food storage

Establishing a Prepper Pantry – Part 1 – Primary and Secondary Food Storage

The phrase “Prepper Pantry” can instantly bring up mental images of piles of rice and beans, dried out and stored for decades.  Well, rice and beans can be part of Prepper Pantry, but that’s not really what we’re going to focus on.  A Prepper Pantry is really two components, the food you put in it and the system you establish to use the food and keep it fresh.

Prepper Pantry vs. Stockpile

A bunch of dried food, stored until the apocalypse is really just a stockpile.  Stockpiles can be solid first step to make sure that you and your family have food, in a volume that will sustain you for a long duration.  There are several downsides to a stockpile:

  • Since you purchased all of the food at the same time, all of the food expires at the same time.
  • The food in your stockpile is likely not food that you eat normally, so your family won’t enjoy it (we’ll get to why this is important).
  • Stockpiles usually have large, heavy bags  that are difficult to store and difficult to move or travel with.

Prepper Pantry

A Prepper Pantry is next-level strategy.  The concept of a Prepper Pantry is to integrate your normal eating habits with a Preparedness mindset to diversify your food options, keep your food fresh, and allow you to manage cost through bulk and sale purchases.

Our Prepper Pantry is modeled using the P.A.C.E. Methodology and tying the options to the expiration of the food. (If you haven’t heard about P.A.C.E. Click here to read our overview)

  • Primary – 5 days
  • Secondary – up to a year
  • Contingency – 10 years
  • Emergency – More than 10 years

In this article we’re going to cover our Primary and Secondary options.  We’ll cover the Contingency and Emergency options in subsequent articles.

Primary Food Option – Refrigerated and Frozen

Refrigerator With Food

Our first food option in an emergency will be our frozen and refrigerated foods.  If the power goes out, these foods will begin to spoil if they are not consumed.  You can definitely attach a generator to keep these appliances going, but you may want to use that fuel for another purpose. 

We have two refrigerator-freezers and a chest freezer to store food.  In an emergency we will use a generator intermittently to keep our chest freezer cool, but we won’t power all 3 continuously.  The chest freezer is ideal because the gravity will keep the cold air in, requiring less power to maintain temperature.  The frozen food already in it will act as packaged ice cubes, helping to maintain temperature, and turning it into a low power cooler.

Powering the chest freezer will buy us a few more days with this food.  However, since this will require valuable fuel and since we will have 3 appliances of food that were trying to store in one freezer, we will definitely focus on eating this food first.

Secondary Food Option – Canned and Boxed

canned food

This section is really the twist in the Prepper Pantry plan.  Instead of moving from frozen food to rice and beans, inserting canned food makes a huge difference.  Since this is the food that we would buy for everyday life, this is preferable to us for several reasons:

  • We can stock up on on sales.  When we see that an item we normally buy goes on sale, we buy a couple of month’s worth.  This reduces the price we pay for a “normal” item, and lengthens the time we can survive on our stores.
  • This is our normal food.  Our family is used to this food.  Our family likes this food.  Our family’s morale will be boosted by eating food that is comforting and instills a bit of normality in an otherwise abnormal situation.  Maintaining a positive outlook and morale is critical to achieving a positive survival outcome.
  • Storing the food is easy and transporting it is easy too.  We buy this kind of food by the case.  This means that we have the option to store the items in the Case boxes, or we can store the items individually.  If we need to leave, we can make some quick decisions by grabbing a couple of cases for the car or individual cans for our backpacks.
  • Preparing the food is easy.  Since most canned foods have been cooked, they are ready to eat right out of the can.  This means you can heat the food if you want to, but if you don’t have that option you can eat the food at room temperature (just make sure you have a manual can opener).  Additionally, dried, freeze dried, and dehydrated foods require hot water to prepare.  By focusing on canned foods at this point you don’t need to worry about rationing water for food preparation and heating the water to rehydrate the food.

We try to maintain a 6 to 12 month supply of these canned and packed foods.  It is really easy to maintain a fresh supply by retaining the  food as you use it.  This is sometimes called a “working pantry” when you are consistently utilizing your stored food to make your everyday meals.   Utilizing a working pantry as a secondary food option is beneficial in so many levels and I highly recommend everyone begin adopting this option too.

Our Primary and Secondary options provide us with a solid and functional foundation.  They work together to maximize our daily food costs and maximize our food storage capability.  They are easy to implement, easy to manage, easy to start, and easy to scale regardless of the number of people you’re preparing for, the amount of money you have to spend each month, and the amount of time you want to prepare for.

For more articles on planning click here.

Author: Casey Feves

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