Practical Food Storage and Preparing For Price Increases

Are you concerned about rising food prices and aren’t sure how to prepare? Here’s a guide to Practical Food Storage to prepare for price increases!

Are you concerned about rising food prices and aren't sure how to prepare? Here's a guide to Practical Food Storage to prepare for price increases! #foodstorage #prepping #bepreparednotscared

Practical Food Storage and 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 be able to 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 just means that we need to learn how to weather the storm. Of course, we can always focus on long-term helps 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 that 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!

If you aren’t sure why you would stockpile be sure and 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. Take a 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, ect.

It’s also a good idea to do this with your health and beauty and toiletry products as well. I’ve mentioned before how I make a How Long Does It Last Checklist.

This would be a great way to easily be able to 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 that you need to have all pantry items for your food storage. Even though having shelf stable items 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 as well.

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.

Rotating Your Stockpile

Almost everything expires or goes bad over time. Even if you create a stockpile that should last you at least 6 months, you should be prepared to rotate it on a monthly basis. Although they claim that some sealing methods will keep food good for 20 years, do you really want to have to open a bag of 20-year-old wheat berries down the road? Me either.

When you put an item in your food storage you should clearly mark on the package or container what the product is and the date you sealed the package.

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 in the near future.

For your health and beauty stockpile, it doesn’t hurt to write on the products the expiration date in 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 that are 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.

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 grocery or retail 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 personal little store!

Using the Berkey Water Filter

Stockpiling Water

Something that should be high on your priority list when creating a food storage and products storage stockpile is a water stockpile. Every person needs water to survive so learning how to stockpile water is very important.

It is recommended that you store enough water for each person in your family for 2 weeks. Each person should have 1 gallon of water each day 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 one of them 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. If you are short on space but still want a decent water stockpile, this may be a good option for you.

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 (and if you order them new 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 and 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 and 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!

Bread Baking

Prepping by Learning Basic Skills

Alright, if we are assuming the prices of everything will rise and we are learning to barter and more…doesn’t it make sense to learn 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 be including items that 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 of time.

Baking 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, my grandma always made bread.

Even though I knew you could get bread from the store I thought it tasted pretty nasty. Bread baking is a skill learned best by being shown by someone that knows what they are doing. After you get the hang of it it’s really 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, but 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.

Sewing I’m even more surprised at the growing number of people that 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 anymore!

I am not the best seamstress but I’m glad I have the skill. 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.

Just get thread, needles, and some felt or other 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?

If there are other basic skills you are learning, 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 a 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 smart to plan ahead when you are able!

Hopefully, this article has given you some ideas on how you can begin to create some practical food storage solutions for a short-term issue. Whatever your reason for prepping (job loss, economic downturn, zombies), if you prepare in advance, you will be better off in the end. And if it turns out that you don’t need to utilize your stockpile like you think you were going to have to, at least you had practice in building a stockpile and can take off a month or two from buying groceries.

Want to learn even more about Stockpiling? Be sure and check out my page on Stockpiling here!

What are some ideas for practical food storage that you can share with us? Do you consider yourself a prepper?

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 2022.

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58 Comments

  1. This is something I definately need to work on. I used to have quite a stockpile. I never planned it out though. I just bought things we used on a reg basis when they were on sale (kept up w/sale roataions) and put them in the pantry. It was a hug blessing when we lost or house. We lived off of that pantry with minimal supplementation for close to a year. I need to be more organized now because we have food allergies to gluten now. Looking forward to doing it this way.

  2. We store water for flushing toilets in 5 gallon gas cans. We have had them for at least 15 years and they have never leaked. This time of year you can sometimes buy apple cider in gallon glass jugs. I have 10 of them that I keep drinking water in. That 55 gallon drum looks great but the price is what put me off of that 🙂

    1. I used to get those 5 gallon water cooler jugs with lids. Such as “Poland spring”
      Kept one next to each toilet. Only had to use a few times but it wasn’t in the way and I was soooo glad to have it when we needed it!

  3. How long can you safely store well water in a 5 gallon water jug? (The kind that go on the coolers at the office) Is the storage time different if you use RO purified water?

  4. Debbie-we have well water too and I find it gets moldy after a few months. You can put bleach in stored water to keep it longer but I don’t remember the amount per gallon. Those 5 gallon jugs of purified water is a good idea but I wonder about chemicals leeching out of the plastic–anyone know that?

    1. Those are ok for a very short term storage but the chemicals from the plastic starts to leach after a few months so they aren’t recommended to refill.

  5. I’m going to be installing a rain barrel next to the house gutters. It is a great way to water the plants but in dire circumstances, the water could be boiled and used for othe purposes.

