Building A Survival Food Storage On The Homestead

Building a survival food storage – what do I mean by this, and why, exactly, is it necessary? But before I answer that question, let me ask you another one:

Are you prepared for anything?

pantry shelves stocked with home canned goods
pantry shelves stocked with home canned goods

So many people assume that, just because they have money stashed away in a bank account, that they will be able to weather whatever life throws at them. They’re prepared, they think, in the event of an emergency.

However, I strongly believe that it is wiser to have food stored up than to have money in a savings account.

If hyperinflation sets in, what good will your money be? None. It will take a wheelbarrow full of your paper money to buy one loaf of bread. And if you are to lose your job? Then, groceries would be one less thing you’d have to worry about paying for! Food storage is just a good idea.

Preparing a survival food storage is one of the best things you can do to prepare for difficult times. Although many people may believe that this step is “too extreme” or too difficult to do (and admittedly, it can be a daunting task to fill your pantry with enough food to last you many months or years), it’s not challenging when you keep these helpful tips in mind.

But having food storage isn’t only wise in preparing for the possible collapse of our economy. What if for whatever reason trucks can no longer bring food into your local grocery store, and the shelves are suddenly wiped clean? What if your town is quarantined, or a natural disaster strikes?

Do you want to have to rely on somebody else to feed your children? Not us. We don’t want to have to hope that we would be taken care of. We choose to prepare. We choose to survive.

Are you interested in building your own survival food storage? Here are some tips.

cans of food on supermarket shelves

Choose the Right Foods

One of the first tips I’ll tell you when you begin to build your survival food supply is that you’ve got to be as organized as possible. To that end, it’s a good idea to have a list of what you need to be.

Update this list with your current inventory often, adding or subtracting if you buy or use up ingredients. That way, you’ll always know what you have.

You can mark this on a whiteboard near your pantry or keep a spreadsheet (more on this later). You may even consider including expiration dates if the foods you buy have any – that way, you’ll know what needs to be used first and make the most of your supply.

Here are some of the best items to include in your storage area.

Rice

Rice is one of the least expensive foods you can buy and it offers a great source of calories and carbohydrates. It takes very little preparation to make and can be stored for a long period of time. Brown rice may only last for a year but other types, like white and basmati, can last for years.

grains

Grains

Choose soft grains like flour, oats, and rye, which can last for years. You can store them in a regular pantry or even in your freezer. Noodles, too, are good options, since they tend to have a shelf life of a year or more.

Beans

Beans are loaded with valuable nutrients. They have fiber and protein and when they’re dried, they have an indefinite shelf life. Canned beans last up to two years.

Canned or Dehydrated Meat

Both canned and dehydrated meat are good sources of nutrients. Choose options like canned tune, canned chicken, or even Spam. Beef jerky lasts a long time, too.

my canning pantry
this is my own pantry full of cans of homemade yummy foods (canned carrots, dilly beans, cauliflower and more)

Canned Vegetables

You can either buy canned vegetables from the store or make them for yourself. Either way, it’s a good idea to include canned veggies of all kinds in your survival food storage supply.

Spices and Condiments

Keep as many spices and condiments on hand as you can – which ones you include is up to you, but many people will include essentials like garlic, oregano, black pepper, chili pepper, and more.

Coffee and Tea

If you drink coffee or tea, be sure to stock up on these pantry essentials ahead of time.

Salt

In a survival situation, it’s likely going to be difficult for you to get your hands on salt. You need salt to survive so make sure you stock up.

Powdered Milk

A good source of nutrients, powdered milk is filling and can be used in any recipes that call for milk.

Oil

Oil is a solid source of fat. The best options are coconut or olive oil. Not only are these healthier alternatives for you, but they won’t go rancid for two or more years.

Peanut Butter

An excellent source of protein, peanut butter also has an exceptionally long shelf-life.

Fruit

Fruit, whether dried or canned, is another essential item to have on hand. It will add vital nutrients and can be a nice dessert when times get tough!

Natural Honey

Honey is a wonderful natural sweetener and when stored properly, it lasts indefinitely. It does crystallize over time but it is still safe to eat.

DIY Food Preparation Techniques

You don’t have to wait for sales to roll around at the grocery store – instead, you can build your own food supply by doing your own food preservation. You can freeze dry, can, or dehydrate your own foods at home.

Although things like pressure canners and freeze drying machines might seem expensive, you’ll quickly recoup the costs when you realize that you can make all sorts of foods last (from ice cream to meat and even eggs!).

