an emergency or if you are for some other reason not able to purchase the things you regularly use and need.
How long should you stock up for? That all depends on resources, storage space, availability of items, and personal preference. Most sources recommend having three month supply of food and necessities on hand, with the very first target being to have at least a three week supply of food and necessities.
A three week supply will get most people through a majority of smaller urgent crises like storms or illness, while a three month supply can help with longer-term crises like job loss or food shortages as well as buy you time to find more solutions.
To clarify, this is the practical guide to setting up a prepper pantry. It is not a guide to becoming an extreme prepper that stockpiles over a year or even a decade worth of food and necessities as a form of creating a doomsday prepper pantry.
It is also not a homesteading guide that would cater more to topics like growing your food, canning and preserving food yourself, raising ivestock, and other ways to live off the grid. There are other great resources if those are your goals.
- Survival – The number one reason for having a prepper pantry is that it could save you and your loved one’s lives in the event of an emergency.
- Food Security – Should you lose your job, at least you will know you and your family can eat. You can also bypass food shortages and panic buying when you have a stocked pantry.
- Convenience – Having a prepper pantry can save you time by reducing trips to the store. When you have a well-stocked pantry, you can shop your supply and will rarely be at the mercy of needing to run to the store because you forgot or are out of an item.
- Helping Others – Before food expires, you can donate it to local charities that feed people in need as a way to help rotate through your supply. You can also share with neighbors or friends who are going through a tough time. Building a prepper pantry when times are good, you don’t have to take much-needed supplies away from others when disasters strike.
- Peace of Mind – Most people get insurance for their car, home, and health as people realize the importance of having those things should the unexpected occur. But what about hunger and clean water insurance? After all, food and clean water are crucial to your health and survival.
“Better to have, and not need, than to need, and not have.” – Franz Kafka
A prepper pantry is one of the best and least expensive forms of insurance that can protect you and your family! It can add insurance from natural disasters, bad storms, economic hardship, illness, disease outbreaks, quarantines, blackouts, supply chain disruption, compromised water sources, and even times of civil unrest and war.
72 Hour Supply
A 72 hour supply of food is the bare minimum the CDC and other government organizations recommend to get you and your family through an emergency or buy time till you can get help. 72-hour supplies become essential for things like power outages, bad storms, evacuations, or damage done via natural disasters or other means.
When making a 72-hour food supply, consider the low maintenance food category where the foods don’t need refrigeration, water, or cooking. Consider keeping some of these items in vehicles where you know you have access when away from home. I will talk more about 72-hour kits in a future post.
Regular Extended Supply
A regular extended supply is what most preppers call a working pantry. It is where you are purchasing the things you already buy in excess quantities, so should something happen, you and your family can continue to eat pretty regularly for the next 3-6 weeks without too many changes. Items that can be frozen to last longer are also essential when considering your regular extended supply and finding replacements for the weekly perishables like fresh fruit, veggies, and dairy.
There is a difference between long term food storage vs. short term when creating a prepper pantry. A backup or emergency supply is more of a long-term pantry that you would primarily use if you ran out of your regular extended pantry items and cannot get more supplies.
When considering foods for this pantry, you may be straying from your regular diet some as you want to focus more on non-perishables like the grains and dried goods category and canned and jarred items. A three month supply is a good target for these types of items. You will want to focus on both food prepper pantry items and other household necessities.
Last Resort Supply
The last resort supply should be your last priority after you built up the other supply categories. Some people may choose not to partake in this category at all, which is fine as well. This category is for more for hardcore survival situation and includes having a seed bank and purchasing pre-packaged long-term storage survival foods. I would also consider tools and skills to hunt, fish, or forge your food in this category.
Before continuing, download the free printable Prepper Pantry Action Plan. The action plan will walk you through the guidelines for starting a prepper pantry in more detail. It also contains templates for goal setting, meal planning, creating a master prepper pantry checklist pdf, completing prepper pantry inventory, and so much more!
1.) Know what you are prepping for and your goals.
You don’t need to prep for every disaster scenario, but you should prep for the most likely ones to occur in your area. You also want to set your target for how large a backup supply you would like to build.
2.) Set a budget.
It is important to know how much you plan on spending and what you can afford to contribute to your backup supply every week or month. I understand people living paycheck to paycheck can find it much harder to stock up on extra food and supplies, but living paycheck to paycheck makes it much more critical to have essentials on hand.
