The 10 Rules For Your Emergency Food Pantry

Those of you who plan to take the first steps toward preparing for emergencies may feel a bit overwhelmed at where to begin. After all, there is a lot of food to choose from at the grocery stores. Many websites, including this one encourage families to start buying small amounts of food related preparedness items each time they go shopping. This way, your budget is not dramatically affected.

Food storage calculators are a great tool to incorporate in your preparedness planning, and can help you understand how much food your family will need for a given emergency. The food storage calculations can also be printed out and used as an inventory list to keep you on track in terms of what preparedness supplies you have and will need.

To make the most of your emergency food supply, keep these essential food pantry rules in mind before purchasing:

  1. Caloric intake is an important factor in survival. In any disaster situation, you want to avoid malnutrition. Having foods stored to prevent this health issue will keep you at your optimum health. Stock up on foods that provide you with essential nutrients to maintain body functions, proteins and carbohydrates, fats for energy, as well as foods that are not high in salt (the more salty your food is, the more water you will drink). To calculate how many calories you will need in your diet, click here.
  2. Consider buying multifunctional food items. Items that can serve more than one purpose will help your finances, as well as save precious space in the food storage pantry. Items such as oats, pasta, rice, wheat and beans are some great low-cost foods will serve a variety of uses.
  3. Store high energy snacks to help boost energy levels. Eating snacks that are high in complex carbohydrates and protein will provide you with a guaranteed energy boost. High energy snacks such as nuts, peanut butter, crackers, granola bars and trail mix can be stored for up to 1 year and will help keep energy levels and spirits high in an emergency scenario.
  4. Bring on the protein! Protein is an essential ingredient in our daily diets and cannot be omitted out of a survival diet. Canned meat is a good source of protein and can also help you maintain your energy level. Meats such as tuna, ham, chicken and spam are great additions to the food pantry and are multifunctional. (Remember, the oil in canned meat can be used as an emergency candle.) Beans are another great source of protein, and when beans are accompanied with rice, it makes a complete protein which provides all the amino acids needed to survive. One serving of beans and rice provides 19.9 g, or 40 percent of your daily vitamins.
  5. Don’t forget the basics. Essential staples such as cooking oil, flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, spices, baking soda, baking powder and vinegar should not be overlooked.  If they are present in your kitchen, they should likewise be present in the emergency food supply.
  6. Convenience helps in stressful situations. Many moms know that boxed dinners can be a lifesaver when you are in a time crunch. Having some pre-packaged dinners and meals-to-grab during emergency scenarios will help you begin acclimating yourself to cooking in a grid down scenario as well as can help provide some comfort at the same time. Personally speaking, my family has the “just add water” pancake mixes, corn breads and drink mixes that are a great convenience.
  7. Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all it’s pleasure. Variety in your food pantry is important and can prevent the monotony that comes with eating the same foods day in and day out. Having a well rounded food storage will cut down on culinary boredom, as well as balance your diet. Further, stocking up on a variety of spices will also enhance your food pantry.
  8. Find comfort in the little things. Have some comfort food items that provide enjoyment to the family. Items such as popcorn, sweet cereals, hard candy, juice boxes, pickles, applesauce, pudding, cookies could be a great way to provide a bit of normalcy to the emergency situation you may face.
  9. Have backs up for your backs ups. Compressed food bars are lightweight, taste good and are nutritious. Having food bars as a back up to your existing food supply can provide you with peace of mind knowing you have an alternative to turn to if you run out of food. Further, these are great additions to your 72-hour bag or bug out vehicle. A review of the different types of bars can be read here or you can practice your survival skills and make your own with this recipe. MRE’s are another alternative food choice to turn to if you happen to run out of food in your pantry. Although many have turned their nose up at MRE’s (due to their high amounts of preservatives), they will provide you with sufficient calories and nutrition when it counts. Note: These should not be the only items in your food supply. Over time, you could become nutrient and vitamin deficient.
  10. Rotate and resupply when needed. Any items bought for the food storage closet should be used, rotated and resupplied. This is the best way to have the freshest foods available in the event that a disaster occurs. When organizing food reserves place the item that has the earliest expiration date in the front so that it is used first. FIFO is a well known acronym used in the restaurant business that stands for, “First In, First Out,” and can be incorporated in your food storage endeavors. Do an inventory check every 6 months to make sure that canned goods, preserves and other storage items are within their expiration dates.

