How To Stock Your Prepper Pantry

Homegrown Self Reliance
8 min readSep 14, 2020


In these uncertain times, many people are turning to the old ways of storing food. Have you started your prepper pantry as well?

There has seemed to be a rush this year on basic pantry supplies, garden seeds, and canning supplies. Do you think that’s a coincidence? Or do you think that more people are realizing the fragility of our food supply chain?

I think it’s because people want to be in more control of their food security. I believe most people are realizing that the system is broken, and one small disruption can cause chaos in an already strained supply.

It’s such a wise decision to start building a prepper pantry. And you don’t even have to consider yourself a prepper!, an official website of the Department of Homeland Security, recommends that you have at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable food stored. This is minimal at best. Even FEMA recommends at least 2 weeks worth of food storage.

In the event of a natural disaster or other emergency, help might take a while to get to you. Therefore, you need to plan to take care of your own family for a while without outside help. This is why you should build your own prepper pantry!

But how does the “average” person, with a limited budget, and often limited space, build a prepper pantry? That’s an excellent question!

What foods should you store in your prepper pantry?

The foods that you decide to store in your prepper pantry, entirely depend on what your family likes to eat. While some people might store canned meats, pasta, rice, and beans, others might not use eat those at all. People who don’t eat those shouldn’t store them!

Here are some ways to figure out what you should store in your prepper pantry.

Store what you eat, eat what you store

The best advice I can give on building up your prepper pantry is to store what you eat, and eat what you store. Don’t go out and buy a month’s worth of MRE’s, when you’ve never had them before. And don’t store lots of beans if your family won’t touch them.

As the saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures. You might think that your family will eat something if that’s all you have to eat, but this can cause a lot of headache for most families. Comforting, familiar food is important to have when times are hard.

If you store what you eat and eat what you store, you can effectively rotate your food supplies so nothing goes bad before you can use it. Simply stocking up on more of what your family eats on a regular basis is the most effective way to build that prepper pantry.

Basics that most people should store

There are some basic supplies that nearly everyone should store, but it’s still decided by what your family eats. During hard times, you’ll likely have to cook more from scratch. And you should also store some food that doesn’t need a lot of cooking to eat.

This, of course, is just a starting point, to give you ideas. You can tailor this list to what your family uses.

If you’d like a handy spreadsheet to track your progress toward a one month food storage, you can buy it in our Emergency Preparedness Bundle. It’s on sale for the month of September, for only $3!

Practice first in, first out.

It’s important when you are building your prepper pantry to practice first in, first out (FIFO). This means that the first item that you buy is the first item that you should use. FIFO helps keep your food supplies fresh. And, if you combine this with the store what you eat, eat what you store method above, you shouldn’t have to worry about food going bad.

Lots of people use a can rotation system that makes it easy to practice FIFO. These are super handy to store on your prepper pantry shelves. As you purchase more cans, add them to the top. The ones at the bottom, where you pull them from, will be the oldest cans.

Same principle applies to dry goods. When you buy food, put the newest stuff at the back, so you automatically grab the oldest first.

Preserve what you grow for your prepper pantry.

If you garden, have fruit trees or bushes, or raise animals for meat, you should preserve what you grow to store in your prepper pantry. Many vegetables can be canned or dehydrated for future use. Fruits can easily be canned. Meats can also be canned. Some people even dehydrate their eggs for long-term storage.

Make sure you follow safe canning and food preservation practices, but if you’re growing it, why not add store it for long-term? That’s the best way to get the most out of your homegrown food.

If you are lucky enough to have a freeze dryer, put it to use! Freeze dried homegrown veggies are amazing, and taste just as good as fresh. Store dehydrated or freeze dried foods in glass jars for the longest shelf life.

Learn the best ways of storing your food.

While building your prepper pantry, you need to know how to keep your food good for as long as possible. Learn the shelf life of common pantry items. Invest in a vacuum sealer to keep dry goods usable longer. Consider buying mylar bags and oxygen absorbers.