Remember where there is a will, there is a way, so consider looking into ways to earn the extra cash like the ones listed in this article and use that money initially to build an emergency food supply. In the free printable Prepper Pantry Action Plan, I help you set a budget and brainstorm ways to come up with extra money for your prepper pantry.
3.) Buy what you eat and eat what you buy.
If you don’t eat spam or ramen noodles, don’t buy them. While you may need to stray some from your typical diet in a survival situation, there is no reason to waste good money on food you don’t care to eat. Examples: I don’t like canned vegetables, so I don’t buy them. I would rather use that space and money on something I will eat. The more foods you eat regularly in your prepper pantry, the more you can rotate through them so they won’t spoil.
4.) Create a healthy prepper pantry and follow dietary restrictions.
Looking at certain prepper pantries, I wonder if they realize that they are way more likely to die of diabetes or a heart attack than a food shortage. Our health is one of the greatest assets we have in life, and low-quality food is one of the quickest ways to deteriorate it. While I agree that survival comes before healthy eating, I don’t feel that you have to choose between the two in most situations (except very strict budgetary ones). Both needs can be met simultaneously.
There is plenty of whole food, preservative-free, and even organic shelf-stable options for your pantry. Here is an excellent video on creating a healthy prepper pantry by stocking it with real food. Do your best to follow any dietary restrictions and avoid any food sensitivities you have when purchasing foods for your prepper pantry. You will also want to think of healthy fat, protein, and fiber sources to meet your daily needs when buying foods and planning your meals.
5.) Know the numbers for how much food you should store.
When it comes to stocking a prepper pantry for a targeted time period, you need to know the amounts of food you need to hit that target. Unfortunately, the number of servings is not a good indicator to go by as the calorie count per serving can be low.
While some online food storage calculators like this one are supposed to help you figure out how much food you need. I find them inaccurate and confusing. For example, why would I eat more during an emergency than I typically eat outside of one?
The best way to determine what you need is to use a calorie calculator like this one, figure out the number of calories you need per day, and then multiply by the number of days you want to store food. I provide the full directions for using the calorie counter method and breakdown in the free Prepper Pantry Action Plan.
6.) Know where you are going to store it and prepper pantry organization basics.
It is one thing to buy a three-month supply of food; it is a whole other thing to store it. Figuring out your storage location or locations is a vital step before getting too far along in your stockpiling journey. A prepper pantry does not necessarily need to be in a pantry, nor does everything need to be in one location (some people say it’s better if it is not all in one spot).
While some people have whole prepper storage rooms that they can dedicate their food and necessity stockpile to. Other people need to be a little more creative. Here are some ideas for ingenious places to store your emergency food supply. If you are wondering how to organize a prepper pantry, here are some great organizing tips for food storage and emergency supplies.
7.) Do prepper pantry meal planning with printed recipes.
Besides knowing how many calories you will need, you also want to figure out how much of each type of food to buy. To do this, I recommend creating a meal plan that includes the foods you plan on prepping with. Once you know what you will eat you can figure out how much of each item to buy. If you do a few weeks’ worth of meal planning, it is easy to multiply or divide to hit your target. I include a meal planning template in the Prepper Pantry Action Plan.
Another important thing is to have a printed recipes or cards to keep with your emergency food supply. Both for convenience and should the power go out, and you will need a way to access your recipes. With your recipes, you may want to include altered instructions for alternative cooking methods.
8.) Know how long your food lasts and how to extend it.
For every food item you purchase, check the Best-By date, and I recommend writing it more prominent on the front of the package with a black marker. It is important to note that many shelf-stable foods are safe to eat past the Best-By date, especially when stored correctly in a cool, dry place.
Canned food can be safe to eat for years past the Best-By date as long as there is no damage to the can, and the food in it is not too acidic (think tomatoes and fruits). However, the actual quality and taste of the food will deteriorate over time. Dry shelf-stable foods are also safe to eat indefinitely as long they have stayed dry and have not attracted any pests; however, they may become stale over time.
For dry goods, there are ways to dramatically increase their storage time by using things like food grade buckets with airtight gamma lids. Mylar bags, glass jars, airtight containers, vacuum sealers, oxygen absorbers, and silica gel packets are also helpful. Here is a good resource for learning more about using these options. You only need to use these more advanced storage methods on foods you are not regularly rotating through before their Best-By dates.
