Simple Food Storage Meals for Tight Times: Stock up on three months worth, fast!

When a summertime monsoon storm is on the way, I quickly track down my kids, bring them indoors, and prepare to hunker down.   It’s a mom-instinct.  We  unplug the computers, make sure all the windows are securely closed and locked, and if my husband isn’t home, I call to make sure he’s okay.

A storm of a different kind is on its way to America and has already been wreaking havoc with family incomes and our sense of security.  No one knows what the extent of the damage will ultimately be, but moms everywhere are responding to their maternal instinct to gather everyone together.  Since food and meal preparation is part of our responsibility, food storage is a basic step to take in order to keep our families healthy.

image by mullica

Having enough groceries on hand for a period of three months is a good first goal, but if buying enough for three months is too daunting and not in the budget, start with buying enough to have a pantry fully stocked for one month.

If you’ve been losing sleep over the state of our economy or your own personal finances, there’s no time to waste.  Use coupons and grocery store sales to get the most bang for your buck, examine your budget for anything that can be cut (temporarily) until you’ve reached your food storage goals.

To get you started, here are some of the simplest ways to stock up.

1.  Stock up on ingredients to make 15 batches of soup.  That’s a little more than one batch of soup per week for three months. If you make a double batch, you’ll have leftovers for the next day. Buy high-quality bouillon in bulk, such as Shirley J’s chicken or beef bouillon.  I like this brand because you can buy it in larger quantities and it’s double-strength, so you use half of what a recipe calls for.  In addition to bouillon (and yes, you can always make your own stock), buy:

  • 1-2 #10 dehydrated potato dices.  This will provide potatoes for both soups and chowders.
  • 1 #10 can of each vegetable (dehydrated or freeze-dried) you typically use in soup: onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms, corn (for chowders), mixed vegetables, etc.
  • 1 #10 can tomato powder for tomato based soups.  You can also use this to make homemade pasta and enchilada sauces.
  • 1 #10 can instant milk for chowders
  • Rice, beans, and small pasta can be added for extra bulk, calories, and variety.

image by crd!

2.  Learn how to bake a loaf of homemade bread.  If you already know how to do this, stock up on enough ingredients to make a loaf of bread per day if you have more than four people in your family, or a loaf every other day for smaller family units or individuals.  Keep the recipe very simple, as your goal is to stock up quickly, using every penny and dollar wisely.  You’ll use bread for sandwiches, toast, garlic bread, French toast, bread crumbs, etc.  If you don’t have a grain mill for grinding wheat, buy enough flour for not only bread but other, occasional treats such as cookies.  Before storing the flour, place it in a container with a tight lid and freeze it for at least ten days.  This will kill off any microscopic insect eggs so there won’t be any nasty surprises when you’re ready to use the flour.

3.  Plan at least 15 pasta meals.  They can be inexpensive and pasta is very versatile.  You can buy 15 jars/cans of ready-made pasta sauce or buy enough ingredients to make 15 batches of homemade sauce.  Plan on eating a hot vegetable and slices of garlic bread with each meal.  This utilizes your homemade bread and hot veggies can either be from your stash of dehydrated/freeze-dried OR canned veggies from the grocery store.

4.  A batch of white sauce is easy to whip up with flour, some butter, and milk.  Add garlic, salt, and rehydrated vegetables for a meal of pasta primavera or served over egg noodles.  12 bags of egg noodles and a #2.5 can of butter powder, along with seasonings, is all you’ll need to add to the ingredients already listed here.  Buy a #10 can of sausage crumbles and make your own sausage gravy served over homemade biscuits.  If you’re stocked up on ingredients for bread, you’ll only need to add a can of shortening for this quick meal.

image by B. D.'s world

5.  Tuna casserole is a simple budget-friendly dinner.  Multiply the ingredients in your recipe times 12 in order to serve it once a week for three months.  Keep in mind that the tuna content has been decreasing, much like those containers of ice cream that keep getting smaller and smaller!  You might have to buy more cans of tuna in order to have the same amount of actual tuna. My recipe includes cream of mushroom soup, canned mushrooms, and sometimes cheese.  Buy 12 cans of the soup, 12 cans of sliced mushrooms (or use freeze-dried mushrooms), and splurge on a #10 can of freeze-dried jack or mozzarella cheese.

