Mar62012

65 Comments

Anatomy of The Survival Mom’s Pantry

In case you missed it, my pantry played a starring role on The Today Show’s segment about preppers.  Camera angles can do amazing things, but I have to admit, I’m fortunate to have a spare bedroom for our food storage and we have about 8+ months worth of food.  I thought you might be interested to know what’s in there, so today I took a partial inventory of the foods that were purchased from the grocery store.

However, as I began counting jars and cans, a few really important, underlying principles popped out at me that will apply to your food storage pantry, too.

Grocery store food and supplies

My local Kroger’s was where our official food storage venture began.  They were having a “10 for $10″ sale, and boy, did we stock up by the 10’s!  Spending about $250 on this initial trip gave us a nice little boost to our pantry.  Currently, this is what I have in this section.  (Keep in mind that we continually use the food on these shelves and that I always look for really good deals on foods that I know we’ll eat and store well.)

  • 35 cans of chili.  My family rice topped with chili, and sometimes I don’t have time to make a batch of homemade.
  • 10 cans of chili beans.  Need to watch for sales on this product.
  • 5 cans refried beans.  I started making these from scratch but should probably get this inventory up to 30 cans or so, since they’re quick and come in handy.  I also have 8 #10 cans of instant refried beans.
  • 63 cans beans: kidney, black, pinto, Ranch Style, and white
  • 10 cans of ravioli.  The kids have pretty much outgrown this but every once in a while, they’ll come in and grab a can for lunch.
  • 1 can Beefaroni.  (When will I just give up and donate it to a food bank???  Obviously, no one in the family will eat this!)
  • 5 jars of salsa.  Again, need to restock, but with the tomatoes in the garden already producing ripe fruit, I’ve been making homemade pico de gallo.
  • 27 cans baked beans.  Have way too much of this as far as everyday eating goes, but they come in handy for picnics!
  • 8 mustards, 5 ketchups, 8 mayonnaise, 3 Tabasco, 1 chili sauce (only use this in an occasional recipe), and 15 bottles of barbecue sauce.  All of these condiments I can make homemade when these run out.
  • 4 boxes of Cheerios.  My kids just aren’t that much into cold cereal anymore and prefer eggs and oatmeal.  (Yaay!)
  • 28 cans pasta sauce
  • 19 pounds pasta, plus several more pounds in #10 cans
  • 36 boxes of macaroni and cheese
  • 19 cans Spam.  Me no like.
  • 6 boxes graham crackers.  A recent purchase, and they probably won’t last long!
  • 23 jars peanut butter
  • 8 jars grape jam (Need to keep an eye out for coupons!)
  • 2 gallons honey
  • 100+ cans of soup.  We’ll eventually use these up, but I much prefer stocking up on ingredients for homemade soup.
  • 17 cans of tuna.  My family just doesn’t care that much for tuna, so I don’t stock up on it.
  • 5 cases canned tomatoes, 24 cans tomato sauce
  • 4 pounds trail mix
  • 7 bottles dish soap
  • 14 tubes of toothpaste, 8 packages of dental flossers, and 12 toothbrushes
  • 9 bottles laundry soap, plus ingredients to make at least 25 pounds of the homemade stuff
  • 42 bars of soap
  • dozens of cans of veggies (Please don’t make me count them all!)
  • assorted toiletries, feminine products, vitamins and nutritional supplements
  • 500 paper plates
  • 200+ rolls of toilet paper.  This is what I most fear running out of!
  • 11 bottles cleaning spray, but since we pretty much only use vinegar for cleaning, these will last a long time
  • 8 gallons of vinegar
  • 10 rolls aluminum foil
  • 25 packages baby wipes
  • 15 boxes zip-loc bags, various sizes
  • 8 lbs. brown sugar
  • 17 bottles of shampoo and conditioner

6 Principles I Discovered

  1. You probably noticed that my collection of food is customized to what my family will actually eat.  There is no point in buying something distasteful and then assuming family members will eat it, “if they’re hungry enough.”  Why put yourself, and them, through that kind of pressure when you can easily buy other food instead?
  2. It’s easy to end up with an out of balance pantry!  Keeping track of what you have and where it’s stored is really important.  In my book, you’ll find different methods of staying organized so you don’t end up with dozens of peanut butter jars but no jelly!  (See pp. 123-128.)
  3. One reason my pantry seems a little lopsided here and there is because I shop the sales.  If chili beans are on sale but black beans are not, guess which goes in the shopping cart?  I don’t use coupons all that often because they tend to be mostly for processed food and junk food.  Your mileage may vary.
  4. Stock up on staples, junk foods not so much.
  5. Plan on supplementing your purchased foods with homegrown produce and herbs, if at all possible.  Once your garden gets established, you may find yourself utilizing those fresh foods more than the cans or jars sitting on the shelf.  However, both are important.  In case of an unexpected freeze, a drought, or just the learning curve that is part of gardening, you’ll be glad you have back-ups in the produce department of your pantry.
  6. Don’t neglect the non-edibles!  Even in a total collapse of civilization, deodorant is going to be important.  One friend is even stocking up on hair color!