The other important thing for extending shelf life is keeping pests away. For dry goods like rice, grains, and flour, consider freezing them for 2-4 days to kill off any bugs before storing. Other ways to deter pests include bay leaves, diatomaceous earth, and peppermint oil. The freezer is a great place to prolong the life of food that is not shelf-stable, and as long as it stays frozen, most foods will remain safe to eat but will lose taste, texture, and quality over time. Here are some more great tips for storing foods the right way.
9.) Prep at your own pace.
Some people take a couple of days or weeks to build up a three month supply, while others take a couple of months or years. It is important to prep at a pace that feels comfortable and doable for you and your budget, whether that means buying a bunch of food and supplies at once or slowly accumulating more with each shopping trip.
The best motto when it comes to building your prepper pantry is to prep slowly but steadily. Here is an excellent article on building your prepper pantry for $5 a week. I still recommend building your 72 hour supply, then your three-week supply as soon as possible.
10.) Shop for sales.
When you prep at your own pace, it gives you time to shop for sales or use coupons to save you money. That way, when an item you use regularly goes on sale, you know to stock up. When it comes to buying when there is a sale or a great coupon, the thing to remember is if you don’t need it or aren’t going to use it, don’t buy it. Buying it just because it is on sale is not going to save you any money. It is only going to cost you money that you otherwise could have saved.
11.) Don’t panic buy or hoard.
There is a difference between being prepared and being a hoarder or panic buyer. Someone who is prepared purchases with a plan and end goal in mind vs. a hoarder who just purchases large quantities of items without a plan or end goal. A prepared person also prepares before disaster strikes vs. during a disaster.
12.) Keep a prepper pantry inventory and go through stockpile regularly.
Having an inventory list is important for keeping track of what you have, how old it is, and what you still need to buy. I will be doing a separate post on creating a Prepper Pantry Spreadsheet to keep track of your inventory
In the meantime, a simple prepper pantry inventory list that includes the item name, category, how many packages you have, package to purchase, total calories, and the Best-By dates will do. There is a template included in the free Prepper Pantry Action Plan.
You want to have a routine for going through your food and necessity stockpile, whether that is once a quarter, twice a year (recommended), or annually to see if there are any gaps and is a good time to donate items to help with the rotation.
13.) Replace as you go and rotate your foods.
The most straightforward system for keeping a stocked prepper pantry is when you use an item you buy an item. For example, if I grab a canned pumpkin or open my backup bottle of olive oil, those things get added to my shopping list. Another thing to consider when storing your food is you want to rotate your food supply meaning newer items in the back or at the bottom and older items in front or on top.
14.) Write out your plan.
The most important start for creating your prepper pantry is to write out your plan. I have created a FREE printable Prepper Pantry Action Plan that you can download below, which includes further instructions for many of the things I just mentioned as well as a place to document your plan, write your shopping list based on category, and even includes a sample inventory form.
Are you wondering what types of items you should stock in your prepper pantry? This section breaks down different prepper pantry ideas and items by category so you can create a master prepper pantry list and shopping list. It will also show you what foods are best for prepping.
While reading through the different categories, use the Prepper Pantry Action Plan category list (included) to list anything you want to purchase (now or in the future). Also, verify your current supply of items to ensure you have enough on hand to meet your prepper pantry goal.
Some links may be affiliate links. I may get paid if you buy something or take an action after clicking one of these but it will not change the cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Although your refrigerator is essential for food storage, a freezer is prime real estate for longer-term storage. For prepping purposes having extra freezer space is recommended if at all possible. Keep in mind the primary drawback to relying on freezer storage is a prolonged blackout can wipe out your food supply. Here are some tips for if there is a power outage to help mitigate that problem.
The benefits of freezer storage include keeping better and healthier foods on hand like frozen meat, fruit, vegetables, and extending the shelf life of some of your favorite items. Which I feel outweighs the primary drawback of possibly loosing food due to an extended blackout. A freezer can keep items frozen for 48 hours without power (most power outages only last a few hours) and you can also consider backup energy sources if that is a huge concern. That said freezer storage should not be your only emergency food supply you also need plenty of shelf stable options.
