What Does Emergency Preparation Look Like for Your Pantry?

Reader Contribution by Dana Gnad
article image

A pantry. It can be a gorgeous space that looks like a mini grocery store, or it can be as simple as a plastic bin with a lid shoved under the bed. Whatever you consider your pantry, you should always have one and keep it stocked for emergencies.

With Covid-19 upon us as a nation, it is imperative that everyone has at least some provisions. This does not mean hoarding or binge shopping just because. Having two weeks’ worth of food is a tough thing to get when everything is closed, or the stores have sold out of the basics. Building this pantry slowly may not be possible if you’re suddenly pitched into an isolation situation, but it is doable. Many online markets are available, including many local chains offering delivery or pickup.

Our pantry has evolved over the years from a small lidded box stashed under our bed when we lived in an apartment in the city all the way to our current project, an entire room dedicated to food storage, laundry and a sitting area for our kitchen. I’ve had everything in between over the years – an unused closet in a guest bedroom, a shelf under the stairs in the basement, a cupboard in the kitchen – they all served to store our daily food as well as keep us well fed and comfortable in an emergency.

Here in the northeast, we can have blizzards, ice storms, freezing rain, floods, tornadoes, heat waves and random blackouts. I have seen all of the above over the years, and each time we go through something extreme, I take stock of what we did and didn’t do in order to learn and prepare for the next time.

Prepare for the Worst, Hope for the Best

My motto: Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

I’m not a pessimist, by any means, nor am I an alarmist or “prepper” (though I have a few in my family). I just believe that failing to prepare is preparing to fail. I am the person who loves to organize, make lists, research new and better ways of doing something. I spend hours online figuring out the holes in my knowledge. I might be a control freak, but I’m a prepared control freak – I absolutely hate surprises. I do, however love data.

So how does this relate to a pantry? I think you can guess. Looping back to my previous statement, a pantry can be anything as long as it contains your daily food and your emergency food.

My first pantry was a plastic lidded bin that I kept under our bed in our first apartment after we were married. I kept some basic things in it: Peanut butter, crackers, canned beans, soup, canned pasta and some chocolates, along with a can opener, first aid kit, flashlight, cash and some dog food for the puppers). It was hardly enough for us to last more than a few days, but if the power went out for a few days, we and the puppers would at least be fed. We always had bottled water on hand as our tap water tasted like a swimming pool.

I’ve progressed quite a way from that meager bin. Time, experience, a growing family and more money have allowed me to create a pantry that our family can use to survive any emergency for weeks if not months, if we’re careful. I’m embarrassed to admit that I only just finished creating an emergency car kit a few weeks ago – we travel extensively, and while I had some basics in my car, I knew we were asking for trouble sooner rather than later.

But we’re here to discuss a pantry.

So, what do I keep in my current pantry? Well, we’re currently downsized while we do our remodel, so what I have is confined to 4 Raskog carts from IKEA and a cabinet in our kitchen that I reclaimed. Like I said, a pantry can be anything!

I have celiac disease (so we’re gluten free) and we have multiple additional food allergies and medical issues, so your mileage may differ. Many of the items are labeled for travel. I carry my own snacks and emergency meals just in case there are no GF options available (which happens quite often and watching everyone one else eat is no fun). I also carry nut milks, cheese, fresh fruit and chopped veggies in a small portable refrigerator when I travel.

Below you will find a list of the main items I keep in my pantry year-round. This is by no means an exhaustive list, nor is it meant to be a recommendation for items. It is merely a list to get you thinking about your own needs. Again, we have very specific dietary needs here at Lazy Dog, which can turn into a medical problem if supply chains are disrupted – so even quantities needed might be different for you. Think about what you eat daily or weekly, what items go into making those things, what items you like to have for comfort…because in an emergency, comfort is an essential component of being prepared. You will be stressed; you may be socially isolated. You will want chocolate, or cheese, or whatever gives you joy.

