Food to Stockpile When You Need to Build a Stockpile Quickly

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Looking to create a food stockpile? Here is a list to help you gather up real foods so that you can build your stockpile as quickly and as frugally as possible.

Looking to create a food stockpile? Here is a list to help you gather up real foods so that you can build your stockpile as quickly and as frugally as possible. #stockpile #realfoodsstockpile #beprepared #foodstostockpile #prepper #foodstockpile

How to Build a Food Stockpile

After a summer of not much canning or preserving, due to limited space and lack of places to store non-dry goods, my stockpile was a little low going into winter which made me panic a little.

Being a South Dakota country girl, I knew that you needed to stockpile before winter because you never know when you are going to get snowed in (like getting 35 inches of snow in a good old October South Dakota blizzard!) and unable to make it to town and the grocery store. Not to mention that up here in the north, food prices get astronomically high in the winter since everything has to be shipped in.

I didn’t concern myself with this since we didn’t plan on being in South Dakota for the winter and I thought we would have a lack of space and be unable to carry the weight in the RV. But then our plans changed suddenly and I started to worry. There was no way we could move further out into the prairie without a stockpile for the winter!

So my plan changed quickly, and I had to start thinking about what food to stockpile in a very short amount of time (about a month!). Being that it was the fall season it made it a little easier on me for foods that were available to purchase since most of those that were in season were winter goods (potatoes, apples, onions, ect). Here are some ideas of food and ways to stockpile in a hurry to spend the least amount possible.

Building Your Stockpile Quickly

I Became a Serious Farmer’s Market Shopper

No longer was I there just to browse for something that looked yummy for the week’s meals, I was on a MISSION. First I walked up and down the row of food tents, watching prices and seeing what was available. Then I walked back again to make my purchases. I purchased the cheapest foods I could find that I knew I could either can or freeze or store in cold storage. I also purchased any items that I knew we would need in bulk quantities when I could ask the farmer for a discount for purchasing so much. $50 spent at the farmer’s market can add quite a bit of produce to your stockpile. For example, one week I spent just $35 and put away a few acorn squash for cold storage, many big zucchini that turned into several bags of shredded zucchini, and 20lbs of tomatoes that I turned into 10 quarts of canned tomatoes.

–Get more Farmer’s Market Shopping Tips

I Grew My Co-Op Order For a Month

Our normal monthly grocery budget for the month is $300. One month I allowed myself an extra $100 to add onto that regular budget for the sole purpose of adding to our stockpile. This was a great way to purchase bulk dry goods such as beans, rice, sugar, and oats. I also needed to purchase a few extra 5 gallon buckets and Gamma Lids to store all of this in to protect it. $100 may seem like quite a bit but it bought us dry goods that will last at least through the winter.

— Learn more about buying in bulk with A Beginners Guide to Azure Standard

I Shopped With Coupons and at Discount Stores

With someone that shops such as we do (all organic and natural foods) you may not think that coupons are an option, but surprisingly they are. Of course you can’t find as many deals as you can with conventional couponing, but I was able to grab some great pantry items (organic) that were very very inexpensive with coupons at the local grocery store. I also stocked up with a few trips to the local discount grocery store in my area on things like organic cereal and granola bars for easy treats for hubby to have for breakfast and work.

Building Your Stockpile Quickly

I Begged

Ok, not really, but I did ask around to all my friends and family that grew gardens if they had any leftovers or veggies that they did not plan on using themselves. I was able to gather several odds and ends this way and I preserved everything possible for later.

–You can also try to Barter for extra garden fruits and vegetables.

A few more quick tips when thinking about food to stockpile, quickly:

  • Make sure you know your prices. Don’t buy something just to buy it, only buy it if it’s a good deal.
  • Don’t buy something that you won’t eat. Just because it will add to your stockpile doesn’t mean it’s doing you any good in there!
  • Don’t forget comfort foods. When the power is out or you can’t get to the store, your family will be grateful for that chocolate bar!
  • Variety is the key. Make sure you are freezing, canning, dehydrating, and putting food in cold storage. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Building your stockpile quickly isn’t the easiest thing to do, but depending on the time of year you decide to do it in, it’s possible and can be done for a fairly reasonable price. Now I don’t have to worry about not having anything in our pantry should another big snowstorm roll in and keep us stuck in the house for a while again. I also don’t have to worry about paying high grocery store winter prices.