Things to stock up in your freezer include frozen fruit, frozen vegetables & squashes, frozen meat (cooked or raw) or non-meat protein sources, and convenience frozen items like pizza, juice concentrates, frozen dinners, waffles, and burritos.
You can also extend the life of your other staple items like nuts and seeds, granola bars, protein bars, coffee, loaves of bread, bagels, tortillas, wonton wrappers, muffins, crackers, cookies or cookie dough, chocolate (chips, bars & candies), cheese (soft, shredded or sliced), butter, lard, and fresh herbs by freezing them. You can even freeze whole avocados! Here are some freezing tips and ideas.
Low maintenance foods are an important category to consider if you are in a jam with no ability to cook the items. It contains items where no refrigeration, water, or cooking is required.
I recommend things like nuts & seeds, granola bars, trail mixes, protein, or meal bars for this category. Again you can extend the shelf life of these things by storing some of your supply in the freezer, and raw nuts and seeds especially should be stored in the freezer for long-term storage as they go rancid quickly.
Other recommendations for this category are dried fruits like raisins, dates, mango’s, apricots, and dried fruit strips (preferably made with 100% real fruit). Things like beef jerky, beef sticks, & other dried and cured meats that are shelf-stable also fit in this category.
Dehydrated foods are also nice to keep on hand. Many dehydrated foods can be purchased or consider making your own using a dehydrator like this one.
Grains and dry goods is an essential category to a good prepper pantry due to most items being low cost and that you can store them for a very long time with a few storage tips.
This category includes your rice (white rice stores better), and dry beans (which combined with rice creates a complete protein). It also includes other dry grains like quinoa (my favorite option), amaranth, millet, buckwheat, couscous, wheat berries, and oats. A lot of grains like rice, quinoa, oats, millet, and wheat berries can also be ground into flour.
Other important staples in this category include popcorn, grits, dehydrated potatoes, different pasta varieties (can get gluten-free versions), and noodles (different types like rice and egg). Some other popular although less healthy staples in this category would be boxed mac and cheese, instant oatmeal, and the infamous ramen noodles.
Canned and jarred items (as well as cartons and pouches) are an important category as they have a very long shelf life, can be eaten in a pinch without cooking, and can be combined with dry goods for a more complete meal. The main disadvantage to canned and jarred items is they tend to be heavier and take up more space than their dry counterparts.
With canned products, consider chunky soups and chilies, canned milk like evaporated or coconut, black olives, canned squashes (like pumpkin and butternut), canned fruit (acidic ones expire quicker), and canned veggies.
For higher protein options, consider canned meat like chicken, Vienna sausage or the infamous spam (only if you will eat it). Canned fish (preferably sustainably sourced) is also a great healthier staple like sardines, mackerel, kippers (smoked mackerel), salmon, anchovies, and clams.
Canned tuna also fits this category, and I know it is a very popular item, but I would encourage you to reconsider this staple if possible. Tuna’s high mercury content can cause a variety of health issues. Mercury is a known neurotoxin that can lead to cognitive impairment. Another reason to avoid tuna is the large fishing vessels used to catch tuna catch a lot of other marine life in the process like dolphins and sharks and more sustainably caught tuna has a larger climate impact than any other protein source except beef.
For jarred items, consider pasta sauce, salsa, jarred tomatoes, and tomato paste (canned tomatoes don’t last long due to acid content breaking down the lining). Also, consider supplementary items like applesauce, pickles, olives, sauerkraut, minced garlic, capers, and artichokes. If you have an infant, this is an area to stock up on some baby food.
Many foods also come in shelf-stable cartons, including shelf-stable milk (most of which are plant-based like almond or rice) and broths (although bouillon is preferable for storage purposes).
Foods that come in shelf-stable pouches should also be considered in this category.. While some meats come in pouches, so do pre-cooked entrées like Tasty Bites (cheaper at Costco). Consider adding in some organic fruit and veggie pouches (great for toddlers) for a nutritional boost.
This category covers all your baking essentials. Before purchasing bulk items in this category, be realistic about what you already bake, would bake if necessary, and the ingredients you need. For example, are you going to bake bread or stick to baking pancakes, cookies, and muffins?
