Building Up A Well-Stocked Pantry & Long-Term Food Storage Supply

by | Jan 23, 2020 | Preserve, Thrive

Building up a well-stocked and functional food storage system is a key skill and resource anyone should be developing, whether you’re a prepper or a homesteader… or not! Having one month, one year or 25 years of emergency food storage is a good idea for so many reasons.

Canned food arranged on pantry shelves.

Having long-term emergency food supply doesn’t mean you’re canning your own meat (although you could), preserving all your eggs (again, you could), or even raising and butchering your own meat and growing all your veggies (even though that might be your eventual goal).

Rather, having a long-term food supply available to you means you will save money and time, you’ll have greater food security and create less waste in your household.

Not to mention, as in present times, if/when a crisis arises, you will be prepared and will not need to panic shop when food sources are slim. As we discussed in this post on being prepared for an emergency, a long-term food supply is a significant portion of that preparedness.

In this post we’re sharing both HOW to build up your long term food storage and WHY it’s important to do so.

Watch the two videos below as Josh and Carolyn share their key tips and strategies for how to build up your own food storage system and why. The tips they share are worth hearing whether you’re ready to jump in with both feet, or you want to start slow and steady. They’ll share their best advice and strategies, especially when you’re on a budget.

Whether you just want to lengthen the time in between grocery store trips from one week, to one month, or one month to every few months, these tips will definitely help.

(Main topic starts at minute 15:40)

To leave a comment or question on this video, head on over to YouTube.

10 Steps to a Well Stocked Pantry

If you’re motivated to build up your pantry and long-term food storage, here are ten steps we suggest you consider BEFORE going out and buying.

  1. Don’t try to stock up all at once. You’ll waste a lot of food, you’ll waste a lot of money and you’ll end up discouraged.
  2. Start with a small goal and build up. Don’t try to stock up a whole year’s worth of food, instead, start with two weeks, then 1 month, 6 months, etc.
  3. Start with items that have a long year shelf life (or more), are inexpensive, and are easy to store such as beans and rice. NOT something you’ll need to bring home and can or preserve yourself.
  4. Get TWO full days of meals on the shelf (non-perishable) that you can just pop open the can and eat it. Make sure these meals don’t need to be cooked or heated (canned stew, crackers & peanut butter,etc.)
  5. Next, build up to having TWO WEEKS of regular meals up on your shelf. It’s like zeroing your bank account when it has $500 in it. You’re now zeroing out your food supply when you’re down to two weeks left.
  6. Before you buy any item, be sure you have a place to store it. When you buy in bulk, you’re taking the responsibility of dividing it up into individual serving sizes, which reduces the cost to you.
  7. Start eating your produce when it’s in season. Produce in season is ALWAYS cheaper than produce that’s out of season needing to be delivered from other regions.
  8. Make relationships with your local growers. Even if the economy goes haywire, your local grower is still going to need to sell their product.
  9. Once your pantry is full, then you can start figuring out how to bulk buy fresh foods and learning to preserve them yourself instead of buying it from the grocery store.
  10. Finally, start growing and preserving all your own food.

Why Should You Stock Up on Food at Home?

  1. Saves money
  2. Saves time
  3. Food security
  4. Less Waste

(Main topic starts at minute 10:17)

To leave a comment or question on this video, head on over to YouTube.

Buying in bulk and stocking up saves you money

When you buy in bulk, you end up saving money because the per-unit amount is less. You save money by NOT driving to the grocery store every few days or once a week. And you won’t spend money on un-planned for/impulse buys at the grocery store.

When we talk about storing up food, we’re talking about food you know your family will eat. Don’t bother buying those emergency preparedness food kits, or freeze-dried foods/survival food like MREs where you just add water.

Sure those foods are great, but you’ll end up spending a fortune on something you really won’t want to eat if an emergency never arises. It’s much better to stock up on food with a long shelf life that you’ll eat throughout the year while continually keeping your stock replenished.

Having a well-stocked pantry means you’re saving time on weekly tasks

Fewer trips to and from the grocery store means extra time. You’ll also save time by not having to load and unload the kiddos to and from the car. Less time creating that weekly grocery list.

Sure some might argue that you’re spending MORE time preparing for storage, but this doesn’t have to be the case. When you get to a place you’re ready to preserve your own food (such as canning, fermenting or dehydrating foods) then the extra time will be welcomed.

Being prepared in case of an emergency or natural disaster

Wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, etc. Emergency situations can’t always be predicted, so it’s a great idea to be prepared for when the unexpected happens.

The food on the grocery store shelves will go fast in times of emergency, be prepared ahead of time so you don’t miss out or go without.

This is even great in times of minor emergencies (illness, job loss, financial strain, etc.) when regular grocery store trips aren’t an easy option. Having food rations on hand, whether it’s dried meals, canned goods or frozen food can really help in times of added stress.

Because the dollar is losing its value, something bought today is saving you money on food bought tomorrow (or next year). You get to fight the inflation on food costs by buying in bulk ahead of time.

Less waste from packaging

Every bit of the packaging, on smaller quantities of food, has an energy cost, a labor cost, etc., all bumping up the price per unit of the product. 

Less wasted food. We’ve all been there, you only need to cook 2 cups of rice, but your package had 2.5 cups. So you cook up the entire bag, package up that rice in the refrigerator to eat later, and, many times, end up throwing the rice away a few days later. When you buy in bulk, you don’t feel obligated to “use up” the rest of the package, just because it’s there.

