A Prepared Pantry and Prepared Home: Stocking Up

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This blog post outlines everything we have been stocking our home with over the past year.  I include my list for a Prepared Pantry as well as items to have a Prepared Home. You’ll find a detailed list of what to stock up on.

Before I get too far into this post, I wanted to share a little story about the heart behind it.  This is not a fear mongering post or any sort of conspiracy theory. It’s real circumstances that have happened in our home that have given us a bit more wisdom and thought behind keeping a stocked pantry and extra supplies around.

If you’ve been in the grocery stores over the past year, you’ve noticed that the shelves haven’t been as full as they have in previous years.  There have been reasons behind this (supply issues, not as many employees, etc) and it’s just a fact of the state our country is in right now.

I normally keep a second pantry with overflow items, but not enough that we would have enough food to last for an extended period of time.  We watched last year as the stores began limiting items.  One loaf of bread per family, one gallon of milk per family, a few cans of food per family and so on.

We have a large family and those kind of rations wouldn’t ever be enough if we were in a bind.  So, once the supply picked back up a little bit, we began to wisely prepare our home and pantry.

Fast forward to this past winter, we had a snow storm come through Texas that caused our electricity and water to go out for several days. Thankfully we had been preparing our pantry and home; we had everything we needed to stay warm and keep bellies filled.

It took weeks for our grocery stores to catch up on restocking the shelves.  The first week after the winter storm, the stores were truly empty. It was a little startling and also very eye opening to see.

After the winter storm coming on the heels of a year with rationed items, we decided to step it up a notch in the prepping of our home. It went from a topic of “oh, that probably would never happen” to “this HAS happened and what are we going to do to prepare.”

I shared on Instagram that I was working on this post and 99% of followers were excited to read and prepare. The other 1% said this type of preparing mindset encourages panic and there isn’t any need to do so.

When you are responsible for children and animals, you don’t have the luxury of not preparing.  Better to be prepared than to be wishing you had extra food on hand in case of an emergency (like a snow storm that prevents you from going to the grocery store or that causes grocery store shelves to be bare).

Below I will share some tips that I hope will be a valuable resource to you as you stock your home.

DESIGNATING A PLACE TO STORE EXTRA ITEMS

I realize not everyone has a second pantry or area to keep extra items.  Think through a cool and dark place where you could store your extra items. A few ideas would be:

  • Under beds
  • In the back of closets
  • At the top of a closet
  • In the corder of a room

STORAGE CONTAINERS

When storing extra food, you’ll want to be mindful of the containers you’re storing them in. I learned the hard way last year that you need to store a lot of items in air tight containers.

Anything in a can is fine on its own. If it comes in a plastic bag or paper bag (think flour, sugar, beans, rice), then you’ll need to put it in an air tight container.

I had purchased quite a bit of dried beans and rice from our local Aldi.  A few months after I purchased them I went to use a bag of rice only to discover that it had tiny eggs and larvae in it.  It was disgusting and disappointing all at once.

Here are storage containers that we use and love:

  • 5 Gallon Food Grade Buckets: these are excellent for storing your wheat berries, rice and dried beans in.
  • Pantry Containers: I love using these in my pantry to keep everything sealed up. I use these in my normal pantry for things like pasta, pancake mix, cereal and pasta.
  • Ball Canning Jars: These are an excellent choice as well for smaller items that don’t need a typical container or food grade bucket.

PURCHASING JUST WHAT YOU WILL USE

One of the things I want to encourage is that you purchase items that your family will end up using.  Don’t go out and buy cans of food that you’ll never end up eating.

For example, we won’t eat cans of Spaghetti-O’s so I won’t go and stock up on them.  Purchase items that you know your family will be using over the next year.

KEEPING YOUR STOCKPILE UPDATED

This is incredibly important! It’s pointless to have an extra supply of food if all of it is expired.

Once you have gathered the amount of items you’ll need to survive off of for a set period of time, then it’s time to start using them and rotating them out.

A few tips would be to:

  • Rotate your supply: every few months go through your items and make sure everything is still up to date. If you find that it’s going to expire soon, then use it up and replace with a newer item.
  • Use it: Once a week I’ll use up items that are in my extra food supply. I’ll make sure that I add those items to the next week’s grocery list so I can replace them.  In doing this, I am keeping my extra supplies up to date.

HOW TO START PREPPING YOUR PANTRY AND HOME

This isn’t something that should overwhelm you or break the bank. It will take a little planning ahead and thought on what you will actually need.  A few questions to ask yourself:

  • How long do you want to prepare for?  Realistically, I like to have 2-3 months of food on hand at all times.  This doesn’t mean it will be things my family absolutely loves, but it means we will have full bellies and everything we need.
  • How much money do you want to invest? It does take extra money to get your stockpile of items built up.  You can either do it all at once or you can add a little bit here and there over time.