Here are some examples of potential needs in this category. Consider all-purpose white flour, stores the longest, but you can also consider gluten-free or healthier alternatives. Have extra varieties of sugar, baking soda, baking powder, egg replacer, extracts, yeast, starter culture for sourdough, and cornmeal if you will be baking with any of those items.
You may also want to consider starches like arrowroot, tapioca, or corn and other thickeners like gelatin, agar powder, guar gum, or xanthan gum. It can also be a good idea to keep some different baking mixes on hand. Chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and bittersweet baking chocolate should also be considered in this category.
This is a large category and includes things like your cooking oils (hopefully healthy ones like olive, avocado, and coconut), ghee (clarified butter that is shelf-stable and great for high temp cooking), vinegar (like white, apple cider, balsamic, and rice), soy sauce or a soy-free alternative like coconut aminos.
It also includes your most regularly used condiments like ketchup, mustard, mayo, barbeque, Worcestershire, horseradish, hot sauce, jams, nut butters, salad dressings, etc. Don’t forget your sweeteners outside of sugar like honey, maple syrup, molasses, and alternative sweeteners if you use them (example monk fruit or stevia).
With this category for your most frequently used oils, vinegars and condiments I recommend having the one you have open and one or possibly two extras on hand (more for a large family). You will want to buy another bottle as soon as the current one you are using gets used up.
The items you may want to consider stocking up a little bit more on because they are the most multi-use (outside of just cooking), as well as shelf-stable, are coconut oil (most shelf-stable out of the oils and so many uses), honey (real raw honey will probably keep indefinitely just heat once crystalized), apple cider vinegar, and distilled white vinegar.
Powders are my favorite category and also the most overlooked typically when creating a prepper pantry. There are a large variety of powders that I will go over in this section. The primary benefits to powders are most can store a very long time when stored correctly, are very lightweight because they don’t contain the moisture that bulks most of the foods up, you usually just need to add water to use them, and they are a great way to get a much needed nutritional boost during tough times.
The first powder I will mention that is great to have in your prepper pantry is milk powder. You can find nonfat milk powders, whole milk powders, heavy cream powders, or my favorite because I don’t drink regular milk, coconut milk powder. All you need to do to create milk is add the appropriate amount of powder to warm water and mix well (you can also put in the fridge if cold milk is your preference).
Egg powders are also great! I already discussed powdered egg replacers for baking (not actual eggs), but you can also get whole dried eggs or egg white protein to help get your nutritional needs met if eggs are something you regularly eat. Fresh milk and eggs are one of the first things that are no longer available during a food shortage, and it’s impractical to freeze or store large amounts of fresh milk and eggs, so powders are a great alternative (outside of raising your own chickens and cows). Butter powder is also a great substitute to have on hand.
The next type of powder is protein. Getting adequate protein is crucial to health, and a lot of good protein sources need to be refrigerated or frozen, which is why protein powder is so necessary to have on hand. There are a large variety of protein powders on the market. Pick the one that meets your dietary preference as well as taste. Whey, rice, and soy are popular choices, but I prefer hemp and pea. You want protein powders where you can just mix with water. To make them taste good, you may want to blend them with frozen fruit.
Meal replacement powders are also something to consider. Some type of fiber supplement powder is also essential as fiber is another area lacking when fresh produce is in limited supply. Popular powder fiber supplements like Metamucil are just psyllium husk powder with other additives, so consider purchasing a psyllium husk powder to have on hand to meet your fiber needs.
Next, let’s discuss fruit and veggie powders. After frozen, this may be one of the best things to have on hand to get your nutritional needs met by adding them to water or smoothies. There are a variety of individual dehydrated or freeze-dried fruit and veggie powders to consider. For example, in a pinch, tomato powder can be used in place of tomato paste for creating sauces.
There are also nutritionally packed greens powders usually made from a blend of real fruits, veggies, grasses, and algae. Blue-green algae’s like spirulina or chlorella can be very good to have on hand as they pack a ton of nutrition in a small amount. Also, consider kelp powder (a dried seaweed) to keep up on your recommended supply of iodine.
Another thing to consider keeping on hand is superfood powders like acai, moringa, camu, or medicinal mushrooms, which are all nutrient-packed and again can be an excellent way to stay healthy when eating a less nutrient-rich diet.