Looking for other tips on prepping? Here are some posts you might enjoy:

Want to learn more about Stockpiling? We have a whole page dedicated to it under Homestead Living!

How do you build stockpiles quickly and for very little money? Share your tips in the comments!


This post on Food Stockpiles was originally published on Little House Living in November 2013. It has been updated as of November 2019.

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  1. I absolutely love your blog. I’ve learned so many things sinse I started following your posts. Thank you.

    I am VERY new to all of this so my question might sound silly to you. Anyway I’d like to store the food in the 5 gal buckets you mentioned. I read the reviews on the Amazon for Gamma Lids and it looks like majority of people use these buckets for storing pet food, bird feed and such.

    I’m not sure which 5 gal buckets to buy if I want to use them for FOOD storage only. Can you please tell me which one you buy and where? Thank you.

    1. I buy the buckets from either Menards or Azure Standard (my coop). You mostly want to make sure you get the white buckets and that they have not been used to store anything in the past besides food. Here’s a good article on it:

      I’ve always used Gamma lids for food storage. They are made for just about anything and work excellent for food because they form a complete and tight seal around the bucket so they don’t allow air, bugs, or anything else to get in.

      1. I bougt two Gamma lids and can’t get them to close on the 5 Gal pails.
        I tried different pails,just can’t use them,and hate to waste the $$$ I spent’

          1. Thanks Merissa’ I’ll try that. Love your site and have gained a lot of
            useful info’ Stay warm.

      2. I get my gamma lids from Azure. Buckets usually come from Home Depot. They will say food grade or food safe on the bottom of the bucket if they are. Here, the orange buckets are not food grade, but the plain white ones in the paint dept. are.

  2. Our stockpile for the winter is more because my husband’s pay goes way down. We seemed set but then my grandparents told me their pensions had been cut yet again. They didn’t have more than a couple days worth of food. My grandmother has a hard time canning now and she lives in a different state. So we took a trip out there and canned a bunch meals from dried foods that were more affordable. Soups, chili, sauces, etc. So they can just open, heat and eat. We also pu together dried meals in a jar they can make in the crock pot. I think we’re going to do this on each of our visits from now on. They are secure and I don’t have to worry.

  3. I enjoy your blog and follow when I can. You are saying on a budget but can add $300 a month for certain things. My entire food budget is $300 a month and I can’t just add something I don’t have. I do not see where you stick to a budget if you can just add from somewhere else….. I was disappointed.

    1. I use an irregular budgeting system which allows us to save the extra money (since our income isn’t ever the same and we plan on the lowest amount) so we are able to set aside money for other expenses or things we did not plan us which does allow us to make room for something like this. We never “rob Peter to pay Paul” with our budget system. (You can actually read all about it here: Envelope System Budgeting and here: Irregular Income Budgeting Chart. And keep in mind this was over a period of 2 to 3 months which is an average of just adding $100 a month onto our food budget. Not bad to pay for food for most of the winter.

  4. Im a military wife so being perpared is a requirement. I started useing the food buckets. Now I have to be consiouse of my stockpile we have a weight limit when we move but i keep lots of flour and baking basics on hand. I love meals and baking recipes from a jar. I have 4 cases of jars I do. Twice a year soups breads cookies bars. I use only recipes that take basic ingrediants I know I have on hand. Id like to start canning but military mivers wont move canning goods. I love your blog.