6.  The classic meal of beans and rice is versatile and the ingredients can be stored for years.

7.  For more simple dinner ideas, buy 100-day Pantry by Jan Jackson.  Choose a recipe, multiply the ingredients by 12, and start shopping!

8.  Your dinner menu will be complete with soup/chowder 1-2 times each week, a pasta meal or two each week, tuna casserole, white sauce with vegetables served over noodles, and a rice/beans dish.

9.  Oatmeal makes a healthy and filling breakfast and has the added advantage of being versatile.  It’s also inexpensive.  Some stories carry oatmeal in their self-serve bins, along with beans, cornmeal, etc.  Three pounds of oatmeal will provide 30 servings.  Figure out how much you need to buy in order to have an oatmeal breakfast 3-4 times per week, one serving per person, per day.  Buy extra if homemade granola, oatmeal cookies, and homemade granola bars sound good to you.  In addition, buy 6 pounds of brown sugar and/or 2 quarts of honey, extra cinnamon, raisins, and any other add-ins you and your family enjoy.

image by Pink Sherbet Photography

10.  Plan on eating pancakes, French toast, homemade muffins, gravy and biscuits, and eggs for the remaining breakfasts.  Leftovers are good, too.  Keep breakfast quick, easy, and filling.

11.  Cooking three meals from scratch will get old fast.  There’s nothing wrong with planning on canned ravioli, chili, tuna sandwiches, canned stew, peanut butter and jelly, and even Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (stock up on instant milk and butter powder).

12.  Freeze-dried cheese is pricey, but it can be used in quesadillas with homemade tortillas, sprinkled over a baked pasta dish, pizza, and so much more.  When it’s rehydrated, it melts and tastes just like real cheese.  In my opinion, it’s worth splurging on a can or two, and then using it as a luxury ingredient, sparingly.  I keep cheese in my freezer and have started waxing cheese to preserve it longer, but for long-term storage AND a quick way to reach your food storage goal, freeze-dried is a really good option.

Finally, make sure you have at least one alternative way to cook your food and heat up water.  If a Sun Oven is too pricey, many people make their own solar cookers.  Many moms on this blog have been using an energy efficient rocket stove, such as EcoZoom, and find them easy to use.  Should your power go out or energy rates skyrocket, cooking a few meals off the grid will be smart.

What other easy food storage ideas do you have to share?

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.

Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...© Copyright 2011 The Survival Mom, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Survival Mom
The following two tabs change content below.
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.

(63) Readers Comments

  1. Yes, it does appear as if a storm is coming. Great advice! I've been prepping for well over a year now but always come away with something new from your blog as I'm sure so many others have. Keep up the great work.

  2. this is totally how i started my stockpile. i would get tired of running out to the store for 1 ingredient to make a meal we ate on a regular basis. now i have enough to make it 4 or 5 times on hand at all times.

  3. People should heed the fact that you are stressing to "stock up fast".

    • Henry, I'm not screaming this in a panic, by any means but have been hearing from people who are genuinely frightened about the speed at which our country seems to be declining. This article is for people who feel an urgent need to prepare and need specific tips for doing so, in a hurry!

      • I knew that ! <];^D You're not easily rattled. I guess I should choose my words more carefully, so as not to paint you in the wrong light. You put out great advice Mom !
        However, the longer people wait…..the harder and more costly it will be to stock preps.

  4. Those are good ideas. Thanks for the thoughts.

  5. I have purchased several cans of white meat chicken from Sam's for a high protein addition to soup.

    • Jessica, I'm just starting out, so thanks for the great idea of canned chicken for soups. Can you tell me what the average shelf life of canned chicken is? Thanks so much.