Take Your Time

You don’t have to run to the store and buy hundreds of pounds of food at once – in fact, I don’t recommend this. Not only is it going to overwhelm you, but you’re probably going to get some dirty looks at the grocery store, too. Start by building just a three-day supply of food and gradually increase from there.

You can then add to your emergency food supply week by week until pretty soon, you have months’ worth of food stored up for you and your family. Just pick up a few extra things per week.

Go to Warehouse Clubs or Discount Stores

You can almost always get better prices on goods by buying in bulk. Warehouse clubs like Costco or Sam’s Club offer great deals, even when you factor in the cost of a membership.

Although you will definitely want to compare prices to make sure you’re getting the best deal, you might even be able to grab your essentials at discount stores like the Dollar Store. These won’t usually be name-brand products, but for the vast majority of people, that does not matter.

Stay Organized With Spreadsheets

You may not believe that hyperinflation could be a reality here in the United States, but let me share something with you.

As part of my budgeting, for the past two years I’ve been keeping a spreadsheet of the cost of food at Aldi’s, so that I could sit down and calculate exactly what my grocery list would cost me.

I adjust my spreadsheet as prices fluctuate. Well, looking at my spreadsheet I can tell you that just two months ago a can of green beans cost .39 cents at Aldi’s.

Last month, that same can of green beans cost us .49 cents, a ten cent increase. And tonight, as I look over my receipt from our trip to Aldi’s, a can of green beans now costs .59 cents… twenty cents more than it was just TWO months ago!

Is the price increase due to seasonal demands? I don’t know. But that wouldn’t explain why the price of a box of Kool-Aid went up .18 cents in one week, now would it? There’s nothing seasonal about a pack of flavored sugar. Maybe it’s all coincidence. Maybe. But I don’t think so.

I see inflation subtly creeping in. Keep your own spreadsheets, watch how our prices are rising, see for yourself.

This is why we are feeling such a strong urge to prepare. This is why we are building up our food storage. We want to have what we need while we can still afford it. We want our dollar to buy the most it can while it still has buying power.

Make it a Game

As I said earlier, you don’t have to build your entire survival food supply at once – and it doesn’t have to be a drag, either! Especially if you have kids, you can make the process of shopping to fill your survival pantry more fun by putting them in on the action.

Hunt down sales and coupons and ask your kids for suggestions. Figure out how you can incorporate the foods they like the best in your survival pantry.

Be Mindful of Storage Conditions

The biggest enemies of a survival food supply are oxygen, pests, moisture, light, and time. You want a cool, dry location for storing most types of food. This will improve and sometimes even prolong the storage life of all of the food you need to stock up on.

pantry closet

Know Your Basic Caloric Requirements

By understanding how many calories you and each member of your family might need in a survival situation, you’ll be able to keep a more accurate amount of food in storage.

On average, a male adult needs anywhere from 2,300 to 3,200 calories per day. This varies depending on weight and activity level, so be sure to plan accordingly.

Use a Calculator

How much food should you store up? What do you need? Well, the girls over at Food Storage Made Easy have some great tools to help you figure all of this out, including a food storage calculator, which helps you estimate how much of something you’ll need for “X” amount of time.

If you don’t want to use a calculator. You can go by general guidelines to figure out how much food you need. The federal government says to keep at least three days’ worth of food and water on hand. Three weeks is even better, but one year is the ideal goal.

What Are the Best Places to Store Food?

You can store your stockpile anywhere you’d like. However, there are some places that are better than others – before you start buying food, try to have a clear idea of where you will put it.

Again, ventilation, a lack of direct sunlight and moisture, and coolness are ideal. Some good locations include:

  • Basement
  • Spare bedroom
  • Root cellar
  • Pantry
  • Under the stairwell
  • Shelves in the closet
  • Under the bed
  • Linen closet
  • Behind clothes in the closet

Regardless of the location you select, try to make sure your stockpile isn’t sitting out in the open for everyone to see.

You should also avoid putting your stash in places like garages, bathrooms, attics, or outside sheds. All of these pose problems in relation to humidity levels and temperature.

Store Similar Foods Together – and Label!

When you’re storing food, make sure you keep things that are similar together. Keep canned fruit in one area and canned vegetables in another. This will make it far easier for you to find what you’re looking for without destroying your rotation or organizational system.

Make sure you label everything you have in your inventory with a permanent marker, too! You might think that you’ll be able to keep track of everything – but that’s not always the case.

