The Survivalist's Stockpile is a new occasional feature on this website. Each article will highlight items preppers and survivalists might want to include in their stockpile of supplies due to their usefulness. This week's edition is about food.
Why Stockpile Food?
Storing food is a hedge against inflation, economic chaos, disruptions in the supply chain and the modern just-in-time inventory & distribution system. It also a safety issue, making it less likely you will have to venture to the market to buy needed goods during dangerous times (bad weather, civil unrest, etc.).
A disruption in the supply chain for food and other goods will mean the shelves at Wal-mart, Target, and your local grocery stores will quickly be emptied. Depending on the cause of the disruption, those shelves may not be re-stocked for days, weeks, or months, if ever. Stocking up now for an extended period of time in which you will not be able to buy what you need, is prudent and wise.
How Much Food to Stockpile?
My recommendation to those just starting out in preparedness is to quickly acquire at least two weeks worth of food, then work towards building a month's stockpile. This amount will carry you through most temporary emergencies, such as bad weather or a truckers' strike.
However, longer emergencies will require more food storage. Once you have a month's worth stored, I recommend continuing to build your food stockpile for those longer term emergencies, which could be cased by anything from pandemics, to severe economic problems, to war. Aim for six month's, then a year's, then two years' worth of food and supplies. Don't think they'll ever be a need for that much food storage? Just pay attention to the news out of Venezuela and you'll change your mind.
Two weeks' worth of food, even a month's worth, is a very "do-able" goal for most folks. Six months', a year's, or even longer, will require planning, time, effort, and expense to acquire.
Quick Tips for Stockpiling Food:
- Stick to stocking up on foods you actually eat. Don't bother stockpiling foods you are allergic to, or just plain don't like.
- Figure out what you actually use on a regular basis, then buy extra.
- Frozen and refrigerated foods don't count. If the electricity goes out, frozen and refrigerated foods will spoil quickly, so don't count them towards your long-term food storage.
- Store foods properly to maximize their life-span. Can goods should be kept in a dry, cool place. Dry foods, such as rice, pasta, and beans, should be kept in airtight containers, in places that are dry, cool, and dark.
- Ignore expiration or best-by dates. Foods eventually go bad, but the expiration or best-by dates stamped on them are fairly arbitrary. Foods can go bad before the expiration date, and most foods can be good well past their expiration date. Instead, use your common sense and look for signs that the food has gone bad, such as bloated or leaking cans, signs of insect or mold damage, a foul order, and taste or texture that is "off."
- Stock up on ingredient foods. These are foods that are used as ingredients in recipes – chicken or beef broths, tomato sauce, tomato paste, canned mushrooms, cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, herbs & spices, and so on… Go through the recipes you make on a regular basis to see what ingredient foods you need.
- Stock up on tea and coffee. Tea, and especially coffee, are both typically hard hit by inflation, so stock up on them if you are a big coffee or tea drinker.
- Stock up on foods that don't require cooking. The electricity and gas may be out for an indefinite period of time, so have some foods that don't require cooking. Examples include peanut butter, many canned meats and fish, and many canned pastas, soups, and stews.
- Stick to the basics. Your kids might want you to stock up on pop-tarts and chocolate syrup, but they really can do without them despite their whining to the contrary. Stocking up is about surviving. Surviving means basics like tuna and beans, not luxuries like chocolate syrup and pop-tarts.
- A little at a time goes a long way. Most folks don’t have $500 that they can use to stock up all at once. But most can probably scrounge up $10 a week. At that rate, they will have accumulated over $500 worth of food in only a year.
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