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Building a survival pantry is an essential step for all preppers, but how are you supposed to stock your survival pantry on a tight budget? Stockpiling feels like an expensive adventure, but it’s also an essential part of preparing for disasters or serious situations. Feeding your family is vital.
Before you begin to stockpile, think about what is needed the most: calories. Plan for each of your family members to use around 2,000 calories per day; kids eat less, but it’s best to plan for this amount. Extra food is better than not enough.
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Chances are, if you’re in a disaster situation, you will burn more calories than usual. Multiply 2,000 calories by the number of people in your family. A family of six needs 12,000 calories per day. Then, multiply that by however many days you want your preps to last.
Also, when stockpiling food, think about what your family eats. No one wants to eat food they don’t like, and some kids will downright refuse. Unless the situation is long-term, plan to stockpile foods that everyone will eat.
Let’s look at some tips for stocking your survival pantry on a tight budget.
How to Stock Your Survival Pantry on a Tight Budget
Don’t panic; stockpiling on a budget is possible. Here are some of the best tips and methods to use.
1. Make a Plan
Never buy random things for your stockpile. Make a plan as to how you will reach the calories needed each day in your pantry.
Plan meals and snacks that your family will eat, listing the ingredients that you need for each one. If you want a stockpile for one week, plan out seven breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, as well as two snacks per day, equaling 14 healthy snacks for the entire family.
Once you have a plan, it’s time to start shopping.
2. Shop Normally But Buy Extra
One of the simplest methods to use is to shop naturally but buy extra while doing so. This method only adds a small amount of money to your grocery bill. For example, if you need two boxes of pasta, buy three boxes, and add one to your stockpile.
Don’t feel pressured to build the stockpile in one grocery shopping session. Stockpiling an entire week of food might take one to two months buying slowly, but each thing bought is one step towards a stockpile.
3. Grow a Garden
Each spring, planting a garden is a great way to add to your stockpile without breaking the bank. You can save even more by learning how to can, dehydrate, and ferment the food you grow.
Here are some of the best foods to grow in your garden to add to your stockpile.
Beans – Instead of buying dried beans at the store, grow your own beans. It’s as simple as growing green beans, but you need a support system for the beans. Let them dry all summer and most of the fall until the first frosts hit. Then, take them off of the system if they’re dried.
Cabbage – Some cabbages store well in root cellars, but they can also be fermented into sauerkraut or turned into coleslaw. You can even freeze cabbage in quarters or shredded.
Carrots – These are a staple food and an easy root crop to add to your garden. Try canning or freezing carrots that can be tossed into recipes later.
Garlic – Garlic is another vegetable (or herb) that adds flavor to dishes. No need to be flavorless while stockpiling. You can braid some varieties of garlic and leave them to hang in your basement or cellar.
Green Beans – Another vegetable that most people love, and they’re easy to grow and preserve. It’s possible to freeze and can green beans, as well as pickle them for simple snacks.
Onions – Onions are a simple vegetable to grow and often used in culinary dishes. Don’t be intimidated by growing onions; they’re perfect for beginners.
Potatoes – Potatoes are full of calories, and dishes like mashed potatoes are sure to fill your belly. Store potatoes in a root cellar or basement for several months, but you also can freeze potatoes as well as can them.
Tomatoes – The best way to preserve tomatoes is to can them, but freezing tomatoes is possible as well. Grow tomato plants to fill your stockpile with homegrown tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and pizza sauce.
Winter Squash – There’s a reason settlers and homesteaders always grew large amounts of winter squash—it stores well. Many varieties store in root cellars for four to six months without any additional preservation methods needed. Plus, they’re versatile and full of calories.
4. Use Coupons
Now that stores have changed many of their policies, it’s harder to get items for free while couponing, but it’s possible to decrease your bottom dollar significantly. The trick is to use coupons on things you actually need instead of buying things because you have a coupon.
Buying food that isn’t on your plan for your stockpile doesn’t save you money even if you have coupons; it costs you more money.
5. Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk saves money in some circumstances. If you decide to buy in bulk for your stockpile, here are some suggestions to make sure you save money:
- Know the bottom dollar at your local grocery store. Just because it looks like a reasonable price doesn’t mean you can’t get it cheaper elsewhere.
- Know the price per unit. If you remember anything, it’s this tip. Look at the cost per unit—ounces, pounds, etc. Believe it or not, the price per unit is often HIGHER at bulk stores than it is buying at your local grocery store.
- Only buy an amount that you know will get used; wasting food is wasting money.
6. Shop Manager Specials
See if your store has manager specials on meats. Many grocery stores have markdown items on things that are nearing their expiration date. Just because the meat is close to its expiration date doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s safe to eat fresh, freeze, or can.
Make sure you arrive at the store either early in the morning or late in the evening. Better yet, ask a worker in the meat department if they have a regular time for marking down products so you can be there when the best deals are available.
7. Shop Sales
Watch sales. Some stores, like Walmart, don’t offer good deals, but other ones do. Watch those sales for the bottom dollar price.
For example, some sales at Kroger allow you to buy ten items and save $5, and pasta is regularly included in the deal for only $.50 a box. That’s a great stock-up price.
If possible, start keeping a notebook with the most commonly bought items and the best prices you find at your local stores. Most stores operate sales on a six to eight-week rotational basis. So if you learn the sale trends, you know when to stockpile.
8. Learn How to Can Meat
Canning meat is a huge money saver; don’t feel intimidated. You will need a pressure canner, an investment, but one pressure canner lasts years and years.
Almost all meat can be safely canned at home. When you find the marked down meat on a manager special, can it. You don’t have to can meat plain; turn it into sloppy joes, chili, taco meat, chicken soup, and so many other dishes.
Learn how to cook down meat bones and create homemade broths and stocks. Those are easy beginning recipes to pressure can, and bone broth is full of nutrients, perfect for your stockpile.
9. Stockpile Water Rather Than Other Drinks
While focusing on stocking your survival pantry on a tight budget, avoid stockpiling too many types of drinks. It’s okay to toss in some tea bags or instant coffee but avoid juice, energy drinks, and other similar things.
It’s a good idea to have Gatorade powder and similar drinks to replace lost electrolytes, but it can be expensive. Save those stockpile items for when you have extra money or when you completed your plan.
10. Focus on the Basics
It’s exciting to start stockpiling your survival pantry. You want to feel prepared and ready for anything to come your way but start with the basics first.
Your survival pantry doesn’t need to include gourmet meals; this is the time to focus on the basic meals. Non-perishables or safely preserved foods are the most important items and don’t forget essential baking supplies such as:
- Cooking Oil
- Baking Soda
- Baking Powder
It’s also not the time to stockpile barter items. You’ll eventually reach the point when your survival pantry has everything your family needs and plenty of things to barter, but you aren’t there yet. That’s okay. We all start small.
Small Steps Lead to Big Results
It’s easy to feel as if your small steps won’t get you anywhere, but that’s the wrong way to feel. Each step leads you to the same goal, even if you’re taking small steps to get there. With patience and perseverance, you will stock your survival pantry on a tight budget.
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