  6. Love this series! Actually all of your series have been educational & inspirational :-). I was wondering about storing water. If I buy gallons of water, is it okay to refill them with tap water (city water)?

    1. I think it’s fine but I’m not 100% sure since I actually have well water…I know that you can always add a certain amount of bleach to purify the water when you need to use it but the thought of drinking bleach is scary to me so I’d rather boil the impurities out or buy a quality filter. (like a Berkey)

  7. My great aunt & grandma would write the expiration date (or date purchased) & the price they paid on the top of cans with permanent marker! When I was little I thought it was strange, but now as I am older I understand why! Smart ladies 🙂

  8. I was going to say the 3 that you listed! I think learning to sew teaches you so much more than just sewing..fabrics, what to wear with what..go sit down at a pattern book & you will see what I mean. Cooking, of course..it is so much better to eat homemade foods, seriously. Gardening..you can grow your own food. Canning. Basically, I feel just learning to be a little bit experimental & to try new things..you never know what you might like, or like to learn! 🙂

  9. Cooking from scratch! Seem that every time I go on the internet looking for a recipe it includes ingredients like seasoning packets and that nasty cream soup from a can. What happened to being able to cook a meal from basic ingredients that you have in your pantry and spice cabinet? This is a real pet peave of mine right now! I think couponing has made this much worse as all those convenience mixes have been so cheap for so long. We have forgotten what real food tastes like!

    1. Hands down YES! I forget about this sometimes because we only eat from scratch and we have for a long time. My hubby reminds me though when he comes home sick from going out to eat with co-workers. His stomach can’t handle the processed foods any more!

    2. i agree. Allergic to gluten makes me read every label. I can’t eat any of that now. It has to be from the spice rack and the garden. I have old cook books I still go to for inspiration. They don’t mention caned soup at all.LOL

  10. Great thoughts! I know I didn’t have much in this article compared to all the basic skills I think everyone should know but baking provides food for your family, sewing is all you mentioned above, and cutting hair, well trust me that one makes you feel like you can do anything!

  11. I would think another one would be learning to garden, can, and learning about herbs. Medicinal herbs are so good for you.

    1. There are some great “recipes” online. Or you could go really back to basics: vinegar, borax or something similar, lemon juice. Mix any of them with a little water and your good to go! 🙂

    2. Salt and/or sugar make great cleaning scrubs. As well as vinegar and lemon juice. Newspaper for cleaning windows. These were my grandmother approved cleaners.

  12. Knitting or crocheting are both good skills to have and can also provide you with a little extra income or give you items or a skill to barter with!

  13. Missy, I always thought the best place to get thread was Walmart but then I realized it’s much cheaper at a fabric store with a coupon or a sale. My good hair cutting scissors I got at Walmart, I think they might be Sally Hansen? They are nice and sharp. Yay for 3 bread pans! I still just have 2 but mine are both stones, I’d really like to have 4 someday since my Bosch can make some large loaves!

  14. So, I used to be one of “those” people that did not really make anythin from scratch.. My idea of baking was slice and bake cookies. Everyone stop laughing. lol When I met my husband and dated and then we became serious he started teaching me how to make things from scratch. Before his mother passed away, she made sure that her kids knew how to cook. He says the best dish I ever made for him was a baked fish dish, which is hilarious because I wore gloves and could not taste it since I am deathly allergic to fish. I now can cook and bake pretty much anything that comes up and have created a few recipes as well. This is such an invaluable resource to be able to cook. We also have saved so much money.. I also learn so much from your site, so thank you very much!

  15. Also, I completely stopped buying processed breads from the store. I make everything homemade breadwise and I make most of my food from scratch too (occassionally I have to cheat with karate and art classes falling on the same night) however 90% of my food is homemade. I can’t stand processed food. It tastes horrible. I want to start getting more into crocheting and knitting, but have no idea where to start. Thanks for any direction out there!

  16. Quilting, this used to be a time honored fun girls day out activity. Lots of socializing involved and you started learning as soon as you could maneuver a needle. Raising your own animals & butchering them. Nobody wants to know that their food had a face. They’d rather close their eyes and just imagine that the food magically appears on that styrofoam plate. They don’t want to know that it had to die or how it managed to live as long as it did. Making firewood and heating your home solely from wood heat. You don’t know how much work it takes, or how much satisfaction you get out of doing these basic skills, until you try them. We’ve all traded in basic skills (formerly essential…maybe soon to be essential again if the power grid goes or economy really fails…)for learning one or two skills well. Won’t do us much good to work our lives away in an office while our children grow up without us. These skills bring families together in a way that our society has forgotten.