5 Rules for Stocking Up Your Long-Term Food Storage.

  1. Stock up on what you WILL and DO actually eat. 
    • If you don’t eat canned asparagus, don’t stock up on it! It will inevitably sit on your pantry shelf for years to come, never getting consumed (essentially throwing your money away). 
    • Stock up on items you and your family will be excited about eating, this is super important! Think about the foods you enjoy on a regular basis and start there.
  2. Stock up on items that make a quick meal from your pantry. 
    • Things like pasta sauce, dry pasta and canned veggies. These items can quickly be cooked and tossed together to make a complete meal.
    • This will save you money on days you don’t feel like cooking because you won’t run to the grocery store for a quick convenience meal, and you won’t order out from a restaurant. This will free up more money for the following month to keep building your food supply.
  3. Prepare your storage space and/or storage method before you stock up.
    • Know how you’re going to store everything you buy so you have a place to properly store it all. There’s nothing worse than buying 100 pounds of potatoes, only to come home and realize you don’t know where you’re going to store them all.
    • Don’t feel like it has to be the ideal storage space, you can still find places to make long-term storage work, but have a plan.
  4. Change to a producer mindset: Start learning to buy in bulk, and grow and raise your own food.
    • Again, think first about the ingredients you use all the time and start there.
    • For example, don’t buy bread in bulk, instead, bring in wheat and make your own bread. You’ll end up with a better and fresher product and it will save you a lot of money.
    • Buying in bulk really helps prepare you to be a homesteader because so much of your food on the homestead comes in in bulk. You butcher an entire cow and need to preserve it quickly. You harvest all your onions and need to put them up. The plum trees are ripe and you need to preserve them before they go bad, etc.
  5. Know how long what you’re buying is going to last and plan accordingly.
    • For example, dry beans can sit on your shelf, if stored properly, for a very long time and maintain their high quality, so buying more than you’ll consume in a year isn’t an issue. However, olive oil has a short term shelf-life. It just isn’t as shelf-stable and you’ll want to buy only the amount to get you through until you need to replenish your stock.

4 Methods for Stocking Up on Long-Term Food Storage

We’ve been building up our food supply for many, many years and we’ve come up with some of our favorite methods. Here’s our countdown to our number one favorite method for stocking up on food.

Method #4 – Buy more packages

  • When you buy a package of food that will get you through a couple of days or weeks, buy an extra package or two to get yourself ahead.
  • This is a great stepping stone to working up into buying 50lbs bags of food. We can’t always start with such a large investment, but one extra package can be very affordable.
  • If you shop at Costco, or somewhere similar, sometimes you’ll find 6 packages of pasta sold together in a larger pack, but the price per unit will be smaller than if you bought each individual pack by itself. This can really help you get ahead quickly and closer to method #3.

Method #3 – Buy bulk packages

  • Buying in bulk saves you money because the price per unit is lower.
  • Oftentimes regular grocery stores will have a bulk-food isle. This is a great starting point.
  • Other options would be to find a bulk buying store, such as Costco or a restaurant supply store. 
  • Check your area for a local co-op store to see if they offer bulk buys.
  • Ask in local Facebook groups where people buy their food in bulk (it usually helps to be specific about what you’re looking for here). 
  • Check out Azure Standard (available nation-wide, some areas may not have deliveries nearby) – this is one of our favorite places to buy items in bulk that we don’t grow ourselves and can’t buy locally.

TIP: Be sure to have your storage method ready – more times than not you can’t just leave the bulk item in the bag for long term storage. These bags are not moisture, dirt or pest-resistant, so you’ll want to have storage bins ready ahead of time.

Method #2 – Buy bulk from a local producer (in season) and put it up yourself

  • Find a local producer for meats, veggies, grains, dairy, etc. Anything you can’t grow yourself. Buying local will mean your product is fresher, many times healthier, and hasn’t had to travel as far to get to you, lowering the carbon footprint on the food production.
  • Many times entire communities will get together and truck in a large order from a farmer. This may be an option if you’re not ready to buy such a large quantity.
  • This method does, however, mean you need to be ready to preserve the food or to put it up for long-term storage. So be prepared!

Method #1 – Grow your own food

  • Our very favorite method for building up a long-term food supply is to grow and preserve our own. This is the best way to stock up on food at the most affordable price. 
  • Not only will you save the most money with this method, but you’ll get the best nutrition, the best value for your money and you’ll also reap all the wonderful benefits from producing the food like being out in the fresh air!

Make no mistake, in order to make buying in bulk affordable, you have to have a strategy, you have to have a budget and it’s the best to start small. As you stock up, you will have one less thing you need to buy each month, which will give you a bit more money to put toward your next bulk item purchase.

Our best advice is to start slow. Just one or two items a month will really add up over a year’s time. Do also consider seasonality when you start buying in bulk. Food is a better quality and tends to be a better price.

And finally, when making your plan to stock up, choose what cycle you’re working toward – having 1 month of food put up, having 6 months of food put up, having 3 years of food put up, etc.

Just be consistent and chip away at it one item at a time!

What are YOUR best tips for putting up a long-term food supply?

Great to meet you!

It is our goal to encourage you in the path to a more healthy, more secure and free lifestyle by sharing and teaching the skills that lead to greater sustainability and self-sufficiency for you, your loved ones and your community.

– Carolyn and Josh 


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