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Supermarket Food List: How To Prep Your Pantry for Survival

We walk you through what items to grab on your next grocery run to prep your pantry and get it apocalypse-proof.

So, you’re taking a look at the world around you, and the one thought that keeps running through your mind is this…

The world’s a dumpster fire, and things just keep getting worse. You can see everything burning all around you and are now wondering, “How on earth am I going to stay fed?”

Food TP Bullets
Food, TP, and ammo — the essentials.

If this sounds like you, and you’ve begun to look towards prepping for disaster, you’re likely to start with food first.

But where do you even begin? If you aren’t quite sure, you need to check out our supermarket shopping list.

This is what preppers buy to give themselves a starvation buffer post-disaster.

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Long-Term Food Storage

World War II hero and author of Nuclear War Survival Skills, Cresson Kearny, referred to long-term food storage as “famine insurance.”

He built a case throughout his book that having plenty of food is not the norm within history, and if you’re willing to pay thousands of dollars every year on health, car, and house insurance, why not spend $30 a month to ensure your family can eat in a time of famine?

The man was a genius, and I think he was spot on with his analysis here. There’s no need to spend hundreds of dollars on expensive “survival foods” either. I think MREs are pretty awesome, but there are cheaper alternatives.

During the Cold War, when nuclear Armageddon seemed imminent, Kearny crafted a simple survival ration that is easily stored, affordable, and easy to source. He called it his “30-Day Basic Survival Ration,” and it is still viable today.

For one adult to live one month, Kearny recommended the following:

  • 30 pounds of whole-kernel hard wheat
  • 9.4 pounds of beans
  • 3.8 pounds of nonfat milk powder
  • 1.9 pounds of vegetable oil
  • 3.8 pounds of sugar
  • 0.63 pounds of salt
  • One multivitamin pill/day
Kearny recommends a variety of the musical fruit in a post-disaster environment. Bean-wise, we mainly eat black beans in my house, but I’m also a fan of the type named after the car that was known for exploding when it was rear-ended.

Keep in mind that one would need access to plenty of water, the means to cook food and bake bread, a grain mill, and an ability to fight off days of “food boredom” with this diet.

The notion of beans, bullets, and band-aids has been around a long time because it’s functional.

Storing simple foods like whole kernel wheat, sugar, and salt are easy ways to ensure that you have adequate nutrition when it comes time to draw on those supplies.

In case you were wondering what nonfat dry milk looks like, it’s this. Kearny actually used this as the basis for a DIY infant formula he crafted to keep American babies fed in the event of a famine-inducing nuclear strike on American soil.

Other Long-Term Food Options to Consider

  • Rice
  • Canned foods
  • Pasta
  • Survival food buckets

You can still pick up 20 pounds of white rice for about $9 at your local Walmart. That’s close to 33,000 calories sitting right there in front of you.

How many calories will you get from a $200 emergency food bucket?

Let’s stop on that last one — I’ve no problem with anybody purchasing survival food buckets.

Cans filled with freeze-dried and vacuum-sealed products will last a long time. It’s nice to have the peace of mind five years down the road knowing that what you’re eating hasn’t accidentally been contaminated by moisture or anything else.

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5-gallon buckets + gamma seal lids + oxygen absorbers = a pretty good long-term food storage plan. You can always vacuum seal your food in a mylar bag before sticking it in that bucket for even more insurance.

If you have the money to spend and don’t want to worry about storing food incorrectly, then the food bucket may be for you; we’ve done it too.

In fact, we’ve written an article that will help you find some of the best survival meals out there.

I’ve found that off-brand fruits and veggies are okay, but name-brand meat is the way to go.

Regarding canned foods, there’s a bit of debate about how long these will last. The USDA says they have the capacity to be safe to eat indefinitely; however, that’s not something I’m willing to stand by.

If you’re not stocking Dinty Moore, you’re doing it wrong.

Pantry Food Storage

The average American has three days of food in their house, which, as Joe Dolio points out in his Baseline Training Manual, means that you have maybe a three-day buffer until society disintegrates.

I consider the pantry to be your first line of defense against starvation.

These will all be items with a medium shelf life, but you’ll typically burn through them so quickly that it’s not something you really have to worry about:

  • Beef jerky
  • Bread
  • Candy
  • Canned soups, canned tuna
  • Chips and crackers
  • Dehydrated fruit, raisins
  • Dried pasta
  • Flour
  • Granola bars, mixed nuts
  • Muffin mix, pancake mix
  • Oatmeal and grits
  • Potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes
  • Peanut butter
  • Popcorn
  • Pop-Tarts
  • Salt, sugar
Two boxes of kid-version “MREs.”

I normally keep a counter full of apples, oranges, and bananas as well.

Everybody’s pantry is going to look different, but this will help get you thinking about what steps you can take to ensure that you don’t have to dip into your emergency food storage right off the bat after a disaster strikes.

Ideally, you would want to eat through all the stuff slated to spoil in the near future before cracking open that 5-gallon bucket of beans that could last another 20 years.

Freezer Food Storage

Right now, I believe that meat is the only “freezer food” that you should concern yourself with. For a number of reasons, I think that meat will skyrocket in price in the near future if not disappear from store shelves altogether.

Venezuela supermarket during the collapse. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Where I live, we’re already seeing limits on the number of packets of chicken one can buy, ground beef is insanely expensive compared to 2019, and in many cases, you can’t find the meat you’re looking for.