Keeping the above considerations in mind when purchasing your food supply will provide your family with a well rounded food pantry stocked with an array of foods that will assist in promoting a healthy diet. Not listed in the suggestions is water. You must have water to survive. To learn more about potable water, click here. It would be prudent to have a 2-week supply of water on hand, as well as a water filtration device to rely on for extended disasters.

Prepping is a passion for some. For others it is the most efficient way to keep their family as safe as possible. For further resources and a list of essential items for your emergency supply, click here.

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published January 26th, 2012
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10 Responses to The 10 Rules For Your Emergency Food Pantry

  1. Allison says:

    Are there no comments, or can I just not see them?

  2. Sandy says:

    Thanx Tess, I have been looking for some time for this type of Emergency Preparedness Site…..Think I have found the BEST one!   Now it’s time to play “Catch UP!”

  3. saoirse says:

    why are so many neglecting whey protein powders which can be bought economically during sales at those nutrition stores or on line deals that will sometimes even have free delivery ?
    they supply 20-24Gms complete protein,are well sealed and most have 28-30 servings per container/again 20-24Gms of complete protein.

    ah well…..many were raised and still run their households the same,always ready for strikes,lay offs or injuries,times when money would really be tight and you have to feed a family–so you always have and rotate 50-60 pounds of rice and flour,10pounds of sugar,yeast/baking powder,good olive oil/cooking oil,cans of coffee/boxes of tea,cans of crushed tomatos/salmon/tuna/sardines and of course boxes of macaroni,at least 2 dozen–once you’re used to living this way it’s very very easy
     and you can always bake bread or make pasta as well

  4. Amber says:

    Hello. I have not yet begun to prepare however, I would really like to start. I was thinking about buying 4, 55 gallon food safe drums for water, one for each of us (my husband, me and my two children).  I plan to refer back to your website for more guidance.  I have a questions though, is it worth it to get gas masks? They are very expensive and I’m not sure if they would work in the event of a nuclear disaster. Any thoughts? 
    Thank you for this website.

    • I’m glad to hear that you have found an interest in preparedness. Regarding your question, my personal advice is to get yourselves prepared enough to cover your basic needs: food, shelter, fire, clothing, etc) and then concentrate on the extra preparedness items like gas masks.

      A good rule of thumb, is to start preparing for any natural or man made emergencies that may occur in your area. Once you have prepared for those, begin preparing for an larger emergencies where you may need to be self reliant for an extended period time.

      I hope this helps. Best of luck in your prepping endeavors and if you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

      Happy to help,

      Tess Pennington
      Ready Nutrition

  5. Gadabout says:

    Good advise Tess.  Regarding the gas masks, I would say it depends on where you live. I recently met an American couple who have lived in Israel since the 1970’s; they said everyone has them.  She also said that everyone has a fall out shelter but she figured that it only had about a day and a half worth of oxygen so they didn’t need to have more than 2 days worth of food in it. <groan> 

  6. Gadabout says:

    Forgot to mention that everyone should at least get some of those N95 masks that construction workers use. They are good filters. 

  7. Jeannette says:

    great info, I am so new to this its nuts some of the info out there wow. I am disabled and on very tight budget so trying to do this smart, I have 2 questions. I have always had white flour on hand for baking and cooking but I dont get the thing about storing wheat, maybe im dumb but why is it better and what do you do with it besides make bread? Last ? is this, is there a site or list that tells you how long its actually feasable to store different items, I know can goods keep well beyond the use by date?

  8. Ian Carson says:

    MRE’s lack roughage and can cause constipation, so you need to get some type of fiber along with them

    Whey protein and other powdered supplements can have their place. Personally most that I have are unflavored so they can be added to things like soups, stews and sauces
    The one thing to be careful with is to get a good quality product which also contains the required vitamins, etc. to fully utilize the protein

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