      • Kim, if you can the chicken yourself, it will have a shelf life of several years as long as it's kept stored in a dark, cool place. It' protected from oxygen by the canning process. For commercially canned chicken, 5 to 10 years is a safe bet, although it may lose some texture and flavor. I've eaten old canned tuna before, and although the flavor was still there, it was a little mushy.

    • I have been canning chicken….much more healthy and cheaper too :)

  6. I have found that it does make life easier day-to-day now that we have some food in advance in the basement. One night, my husband was wanting pie and asking where he could get some at 11 pm. I asked what kind? He just looked at me and said, "You do NOT have pie in the basement!" I asked again and he did not believe me until I led him downstairs, pulled out a store-bought pie crust, then had him choose from a selection of six different pie fillings! He was a very happy man then :-)

    I just went to Aldi's and bought more canned chicken. We also have canned ham and canned salmon from there. I want to learn how to can beef soon, too. Meat is my biggest worry, but I know we still have a decent supply of protein in one form or another.

  7. A little easy meal we use is the little boxes of Lipton Noodle Soup. They come with two packages of soup that use 4 cups of water each and cost about a 1.18 a box. We add an extra cup or so of whatever small macaroni we have on hand and it feeds our family of 6!

    • I have been brainstorming ideas to stretch meals for my large family. Since protein is more expensive and I may have to be conservative with it, I thought it may be a good idea to add beans to my cans of chicken noodle soup. Great northern beans would be my preference.

      I like the challenge of getting creative with meals. Especially saving money in the process :D

  8. I have been stocking up on hamburger meat in our backup freezer. Our local Walmart Neighborhood Marketplace clearances it out two days before expiration. I have been buying 20-40 lbs @ $1.67/lb. Once I filled the freezer, I pulled out the Nesco dehydrator I picked up from a seller on CraigsList for $20. I make homemade beef jerky for a fraction of the cost in the stores AND it keeps really well. Now we have stored jerky for quick snacks, freed up freezer space, and it all fits in our budget.

    • Check out your dehydrator OJD. It may be costing you those savings in the massive electricity it uses. Make yourself a lovely solar dryer. There are tons of plans on the net and don't buy a book over it (I did and it's simply rehashed free stuff off the net.) as there are plenty of folks out there able to share and their systems work wonderfully! is a great site for some solar dryer info…


      • newer dehydrators are pretty cost effective and dry quickly. Mine runs about .03- .04 cents per hour. with the exception of jerky most stuff is dry with in 6 – 8 hrs. In my old dehydrator it would take 2 -3 days for jerky to get done. Now, usually less than 12 unless I have some thick pieces.

        • Good to know. I just bought a dehydrator and was concerned about the electricity usage.

    • To calculate your dehydrator’s electric usage, determine from the label or from the product manual what the wattage is. Then do the simple math: Divide wattage by 1000, which gives you kilowatts. Multiply the kilowatts by the number of hours that you run the dehydrator to obtain kilowatt-hours. Look at your power bill. How much do you pay for a kilowatt-hour of electricity? Multiply that amount — maybe 10 cents per kWh — by the number of kilowatt-hours you determined earlier. That’s your cost for that dehydrator batch. So, for instance, a 1000W dehydrator run for 10 hours at 10 cents per kWh uses $1 of electricity. (For you scientific types, yes, I know that there are other variables; but this method gives a close enough idea so that one can determine whether or not this method is cost-effective!)

  9. Please share your recipe for Hamburger Jerky! Thank you!

  10. State of the government aside, stored food is also very hand for situations like Snowpocalypse, when we in the DC area were hit by three successive, nasty blizzards a few years ago. If you're like me and dislike crowds and standing in line, you did not want to be anywhere near a grocery store before the storms hit. We have a town home/condo with not a lot of storage space, but we installed some hand racks from Home Depot in our basement way and manage to keep about a month's worth on hand. I like the suggestion of Lipton Noodle Soup. Sounds like a good way to add several meals at little cost.

  11. I wish I could afford to do this. Jobless college students never have much spare money. Thanks for the advice though.