This category is essential to add variety and deliciousness to your meals. Salt, although it gets a bad rep, is essential to life. Salt is inexpensive and can last pretty much forever if stored correctly. When picking salts, even though it is slightly more expensive, I recommend sticking with high-quality mineral dense salts like sea or Himalayan. The only advantage to regular table salt is they fortify it with iodine (an essential nutrient that most people don’t get enough of). Still, I prefer to get my iodine from sources like kelp vs. table salt.
Besides salt, make sure you have plenty of whole peppercorns and other spice and spice blends that you enjoy the taste of and help you change the flavor profile of foods. Also, keep in mind health benefits when purchasing dried herbs and spices. Popular spices and herbs like garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, oregano, thyme, and rosemary come with an incredible range of health benefits. And don’t forget some bay leaves for seasoning and pest prevention.
Another thing to consider when purchasing spices is nutritional yeast (makes a great cheese flavoring), veggie crumbles or bacon bits, and bouillon cubes or Better Than Bouillon mix that you can add water to make great tasting broths.
You will want to refrain from having too large of a stock of bottled or canned beverages as they take up so much space, and most serve no real practical use other than empty calories that won’t sustain you. However, things you may want to stock up on are things you can mix into water to create a beverage.
This category includes coffee (consider whole beans, which will last longer and tea (consider loose leaf teas and dried herbs for making tea as it tastes better and gives you much more bang for your buck). Other popular prepper drink options include hot chocolate mixes, electrolyte mixes (these can be very important), powder or liquid drink mixes that add different taste profiles to your water like Mio or Stur (zero calories). Also, if you have or are expecting an infant, don’t forget the formula.
While it is a good idea to have most of the food items you store be healthy and practical, having some good comfort food and snacks is a great morale booster. This category should be used sparingly and includes things like cereal, packaged cookies, crackers, candy, chips, canned and bottled beverages, and other packaged snacks and treats you and your family love.
Most people are already aware of the advice to keep an adequate supply of essential prescription medications on hand, so this is just a reminder to check with your doctor to see if it is possible to get a longer term supply. Very important as well, but an area that can often be overlooked is to have essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fats that your body needs to function properly but can’t make on its own.
Many people don’t bring enough attention to this when having discussions around food or diet. Our body doesn’t just need the fuel and calories from food in the form of carbs, protein, fat, and fiber. It also requires the nutrients the food provides. So focusing on one without the other is a recipe for disaster.
A lot of Americans, even with food abundance, are not getting adequate levels of essential nutrients. If all of a sudden, your food choices are minimized, it becomes that much more important to get essential nutrients into your body via the form of supplements. There is a big difference between surviving vs. thriving, and supplements are usually the key to the later.
If you already have a good supplement regimen that is great, make sure you have a 90 day to 6 month supply by keeping some extra bottles around of the most important ones. If you don’t already take supplements and wonder which ones you should prioritize, check out this post on daily habits for virus prevention. Some of the vitamins I mentioned, like vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, and vitamin D (which is critical to take with K2) are the same ones a lot of people find themselves to have an insufficiency or deficiency in.
Other important supplements to consider would be good B complex, digestive enzymes, fish oil or algae oil stored in the freezer for DHA and EPA, digestive enzymes, and probiotics. Also, consider things to help you sleep like melatonin and other natural sleep aids.
Can’t I just get a multivitamin and call it a day? You can, and it may not be a bad idea as a backup plan to store some high-quality ones. However, multivitamins are inherently flawed by design. They contain a mix of every essential vitamin and mineral, which sounds good in concept, but in reality, many of them impede the absorption of other ones and shouldn’t all be taken at the same time.
A lot of multivitamins also contain minerals that, while they are essential can be extremely harmful if the body already has two high of levels or can’t properly absorb them. These minerals include iron, copper, and calcium. This is a complex topic that I will be discussing in more detail in future blog posts.
I recommend everyone who can grow their own food do so via a small or large garden outdoors or even indoor garden. If growing a garden is not something you are willing or able to do right now, it is not a bad idea to at least have some seeds on hand in case it becomes important to figure out ways to grow more food yourself. You can get relatively inexpensive seed sets that don’t take up room to store as a backup plan for creating a survival garden.
Survival foods are also in this category. It is up to you if you want to purchase any of these options as a more long term backup. The biggest pro of buying actual survival food is that it is the most set & forget choice as the shelf lives can range between 5-25 years. Some negatives with survival foods is that they can be expensive, are usually made with low-quality ingredients, and most don’t taste great.