    1. So true! I used to be one of the “office people” who couldn’t do anything. After I closed down my business, I started exploring all sorts of ways of increasing our independence from “the system”: gardening, sewing, making my own cleaning supplies, cooking from scratch, canning, dehydrating, and now I am exploring fermenting. I don’t have any kids – personal choice – but I feel so much better prepared for “real” life outside of a city environment. And nothing beats the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when you know you can and do things on your own! 🙂

  17. oh my goodness, public school taught me nothing of self-sufficiency. we did have home ec but they don’t go into detail about most of it, and they don’t demand that children pay close attention – just get thru the class, do what you are told so you can move on to bigger and better. it’s sad. I am determined to learn sewing (this year) and gardening, as part of my families move to simpler living.

    1. if there is a store that sells sewing machines near you (not wal mart) but a real store that sells sewing machines they usually have lessons on how to use it and classes on starting out sewing. once you start with the basics you can make anything .

  18. I learned to quilt about 10 years ago and when I started, I was determined to never purchase another blanket again. I purchase 100% cotton button up shirts from thrift stores, save all the buttons, rip out all the seams and cut 2″ squares out. When I have enough, I stitch up a quilt top for next to nothing. I’m recycling the shirts, while bringing beauty to our home. Quilt shops now charge about $9 – $12 per yard for their fabrics, which is something I refuse to do now. If anyone is interested in quilting, the best book out there is called “Quilts Quilts Quilts”. You won’t be sorry you invested in it!

      1. I just read that is is an 1/8th of teaspoon per gallon of water according to gov website. Someone posted it in another blog post.

  19. I had some leftover tiles when we remodeled our kitchen (16″ square I think). I keep one in the oven as a pizza stone and use another to roll my bread and biscuits on. Its a cheap baking stone and works pretty well. Just make sure you clean it thoroughly.

  20. If you are going to store water in the basement or garage do not store the container directly on the concrete. You can google the reason but basically the chemicals from the concrete migrate toward water and will contaminate your water. If you are going to store water in a basement or on a garage floor you must put a barrier between the concrete and the water bottle. Most people lay down 2 x 4’s and stack the water bottles on top of the 2 x 4’s. You could also store it on a shelf above the floor.

  21. The best way to ensure proper bleach to water ratio is to use a pool tester it should be 1 to 3 ppm of bleach. The exact amount per gallon is hard to determine since there is a clear difference from tap water to well water and one water plant to another. Measure it out as you test it on several gallons then you should know for future reference. Also if you are using a different water source (say you move to a different place) you will have to start from scratch since different locales use different amounts of bleach in tap water. There are also products out there that help prolong water storage up to five years a simple internet search will bring up multiple results.

  22. I use the five gallon food grade buckets you can get at lowes for five dollars. They are strong and sturdy enough to stack and will never leak. Much cheaper way of storing water to make life easier I have a extra lid with a hand pump secured in to it to get the water out and when one is out I just switch the lid.

    Please make sure to rotate your water. Easy way of doing that is every time you change your clocks for day light savings time change your water. My family and I use the stored water first before refilling them.

    This came in handy last week when Toledo Ohio had our water contaminated with HAB everyone was running around trying to find water driving hours just to find out that the stores were sold out. The national gaurd was called up to help supply water to the unprepared. Please don’t be one of those.

  23. I just thought I would add that for emergency water we bought for around $10.00 or less at Walmart, the blue water jugs used in offices. The water tastes good and kept a long time and there are several gallons each or smaller ones are available. I was impressed with the keep time. Anyway, I had bought one just in case, though no major disaster hit, we did loose power for a week or so. This water came in handy for cooking and what not. Pool water was great for flushing and washing.

  24. Hanging clothes on a line. It’s something that pretty much NO ONE does any more. And those I do see doing it doesn’t to it correctly.

  25. I’m in high school right now and not one school in my district even has a home ec class anymore! It’s really quite sad.

  26. When my daughter was 10 we visited my mother ( she lived in another town) at Thanksgiving. She showed me a box filled with quilt blocks. She had made a quilt for each of her children and also grandchildren, with the exception of my daughter. She was the youngest grandchild and the box of blocks was intended to be her quilt from Grandma. My dear mother lamented that she was afraid she wouldn’t have it finished before she passed. I put that stress out of her mind by promising to get it put together and quilt it. I told her it would be even more special because both our work would be in it. I took the box home and sadly, my mom passed the following March. I took a class in quilting, and ended up assembling the quilt and hand quilted it. That was 36 years ago, and my daughter cherishes it.

  27. Thanks for information about water storage and how I can better rotate and label my pantry. I have been pretty busy with living at home Community College students, son’s wedding and a sick dog.

