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Are you concerned about rising food prices and unsure how to prepare? Here’s a guide to Practical Food Storage to prepare for price increases!
How to Prepare for Price Increases
Have you ever wondered what you would do if the prices of the things that you buy the most, food and clothing, suddenly went up significantly? Would your family survive on the same budget you live on now? Or would they suffer under the weight of the new costs?
Many times, when the prices of consumable goods increase, it’s only a temporary increase. That means that we need to learn how to weather the storm. Of course, we can always focus on long-term help such as being able to grow a garden, being as self-sufficient as possible, etc (Learn how anyone can be more self-sufficient!)
But this article will focus on things you can do for those short-term price increases. This series is based on a series originally posted on Little House Living in 2011 and has been updated. Let’s dive in!
Tip: If you aren’t sure why you would stockpile, check out this article first – Why Stockpile?
Creating a 3-6 Month Needs List
Before you start your food and items storage, you need to figure out what you will need. The easiest way to do this will be to make a list of what you use.
If you meal plan, this step will be much easier. Look through your old meal plans and figure out how much your family eats over a month. Write down how many pounds of hamburger, how many packages of pasta, etc.
It’s also a good idea to do this with your health, beauty, and toiletry products. I’ve mentioned how I make a How Long Does It Last Checklist.
This would be a great way to easily create your health and beauty stockpile. And don’t just use this method with health and beauty supplies; think facial tissue, toilet paper, and things like that, too.
Don’t think you must have all pantry items for your food storage. Even though having shelf-stable items and items that have a long shelf-life is the most sustainable form of food storage, it’s not necessary to be totally dependable on one form of storage. If electricity isn’t a concern for you, work on your stockpile in your freezer.
Once you have a good list of what you need, don’t feel like you need to buy everything all at once! If you are working towards buying the food items on your list, check out this article on How to Build a Stockpile with $5 Per Week.
Tip: If you want to go even further, check out my tips on building Long Term Food Storage.
Rotating Your Stockpile
Almost everything expires or goes bad over time. Even if you create a stockpile lasting at least 6 months, you should be prepared to rotate it monthly. Although they claim that some sealing methods will keep food good for 20 years, do you want to have to open a bag of 20-year-old wheat berries down the road?
When you put an item in your food storage, you should mark on the package or container what the product is and the date you sealed the box.
Depending on the product, you will want to go through both your food storage and your health and beauty stockpile about once every 6 months or once every year to rotate out the older products and eat them or use them up and replace them with new, fresh products.
Remember, we aren’t building a stockpile here to last through the ages; we are just building a practical stockpile should something happen with the economy or consumer prices shortly.
For your health and beauty stockpile, it doesn’t hurt to write the product expiration date in a large permanent marker so you can read it easily. Make sure this part of your stockpile is sorted through every 6 months to a year, and take out the products close to their expiration date.
Use them up or donate them.
A clean, well-organized stockpile is a happy and efficient stockpile. Things will be easier to find, and you don’t have to worry about wasting money on products that are no longer good.
Tip: Make sure you keep your food protected. Here’s how to seal it away from Pests and Insects.
Whenever you buy a new product for your storage or stockpile, mark it with the expiration date or the packaging date and stick it in the back of the closet, pantry, or wherever your storage may be, and move the current stockpile items up further so they can be used first.
In a retail or grocery store, it’s called facing; bring the older products up to the front so they can sell first and make room for the newer products. Your stockpile is your little local grocery store!
Tip: Knowing how to do your own forms of food preservation can be huge when it comes to building a stockpile. Learn more here.
How to Stockpile Water
Something that should be high on your priority list when creating a food storage and product storage stockpile is a water stockpile. Every person needs water to survive, so learning how to stockpile water is very important.
You should store enough water for each person in your family for 2 weeks. Each person should have 1 gallon of water daily in the stockpile, so if you have 2 people in your family, you should have 28 gallons of water.
If this is too much for you (if space is an issue), you should at least have 3 days of water stored for each person at the bare minimum.
Why stockpile water? In case something contaminates your water source, in case you may be out of electricity and your well can’t function, in case bad weather comes and freezes your pipes.
There are many different reasons to stockpile water, each as important as the last. You can read more about our time with our running water in my article on How to Survive Without Running Water.
If it works well for you, I’ve seen large food-grade 55-gallon drums that you can store water in. This may be a good option if you are short on space but still want a decent water stockpile.
You shouldn’t use milk jugs when storing water long term because they aren’t meant to hold liquid long term, and the plastic will eventually break down.
A good way to store water is in old pop/soda liter containers or gallon-size vinegar-type plastic jugs. The plastic is thicker on both (if you order them now, you can get BPA-free, I believe), so they will last longer without breaking down.
You can also get nice water storage containers online that hold more than 1 gallon; some are even stackable!
Store the water in a cool, dark area (like a pantry or a basement) to avoid wearing down the containers prematurely. Be sure to change out the water every month or every other month if possible.
You may also want to consider having a source of clean drinking water if you are planning for a longer term (since you can’t exactly store water to last 3-6 months!). We have been using a Berkey Water Filter System for many years, and I highly recommend it!