  5. How do you have cold food storage? I haven’t a basement or room in the yard for a hole to dig. Any advice?

  6. I have been stockpiling too, love the canning jars for lots of things. Frozen is great too. But I live in an area where I can’t get to cold storage, I dont have a basement etc. I saw on pinterest that I can use a fridge with the highest temperature setting, its suppose to keep root veggies etc fresh longer, has anyone heard of such a thing??? Thanks for any advice.

    1. I’d say it would depend on what the setting is but around 40 degrees should work pretty well for most veggies, although you wouldn’t want to keep everything in the same place as certain things will spoil the others.

  7. Is canning hard? How do I do it? How long do canned items last? Once a seal is broke on the mason jars or even the big buckets, can they be resealed? Can I use my in ground shelter for cold storage? Thanks for any help.

    1. You should be able to use a ground shelter for cold storage depending on the temps. You can read more info about that here. Cold Storage Every single canning recipe is different but we have a bunch of canning tutorials on our Canning and Preserving Page. Canned foods generally lasts 3 years. (I know it lasts longer but that’s my general rule of thumb for how long to keep my canned food storage before we eat it up.) Canned foods needs to be eaten within days when opened, buckets can be re-sealed, canned food cannot.

  8. My tomatoes in my garden didn’t do very well at all this year, so I bought a big box of tomatoes at a farmer’s market to can for winter. I was really disappointed that they weren’t from my garden, but at least they are still locally grown and I got a great deal on them. I also canned a lot of corn I bought at the farmer’s market. My husband doesn’t like canned corn from the grocery store any more, LOL 🙂

  9. Great idea! We haven’t had a garden in a couple of years either. In the mean time, I’ve been doing the same – stock piling what extra’s I can however I can. I’ve also been dehydrating much more than canning lately. I’ll purchase a couple extra bags of frozen produce, and toss it in the Dehydrator. The main work is already done for me (blanching), and I can fit pounds worth of it into a single jar. I have also become extra diligent to dehydrate any fresh fruits I buy if they’re not being used up in a timely manner.

  10. I find that you can know when stores put things on sale that your family uses. In ohio I know meijers puts fresh corn on cob on sale for 12 for a dollar the week of memorial day so I buy enough for a year and freeze it. Our local apple orchard normally does the last weekend before freeze comes in they allow you to pick as many apples as you want for $20 a car load. Then Krogers does a pasta sale once a year where box of pasta is 49 cents a box and they do have whole wheat pasta included. Meijers also runs their buy 11 items for $10 for a number of things that they run about every 3 months(hotdogs, breakfast sausage, can chicken, lots cracker snacks, frozen veggies, etc) and I will stock up on those items and get about 4 months worth. I do have lots of storage places(up on top of many shelves) and then we have 2 stand up deep freezers, 1 chest deep freezer and 2 fridge/freezers.

  11. I’m trying to figure out how you stockpile and still end up spending $300/month on groceries.

    We’re getting ready to move, so I’ve been working on eating through all the odds and ends in the house and I’ve been spending almost nothing on groceries. I get stuck buying soy milk every week for my toddler (he has allergies) and fresh fruit (berries here won’t keep more than a few days, terrible supply). But even after the delivery fee, I’m only spending $35/week on groceries and still ending up with extras… And I have 3 adults and a toddler in my home… And admittedly there’s always leftovers, and the leftover always go to my dogs.

    Does that $300 account for restocking and the money you put aside for bulk meat purchases? That I could see… but $300 to fill in the monthly gaps seems high unless you have a ton of people… (I used to have 5 adults and a toddler… that was ridiculous even with a stock, men eat too much lol)

  12. Sadly, l live in an apartment with no room for a freezer and little room to store canned goods, etc Under my beds are where I store seasonal clothing items and extra linens, etc. Any ideas how I can prepare for the next round of virus?

  13. I have followed you and read your emails for years and have enjoyed going deeper into those emails over this past year being freshly retired! In reading the post about root cellars I could not find your thoughts on pest control. I started reading the article but did not find the solutions. If you could direct me to the area I’ll complete my research on this topic.
    Thank you for your ministry, your ideas and for sharing all of it with us!
    In Him,