As a Category 5 hurricane was barreling toward our city, I realized that I didn’t have nearly enough non-perishable foods to sustain my family for more than a day or two. Everyone else must have had the same thought at the same time, because store shelves were empty. We survived the storm just fine, but this was an important life lesson. Don’t wait for an emergency to strike, by that time it’s too late. We need a stockpile now.
Every area of the world is prone to its own set of natural disasters, such as an earthquake, blizzard, tornado, or hurricane. Then there are the non-disaster occurrences that can lead to a disruption in electricity or water, such as a downed line or broken pipe. And of course appliances don’t last forever, such as when our refrigerator unexpectedly died.
If we wait until events such as these occur, we can end up spending a ton of money for which we hadn’t budgeted. We are also at the mercy of whatever is left on the shelves at the time. By planning ahead, we can buy things we actually like and use, and spread out the costs over time.
Related article: Do You Really Need that Refrigerator?
Tips for Creating A Stockpile
When people think of creating a stockpile, they may envision shelves of Spam and canned beans. If you don’t eat Spam or canned beans, then why would you stock up on them? What a waste of money!
Start by taking a look at your family’s current diet. What do you eat that:
- Requires no refrigeration
- Can be eaten without heating
- Will not dirty many dishes or utensils
Remember that in the event of power or water outage:
- Ice will melt after a day or two (especially in the summer)
- You cannot depend on propane or charcoal to cook every meal
- Electric can openers will not work
- You will not be able to wash dishes
- If you need to evacuate, you will want food that can be easily transported
Ideas for Your Stockpile
Remember to buy foods that your family actually eats, does not requiring heating or refrigeration, and requires few utensils or plates. Ideas include:
Nuts and Seeds
- Mixed nuts
- Trail mix
- Sunflower seeds
- Dried fruit mixes (e.g., Tropical Trail Mix)
- Canned fruits
- Apple sauce
- Pickled jalapenos (yes, my husband eats these out of the jar)
Spreads and dips
- Jam or Preserves
- Peanut butter or Almond butter
- Canned Tuna
- Canned chicken
- Beef Jerkey
- Water is a must (in addition to having bottled water for drinking, remember to also fill up containers with tap water for washing and flushing)
- Your favorite soda, juice, or sports drink can also provide extra calories
- Keep a couple loaves of bread in the freezer at all times.
- Fill a gallon jug with water and keep it in your freezer. This can help with your electricity bill and ensure that you always have water on-hand.
- Having fruits and veggies with longer shelf-lives (apples, carrots, celery) on hand and rotate them out every few weeks.
- Be sure to also have plenty of pet food, diapers, wipes, and medications.
Where to Keep Your Stockpile
Throughout the year, I keep my stockpile on the top-shelf of my pantry. It’s easy to throw boxes or bags up there after my weekly shopping trip. The problem with this is that the kids can see it, and it’s tempting to break into them when a craving strikes. (Last night, I opened a box of cookies. That’s one less thing in our stockpile).
A better idea is to keep them in a large bin. In anticipation that we may have to evacuate or barricade ourselves in a closet or bathroom, it’s easy to grab a bin and take it with us. Plus, having a lid on top is another barrier to eating your stockpile, and a reminder that it’s for emergencies.
When To Replace Your Stockpile
Think of the time of year your area is most likely to experience harsh weather. In the season leading up to that time, keep an eye out for sales on the items your family uses regularly. Stock up on those whenever a good price arises. Then at the end of the harsh weather season, use them up and replace for the next year.
For example, it’s currently the start of hurricane season. Although the major storms usually hit toward the end of the summer or early fall, I am building my stockpile now. Then, when winter comes and the storm season is over, I will use up anything, and replace again next year.
This timing is actually perfect for my family, as we tend to run low on funds in December and January (Christmas and 4 of our 5 birthdays are within these two months). By decluttering our pantry and “shelf-cooking” after the holidays, we save money on groceries and make room for the next year’s stockpile.
Related article: How to Start Decluttering: Pantry Clutter
We should all keep food on hand that does not require heat to cook or refrigeration to keep from spoiling. But buying things simply because they fit this description are a waste of money. Think about the items your family uses on a regular basis. Stock up on these items while they are on-sale throughout the year.
What do you keep in your stockpile?