Use Glass Jars

Food stored in glass jars lasts much longer than food stored in plastic containers, or worse, paper and cardboard. Buy things in glass jars or shuffle it out from the original packaging into clean, resealable glass jars after you buy it.

Don’t Neglect the Comfort Foods!

Part of building a successful survival food storage system on the homestead comes down to meal planning. You may want to sit down as you’re planning and write out all of the meals your family likes to eat in a given week. This will give you a good idea of which foods you might want to stock up on.

However, as you’re making your list, it’s also a good idea to include the “unnecessary” items that might not provide a major source of nutrition – but can really add to the quality of your meal.

This might include supplements like mayonnaise, vinegars, or even jarred pesto – or straight-up comfort foods like boxed macaroni and cheese or Oreo cookies. These might not last forever, but by including a few short-lived items, it will make you look forward to building up your survival food storage. Plus, who wants to eat dry pasta without any kind of sauce?

Build a Survival Food Storage – the Smart Way!

We are, as quickly as we are able, building up a year’s worth of food. My husband has built shelves in his closet, to stack the food on. Our hallway coat closet is now for food storage. Our pantry and our cabinets hold food, as well as buckets of grains and legumes anywhere else we can hide them. We still have a long way to go, but we are striving towards a goal.

We may get funny looks, and even comments, from people who see us in Aldi’s pushing two shopping carts loaded down with canned foods and things, but we don’t care. We just joke that we have a lot of kids, or something silly, and then tell them that really we are buying what we can before prices go up any more.

This usually brings a thoughtful expression to the other person’s face, and they respond by agreeing with these sentiments. I think it’s important to get other people thinking about being prepared as well.

We cannot simply hope that everything will work out for the best. Yes, we have faith. Yes, we pray and believe that the Lord is good, and that He will provide for us. But we also need to put feet to our prayers and do what we can to prepare for whatever may lie ahead.

How to Get Started

Building a food storage is a long-term endeavor, so I wrote this other article on how to get started, complete with meal plan suggestions and weekly purchases.

food storage pinterest image

updated 08/04/2021 by Rebekah Pierce

34 thoughts on “Building A Survival Food Storage On The Homestead”

  1. I am so glad to have found your website! For over a year now, I have felt the need to have a large food storage. My husband is in the building trade and it has certainly benefitted us. I continue adding as I am able and feel that we are only beginning to see the need to prepare for an uncertain future as a country.

    I also shop with Aldi’s and am surprised at their higher prices. Have you ever gotten into coupons. I can shop the ads and use coupons to save so much money and get many items free. It takes a little time to get started, but saves my family a great deal of money. I still manage to do this and work full-time, can from a large garden and spend a lot of time with family and grandkids. My favorite coupon site is http://www.thekrazycouponlady.com

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  2. Kendra, A post on how to keep track with a spreadsheet would be a big help. Tightwad Gazette says to keep a “price book”, which I have tried but haven’t had much success keeping up with it. But a spreadsheet, would be in one place all the time and could keep it calculated, etc in a snap. How do you keep track of each date’s purchases and prices and compare them to last week or last month or last year? Each “tab” is a new shopping trip or ??? Thanks and I really enjoy your blog!

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  3. Kendra, I’ve been following your blog a few months and really enjoy your self sufficiency posts. Our family is trying to do the same thing and recently raised our own beef for the first time. I too feel like the prices at Aldi have increased every time I go there. A clerk there once told me they change their prices on Saturday nights. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

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  4. I love that you keep yours in the flats. We do that too. As a small tip, if you mark the expiration date of the cans on the side of the box, you can make sure you rotate the food easily. For the items that don’t come listed with expiration dates, mark the date purchased. It works for us.

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  5. I would be sure to save only seeds from plants that are heirloom quality. As I understand it, seeds from some of these newfangled laboratory genetically enhanced varieties are not suitable for planting. If anyone could shed some better focused light on this subject in 15 words or less it would help us all. Also, on food storage and preservatives. I would rather take my chances with some chemicals that might harm some lab rat in mega injected doses than to starve my family by not having saved food for a long time emergency. Let’s call that one “Food for Thought” pun intended. Thanks.

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  6. Another thing about building a pantry is being able to take advantage of sales. I cannot grow everything that I preserve, but it really helps when I can buy it cheap during peak season. My freezer is full of chicken and turkeys ($7 each!) bought on sale plus local grass fed beef from the Farmer’s Market that ended last fall (the price is very competitive to the stores too).