    • The cheapest way is rice (preferably brown rice), beans (and/or lentils) and cans of diced tomatoes. Put all together and — viola -chili. The rice & beans combo will give you a complete protein. If you purchase the rice and beans and lentils in bulk you will get the best pricing, but you have to be careful about how you store them. Even a few day's worth of food on hand is better than nothing. Good luck!

      • It was my understanding that brown rice should not be used for long term storage. That it goes rancid too easily (after about 6 months) but white rice can be stored a lot longer (years). Is that wrong?

    • I started storing when we were first married. We were college students, then I had a baby, and my husband worked 2 part-time jobs to bring in a little money. What I did to start with, was every time we had a meal somewhere other than home, the food we would have eaten went into storage. Dinner at a parents’ house, a church dinner, etc. Every little bit helps. If someone offered us tomatoes, I canned them. We were able to glean pea fields for peas. We picked wild asparagus. Our married student housing offered us the chance to grow a small garden. The opportunities changed all the time, but if you are willing to take advantage of them when they come, they will keep coming, and your storage will gradually build up without a lot of money going out.

    • Try stocking up as quickly as you can, even if that’s not very fast. Whenever you go grocery shopping get whatever little extra you can. You have $10 extra? Get 5 cans of beans or veggies and an extra package of pasta. If you only have $2 extra, just get 2 to 3 cans of beans. It will all add up faster than you think, and if you’re only buying for yourself you wouldn’t need all that much food in case of an emergency.

  12. ramen noodles are real cheap,add some frozen or canned veggies and a small aount of burger,or canned meat and you have a good soup real fast.

  13. We just bought 300 lbs of fresh tuna off the boat and canned about 200 lbs of meat. Our tuna jars are not shrinking! Also, the canners are at walmart and most other big box stores for around $60 or $70 right now. I bought the cheapest cuts of meat I could find and then canned it last week. Earlier this week, we had a very busy day and evening and wasn't sure what to fix for dinner. We opened one of those jars of beef, shredded it and had tacos. The kids said it was so good, that we better not have hamburger for tacos anymore. I have several cans of vegetable soup that someone gave me. We aren't fans of just vegetable soup, so we will add the canned beef and it will be a hearty meal after a late evening deer or elk hunt this fall.
    I have become convinced that canning is amazing!

  14. I have some Ramen noodles in our food storage and there are lots of recipes online, especially for college students! Just google Ramen noodle recipes and you'll find several sites. I've been printing some out (as well as Spam recipes) to keep in a binder along with other recipes using shelf stable items – just in case the SHTF and there is no computer access!

  15. Thanks for the great tips, which are excellent for planning easy, low-budget meals. I wanted to suggest that split peas and lentils be added to the list of desirable foods to stockpile like beans because they're economical and also delicious. Lentils are now available pre-sprouted (at Costco) so they cook up very quickly and they also store for a long time.

  16. The lentils, split peas, and adzuki beans are excellent choices and don't take as long to cook as other beans/pulses. So if you are using an alternative cooking source (canned heat, camp stove, sterno, alcohol stove, buddy burner) to cook with you will use less fuel to cook them. Learning how to use a "haybox cooker" will save even more fuel. Bring your items to a boil and cook for 20min., then place in the thermal layers of the haybox cooker to maintain the temperature and it wll continue to slow cook without additional fuel. There are several youtube vids with instructions for DIY.

  17. Hallo, I am writing from Germany and I am new to the thoughts of prepping and quite overwhelmed with all the information. Your suggestions on planning for food are easy to follow and they show an easy way of planning. Thank you so much!
    Since we are always eating fresh food we now try out different canned foods until we find something we can imagine eating in rough times. As soon as we like an item I just buy it 12-15 times.
    As I understand you plan on mainly oatmeal for breakfast, the dinners I understand as well. What would the lunches be?
    With greeting from the other side of the ocean, Chris

    • Wilkommen, Chris! I love Germany and lived there for a while many years ago. Oatmeal isn't the only good option for breakfast, but it's versatile, nutritious, and is healthy in many other ways. You could also plan on breakfasts of cooked wheat berries, fruit, pancakes (multi-grain would be healthiest) and rehydrated eggs. Powdered eggs mix up with a bit of water for some pretty good scrambled eggs and omelets. If you plan on a very hearty breakfast, a large early-afternoon lunch, and then eat a light meal of leftovers, sandwiches with a loaf of homemade bread, maybe some simple soup for dinner, you'll have your three meals a day. Comment or email me any time!

