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 loves rice topped with chili, and sometimes I don’t have time to make a batch of homemade, so cans of chili work just fine for us.
- 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 awhile, 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
- 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?
- 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.)
- 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.
- Stock up on staples, junk foods not so much.
- 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.
- 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!