Is that the whole shebang?

Actually, no.  This is only about 25% or so of what I have stored.  I didn’t include items I buy in bulk, such as dry beans, rice, and sugar.  I also didn’t include everything in #10 cans, since those new to food storage don’t typically stock up on those foods first, nor did I list items purchased at Costco (except for the toilet paper).  But!  This is a good way for newbies to start.

It is so important to just get started!  In that first wild shopping spree at Kroger’s I bought some items that disappeared quickly and, as I later learned, didn’t have long shelf lives to begin with.  Those included chips, saltines, and granola bars.  However, those foods weren’t wasted, and I still buy them when they’re on sale.

If you have a few extra dollars this month, you could do a lot worse by stopping by the grocery store and stock up just a little bit more!

There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

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I'm the original Survival Mom, and have been helping moms worry less and enjoy their homes and families more for 5 years. Come join me on my journey to becoming more prepared to handle everyday emergencies and worst case scenarios.

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(65) Readers Comments

  1. Don’t know how big your family is but you seem to be low on Toilet Paper. I live by my self and have over 150 rolls of TP. I measured my usage at 2.5-3 rolls a week depending on situations. I usually by my TP at Kroger when they have the brands I like on sale and I have a coupon. Usually do not pay more than $4.99 for a 12 pack, They recently had their new store brand on sale for 3.89 and I think it is just as good as cottenelle or northern , so I really stocked up. I have over a years worth for me and will continue to add when sales hit. Could possibly have family coming wshtf and I think this would be one of those things that could start the biggest arguments.

    • Thanks for the comment, Bob. Yes, we may be a little low on TP. Typically, we go to Costco and buy 5 or 6 of their big packages. Each contains 36 rolls. We use up a couple of them and then go buy more. I hate going to Costco because of the crowds, but I guess it’s time to bite the bullet and just do it. :o)

  2. Hey! Send me the Spam!!! Me yes like!!!! 8-D

    • Incredibly, my kids DO like Spam!! They get that from their Dad who grew up in the South Pacific.

  3. ooops! You do need some comfort food, such as candy or cookies, etc. I bought some CANNED banana-walnut cake, and pound cakes. yum!! 8-)

    • We’re not big sweets eaters, but I do have plenty of sugar, cocoa, and other baking products. Haven’t heard of canned banana walnut cakes, though!

  4. Do you have any suggestions for food storage for Vegans? I have a child who is a hardcore Vegan.
    Also, feminine products .. what do you recommend for a years worth of storage for that?
    Thanks!!!!

    • I think vegans would be easy when it comes to food storage. Stock up on varieties of rice and other grains, many varieties of beans, get a garden started with plenty of herbs and whatever grows well in your area and then plenty of produce, either freeze dried or dehydrated. As far as feminine products go, just keep track of how much is used in a month and multiply by 12.

    • Also you can find cloth feminine products online. I plan to stock disposible for a few months, and then use these for long term. There are also patterns online for those who want to make their own. Just a thought.

      • I’ve been considering purchasing a Diva Cup with extra cleanser.
        May come in handy when my stockpile of feminine products runs out.

        • I know this comment is late, but you don’t need to buy the cleanser. You can boil the diva cup with a water/vinegar mixture to sanitize. Might be less convenient, but its cheaper and one less item to store.

      • I’ve been using the 100% cotton birdseye cloth diapers I bought for my kid fifteen years ago. They were not thick and absorbant enough to keep the baby from leaking through immediately – use the ones with poly padding on the baby – but folded in quarters with the thick center section stacked up on itself, they make great pads. been using them for thirteen years now and just needing to replace some now.

    • My daughter is a vegan student that lives away from home so I made her an emergency 5 gallon bucket filled with dehydrated food from Harmony House Foods.I believe all the food is vegan. She tried some and loved it. It has quite a variety of choices.