Again, be sensible when preparing your pantry and home.  Don’t store items your family will never use. That is wasteful and takes items that others might be looking for.

Buy Generic and Bulk

The quickest way to stock up your pantry and home is to purchase generic or bulk items. I typically purchase my extra pantry items at:

  • Aldi
  • Costco
  • Azure Standard

DON’T FORGET ABOUT WATER

This is something that we aren’t as worried about living in the country.  We purchased two Berkeys and have access to ponds and streams.  If worse came to worse, we could always boil the water and put it through our Berkey.


This past winter our water froze for a day and we were able to melt snow to run through our Berkey. At no point were we truly without water.

If you haven’t invested in a Berkey, I highly recommend looking into one.  Here are a few of my top reasons for having one in your home.  It is a MUST if you are wanting to have access to clean water at all times.

If you live in more of a suburban area, consider setting aside gallons of water for emergencies.  Figure out how much water each person will need to drink and wash up with over a week or two period.  

Again, I would HIGHLY recommend investing in a Berkey water filter. It gives such a peace of mind knowing that you’ll have clean drinking water for your family at all times.

THE LIST

Below I have written out a list of some of my top items that we have stocked up in our home. Our goal is to be able to live for several months off of what we have in our home.

I’m sure I’ll forget to add a few things to the list, so I’ll be coming back over the next few weeks and updating this list as I think about it. I have it divided up into categories to hopefully make it easier for you to map out.

FOOD ITEMS

GRAINS
  • Dried Pasta
  • Flour
  • Wheat Berries (to grind into flour)
  • Rolled Oats
  • White Rice

PROTEINS
  • Beef Jerkey
  • A freezer full of frozen meat. My husband is a hunter, so we are stocked on venison.
  • Canned Beans
  • Dried Beans
  • Nut Butters

FRUITS AND VEGGIES
  • Applesauce in jars and pouches (my kids love the ones with veggies added in as well)
  • Canned Fruit
  • Canned Veggies
  • Dried Fruits
  • Pasta Sauces and all the kinds of canned tomatoes (diced, tomato sauce, tomato paste, etc)
KITCHEN ESSENTIALS AND STAPLES
  • Coffee Beans
  • Instant Coffee (as a true back up)
  • Coconut Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Spices and Herbs that I use regularly
  • Salt
  • Chicken Stock

BAKING ITEMS
  • Baking Soda
  • Raw Honey
  • Maple Syrup
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Sugar
  • Yeast (although I use my sourdough starter so I’ll never run out of yeast).

FIRST AID AND HEALTH ITEMS

Below is a list of items I make sure to have an extra supply of. I want to have everything on hand that we should need for minor accidents and minor illnesses.

VITAMINS

We take vitamins and supplements daily! I have a whole blog post on how we boost our immunity here.
Here are the items I make sure to have several months supply of at all times:

Use the code ASHLEY15 to get 15% off ALL your MaryRuth’s orders! It’ll give you a great discount!

FIRST AID SUPPLIES AND MEDICINE

ADDITIONAL ITEMS TO HAVE ON HAND

  • Batteries
  • Lighters
  • Matches
  • Candles
  • Battery Operated Candles: these were a LIFE SAVER this winter when we had no electricity. They worked beautifully and I’ve stocked up on more since.
  • Extra Blankets: make sure you have extra blankets for your family on hand in case your electricity goes out. This winter when it was freezing and we had no electricity, extra blankets were welcomed!
  • Water Filter: We have two Royal Berkeys and I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend investing in a Berkey.
  • Food for your animals: make sure you have enough food for whatever animals you have!

WHEAT BERRIES AND WHEAT MILL

Last year flour was an item that was hard to come by. I switched over to purchasing wheat berries and grinding them myself. Here are the items I have (and recommend switching to if you bake at all):

Closing Thoughts

Again, this isn’t meant to be an alarmist blog post. My hope is that this blog post would be helpful as you wisely plan ahead for your family.

If there’s anything you would add to the list, I would love if you comment below! The more we can discuss these types of lists the better! I always love learning from others.

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33 Comments

  1. When you say their was bugs in your stuff did that come from an already open bag or a sealed one? Trying really hard to make sure I understand this stuff to better prepare lol. Also I too would love to know what recipes you follow with your back stock pantry items. I see you have sealed pasta noodles from Costco. Do you put those in buckets or are those fine sealed in the packages. I but that same brand! Thank you for putting this together!

  2. Most bug issues in grains don’t come from where you store them but from the grains themselves. I always freeze grains etc… for 5 days then take them out and let them sit for 5 or so days and then put in my buckets. I have never had bugs in my grains.

  3. When we all went into lockdown the first time, I realized that I didn’t have 2 weeks worth of food for our family. When I went to to store the shelves were empty. I ended up finding a small town family store in a different city that had food. I’m not doing that again. Not every time I shop I grab something for the pantry to keep it stocked. Thanks for the list. You had some ideas I didn’t consider stocking up on for this winter that completely make sense.

