Pantry Needs and Stockpiling Enough (Plus Printable!)

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Are you stockpiling enough to meet your family’s needs through a crisis? Here’s how to figure out what you need.

Are you stockpiling enough to meet your family's needs through a crisis? Here's how to figure out what you need.

Pantry Needs and Stockpiling Enough (Plus Printable!)

I talk a lot here about stockpiling, pantry items, and having what you need on hand. We can stockpile all we want, but how can we be sure that we are stockpiling enough, or are we stockpiling too much?

Need more ideas like this? Here’s How to Prepare for Price Increases with Practical Food Storage.

Pantry Buckets

Why Are You Stockpiling?

Only you know how much is enough to stockpile for your family. First, you have to ask yourself, what are you stockpiling for? Natural disaster prep? Rising food prices? Zombies? (Sorry, just had to throw that one in there!) Can’t get to the grocery store?

I think now that we’ve all dealt with pandemics and shortages, it helps because we have a better understanding what we might need should the occasion arise again.

Panic shouldn’t be a reason to stockpile. Here is my post on How to Prepare for Difficult Times.

Once you have a good grip on what you are stockpiling for, you will better understand what you need in your pantry. If you aren’t sure what you want to stock your pantry for, plan to stock up at least 3 months worth of food. 3 months is a good starting place as it should get you through most natural disasters or other emergencies, such as job loss.

Tip: Find more here on Why Stockpile?

Glass jars filled with dry foods in a pantry.

What to Stockpile

Many people make the mistake of stockpiling things like cereal or store canned food. But what happens if your family decides they don’t like the cereal in a few months? Or what if you have stockpiled more than you will be able to eat before it expires? That’s not going to do you any good.

On a budget? Here’s How to Build a Stockpile With $5 a Week.

Another mistake people make is buying too many freeze-dried foods. This might make some people mad, but before you hit that unsubscribe button, hear me out! If you are going through a natural disaster and you are stuck inside your home. Stress is high. Would you rather serve your family a freeze-dried, reconstituted meal from a Mylar bag …

…or would you rather serve your family a fresh jar of stew from a previous year’s garden bounty?

There is nothing wrong with having a small supply of serious emergency foods (we even have some!), but personally, I’d much rather preserve and stock my pantry with foods that will last a long time and will always have the same great taste and healthy flavor. I think there is a good balance in doing some of both.

Still not sure? Here’s How to Build a Whole Foods Stockpile.

Canned Goods

Stockpiling Plan of Action

My plan of action behind stocking my pantry is to stock it with healthy foods I know we will eat, I know will last long, and that are bases for meals. In other words, staples.

So you’ve decided to start filling your pantry with staples and you want to get to 3 months. How and where do you start? Here’s my suggestion….for one month, write down how much your family eats. How many pounds of oats you go through, how many pounds of flour you use, ect. Write all those things down, and at the end of the month, add it up.

Tip: Not sure what to make from your stockpile? Here are tips on Eating from the Pantry.


When It’s Time to Stock Up

Then it’s time to stock up! It’s very possible to stock up using your existing budget. Just be aware and take advantage of good deals, and don’t feel like you need to stock your pantry in one shopping trip or even in one month. Take your time and build your pantry slowly.

No room to store it? Here are some tips on Small Space Storage.

To help you on this journey, I’ve created a simple Pantry Needs Checklist and Chart. With this chart, you can write down how much you need and how much you have stored in your pantry. It has my list of recommended pantry staples and room to write in others that I might have missed. Just click the link below to download!

Printable page to track stockpiling needs.

Pantry Needs Checklist & Chart Printable

More Articles About Stockpiling

Homestead Management

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What do you stockpile for? Do you feel like you stockpile enough for what you need?

Me and Kady

Merissa has been blogging about and living the simple life since 2009 and has internationally published 2 books on the topic. You can read about Merissa’s journey from penniless to freedom on the About Page. You can send her a message any time from the Contact Page.


This blog post on Pantry Needs and Stockpiling Enough was originally posted on Little House Living in August 2012. It has been updated as of August 2023.

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  1. Merissa,
    Love your stock pile. Was wondering though if you have any recipes for soups or stews that you’d be willing to share? I’d love to try some. I know not to can anything with dairy or noodles/rice. I’ve got alot of broccoli/cauliflower from the garden frozen and would love to use it in a soup (especially cheddar broccoli!) but I know not everything will be able to be canned. Thanks so much!!!!!!!!

    1. I don’t have any posted yet but I’ll be working on some with the latest batch of produce I got. One easy one is potato soup. You can can up chicken broth and potatoes and onions to make a simple potato soup!