  5. Love the woman who is stocking up on hair color. In addition to basic food and emergency supplies I try to keep new-to-us books on hand because we’re big readers, and other items that may seem like luxuries but would be oh, so appreciated in a time of stress.

    • Same here with the books, Sandy. That’s why we have so many around here that haven’t been read. Yet. Fernando Aguirre who blogs at Surviving Argentina mentioned the value of books as entertainment during tough times. I love reading aloud to my kids, thus the big book collection!

  6. Lisa, you may want to try baking the Spam. Lay it on its side and cross-score the top, then put whole cloves in the intersections like a ham. Sprinkle with dry powered mustard and brown sugar. Bake at 350 for about 1/2 hr. We used to have this when I was a kid (50+ yrs ago!) and this recipe is from memory. Mom also used to put Spam through one of those old fashioned counter top meat grinders, add some chopped onion and sweet pickle relish, and mayo, to make a delicious sandwich spread. Just a couple of ideas for you to consider.

    • way back when, my mother would put spam, hard boiled eggs, and onions through the grinder and then mix with mayo for a sandwich spread…. pretty good stuff!

  7. Lisa,

    You’re running short of TP – we have 15 cases (462 rolls) and will likely get more. Best guidance for newbies is to stock a wide variety and to stock deep.

  8. anyone out there thought about installing a bidet? This would nearly eliminate the need for toilet paper.
    just a thought…

    • well.. if you have running water, that is….

    • Paul,
      Don’t laugh, but we have (what I’ve coined) an Hillbilly Bidet. It’s simply a NEW and UNUSED hand pump pesticide sprayer. It cost me $8 at Walmart. Just pump, aim, and spray.

      • sorry! but I had to laugh!! ha! great idea! never thought of that one!

      • Oh my goodness! Genius!

      • Paul,
        Honestly, I was laughing as I wrote it!

        inSANEmom,
        Not my original idea, but I agree….pretty clever! You have to love how preppers think. :)

        • alright…there’s just no other answer… i gotta find me a RightWingWoman… ha!

          • Paul, we aren’t all Right Wing. I am very socially-liberal, and yet I prep, raise chickens, garden, hunt deer, and own guns.

            Love the hillbilly-bidet idea too. Would complement an outhouse very well! :)

      • Rightwingmom,
        I have two, have not told the family about them and what there are for, so I am glad I am not alone.
        Best Regards,RangerRick

    • We actually bought one that is non-electric from Amazon. Since we have a diesel generater that we can hook up to our well pump, we can pressure the tank and have running water when electricity is out. The bidet was hooked up in just 10 minutes, very easy! You pull a lever and the water squirts out. I think it cost about $70.00.

      • Sarah, left wing preppers…. acknowledged… :-)

        Mary in GA…. okay… i’ve gotta ask this cause i’ve never used a bidet….. here goes…. so the thing goes squirt and you’re sitting their with water dripping from your patootie….. do you sit there til things dry in the wind or do you still use have to tamp dry with some tp??

        • TP rules!!!!

        • …the real question i’m aiming for here is this… does a bidet truly eliminate the need for TP?

          • Paul, unless you don’t mind a damp bottom or have a way of drying off with a fan, you’ll likely need TP. (What a hilarious topic this has turned into!)

          • a fan…. hmmmmm… now you got me thinking… you know those air driers they have for your hands???

            well…… with a little tinkerin…. ha!

          • Stock up on cheap cotton washcloths from Dollar General. If the bidet did its job then those can be used to dry you then hung to dry out. Should be fine for a week of use before laundry day. get the multicolored packs so each person has their own…

        • Paul,
          I have a computer fan to blow dry. Have not told the family about that either. Battery operated with Solar panel to run it in the day time.
          RangerRick

        • I am just ROTFLMBO!!! at this! I was just thinking the same thing. but I do like the idea of the pump and spray! I can air dry!

  9. I’m a newbie. What is a #10 can and can you find them anywhere or only @ Costco?

    • I have been able to go to my local deli, coffee shop and bakery, they just throw them out…..and are glad to give to me……they are food grade, as they were previously used for icing, fondants etc. Hope this helps.

    • Allison,
      A #10 can is a metal can that is filled with long term food (dehydrated or freeze dried) and sealed with an oxygen absorber. Most food packed in this manner will last anywhere from 10 – 30 years, depending on the food item inside.

      Check out Lisa’s link for Thrive foods at the top of the page. There are other companies that sell similar items too.