  18. This is so good. I took a friend out and got her part of it. The back of her SUV was full. She thought she'd gotten food for a year. We didn't even get to the 3 months above but she's started prepping because the plan was easy enough for her to finish.

  19. I have read some good stuff here. Certainly price bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how so much effort you place to create this sort of wonderful informative site.

  20. Where do you find the butter powder, tomato powder, dehydrated veggies? I only have a Wal-Mart in my town.

    • Anything, and I mean anything, can be ordered from the Internet. There is a small family grocery store in a small town in AR and apparently the owner preps as well. He stocks the basics, milk powder, whole egg powder, all kinds of freeze dried veggies, Mac-n-cheese, fd fruits, oats, butter powder, everything you’d really need, stores in #10 cans. So you might check to see if there is a small grocer nearby with the same goals, and ask him to order thru his store, for his use and to resale. Just a thought. I have ordered online as well but I love to browse the shelves in the store too.

      ***IN THE END, GOD WINS! HE does. I read the last chapter!***

      • was wondering what small town in Ar? would love to vist it if i was close enough , thanks

    • Try HoneyvilleGrains on the internet. They have sales periodically and the shipping is less than $5 per order, no matter how much you order.

  21. Thank you for making such a wonderful site Survival Mom. A quick question though, I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around a few of your recipes. When you refer to the #10 can size do mean the 6 pound and some odd ounce type? Perhaps it’s because I’m attempting to prepare for 2 and not 4-5 individuals, but 6 pounds of sausage before the flour and milk seems staggering.

    • #10 cans are about the size of a large, typical coffee can.

    • #10 cans are typically for dry items. You are right, opening gallon size can of food service peaches wouldn’t work so great for a small family. Opening a #10 can of freezedried peaches allows you to use a little bit at a time.

  22. I finally have a good 3 months supply and when I filled my freezer yesterday I even said to myself “I could can all this meat if I had to…I need lids and rings is all” Love your blog! Love your book, too.

  23. Love this article. A lot of people are on very tight budgets , but this shows us that we can still get prepared.

  24. Good ideas! Prepping can be a daunting and expensive task, but you’ve laid out some simple ideas to get in gear. I read an article about moms who clip coupons to save a ton of money each year, and I thought that this savings could go toward preps. Not sure if you saw the article but it’s a good read:

  25. awesome & doable info!! thx so much!!

    i also wondered where to get the powdered/dehydrated stuff.

  26. Instead of bread, consider quick breads, less work! Less fuel to cook.

    For supplies of dehydrated foods do an internet search for two of the brands I most often see: Mountain House and Thrive. There are lots of online companies that will provide these by mail.

    Places that sell camping/hunting supplies have lots of freeze dried foods, but generally small packages and processed meals, and fairly expensive compared to buying individual ingredients in #10 cans!

    Check out local stores as well, sometimes there are surprises – I was recently driving through Coleville, Washington (yeah, pretty much nowhere!) and stopped at a big grocery store (think it was called super1 foods) for some picnic supplies, the place had a huge long shelf of #10 cans of dehydrated foods.

    • Search online for recipes for flat bread and Navajo bread. Easy to make, can be baked with little fuel.

  27. After the #10 cans of dehydrated foods are opened, how do you store the remaining food in the can? Does it have to be resealed, or can it be left unsealed?

  28. Mary jay this is from Saratoga farms they say if you keep it cool and dry leave the o2 absorbers in 6-12 months is fine and realistically if your using it for the majority of your meals you’ll finish it faster than that

  29. A good way to keep any dry goods fresher for longer periods of time is to vacum pack them. You could do this with rice, beans, oatmeal etc. You can buy a vacum sealer at Walmart for around $100. The bags can get somewhat costly but vacumning to remove all the air can double the shelf life.

