Basic 3-Month Emergency Food Stash

No, I don't fear a zombie apocalypse, nor do I adhere to a prepper mentality. But I do believe that emergencies can appear on the horizon when we least expect them (you just lost your job, or you're stranded by severe flooding for instance) and that we might be required to be self-reliant for a time with absolutely no forewarning. Also, I love the thought that I could care for myself and my family for quite awhile with what I normally keep stashed in my pantry--pretty much since I became an adult, I've always had at least a six month supply of the basics sitting on my shelves. And what with our gardening efforts and tending livestock, I figure we'd be pretty good pioneers should the need arise.

The subject is deep and wide, but today I'm going to list a three-month basic food supply. It's not perfect, but at the least you'll be able to start getting a handle on what your needs are. And these basic supplies can be bought for less than you might think. Added to that, most of these supplies will sit on a pantry shelf for years if they stay relatively cool and you keep them in a dark place (like a closet).

50 lbs. white flour, or 100 lbs. if you can't grind the 50 lbs. of wheat berries listed below
*50 lbs. wheat berries (so you can grind into flour)
*10 lbs. dried corn (popcorn works great) to be ground into cornmeal as needed, or 10 lbs. cornmeal
*25 lbs. oatmeal
20 lbs. white rice (brown rice turns rancid sooner than white)
15 lbs. pasta noodles (or 15 lbs. Durham wheat berries to grind and make homemade noodles)
25 lbs. mixed dry beans and legumes (such as pintos, white navy, red kidney, lentils, and split peas)
20 lbs. sugar
5 lbs. salt
3 lbs. dehydrated whole eggs if you don't raise chickens
5 lbs. butter powder
1 gal. cooking oil (olive or vegetable, or a combination)
2 large jars peanut butter
12 lbs. powdered milk (comes in 4-lb. boxes)
1 lb. baking powder
1 lb. baking soda
5 lbs. yeast
1 gal. vinegar
1 lb. sprouting seeds (alfalfa and broccoli seeds are small, tasty, and easy to sprout)
1 gallon water per person, per day minimum (2 gallons a day is better, especially if you live in a hot climate. Also think about storing additional water for washing up.)

*Wheat flour, cornmeal, whole oats, and brown rice don't last nearly as long as do their cousins (white flour, whole dried corn, oatmeal, and white rice). So if you have the ability to grind grains, wheat berries (which grinds into whole wheat flour) and dried (pop)corn (which grinds into cornmeal) will last years on a food supply shelf and not go rancid.

Now of course, I've made no mention of meats or other canned goods nor spices--this list is just the very most basic supply. Along with about a gallon of water per person per day, you could get by. Boring, yes, but workable. The only odd items mentioned are the dehydrated egg powder and butter powder. I included these for a good reason: if you don't raise your own chickens for eggs, you'll need dehydrated eggs, because without eggs you couldn't make pancakes, waffles, cookies, muffins, puddings, or egg noodles, etc. So raise some egg layers or buy the dehydrated eggs. You'll be glad you did. As for the butter powder, it will make all the bread, biscuits, cornbread, etc. that you make taste better. Add some homemade canned jam or jelly, plus honey, and you'll hardly think you're roughing it.

If you've never sprouted seeds, they're easy. You can buy sprouting screens to fit on quart canning jars, rubber band pieces of nylon stockings to the jar lid, or spend more money and buy fancy sprouting kits. Whichever way you choose to go, get that taken care of soon and practice some so you understand the process. Sprouted seeds are incredibly nutritious. You can put them in your food or just eat them plain--about 1/8 cup per day or so would be plenty, but eating more is even better.

This list isn't the only answer to putting food by for an unforeseen emergency. But at least it will help to give you a good start. And while you're thinking about this subject, consider what foods your family enjoys and add those items into your stash. I'll give you an example: I don't think my family could be happy if we didn't have tomato based foods regularly (spaghetti, Mexican beans and rice, tomato soup, etc.) so of course I add that to my pantry shelves. I'm also a big one for canning meats of all kinds along with stew, chili, soup, and such.

I hope you'll take some small steps today to begin putting together a hedge against unexpected circumstances. Because I'm pretty certain that it's not if something happens but rather when.

Love your family well!



  1. I have always worried about storing dry ingredients. Do you do any thing to keep then safe from mites or wevels?

  2. There are lots of opinions about the best way to store your grains, rice, beans, etc. Personally, I don't think anything is absolutely fool-proof. Another factor for me is that I'm frugal, and some of the choices available just don't cut it with me.

    Probably my favorite way to (hopefully!) get rid of all critters is to put my grains, beans, and white rice (brown rice shouldn't be stored long-term as it's too oily) in the freezer in tightly-lidded jars or buckets, not in the bags they came in, for 4-5 days. Some people swear by a week. I also strew several bay leaves into the buckets, making sure to have one or two at the top. Weevils and other critters don't like bay leaves, so even though it might do nothing more than make me feel better, I do it. Make sure your lids are screwed down tight because it's amazing how those little pests can get in through a seemingly impossible-to-penetrate lid. By the way, taping bay leaves in your cupboards and pantry as a matter of course is a great way to urge pests to go somewhere else. Just change them out for fresh leaves two or three times a year.

    Many people use oxygen absorbers in their containers (which should be sturdy, food-grade plastic buckets or glass jars, both with tight-fitting lids). The thinking, I guess, is that critters in your grains can't live without oxygen, which in theory is correct. But you can never get out all of the oxygen with those absorbers, so it's less than perfect, but does help. And some people swear by them.

    Another way to successfully store long-term is by using dry ice, which introduces carbon dioxide into your food. Dry ice should never be touched with your bare hands, so use thick gloves such as leather, when handling the dry ice. Plan to use 1 ounce of dry ice for every 1 gallon of bucket space. I've read where people put the dry ice at the bottom of the bucket, but dry ice is heavier than oxygen, so it kind of makes sense to me that you would put, say, put half of the total amount you'll be using halfway up, and then put the remainder at the top of the food. Make sure to have a good inch of space remaining above the food. Set your lid on but don't crank it down tight because when the dry ice turns to gas, the oxygen needs to be pushed out of the top of the bucket. Keep a watch on your bucket to make sure it doesn't look like it's bulging (an exploding bucket would NOT be good!). After about 20-30 minutes if using a 5-gallon bucket, you can crank down on the lid.

    One last thing: weevils are disgusting but they (and their eggs) won't kill you. I mean, think about what actually could be in that ground-up wheat flour you just bought from the store. So if you open a bucket or jar and see some weevils, you can try to lay the grain (or whatever it is) in a thin layer and set it outside in the sun. Those critters hate sunshine, so hopefully they'll all wander somewhere else and you can still use your food. They also float, so you could cover your whole grains or oatmeal with water and then scoop the pests out before using. I know that's gross and I would hope I'd never have to do something like that. But in an emergency, I think I'd give it a try. Because starving isn't an option for me and my loved ones.

    Well, there you have it. I hope I gave you some food for thought. (No pun intended!)