      Glad you’re on board! Let us know if you have anymore questions.

    • Honeyville Grain is a good source for No. 10 canned foods too. They have a long shelf live and Honeyville offers a great shipping price and variety.

  10. Bob… you use a lot of TP! LOL! I just completed an experiment last week. My husband and I went through just 12 double rolls in 6 1/2 weeks. I’m home all day but my husband is not. But still! (I didn’t try to keep track of what the kids use…) And I think that if I know it’s in short supply, we can cut back even more. So my 100 rolls will last us a good long while… but I do plan to buy at least 100 more.

    I guess it just goes to show that we all use things at a different rate. It’s a good idea to track it for a few weeks and see what the family uses and then base your storage numbers on that.

    Mom… I agree with the “non-edibles.” I have friends who are only worried about feeding themselves… which of course is the most important. But I don’t want to do without toothpaste, soap, deodorant, feminine hygiene items, etc, etc… and I certainly would rather not be around people who don’t have these things if I can help it!

    • That was at home when I was on vacation for the week , so all of my time was at home. It was 2-3 rolls and I rounded up. One thing I am is very regular!!! Oh and I forgot to metntion for long time stoarage I bought a couple cases of the big giant 9 inch commercial rolls at Sams, I think there are 6 or 8 to a case and they should last a long time. One thing I do not want to do without will be TP.

  11. I also shop at kroger when they have 10 for 10, but you can get the same products at walmart,,, they price match,,,, also aldis is the best for place for canned veggies,,,pasta,,,crackers,, i have stocked items to make stew,,,, we could probably eat stew for an entire year,,,, yeah it might get boring,, but its easy,,, not alot of fuel is needed ( just heat ) filling and will keep you healthy….as for the spam i love it,,and have 20 cans,,, and yes my mom would bake it like a ham, or chopped up and cooked in mac and cheese,, cooked with eggs and in baked beans,,,, we were very poor and ate what she fixed so we learned to love it,,,,, we also ate alot of beans, fried potatos and cornbread ( real cornbread not the sweet stuff) , i go to dollar tree to buy shampoo, conditioner,, deoderant, toothbrushes, hand sanitizer, baby wipes,, baby powder ect,, may not be brands we use now,, but they are name brands,, only a buck and will do wshtf,,,,, i also buy and stock large bags of hormel real bacon bits,, they last for 2 years unopened,, and i use in alot of dishes,, sprinkle on scrammbled eggs,, in mac and cheese,, and cook with dried onions and green beans,,,yumm!!! just to name a few.
    as for tp,, i get mine at sams club, and when ever i find it on sale,,,,,, who knows how much i have (need to count ,, but its a lot!)

    • Great advice, Lisa, especially about customizing. We don’t like tuna either; I have 0 cans in storage. I’ve been experimenting with canned mixed vegetables and there are a lot of ways to make them better and different. The easiest is to cook them in some type of boullion (chicken, vegetable, beef). I also add ingredients such as small pasta or rice.

  12. I didn’t see canned fruit on your list. We buy peaches, pears, pineapple and mandarin oranges. I try to buy just the fruit packed in their own juice.

  13. Thanks for this post. I found it really helpful, as well as the comments in response. It is nice to know what someone actually has in their pantry and not just a list of how many pounds of different food categories to have. I started stocking up recently, but feel overwhelmed and as though I will never catch up.

  14. I stored boxes and boxes of saltine crackers.
    They didn’t get stale necessarily, but acquired the plastic taste from their packaging.
    Soooo, I am trying another way…crackers out of plastics, in ziplok bags, and stored in buckets.
    A month has passed and so far, they taste great…but let’s see how they taste in 6 months or even a year.
    I’m obsessed with cracker storing because I have, as with most things I stock, cases of peanut butter.
    I count cases, not cans.
    God let us live long enough to receive one S.S. check, and since we didn’t need it for a while, I used it to store food, supplies, gasoline, etc. And, yes, most all my stores are bought on sale–the only way to buy. Noticed there aren’t any great sales lately?? In fact, I haven’t found a great sale for a year–so Aldi’s it is for my shopping.
    If anyone has an ingenious way to store crackers, let me know. Peace..JayJay

    • In 1976 I had the chance to eat 1960 atomic bomb rations. The graham crackers were horrendous. The morphine though was still good.
      I was in college, and a trusted undergrad. I opened the civil defense shelters and cleaned them out. Graham crackers and lemon drops, 55 gallon cans for poop and bodies. Tampax for wounds and feminine hygiene. Lots of military Tampax. There were also surgical kits with morphine. Lots of morphine. I mean a whacking lot of glass vial morphine. I locked the doors and got admin right there right now. We eventually got it all cleaned up.
      The 16 year old crackers were God awful. The lemon drops were ok. I still have a supply of the surgical soap. About 30 bars left.

