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The Accidental Prepper

EST. Saturday, April 18, 2020

"Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest." Proverbs 6:6-8

Building your pantry

The food you store in your Prepper's Pantry will be the mainstay of your family's survival system. You want to fill your pantry with delicious and nutritious foods, along with a few comfort foods which will help boost family morale. You don’t want to max out your credit cards trying to stock up on things. The best way to create a healthy food storage that will sustain your family is to do it a little at a time in a way you can afford.

Step 1: Get enough water.
Before you even start spending, be sure your family has enough water. You won't live more than three days without water and in a prepper's pantry water is essential. For example, you'll need a gallon of water just to boil pasta and clean up the mess afterwards. Plus, you'll need water for soaking dried beans, making rice, reconstituting dehydrated foods and mixing up your ready made freeze dried meals. Water is essential in the prepper's pantry!
Also, keep in mind that if a recipe calls for water, use the water packed in the can as well. It's a waste to pour the canned liquid contents down the drain only to use your stocked water.

Step 2: Clear a closet and set up a stock rotation system for your food.
All the food you amass needs to go somewhere. That's why a prepper's pantry goes beyond the foods stocked in the kitchen cabinetry. Prepper's are an ingenious bunch and find space in just about every nook and cranny of their home. This means newbie Preppers need to get busy! Clear closets to make an extra pantry or two for your foods. Next, rotate foods with the oldest to the front and the fresh shelf stable items get pushed to the back. When food goes on sale: one goes in your kitchen and one goes in your closet.

Step 3: Buy shelf stable foods for your family enjoyment.
Before a crisis, take note of important foods to buy and stock up on them when they go on sale. Buy canned meats, beans, and soups, plus convenience foods, such as protein bars, cereals, crackers, nut butters, dried fruits, rice and pasta. Buy a few extra cans of food each time you go grocery shopping and add them to your food storage. One of the most important rules of preparing a food storage is to only store what you would eat today. Your taste buds are not going to change just because there is an emergency. Along the same lines - don’t make the dangerous mistake of storing 100 cans of refried beans or chicken noodle soup and assume your family can live on the same meal every single day for a few months. There is a very real thing called food fatigue that can develop from eating the same food, day in and day out. Food fatigue causes intestinal upset and could ultimately lead to dehydration. 
Buy what you eat. Rotate. Repeat. This simple family survival system will serve you well, and it all starts with organization of a closet pantry. Don't be so quick to toss out foods past their expiration date. Expiration dates only mean when the food “may” begin to lose its freshness. Most canned and packaged foods will last many, many years.
“Many products may have a sell-by date, but they could be good in your pantry for another 12 or 18 months,” USDA spokesperson Chris Bernstein, “And by throwing those out, what you’re doing is you’re contributing to food waste in the United States.”
One trick I like is to vacuum seal bulk foods such as, those in boxes near or past their expiration. Example; I'll buy a large box of dried milk, potatoes, etc... If I know I'm not going to use all the contents before the expiration, I'll vacuum seal the food and place it in a food grade five-gallon bucket for safe keeping. Vacuum sealing will extend food by even a few years. No waste.
Cut coupons. Buy things on sale, go to the dollar store. Adopt thrifty shopping habits and you will be so much better off. Examine how much food you typically serve your family at each meal. Do you use one, two or three cans of soup to satisfy the family at lunch? Multiply that number by let’s say 12, assuming you would serve that meal once a week for 12 weeks. Consider stocking up on large amounts of rice in food grade 5-gallon buckets. Rice can be added to nearly every meal and mixed in with a lot of foods. This will help stretch your food stores even further. Throw in some bay leaves while storing, this will keep most bugs away.

Step 4: Once your pantry begins to take shape and full, think about long term storage for some items.
A good way to start is by planning a 3-month food storage, as a minimum. This helps you build up to the 1-year supply that many Preppers aim for. You will want to do some basic math when it comes to planning how much food you need, depending on how many members of your family and their ages. Technically, in survival mode, you are not eating for joy; you are eating to stay alive and healthy.