My recommendation here is this — stock your freezer full of meat.

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Depending on where you live, one of the most economical means of doing this is to engage in a herd share program with a local farmer. Find somebody that will sell you a third of a share of a pig and put it in your freezer. When I butchered my pig, it came out to around 300 pounds of pork.

If that’s not possible, grab your rifle and head to the woods. Start taking advantage of hunting season and learn how to dress your own game if you don’t already.

Pack your freezer to the brim. Buy another deep freezer and fill it too. Get that farmer’s phone number and stay on their good side. Get them to text you when they have new products.

Should the power go out, it is wise to have the means to cook and dehydrate your meat off-grid.

A propane grill will allow you to easily cook meat without electricity. You can also hook up an electric dehydrator to a Jackery solar rig to help extend the shelf life of any meat you have.

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The point is that your freezer can hold hundreds of thousands of calories — take advantage of it.

Final Thoughts

I truly think Americans should have their food storage in order sooner rather than later. Just like with a gun and a self-defense situation, it’s much better to have what you need before you need it.

USCCA Survival, Food
You can never be too prepared.

If you wait until the stores are empty and the roads are locked down, you will be at a severe disadvantage.

What are your thoughts on freezer foods, pantry foods, and long-term survival foods? Are there other items you would add to a prepper supermarket list? Let us know in the comments below. For more on food storage, check out our guide to Long-Term Food Storage.

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9 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    JRB

    Dried is better than canned. Canned food loses its nutritional value. Of course you have to have access to water....

    July 16, 2022 12:45 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Vmaximus

    Growing up in hurricane country, we always had food on hand for a storm and power outage. I think I can add 2 things to this conversation.

    1. my brother and I were talking and he threw out several cans of tuna he bought because a storm was coming 8 or 9 years ago. He hates tuna and never ate any of it. One can went bad and he threw out the lot because he did not trust the rest were good . So the lesson is do not buy something you will not eat, and rotate! Rotate! Rotate!

    2. Country ham, is a little pricey but having 15-20# of meat that does not need refrigeration is huge. I usually have three and rotate one a year (eat the oldest and replace)
    Also consider dried mushrooms, they are light, last indefinitely, are tasty, nutritious and good filler to add to those rice and beans etc.

    July 15, 2022 5:20 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    monster

    While I would take a multi-vitamin thinking it can't hurt, I've read a lot that says they are useless, even read it again recently.

    July 12, 2022 6:29 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      JRB

      You're right for the most part. Many vitamins are not absorbed unless they are liquid or possibly capsules. Checked with a natural doctor on this.

      July 16, 2022 12:47 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Farmer Jones

    By bulk, hot bath/pressure cook, Plano plastic containers for bags of rice, flour, sugar, beans. Thumbs up on freezers full of meat. Canned meats are a plus. Learn to garden, fish and hunt. Waste not, save broth for stew/soup that can be perssure cooked. Bulk fruit can be dehydrated then vacumned packed.

    July 12, 2022 6:24 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Len C

    Great article and thanks for all the tips. I've been trying to make my stash but sometimes didn't really know what to get for my prep pantry. (putting this article in my bookmarks)

    July 12, 2022 5:44 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Doug Stierheim

    Please publish the information for making baby formula mentioned in the article. Likely to be very helpful to the families affected by recent formula and baby food shortages.

    July 12, 2022 5:35 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      John

      there are a bunch of different ones, using everything from cow milk to evaporated milk to powdered milk to goat milk to soy milk.

      According to the FDA:

      Homemade formulas should not be used. Homemade formulas based on whole cow’s milk don’t meet all of an infant’s vitamin and mineral needs. In addition, the high protein content of cow’s milk makes it difficult for an infant to digest and may put a strain on the baby’s immature kidneys. Substituting evaporated milk for whole milk may make formula easier to digest, but it is still nutritionally inadequate when compared to commercially prepared formula. Use of soy drinks as an infant formula can actually be life-threatening.

      According to the International Food Information Council:

      There is no nutritional analysis for these home recipes, and consuming improper quantities of nutrients can cause poor growth and development. Some recipes call for the use of unpasteurized or raw milk, raising the risk of the presence of E. coli, Listeria, Campylobacter spp, or Salmonella—pathogens that can cause serious health risks.

      On the subject of raw milk - i bring this up because one of our local 'back to nature' people raising his own everything decided during the formula shortage he was gonna make some home made formula for his grand child. He was meaning well, but he used raw milk. That night after the first feeding the child had to be rushed to the hospital, kidneys were shutting down basically.

      the International Food Information Council has this to further say about homemade formulas and cow milk:

      cow’s milk protein that has not been cooked or processed is difficult for an infant to digest. In addition, the high protein and electrolyte (salt) content of cow’s milk may put a strain on an infant’s immature kidneys. Substituting evaporated milk for whole milk may make the homemade formula easier to digest because of the effect of processing on the protein, but the formula is still nutritionally inadequate and still may stress the kidneys.

      I'd post some links for you but this darn thing will not let me post links

      July 13, 2022 4:18 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Doug Stierheim

        Well, judging from your reply to my comment, maybe you shouldn't have mentioned making homemade baby formula at all!

        July 13, 2022 7:09 pm
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