  2. Thanks for the printable. I have started on my stockpile, but need to go further. I get some resistance though from family so it is hard. 🙁

  3. A good basic list.
    I live spitting distance to the San Andreas fault and a couple of others, intersecting. I also live on a California hillside in serious fire and flood/mud danger. My disaster preparedness goes much further than food.
    Water is something not on your list. If you have a well and have no electricity to run a pump it is not pretty nor comfortable.

  4. Another issue I have with freeze dried food is that if one is stockpiling in case of disaster, fresh water may not be available to reconstitute the food. A few meals worth of freeze dried food might be helpful to have on hand in case one might need to evacuate quickly, but otherwise stockpiling significant amounts seems futile.

  5. We have some freeze dried veggies and fruits stockpiled away, when we got them on sale. I also buy #10 cans of freeze dried onion flakes, because I can go through that much in a six month period LOL… However, not all our food is freeze dried. Some is dehydrated from our own garden (beet greens, chard, some of the herbs, etc.). We also freeze and can. I try to do a good mix of many different kinds of storage, simply because they’re good for different things.

    I also try to store things in separate containers. I can take one jar of chicken broth, one package of freeze dried potato flakes, a few spoonfuls of onion flakes, a bit of dried milk, and a handful of greens and other veggies from my stores, and make a lovely potato soup. I can pull out different ingredients to make different things. I do make a few packages (dried hamburger in with noodles and the dry ingredients to make “hamburger helper” for instance), but honestly they’re more for use on nights when I’m so busy all I can do is dump stuff in a crock pot.

    In an emergency, to be frank I’ll probably have more time for baking and cooking, simply because I’m not going to be spending time working on the computer. 😉

  6. The cheapest solar path lights you can find should be tucked into a corner somewhere. I found some for $1 at Walmart. Don’t activate until your power goes off. Then pull that little tab. You have safe lights for even the littlest ones to carry with them into any room. They can be tucked into a vase or a tall glass. And they are not as hot as flame-type lights. In daylight they can be recharged outside for the next night if needed. I have them tucked into many corners.

  7. Do you have a good canning vegetable soup recipe? I got one from the Ball site, but just wanting another one. Thanks!

  8. Pingback: Pantry Needs and Stockpiling (Plus Printable!) – Little House on the … – Best Emergency Foods
  9. We now know the absolute importance of storing water. I have heard this all my life. Food storage, just do it! When the flood of 2010 hit us here in TN, we quickly found out that we didn’t have enough water on hand. Not even for flushing the toilet (we live on a well system). I am a firm believer in storing the water. We store water in empty bleach bottles for washing dishes, flushing toilets etc. We also store water in empty soda bottles (2Liters) for drinking. I rotate this as often as I can, but every 3 months is a good idea. Another thing that has always been drilled in, is to ONLY STORE WHAT YOU WILL EAT! Like you mentioned, in an emergency dried MRE’s are fine, but in an extended situation where stress is high, you’ll be wanting comfort foods. My family doesn’t use a lot of honey, so why would I store tons of it? I store just enough, but stock up on jams during berry season so that we have enough for a year. One thing I also do, someone mentioned onions (dehydrated), I personally don’t like the actual onions in my dip, so I sift them out and store them in another container for other things, like a roast or taco meat. I would love to see someone do a tutorial on dehydrating hamburger meat,,,that’s something I’ve never tried!

  10. My husband put up narrow wooden strip across the front of each of our shelves that hold our canned food so that in case of an earth tremor the jars won’t fall off the shelves.

  11. I am an avid canner. While I love have a variety of foods canned, I also stock freeze dried foods and dehydrated foods. Yes, you have to have water on hand to reconstitute these foods, but not tons of it. The flavor is great in these foods, they don’t weigh a ton, which can be a huge factor in an emergency that might require you to leave your home. While I love the ease of my canned foods, I don’t want people to turn away from other food sources. They all have their uses and should be considered for an emergency pantry. Anyone preparing an emergency pantry should be storing a lot of water anyway.

  12. Hi Merissa! I am new to your site but just love it. I don’t know how you have done it, but you have successfully put everything I need to know it one place.

    I am disabled so I do have to make a few adjustments but you have given me the starting point I needed.

    We have a cellar that has a water problem. We have a dehumidifier and bathroom fans that run but it still is damp. I still want to store my foods down there but I am worried about it having a very short shelf life or having a mold or rodent problem.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    1. Have you figured out where the dampness is coming from? At our last house we finally realized that there wasn’t enough dirt built up around the backside of our house and when it rained the water would just pour right into the crawlspace, we ended up having the trench the backyard and the build up the soil around the house plus put in vents to help it finally clear up. Yes, if the basement is damp/too humid your produce will have a shorter shelf life.
      If there isn’t anything you can do about the basement I would possible consider a closet area in the house. I had one closet in my entry way that stayed fairly cool, not as cool as I wanted it to be but cool enough to be more effective than storing the produce elsewhere.