    I think my regular pantry (including the freezer) would keep us fed for about two months. My back-up pantry about another 3-4 months. Then there are the buckets of grains and beans that I’ve been stashing away so hopefully we will go a year on it.

    Several tips – if you buy bulk from a co-op or health food store, break it up and stash it in the freezer to kill critters. I lost some garbanzos last year due to weevils – thankfully it was the early stash (maybe 3-4 pounds). The 25 pound bag was just starting to hatch and I stopped it in time. Yes, I am picking bugs out of the water but I am not throwing them out. The early stash though was sawdust when I found the bugs. Wheat berries are notorious for developing critters.

    Be careful of buying bulk beans from the grocery store. I bought two 25 pound bags of pinto beans really cheap from a national chain. Within a few months they were so stale I could not cook them soft. I haven’t tossed them yet, but we cannot stand eating them either.

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    • I freeze my dry products when I get them for a week and then pull them out and store them. It is suppose to kill any eggs that are in the dry goods.
      Good luck

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  7. I have been talking about this same thing lately on my blog. About 2 months or so ago, the Lord pressed upon me to start preparing. I didn’t know what I was preparing for, but food and money came to mind. We put all available money (not much, mind you, but any unnecessary spending money) into the bank, and started using our grocery money to stock up the pantry and freezer. We were able to do this on $50 a week for 5 people, so that is to encourage your readers – it can be done. Well, my husband lost his job 3 weeks ago, and we have been able to feed our family and pay the bills because we were prepared. I will NEVER go unprepared again. My next goal, when he resumes working is to try to get our stocks in the pantry up to about 6 months. We were able to do a month’s worth in 2 months, so within a year we should have 6 month’s worth. If not more. We are ok for now, somehow (God’s devine will, I am sure) there is more food in the freezer than I remember from before we started adding to it. 🙂 God is awesome!
    Bless you.
    Shellie

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  8. – WELL SAID Anita!

    Great post Kendra! I totally agree. We live in a small mobile home but I got into food storage a few years ago and have slowly found spots to store things. It’s amazing how much space you can find if you really look.

    For those that suggested gardening… I’m a gardener. I have a small garden now but have dreams of having huge gardens in the future and canning all my own stuff. But gardening in an extreme emergency (i.e. End of the world as we know it) is very different. You can grow all you want but you’ll have to protect it 24/7. That’s tough…

    I urge people to look into sprouting too. It’s perfect for emergency situations. Few supplies needed, little effort, grows fast, great nutrients and you just need a window seal.

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  9. I just found your site and I love it! We’ve been hard at work putting away food and we finally have a scant-year’s worth. I too worried about the expiration date, but since I read that, for the most part, an expiration date means *nothing*, it doesn’t bother me to eat it food that is slightly past its date.

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  10. I have to say we aren’t in the food storage probably as much as we could be but we do can our veggies, make our own salsa, BBQ sauce, spaghetti sauce and I’m going to learn how to make our own grape juice and possibly jams this year. My husband is also a hunter and fishermen so I know if it come down to it he could go to any lake or stream or go into the woods and bring meat home. We usually always have venison, groundhog and squirrel in our freezer. I should definitely be doing a better job of this storage!

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  11. year round garden in my neck of the woods is a bit hard… 5 feet of snow coving the ground most of the year.. but we do can and freeze as much as we can during the spring , summer and fall.. But we have just started to build a better place for storing food in our basement. I just quit working from home. So we have freed up two whole rooms in our house for whatever! One is going to food and house hold goods. Have a good chuck out back but this will free me up to have it better set up and add more to our stock pile. I do think we often live in a dream land that just because we have money in the banks does not mean IT WILL BE GOOD FOREVER! I am just greatful that my house has hope! I know the end of this crazy story called life and it is good.. JOy unspeackble…

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  12. Kendra, yes, a post would be good, because I understand the basic idea of why you are doing it, but dont know how to map on out myself. I can imagine it takes some disipline to write it all down everytime though.

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  13. I have always had the mind set to store up food. When I was single, friends would come over and see actual food in my pantry and they were shocked. I always wanted to be prepared in case I was to lose my job. That mind set has followed me through today. I have been stocking more now and have actually worked to cut my grocery budget in half. Once my garden is producing, I will can anything I get. I agree, it is getting worse and I don’t see a “change” coming…..

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  14. I am starting to do this myself. I am amazed at the price difference when for example you make your own salsa, which works out to about .39-.49 cents a bottle, to buying it for 2.99 a bottle and thats on sale. It just makes sense. And by the way if I had my own tomatoes and peppers it would 6 cents or less a bottle.