If you have a vegetable garden, you should consider getting a water bath canner, pressure canner, and a dehydrator. These will help you store your veggies for later use. And you can add your homegrown food to your prepper pantry!

Glass jars are great for storing dried goods like sugar, flour, rice, and pasta, as well as dehydrated foods. Plastic food grade buckets are another good option, but mice may be able to chew through the plastic. Vacuum sealed bags inside buckets or totes is a pretty good way of storing food for quite some time, as long as they’re stored in an area that doesn’t have a lot of mice or rats.

Think of creative ways to store your prepper pantry.

If you don’t have a lot of space, you might be wondering where to store all this food for your prepper pantry. And that’s a concern for a lot of folks!

You just need to get a little creative if you are limited on space. How about storing food under your bed? If you have a dust ruffle on your bed, no one would know that you have a huge amount of food under the bed.

I’ve seen people building a prepper pantry into the wall, between the studs. This might be a little difficult for some people, and might be unsightly as well.

Put up shelves in your garage to store your supplies. This may not be the best option, due to huge temperature fluctuations in the garage. Your food might not have as long of a shelf life there. But if that’s all you’ve got, use it!

Do you have a she shed? If it’s somewhat insulated, why not use it for your food storage? As with the garage, your food won’t have as long of a shelf life, but if that’s where you have the space, you might as well utilize it.

If you have a root cellar, consider yourself lucky! They are very resistant to temperature fluctuations, and can keep fruits and vegetables good for a long time.

If you put your food storage in attractive containers, they can even be kept on an open shelf or bookshelf. Think outside of the box!

Buy a little at a time for your prepper pantry.

Don’t rush out and spend hundreds of dollars on your prepper pantry, all at once. I mean, I guess if you have a lot of money to spend, that’s okay. But most of us don’t!

Spending all the money at once leaves you open to forgetting things. If you spend a little at a time, you’ll be able to see more clearly where you have holes in your food storage plan.

I recommend finding a small amount that you can budget weekly to building your prepper pantry. Whether it’s $5 or $20 per week, just find SOME amount that you can commit to. Don’t put yourself in a bind, but do try to spend as much as you can to build up your food storage quickly.

How about every time you go to a certain store, you buy one case of canned goods? That has been working really well for us. We use them anyway, they have a long shelf life, and can usually be eaten without cooking. So they just make sense for us to have on hand.

Keep an inventory of your prepper pantry.

To fun an organized, efficient prepper pantry, you should try to keep an inventory of what food you have. That way, you know when you’re running low on something, so you can add it to the shopping list. It will also keep you from wasting money from buying too much of something.

Pantry shelves can get cluttered and disorganized pretty easily. Especially if you have kids digging around the shelves to find something that they want! It can be easy to overlook that you are down to your last can of green beans when you are needing two.

I suggest using a laminated spreadsheet that lists everything that you have or want in your prepper pantry. You can then use a dry erase marker to write how many of each item you have.

When you use something, subtract that off the total. Then when you buy something, add that to the total of that particular item. It may seem tedious, but it will really only take a minute each time you add or subtract something. And it will save you time and money in the long run!

Don’t forget the non-food essentials.

A proper prepper pantry should have non-food essentials as well. Think soap, shampoo, paper towels, and toilet paper. Remember earlier this year? No toilet paper on the shelves!

Take a little bit of money on each shopping trip to get a little bit of extra non-food essentials. Maybe pick up a bottle of dish soap one trip, and an extra bottle of shampoo on the next trip. Just getting one extra supply each time you go to the store will result in a big stockpile in no time!

What will you put in your prepper pantry?

Well, it’s now your turn. What are you going to put in your prepper pantry? How much money are you willing to spend every week to stock up on that food supply? Tell us in the comments.

It doesn’t matter how much you intend to spend, it just matters that you start!

Originally published at on September 14, 2020.



Homegrown Self Reliance

Proud wife, mother, and grandmother, blogger at Lover of animals and gardening. Follow me for great beginner homestead tips!