  15. I have 6 years of TP—Angel Soft, all bought at Dollar General –24 double rolls @ $9.00, I watched for the sales and just when I think they won’t have another sale, they do.

  16. We love spam and eat it as spam musubi….slice of fried spam on a bed of rice molded in the cut out and cleaned spam can wrapped with a 1 1/2 inch wide slice of seaweed called nori. Wrap it all in a little bit of cling wrap and it’s an excellent on-the-go breakfast or snack! And for the rice…no fluffy uncle bens….it’s got to be rinsed cooked short grain rice that sticks together!

    • Now that makes me hungry. Wakarimas?

  17. My darling wife and I are looking at the site and she just asked: “Do we have enough toilet paper?”. Allow me to laugh. If the merde hits the bladed air mover you will not care about TP. You will wipe yourself on the dog to get a slice of ham. If you have the room, by all means stock up. TP never goes bad, unlike canned goods. But lets be real, if we are in a bad way, 1500 calories a day and 60 rounds per rifle is what will make the difference. It’s why we cavemen have women in our lives, to help us understand what’s important. Girls, really, thanks. If left to our own devices we would never change underwear.

    • Hilarious. :D

    • If you are sure you’ll have enough water and the required water pressure, buy a bidet toilet seat to conserve toilet paper.

  18. I’m all for toilet paper. However, once you run out, I found this video that gives invaluable tips to make a bidet kit from mustard bottles. Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMKyvs6GhhY. I’ll stock paper but it’s good to know there are other solutions!

  19. Skip the SPAM, buy DAK Fully Cooked Premium Ham. It comes in 1 lb cans and tastes a whole lot better than SPAM. It’s available at WalMart in the same section as other canned meats such as tuna and chicken.

  20. Toilet paper will be worth more than food in my house! Unfortunately we’re way understocked. I can appreciate someone who knows the value of beans and stocks accordingly. Beans have often become the base for meany meals in my house when we didn’t plan our freezer meat storage properly.

  21. Lots of great ideas.I have found a great way to solve the problem when the toilet paper runs out. A portable bidet. You can find them on ebay or amazon. Then run about $14.95. Or better yet a wash bottle. As a retired science teacher, I used these for lab cleanup. They are inexpensive and can be used in the same way. Just cut the inside plastic tube off so the water can be squeezed out when upside down.

  22. Sorry about not checking my spelling. They instead of then in the 5th sentence.

  23. Oh my goodness Soren you are hilarious! I guess we had better stock up on dogs, huh? LOL
    I am an unemployed single woman on Food Assistance, but I try to find bargains. I have a very small stash. Once I get a paying job, I can do more. Can’t garden, landlord won’t let me use the water,so I am trying to save rainwater. Thanks for the info and the chuckles!

  24. You can make an inexpensive bidet with an empty, thoroughly rinsed small sized (short) bottle from dishwashing detergent. Keep the bottle by the sink and fill with warm water as needed. If there were a disaster, you might not have clean water, but if you boil or treat an extra gallon and keep in storage for this, you can use less t.p.

  25. Love Kroger. But we visit Big Lots every couple of weeks. They do carry the name brands people love, you just have to be price savvy and able to recognize what you would willingly eat or use at the proper price point. Today we bought powdered gatorade, sealed in a plastic can, Godiva chocolate, Murphy’s Oil soap, and a couple of top brand cereals with good x-dates. All at a fraction of the cost we could get it regularly. The trick is to shop not based on what you are looking for, but what is available.

  26. Loved this article. Even though I’m just beginning my food storage program, this article encouraged me to take my first inventory of food and water stores. Big milestone. Thanks.

  27. I use coupons and buycottonelle it is thick enough in the absic form i find thick or double toilet paper gets wasted use toomuch for how thick it is!I do buy other brands on sale,buying for 10 family members need lots!

  28. If you don’t like regular spam try the turkey spam my family loves it. Haven’t tried a lot of the other flavors Spam has though.

    Make sure to have Iodized salt you need iodine in your diet.

    Also honey and hardtack last just about forever. Just check out hardtack recipes online.

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