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If you are already on a tight food budget, you may be wondering how you will be able to manage the cost of building an emergency stockpile. With some planning, patience, and perseverance, you can start your pantry for just $100.
We hope to help you with the planning part by providing this list. The patience and perseverance parts come from shopping for sales on non-perishable items and rotating out items with new items as needed.
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Some beginning preppers who get overwhelmed think they need to purchase several months’ worth of food. Not only can the cost of all this food be intimidating, but having the space to store it may be impossible.
When prepping on a tight budget, it’s more realistic to begin by building a supply that will last your family for five to seven days. Look for bulk sizes for many of these items at your local superstore or at your nearest warehouse-style retailer.
For the purposes of this list, we have chosen inexpensive, long-lasting basic food items that can be eaten on their own or easily mixed with other items. To keep your food stockpile safe, it is a good idea to place packaged items in food grade buckets with tight-fitting lids.
You can purchase the buckets at most home improvement stores or on Amazon. Here’s what to buy…
Rice is versatile, inexpensive, and shelf-stable when stored in buckets or air-tight containers.
You can break down cheaper bulk-sized bags of flour into smaller bags and then store the smaller bags in food grade buckets. Freeze the bags first to kill off any pests that may have found their way into the packaging.
If you have a grain grinder, you may want to consider storing wheat berries instead.
Many retailers put sugar on sale during the holiday season. Buy in bulk whenever possible and store unopened in food grade buckets.
You can stock up on many kinds of pasta for a dollar or less per pound. Remove the pasta from its original packaging and store it in air-tight containers for the best long-term results.
5. Jarred Pasta Sauces
You can stock up on your favorite brand and store the jars on your pantry shelf. Canned sauces may not be as tasty, but they will have an even longer shelf life.
6. Canned Vegetables
Purchase your family’s favorite canned veggies for long-term storage. Amazon has inexpensive four-packs of corn and green beans, for instance, and you can find store brands at stock-up prices throughout the year.
7. Canned Fruit
During a stressful situation, it is not a good idea to experiment with new kinds of foods. Look for canned versions of fruits your family already enjoys. Mandarin oranges are a good choice as are canned peaches.
8. Basic Spices
Stock up on inexpensive table salt and pepper. Many stores sell other basic spices, including garlic salt, Italian seasoning, thyme, and red pepper, for a dollar a container. Store them unopened in air-tight containers or in the freezer.
Related: Don’t Forget to Stockpile Condiments and Seasonings
Did you know butter will keep fresh in the freezer for about a year? Look for stock-up sales around holiday baking time.
We think of eggs as perishable items, but preserved eggs can stay shelf-stable for up to nine months. Here’s how to preserve these protein-packed, inexpensive staples.
You can bake or purchase loaves, muffins, and rolls on sale and then store them in the freezer in air-tight bags.
12. Peanut Butter
This cheap staple is packed with protein and can be eaten spread on crackers or bread or right out of the jar if needed. Shop during back-to-school time for best prices.
Cereal is inexpensive when purchased in bulk, and it will store for up to a year in its original packaging. You can extend that time by placing the cereal in Mylar bags with absorbers.
14. Canned Meat
Stock up when you see sales on canned tuna and canned chicken. They can be used in a variety of meals or eaten straight from the can if necessary. And the best part is that most canned meats will last two to five years in the pantry.
Related: 10 Ways to Preserve Meat Without a Fridge or Freezer
Saltines are cheap and will store for three months or more in original packaging. For longer storage, place in the freezer.
16. Canned Soup
Look for sales on inexpensive and hearty canned soups and stews.
17. Macaroni and Cheese
The ubiquitous blue box proves to be an inexpensive meal in an emergency. You can make them with powdered milk or skip the milk entirely if you have to. Amazon has a five-pack of Kraft mac and cheese for $4.50 and you might be able to score an even better price during a sale at your local store.
Apple juice is often sold are very low prices, especially during back-to-school time. Most containers of apple juice will last on the shelf for about a year – sometimes longer.
You can purchase tea inexpensively in bulk quantities. Store your tea bags or loose tea in air-tight containers for long shelf life.
Look for stock-up sales on coffee. For your emergency pantry, forgo the fancy names and go with store brands. Leave the coffee unopened in original vacuum-sealed packages or cans for best long-term storage results.
Emergency Food Shopping List
Here is a possible beginning shopping list for your budget stockpile. When purchased online through Amazon and Walmart, these items come in under $100 total. You might be able to do better if you shop your local sales.
• 4 cans canned corn
• 4 cans canned peas
• 4 cans canned carrots
• 4 packages Mac and cheese
• 4 jars of pasta sauce
• 4 cans ready-to-eat beef ravioli
• 4 cans mandarin oranges
• 2 jars peanut butter
• 2 bags of rice
• 2 bags of flour
• 2 pounds of butter
• 5 packets instant mashed potatoes
• 6-pack of instant ramen noodles
• 4-pack of instant pudding
• 6-pack canned tuna
• 4 cans canned chicken
• 3 tins of sardines
• 1 tin oats
• 1 tin raisins
• 1 one-pound canned ham
• 4 cans baked beans
• 3 boxes cornbread mix
• 6 cans ready-to-eat soup
• Assorted spices and beverages as noted above
Here are some resources for more ideas for an emergency stockpile on a budget.
- The Pantry Primer: A Prepper’s Guide To Whole Food on a Half-Price Budget
- Prepping on a Budget: How to Stockpile Everything for a Disaster
- Prepper’s Pantry: Build a Nutritious Stockpile to Survive Blizzards, Blackouts, Hurricanes, Pandemics, Economic Collapse, or Any Other Disasters
- The Prepper’s Canning Guide: Affordably Stockpile a Lifesaving Supply of Nutritious, Delicious, Shelf-Stable Foods
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