Alcohol is actually a fundamental category in a prepper pantry. Not just for drinking, although that is a reason as well, but because of its multi-use purposes. Stocking up on some cheap vodka and Everclear can be a good idea as vodka has many cleaning purposes and Everclear specifically has a high enough concentration of alcohol to be used for things like disinfectant sprays, first-aid uses, and hand sanitizer.
Another excellent use for Everclear is it is a clean-burning fuel source that you can use in things like an alcohol stove. Unlike other fuel sources like wood and propane, alcohol is safe enough (fume-wise) to burn inside. Being able to cook your food if the power goes out is something to take into consideration when creating a prepper pantry. Here is a good article on safe indoor emergency cooking solutions. If you have a dry house, you can get isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol as a replacement, but to be used as a disinfectant, it needs to be 90% isopropyl alcohol or higher.
Finally, in this category, consider having an extra stash of some of your favorite alcoholic beverages like beer, wine, hard liquor, and drink mixers if you enjoy them.
The CDC and other sources recommend having at least one gallon of water per person per day for a minimum of three days. While that is a good recommendation (and bare minimum you should keep) in a true survival situation, you could stretch that amount of water longer than three days. Especially if you limit its use for hygiene and cooking purposes.
That said, you don’t necessarily want to overdo the fresh bottled water storage as it can take up a lot of room. When stockpiling water, stick to larger refillable jugs or go for gallon jugs vs. individual wasteful water bottles. However, you may want to keep some smaller water bottles on hand for a lightweight grab and go option.
What is very important when it comes to water is having a good quality water filter that qualifies as a water purifier (meaning it can turn almost any water source into safe drinking water). I recommend everyone have a water filter to filter out contaminants left behind in tap water, like chlorine, heavy metals, and bacteria. However, filtering (removing contaminants) and purifying water (making water sources safe to drink are too different things).
For home use, I highly recommend Berkey Water Filters, the world leader in water purification. You also can use other methods to purify water like bleach, iodine tablets, or even boiling. In addition to a home filter, I recommend having a more travel-friendly purification filter for your 72-hour kit with things like a LifeStraw for personal water filtration, a water purification pump, or a lightweight gravity bag for filtering larger amounts. Water purification and storage is a big topic that I will go more in-depth on in a future post, but this should be enough to get you started.
It is imperative not to forget about your pets when building a prepper pantry. Not only do you need to consider them when stocking water, but you also need to make sure they have plenty of food on hand. Other things to consider are treats, supplements, and medications. For dogs or cats, make sure you have plenty of cat litter or poop bags (and poop pads in case your dog can’t go outside), as well as other things that keep them happy, healthy, and comfortable.
Besides, toilet paper cleaning supplies are another thing that seems to fly off the shelves when everyone is in panic buying mode. Buying conventional cleaning products becomes unnecessary if you instead purchase some spray bottles and stock basic multi-purpose ingredients like alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, baking soda, and Castile soap.
While bleach and pool shock (stabilized bleach) seem to be popular prepping items for house cleaning and water purification, chlorine bleach is not something I recommend due to the negative health consequences associated with it. Using conventional cleaning products dramatically reduces the air quality in your home (not something you want to do when trapped inside).
When it comes specifically to safe, non-toxic, and effective methods for disinfecting I recommend my posts on creating a Safe Disinfectant Spray DIY and The Ultimate Guide to Cleaning with Hydrogen Peroxide.
If you are not already familiar with making and using greener and healthier cleaning products, I recommend my book on green cleaning, which goes a lot more in-depth on making and using green cleaners.
Although you can make them, the two things that may be worth purchasing extras of are dishwasher and laundry detergent. When it comes to cleaning tools, there are so many reusable options (like reusable cleaning cloths) so there is no need for disposable ones. Here is a resource list of green cleaning ingredients and reusable supplies.
Hygiene and personal care are important, even in emergencies. I recommend having backups of your most used items and Holy Grail products. Examples of hygiene and personal care items include soap (castile soap concentrate and bar soap recommended), hand sanitizer, toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, contact solution and contacts, skin care, lip balm, deodorant, lotion, sunblock, gum, mints, and insect repellant.