    • We do this for many things but use glass canning jars and buy the lid attachment. it will suck out all the air and seal the lid. “Dry pack” you do need to find out what you can and can’t dry pack safely. Like, you can dry pack white rice but not brown rice due to the oil content will go rancid with out oxygen. During the summer we do this as well with cereal and cookies and whatever else we open because the humidity here is horrible with anything we open to put back on the shelf! Keeps it fresh until it’s gone!

  30. Mandy, you don’t use the whole can in the recipe. just a little bit of it. dried foods are very concentrated. I usually use about a heaping handful (total) of dried veggies to make four servings for most dishes. I wouldn’t use more than half a cup of dried sausage crumbles.

    also I keep lots of glass jars on hand to store things from any large containers that are opened. These are free if you just wash and keep jars from food you already eat. I particularly like salsa jars and spaghetti sauce jars. pickle jars work too but they often reetain the smell of the pickles.

  31. Your website is awesome!!!

    • Thanks, Diane! I’m so glad you found us! There is a very supportive community here.

  32. great article! A 3 month supply of non-perishable food that you eat often is so important. The only difficulty I find is I end up throwing it out because it expired before I end up eating it.

  33. I noticed that no one mentioned the LDS home storage centers for stocking up. The prices are fantastic, but sometimes the nearest center is not so near. I know that TheSurvivalMom has a link somewhere on this site for the list of centers and the order form that lists what they stock. I really love Honeyville due to the small shipping fee, and CostCo. I like to coupon and stock up on boxed and canned goods at Publix also for very little. It’s amazing how much you can get for a few dollars if you stack coupons with BIGI sales! A good coupon matchup website is worth it’s weight in gold!

  34. Great article! While I don’t run scared, I do like to walk quickly informed and prepared!

  35. Pingback: The Survival Mom™: Simple Food Storage Meals for Tight Times

  36. In addition to storing food, buy a foraging for Wild Edible Plants book and start becoming familiar with local common weeds and plants that can add to your food supply. You can make wonderful salads with them…. and cook them as greens. Lots of ways to eat them. This will stretch you food supply and also have you educated on foraging for food if and when your stored food runs out….. Foraging will be a way of life when your food runs out….

  37. GREAT information. Thank you! Don’t forget about your ability to cook, tho. If the power grid is down, then you won’t have an electric stove or oven. Consider building a solar oven. But don’t panic – cardboard box, black spray paint, aluminum foil, and a piece of glass. All the info you will ever need is on this site – BUILD IT SOLAR dot com. Pick on of these:

  38. Ok, I am new to prepping. Just started about one year ago. I do have a question on logistics. I would be storing for for three people, maybe four. My son, daughter and a grandson who all live on their own right now. If something happened, they would come home. I/we also have two dogs, two cats etc. You start collecting the stuff you need for your pantry and time passes and you do not need the amounts you are preparing for. What do you do with the stuff you have. You rotate it out and just pitch it, then buy more? They are not living close by to come over for dinner all of the time. They would be in the same area, but doing their own lives right now. So, what do you do with food about to be expired. I could not cook and eat it all because it would be physically impossible to do that. So, what do you do? Thanks

  39. Linda, speaking for myself, I would eat it or give it away on Craigslist. Can you freeze any of it? I would bet a freezer if you don’t have one. I bought a smaller chest freezer and it holds a lot. Also some expiration dates are for the food to be in prime condition, not that it will make you sick or taste bad. No bulging cans ever. It’s really critical to rotate your food, and maybe add some dehydrated/freeze dried. That stuff lasts a long time. I have 3 kids in the area, and I’m in the same boat. They won’t listen. Do what you can. There’s lot of inf out there…. Nancy@littlehomesteadinboise

  40. Great 100 Day book too, I found a used copy for $3.00 on amazon, thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>