Prepping by Learning Basic Skills
If we assume the prices of everything will rise, and we are learning to barter and more…doesn’t it make sense to know some other basic skills?
These are things that we pay for now, but if we lived back in the 1800s or early 1900’s we wouldn’t even consider paying for luxuries like these! I’m just going to list a few here that I suggest you learn. I’ll also include items you will need to utilize these basic skills.
Remember, there are SO many basic skills that you can and should learn, but in this article, we are just focusing on the very basics…how to feed and clothe yourself for a short period.
I’m surprised at how many people don’t know simple bread-baking skills! I think it’s because I grew up in a bubble; my mom made bread, and my grandma always made bread.
Even though I knew you could get bread from the store, I thought it tasted nasty. Bread baking is a skill learned best by being shown by someone who knows what they are doing. After you get the hang of it, it’s not that hard!
I can guarantee you that your first loaf won’t be perfect! I remember years of 4-H judges telling me what was wrong with my bread…now my hubby can’t wait for me to pull it out of the oven so he can munch on it like candy. Being able to bake is a very good basic skill to learn.
Here’s my Basic White Bread recipe to start practicing with.
What are some items you should stockpile to be able to utilize your baking skills?
- Yeast. Get the already vacuum-sealed packages and when you open one, put the rest in the freezer to keep it good for a long time.
- Flour, sugar, salt. Basic baking foods.
- A good bread pan or baking sheet. I recommend stoneware.
I’m even more surprised at the growing number of people who have no idea how to sew. I didn’t go to public school in high school, so my husband had to inform me that they are no longer teaching Home Ec!
I am not the best seamstress, but I’m glad I have the skills. I use it to sew up rips and tears in otherwise perfect clothing. I have a sewing machine, but you don’t need one to be prepared.
Get thread, needles, and some felt or thicker fabric, and start practicing. Look up some videos on YouTube if you need some visuals, or buy a basic sewing book. You will catch on fast!
What are some items you should stockpile to be able to complete your sewing skills as needed?
- Threads, several colors.
- Needles, various sizes. (Dollar store!)
- Scrap fabric for patches. (Learn where to buy cheap fabric here.)
- Good scissors.
If you are learning other essential skills, don’t forget to stock up on what you need for them! I love to crochet, and I make all my own washcloths and dishrags out of cotton yarn; when I found out the price of cotton was going to go up, I started stockpiling my favorite 100% cotton yarn so I could continue making dishcloths for us. It’s wise to plan ahead when you are able!
Extra Tips for Practical Food Storage
Don’t buy in bulk if it’s not something you use. Or don’t buy in bulk if it’s not something you can use up before it goes bad.
If you have large quantities of something, consider putting it in long-term storage until you can get to using it.
Not sure what to put in your practical food storage? Here’s a great list of Basic Foods to Stockpile in a Pantry.
It’s very important to keep your food storage protected from moisture and pests. There are plenty of containers out there to store food in, such as 5-gallon buckets, glass jars, and more. Here are my favorite Food Storage Containers.
If you want to create cold storage or make the most use of your cellar, here are my ideas on DIY Cold Storage methods.
Only have a tiny pantry? Here are some Small Pantry Storage Solutions I’d recommend checking out.
Basic Foods I Recommend Storing
I have many articles on how to build a proper stockpile and a well-stocked pantry but if you are still unsure where to start, here is a list of foods.
- Lentils and Dry Beans
- White Rice
- Pasta (spaghetti and other shapes)
- Jams and Jellies
- Peanut Butter (or other nut and seed butters)
- Oats and other whole grains
- Canned Chicken, Beef, or other meats
- Canned Tomatoes
- Canned Vegetables (carrots, green beans, peas, corn, etc)
- Potentially freeze-dried foods (aka survival food, although this really belongs in long term food storage or an emergency food supply)
- Any other high-nutrient foods that your family enjoys (protein powder, soups and chili, etc)
- Crackers and other shelf-stable snacks (chocolate! cookies! pickles!)
Common Questions About Food Storage
A 3 month supply of food for a family of 4 should have 1080 servings of food. That’s 3 meals per day for each member of the household for 90 days.
To stockpile food for a year or longer, you need to use some long-term food storage methods. I would also recommend having some cold storage.
The best foods to stockpile are ones that your family will eat. Anything that has a long shelf-life and is something that your family will eat is the food that you should stockpile.
Hopefully, this article has given you some ideas on creating practical food storage solutions for a short-term issue. Whatever your reason for prepping (natural disasters, job loss, economic downturn, zombies), if you prepare in advance, you will be better off.
And if it turns out that you don’t need to utilize your stockpile like you think you would have to, at least you had practice building emergency food storage and can take off a month or two from buying groceries.
What ideas for practical food storage can you share with us? Do you consider yourself a prepper?
Merissa has been blogging about and living the simple and frugal life on Little House Living 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 article on Practical Food Storage and Stockpiling Water was originally posted on Little House Living in October 2011 as a series of articles. It has been updated as of October 2023.