    Your right sometimes we just need to put feet to our prayers God gave us wisdom to use. He did not leave us helpless. We are to be good stuarts we all that we pocess.

    God bless and thanks again for a great post.

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  15. Kendra, I am guessing that a spread sheet is where you list the price of things you buy, is it just aldis, or do you arrange it by different stores? do you write down off you receipt every thing you buy?

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    • sandra-

      I only keep a spreadsheet for Adli’s ’cause they are pretty much cheaper than anywhere else. I use them as a “good deal” checker. With the spreadsheet I can calculate the cost of my grocery list, or I can use it to compare with sales at other stores to determine whether it’s really a good deal or not. Maybe I should write a post on how I do this exactly??

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  16. I started canning veggies a couple years ago. I want to get a nice storage system for my basement to store veggies in. Thanks for the tip!

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  17. This is a great post! I talk about this a lot and people think I’m crazy. But I believe that God is whispering these same thoughts to me…letting me know that I need to be prepared to take care of my family. It’s why I’ve learned to garden…and why I’ve got chickens in my backyard. We need to be able to take care of ourselves.

    I hadn’t thought of storing up canned goods…I always think in terms of being able to grow and preserve my own food. But stocking up on canned food is a great idea…to tide us over until the food we plant actually grows!

    Thank you for the links, too. Great info!

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  18. I would think it also to be a wise thing to keep packets of seeds, you would replace them every year at planting times, use the old and replace with new, and you could save your own seeds as well from many fruits and veggies that you plant. If you have the acreage and money, fruit trees would be good as well. and maybe some gardening hints and tips.. and a good compost pile for that garden too. My grandma had a HUGE old tub that she put all her compost in. it wasnt too pretty, but her garden thrived on that compost, she had one of the biggest and greenest veggie garden in her neighborhood.
    My dream is to be able to live out of town, with acreage, and be able to be self sustaining. Solar panels and wind energy, well, water filtration systems (so you can reuse “grey” water for watering the garden and what not) have a garden fit to feed the family, and an orchard of various fruits as well. If we had to kill our own animals for meat – I would go veggi.. I dont think I could kill our own animals. Maybe a chicken.. but not anything else!
    The idea is to be self sustaining. who wants to depend on the system? no, now look at how hard things are right now. SO many people have lost jobs and stuff. what if say, someone got hurt (like your hubby) and you were not able to get a job. you cannot depend on the government to help you out. you have to be able to prepare for the things that you cannot prepare for. it does not mean that all the sudden the whole world will quit working and you wont be able to go to buy things at the store anymore, but that you are making preparations for “Just in case”

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  19. are you worried at all about the BPA that is supposedly in factory-canned goods?

    I may be silly but I am hoping that if anything happens I’d just grow my own food.

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    • Wendy-

      I’ve never heard of BPA being in canned goods. Wouldn’t surprise me though. Yes, you can grow your own food if times get tough, but sometimes hyperinflation literally happens overnight. Then what? It takes a while to get a garden established and productive. You don’t want to have to wait for it to grow. It would be a good idea to get that garden going now, and start storing your canned goods from what you grow, instead of hoping you will be able to do it in an emergency. Just a suggestion 😉

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  20. This is one of the reasons I encourage my readers at Homestead Revival to learn to garden year round. Storing food is good, but eventually you could run out. A garden would have the potential to be perpetual. Having a food store would keep you going while you got a garden going, but why not learn to garden NOW during the four seasons? Do both and you’ll have more of your bases covered. But in the end, it’s the Lord who provides it all.

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    • Amy @ Homestead Revival-

      Yes, I definitely agree that a garden is a must! I covered everything I think you need to do to begin preparing for times ahead in my last post How To Be Better Prepared, food storage being just one of them, gardening another. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

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  21. That is so awesome what you are doing but my only question is if you are saving food up to last a year how often do you go through it to make sure something isn’t expired? And if its soon to expire do you use it and replace it just as fast? A year’s worth of food is a long time and stuff isn’t meant to last forever so I’m just curious. Oh and did you know that vanilla lasts forever?

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    • Tabatha-

      When you have a food storage, you also need to have a system of rotating your food. For the sake of maintaining a year’s supply, my plan is to keep this food for a year (since all of it expires in a year or two) untouched. Over the summer and fall I plan on canning as much as I can get my hands on. Then next year we will use up our food storage and replace it with what I’ve canned. That’s the plan, anyways 🙂

      Reply

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