  28. I have done pressure canning for many years,which is rewarding ,I decided near the end of 1999 with everyone full of fear,I would pressure can water in 1 & 2 quart jars as a precaution ,we had it on hand for a long time & never used it eventually threw it out ,But am sure it was ok.

  29. I think that learning about fermenting foods is a really good skill. It’s so healthy and also such an easy and cheap way of preserving food. I love your site, Marissa, and I hope everything is going well with your new place. God be with you, Caroline

  30. I think another important thing to prep is seeds. You can save your own seeds if they are heirloom seeds and expect them to grow true to parents. You never know when our food supply chain will be in danger. I also made sure I know how to knit socks . I also crochet, and sew. I am amazed by the young people today that can not even sew on a button or hem pants.

  31. I have a great bread recipe that allows you to use the dough as needed. I have been using it for years now and, while it is nutritionally not the best, it is incredibly convenient for smaller households, which may not know what to do with all that bread all at once. 🙂
    You’ll have to convert the measurements to imperial as we use the metric system.
    1 kg Flour
    20 g Salt
    22 g fresh Yeast (here it is sold in refrigerated cubes)
    650 ml Water
    Mix everything together as you would normally do with bread dough. Then, leave it in the refrigerator for 12 hours – I prepare the dough in the evening and then let it sit overnight. After 12 hours, the dough has done most of its rising and you can use the dough in quantities you need as you like. On Sundays, I make rolls using roughly 100 g of dough per roll. The dough can be used like this for up to 1 week after the initial mixing.
    Enjoy!

  32. My grandma would can water with her regular canning if she didn’t have enough jars to fill the canner up. And easy back up of drinking water.

  33. I came across prepper sites years ago. I have always been a gardener, canner and have always liked buying food. Therefore I always had plenty for the family. They are all gone but I still enjoy buying foods and only on sale for the most part because I have my own little store in the basement. I don’t have to buy anything at all. I have several shelves that I put all this food stuff, and kitchen and bathroom stuff on. Each year I start stacking on new shelves and keep using the earliest and earlier shelves daily. No need to worry about sell by dates for me. I do my own baking and make bread by using recipes that require no kneading. Just mix, let rise, punch down, let rise then bake. I stock evaporated milk, (2 cases a year) to use in coffee and to make ice cream and I can even make butter if I beat it past the whipped cream stage. Or just use it as whipped cream. I dehydrate different veggies I grow which is most of them and powder them together and use them as a health powder in cereal, bread, meat loaf, soups, etc. Actually, I use that powder in all sorts of things. I am getting so many veggies in my diet I believe it is why I never get sick. I am up in age and still, I don’t get sick. I freeze some, I can some and I use no poisons. Years ago I figured it all out. I pay attention to weather, politics, prices, trends, pandemics, how much things cost, how long things last and so much more. I started thinking I have these few acres mostly in forest but enough clear where I could grow so I planted fruit trees, berry bushes and made a large garden. I planted asparagus and herbs that would come back every year ago I wouldn’t have to worry about bad growing years because there would be something and then I got to canning and freezing as on it went..Someone just told me I am a pioneer woman. Well, why not. They survived. I plan on it as well. I used to frequent thrift stores a few times a week I bought appliances I used from them. A 1.00 new toaster and 50c clothing. I still have a walk in closet full of it because when the pandemic hit and I was home all the time I decided to wear only 7 outfits and some jeans. It is 3 years now and the tops are only just showing wear because I wash in cold water. I bought all old manual tools for building, mechanics and household from thrift stores so no matter what happens I can deal with it. Now all of that said and many more things I could add but will not I do like the finer things in life. I do like having lazy times and I do enjoy movies and some tv. Therefore I buy paper plates and towels because doing dishes is the one thing I hate the most. That might be because of two things. I was raised in diners and restaurants and boy there were a lot of dishes, pots, pans, grills. The other thing is I used to sell thousands of jars of pickled foods and jams etc at 4 Farmers markets with the foods I grew in the earlier days. All those huge pots, jars, clean up of kitchens etc. made me know that if I was going to do anything to pamper myself it would be not to have to wash dishes. I steam assorted veggies together in one pot, I saute” them in my iron frying pan or boil them in my pot or air fry them but not often. Yes, I have a small air fryer.Therefore I cut down on the pots. So, there you have it. The woman that just got called a pioneer woman and just a few bits of what you can do to care for you and your family. I guess I was lucky in that I figured it all out when things were dirt cheap and knew what to do about it to care for myself well when the time came and I was alone. I hope only the best for all of you and I hope you think about the future and prepare, well for it. Hugs