You can also consider making DIY Beauty and Personal Care products, so you just need to stock up on some key ingredients vs. multiple products.
Other household items to consider stocking extras of include toilet paper, baby wipes (excellent shower replacer when low on water), diapers, tissues, extra toothbrushes, razor blades, floss, menstrual products, makeup wipes, cotton balls and rounds, cotton swabs, paper towels, napkins, coffee filters, food storage bags, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, parchment paper, muffin liners, and trash bags.
Did you know that there are reusable options for almost every item I just mentioned? They can be found here in this blog post. Using reusable options instead of disposable ones will save you a lot of money, storage space, and significantly lower your environmental impact. Some people say you need disposables for situations like power outages and lack of running water. While I agree it is always good to have some on hand for short-term needs, it will save you a lot of storage space to focus on reusable alternatives.
You also want to make sure you have what you need to properly store your food like food grade buckets with airtight gamma lids, Mylar bags, glass jars both mason and saving your own, vacuum sealer bags if you have a vacuum sealer, oxygen absorbers, and silica gel packets.
Don’t forget office supplies like tape, pens, pencils, markers, crayons, staples, rubber bands, paperclips, printer ink, paper, notebooks, envelopes, stamps, checks, and some emergency cash.
Remember misc. and survival items like lightbulbs, furnace and air filters, water filters, batteries (disposable and rechargeable), fire starters like lighters and matches, candles (or wax, wicks, and jars to make your own), sewing supplies like needles and thread or yarn, safety pins, fishing line and hooks, superglue, duct tape, nails, screws, sealants, lubricants. plastic sheeting, zip ties, and cordage options like paracord. You also want to make sure you have plenty of socks and underwear.
Finally, you want to be stocked up on your fuel sources for heating, cooking, and driving. Examples depending on what you use are propane, wood, charcoal, alcohol, Esbit tablets, butane, kerosene, and do your best to keep a full gas tank.
A well-stocked First-aid kit is essential and should have things like different bandages, gauze, surgical tape, ace bandages, butterfly closures, disposable nitrate gloves, condoms, emergency blankets, instant ice packs, antiseptic wipes, safety pins, and face masks.
Consider stocking over the counter (OTC) medications that you already use or may want to have on hand for an emergency. This includes antacids, antihistamines, electrolytes, anti-diarrheal, laxatives, pain relievers/fever reducers, cold medicine, antibiotic ointments, hydrocortisone or anti-itch creams, antifungal cream, burn cream, eye drops, cough drops, nasal spray, vapor rub, and a dental repair kit.
If you prefer home remedies, consider things like castor oil, elderberry’s or syrup, Echinacea, oregano oil, colloidal silver, Epsom salts, essential oils (like tea tree, eucalyptus, clove, and peppermint), ginger, zinc lozenges, activated charcoal, bentonite clay, cayenne powder, grapefruit seed extract, Arnica gel, Manuka honey, aloe, glycerin (great for DIY hand sanitizer), and witch hazel.
Multi-purpose items like salt, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol (Everclear or rubbing), and apple cider vinegar also have first aid uses. I will be doing a follow-up post in this series that goes more in-depth on creating a DIY first aid kit and the different uses for the home remedies mentioned.
Depending on your needs, you may also want to consider other supplies to have on hand like an Epi-Pen, blood testing supplies, oral glucose, etc.
I hope you enjoyed and received a lot of value from this complete guide on how to start a prepper pantry. We covered a lot from the different types of prepper pantries, the guidelines you should follow when creating one, and different prepper pantry ideas and categories to consider so you can create your own master prepper pantry list.
If you found this information valuable, please don’t keep it to yourself! Help spread the word on social media or by sending the link to friends and family so they can be prepared as well. There has never been a more critical time for you and your family to be prepared for a potential emergency or economic downturn, and there is never a better time to start preparing than today!
My question for you (answer in the comments below) is how long are you currently prepared for now, and how long do you want to be prepared for?
Make sure you download the free printable Prepper Pantry Action plan that will once again walk you through this entire process of starting a prepper pantry step by step. It will also make sure you are notified of future helpful posts in the Practical Prepping Series. In this series, I will cover topics like creating an ICE card and emergency numbers list, making a DIY first aid kit, things to consider when sheltering at home, how to build a 72-hour kit, a winter car survival guide, and so much more so stay tuned!