If you’ve been thinking about starting your own grocery stockpile, you probably wonder where to start. The answer varies based on you, your family, and your goals. Many survivalists, preppers and mormons feel the best approach to building up a solid supply of emergency food quickly and inexpensively is to buy basics in bulk… their goal is to have a minimum of one years supply of food on hand. Coupon stockpilers prefer to buy lots of regular convenience foods when they’re on sale, and their goal is to buy enough to last them till the next big sale.
I like taking both approaches. I was brought up to always have staples on hand and every time I look at news reports lately I feel that having at least a years supply on hand is just common sense and basic insurance. I’ve started really small though since money had been tight, and I’m still working out storage logistics. We currently have a lean months worth of sugar, flour, wheat, beans, rice, sugar and other basics for two people, so it’s a start. My beginner stockpile is stored in two liter soda bottles, #10 cans and gallon pickle jars. Since we live in a camper there’s not much storage space. We also don’t run an air conditioner with our solar setup, so storing food at ideal temperatures is tricky in the low desert.
I also like to take advantage of sales and coupons to stockpile a variety of foods. While bulk unsweetened cocoa should always be in the pantry, it’s difficult to resist buying packaged cookie or brownie mix when you can get it for $0.25 a box. Same for granola bars and cold sweet cereal: they’re great snacks and if they’re cheap enough I grab them.
Since my garden is still a dinner buffet for local wildlife, I haven’t gotten to start canning my own vegetables yet, thus I also stock canned goods as I’m able. Some weeks we can get a dozen cans of soup while other weeks we only get five cans of tomatoes but the goal is to try and add more than we’ve eaten each week.
Yes we eat our food stockpile. We’ve been experimenting with recipes to come up with cheap meals that can be made from our bulk foods, and we only buy sales stuff we think we’ll eat. It would be pointless to stock a years worth of food that neither of us likes.
Trying to figure out how much food you need to buy for stockpile building is a little tricky. If you buy in bulk, you’ll find recommendations of 300-400 lbs of grain and 8 lbs of salt per person, and those numbers vary depending on the number of calories you want to try providing daily. I personally find it easiest to look at what you currently eat and use that as a starting baseline. Plan one weeks worth of meals and list the ingredients you would need for each one. Add in breakfast, lunch and snack items–enough for 7 days–and you have a one week plan. Multiply that times 4 to get an estimate of how much food you’ll need for one full month. Extrapolate from there to figure out 3 and 6 month needs, as well as a full year.
Eating the same thing every week gets boring though, so come up with different meals to make from the same ingredients or make a two to four week meal list to start with instead. Keep in mind that making the list its for reference only. You don’t have to start a rigid cooking and eating schedule using the list. It’s just there to help you see how much of each type of food needs to be bought.
In our case, a basic three month stockpile pantry list might include 20 cans each of spam and tuna, 36 cans of soup and at least 60 cans of vegetables. Once I start canning, I think 15 pints each of 6 different kinds of meat like sausage, hamburger and chicken will be a good start to a 3 month supply but until then we use a lot of spam and tuna because we don’t use refrigeration/freezers for fresh meat.
So think about what your family likes to eat and how much you want to have stored, then start making shopping lists.