Pantry List at Lazy Dog Farm

Flour:

  • 10 lbs. of all-purpose,
  • 1 lb. of almond,
  • 1 lb. of xanthan gum,
  • 1 lb. cassava (for ‘flour’ tortillas)

Sweeteners

  • 5 lbs raw sugar
  • 1 lb powdered sugar
  • Box sugar packets (for travel/ camping)
  • 2 bottles of honey
  • 2 large jugs maple syrup

2 cans baking powder

3 large boxes baking soda (for cooking and cleaning)

2 jars yeast

Corn starch

5lbs masa harina (we make a lot of tortillas)

2 boxes of pancake mix (for lazy days)

Cake mix

  • 2 boxes chocolate
  • 2 boxes vanilla
  • Angel food mix

10 lbs. sea salt

Homemade baking mixes (refill as used)

  • Swedish pancake mix (2)
  • Waffle mix (2)
  • Cookie mix (2)
  • Pudding mix
  • Instant oat jars dry mix

Chocolate chips

  • 1 bag dark
  • 2 bags milk
  • 1 bag dark chocolate chunks

Sprinkles. At least 1 large container

Beans and Grains, dry

  • 2 lbs. split peas
  • 2 lbs. red lentils
  • 2 lbs. green lentils
  • 10 lbs. sushi rice
  • 5 lbs. jasmine rice
  • 2 lbs. quinoa
  • 5 lbs. of assorted rice – green, black, etc.
  • 1lb kidney beans
  • 1lb chickpeas
  • 1lb great northern beans
  • Dozen or so Jarred soup mixes – homemade
  • Beans (canned)
  • 1 case black beans
  • 1 case great northern beans
  • 1 case kidney beans
  • 6 cans canned chickpeas
  • 6 cans lima beans

Soups

  • 6 cans tomato soup
  • 2 boxes GF tomato soup
  • Case vegetable broth
  • Case chicken broth
  • 2 boxes vegetable bullion
  • 6 cans misc. Soups – heat & serve
  • 2 boxes Miso cup

Meats (canned)

  • 12 cans tuna
  • Anchovies
  • Spam (for mutsubo – don’t judge)

2 packs Nori sheets (for sushi and miso soup)

Spring roll wrappers

Noodles

  • 5 boxes thin noodles
  • 5 boxes macaroni
  • 5 bags spaghetti
  • 3 boxes instant mac n cheese
  • Case ramen
  • Case cup noodles
  • 2 boxes lasagna noodles
  • 5 boxes veggie noodles

Canned vegetables and fruits

  • Case potatoes
  • 6 cans corn
  • Case pumpkin
  • 3 cans pie filling
  • Case mandarins
  • Case mixed fruits
  • Case pineapple
  • Jar luxardo cherries (for drinks and yogurt topping)

Juices

  • 2 jugs random fruit juice
  • 1 jug apple juice
  • Small jugs sunny D (for emergency vit C)
  • Tomato juice

Crackers

  • 2 boxes saltines
  • 2 bags oyster crackers
  • 2 boxes graham crackers
  • 2 boxes table crackers

Crunchy snacks

  • Rice rolls
  • Chips
  • Tortilla chips
  • Rice snacks
  • Pretzels
  • Cereals
  • Crisp rice
  • Chex
  • Sugary cereal (for emergencies)

Instant Oatmeal (for travel)

Grits

Cleaning supplies

  • Laundry detergent
  • Fabric softener
  • Stain remover
  • Meyers’ Clean day all-purpose spray
  • Homemade sanitizing wipes
  • Glass cleaner
  • Bronner’s Sal Suds
  • Hand soap
  • Dish soap
  • Extra cleaning rags
  • Paper towels
  • Garbage bags

Personal care

  • Soap
  • First aid kit
  • Deodorant
  • Toothpaste
  • Medications
  • Toilet paper
  • Kleenex
  • Feminine hygiene
  • Razors
  • Shampoo

For Lazy Dog

  • Dog food (enough for 4 weeks)
  • Bottled water
  • Treats
  • Dog first aid kit
  • Leash, collar
  • Waste bags
  • Vaccination records and microchip info in waterproof bag
  • Medications

Dana Gnad is a freelance writer and photographer with over 20 years of experience in technology. She has spent most of her life living on various homesteads — off-grid, urban, and everywhere in between. Currently camped out on 30 acres in the suburbs, affectionately known as The Lazy Dog Farm, she is working on her first book and dreaming of a life on the sea. Connect with Dana on Facebook, Twitter,and Instagram, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.