  4. Do you offer this list as a pdf? I would love to have a list/checklist of your recommended items. Thank you for sharing your tips!

    1. Yes! I would love a pdf too! This is filled with so much information! Thank you for putting this together!

  5. Ashley! Great advice! We are doing the same here. We’ve kinda just started but working our way each week to purchase a little extra so we don’t break the bank. I know you have animals so we also have extra for our dog. We also have a couple of box fans that would help when it’s hot and no a/c and if you had a small water leak and needed to dry out somewhere.

    One thing during the freeze that a coworker had that all the neighbors ended up using was a water key to turn off your water at the line in your yard. We don’t currently have one but something to think about.

    Also freezer packs so you can pack a cooler of your electricity goes out. I like these https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XH9GB75/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_api_glt_fabc_A9X98KK4QZNZ43Q0WPXH?psc=1

  6. Thank you for sharing this! This is so helpful! I too am trying to stock up on a few things since things are getting so expensive and hard to find. You are a very wise lady!

  7. I Love love love our Berkey and Nutrimill!! I’ll never go back to life without them! Thank you for your great ideas on stocking up !

  8. I love this!!!!!! Thank you so much for taking time to write this blog.
    Would you be able to share your experience with grinding the wheat berries? Like, do you find the wheat taste better? Has more nutrition/ Benefits in it? This concept is new to me but I’m definitely interested in understanding more so I know if it would be worth an investment of a grinder.

    1. Thought I would throw my 2 cents in here! Milled wheat is sooo much better for you! Store bought flour has most of the nutrients taken out in order to extend the shelf life. Even whole wheat flour has just a few nutrients left in them (and caramel color added for the color😏). Milled wheat is the highest source of vitamin E on the planet! In my opinion everything baked with it is much more hearty. Some things can be a little heavier, but we use it in everything that calls for flour and love it. If you’re on Instagram, follow thehealthierhaven and thedayhome. They are a WEALTH of knowledge on the subject and I’ve learned so much from them!

    2. I’ve been grinding flour for about 10 years. It’s amazing. The health benefits are through the roof. Look up Bread Beckers and you should find really great information!!!

    1. Yes! I’d love more ideas on what you eat when there’s no electricity. Living in hurricane country, this is our most likely reality.

  9. Love this!! So funny, but we are doing the same. Thank you for sharing all your ideas. We just purchased a deep freezer for the garage, same grain mill and I stocked up on Kamut. Have you tried it?? Such a healthy grain! Oh, and I purchased a bread maker so all I have to do is dump the ingredients in order and out pops bread in a few hours. I have one in there now. I need to look into the water filter systems, that’s one thing we are missing. Generator is a must for us Floridians lol!!

    1. I am usually not a commenter, but I have been looking for a list like this so thank you so so much for sharing! I also live in Texas and fear we’ll get another storm like last year and want to be prepared. It was no joke!

  10. Loved this post! We’re slowly building a “second pantry”. I always love to get ideas for extras to stock up on though!

  11. Great post! How about diapers? That was a huge stress for me during covid with a baby and special news child in size 7, which are hard to come by.

    1. Oh yes!!! I need to add this to the list above! And baby wipes! That’s another thing we have been stocking up on.

    2. This was so helpful! I’ve been working on stocking up too, & have been pressure canning meat, beans, fruits, & vegetables as I’m able.

      I’m also working on stocking up on diapers/wipes, toiletry items, & paper products.

      I always say I’m not prepping (like a crazy person lol), but I’m “looking well to the ways of my household”, like the Proverbs 31 women. 🙂

  12. You are so prepared and I love it! I stocked up last year but I kept it in our closet and I went to rotate and it was too late. Lesson learned. But I’ve cleaned out so much in my kitchen I have some empty cabinets that I can use now! Gonna start doing this a little at a time!

  13. This is exactly the reason why we are stocking up extra. I always like a good stocked pantry, makes life easier when grocery stores are 20-30 mins away. Also we had an ice storm back in January 2009 (my husband and I were just starting to date) and we’re without power, etc. for 3-4 weeks. Can never be to over prepared when you have children.

  14. I started prepping a little over 4 years ago when I began to be worried about how things were going politically and internationally. Since then we’ve needed what I’d put aside several times. When losing electricity and during the early days of the pandemic I already had masks and hand sanitizer when they were out everywhere!

    My favorite book is this one, I love the visuals: https://amzn.to/3lbye4x
    This podcast is the one that got me started. It just made sense and was simplified. Like you, I only buy what we eat and rotate it. We are always using and replentishing!

  15. Love these ideas! Making notes to start! Do you find stocking up will be ok if you move—moving with such foods you find not a problem?

    1. Great question!! As I was going to inquire the same!! We are moving across country possibly by the end of the year and didn’t know how to navigate this:)

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