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First Steps Towards a Survival Pantry

7 minutes

First Steps towards a Survival Pantry

Getting Started

As Mark Twain reminds us, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” But before you throw yourself into building your survival pantry it is wise to take a few moments to think about what you are planning to do.

Tip #1:  Incorporate your Survival Pantry into your Overall Survival Strategy

Your survival pantry is a central part of your overall survival strategy that helps you keep warm, dry and secure.  Will you be able to do this at the same time as accessing your store?  Will you have access to alternative sources of power?  Who will have access to your pantry?  How many people?  Will you be able to prepare food where your store it?

 

Tip #2:  Have a Plan for Using your Survival Pantry

Develop a phased, long-term plan of how to use your resources.  Maximize efficiency by using your store in a planned correct order.  Assess the food store available in your garden and normal pantry and be ready to use perishable food from your refrigerator first.  Estimate when you will need to switch to your secure survival pantry and begin to consume non-perishable foods and staples.

 

Tip #3: Choose your Pantry Space Carefully

The space you choose is of the upmost importance and depends on your particular circumstances.  It must be dry, it must be cool and dark, and it must be secure, both from humans and animals.

 

Be careful of basement locations prone to flooding.  Survival pantries at the top of buildings may get too hot.  Preppers who choose to base their survival pantry in a location away from their living space need to ensure access to the store in a disaster.

 

Size matters.  The bigger your store, the more food and water you can horde and the longer you can survive.  Some people will have access to larger spaces than others and each survival pantry will be constrained, to some degree, by the physical space available. Whatever space you have you can always maximize its potential through a sensible choice of food, good organization and efficient storage – you don’t need to access all your food at the same time.

 

Tip #4: One Location is Better than No Location; A Small Store is Better than No Store

Don’t not put all your eggs in one basket.  For preppers the logic could not be clearer.  As a disaster unfolds, the prepper may not have any control over what happens to their survival pantry. By having more than one pantry, preppers immediately reduce risk and increase their chances of survival.

 

In a perfect world all preppers would be like squirrels – able to establish pantries in a variety of locations.  And in the long-run, establishing a set of stores is something that can be worked towards.  When the prepper is starting, however, they must consider Mark Twain’s warning and not let the difficulty of achieving the perfect scenario put them off starting to create a much better situation.

 

In other words, it would be a huge mistake not to begin your project, either because you feel you don’t have enough space or because you worry you have only one space to work with.  Even a small horde of food and water makes an enormous difference to you and your family.  Get started now and look to improve later.

Tip #5: Make your Survival Pantry Unique to your Family

It starts with understanding your family and knowing what is important to them.  The purpose of a survival pantry is to provide for their well-being and make it through days, weeks, months and maybe even years.    You know your family, their needs and tastes, and you know what kind of survival pantry will be best for them.

 

The value of food can be broken down to the vitamins, minerals and calories it supplies.  But a survival pantry should be more than nutritional support.  It acts as a guarantee against the uncertainties of modern life.  A guarantee that you have access to something that brings a semblance of normality to a world that may be disintegrating around you.

 

Food not only keeps us alive.  Eating together strengthens bonds between people and in times of crisis the ability to provide a family meal ensures feelings of well-being.  Those feelings could come from a favorite type of candy, or a well-loved condiment. There is no one-size fits all.  The advice here is a starting point to shape a pantry for your family, its specific needs and its own special tastes.  You should be able to look into your survival pantry and know that it could only be yours and no one else’s.

Tip #6: Don’t Forget to Stock Foods for your Pets

It’s amazing how many preppers forget to stock food for the furry members of their family.  You don’t want to use your supply of food to feed your dogs and cats!

Tip #7: Consider how you will Use the Food in an Emergency Situation

A frequent oversight is to stock up with food that, when an emergency occurs, the prepper is unable to use.  Cooking raw grains is more difficult than you might expect and requires specialist equipment and practice to do correctly.

The key to organizing a survival pantry is realizing that it is not simply a food store but a tool for an emergency.  Prepping is not about buying lots of food and keeping it; it is about being prepared for action.

Tip #8:  Make Storing Water and Liquids a Priority

Water is vital.  Without a supply of clean drinking water your chances of survival are severely diminished.

 

How many times have you heard emergency relief responses appealing for clean drinking water? In all recent disaster situations, after medical care, clean water is the most pressing need.  In this type of situation, do you want to be one of those with water or without?

 

The problem is that in modern society running water in our homes is normal.  While others may take this for granted, for preppers such complacency serves as a warning.  In a disaster situation it is the loss of basic services that pose the biggest threat.

 

How to Organize a Survival Pantry

 

 

The game we are playing is food preservation.  To preserve food it must be free of bacteria and your survival pantry must be free of the water that allows bacteria to reproduce.

 

Tip #9: Keep your Pantry Cool and Dry

 

The ideal temperature for food storage is between 40 degrees and 72 degrees.  If survival pantries exceed this, food will lose its flavor, texture, and appearance.

 

Tip #10: Store your Food off the Ground and Away from Outside Walls

 

To control temperature think carefully about the location of your store.    It must be as dry as possible.  An air-conditioner or dehumidifier can prevent moisture accumulating.  Floors and outside walls are where moisture accumulates.

 

Light affects the flavor and appearance of food.  This means no windows for your pantry and if you use clear containers they need to put in labeled boxes with lids.  It might look a little less homely, but it’s better in the long-run.

 

Tip #11: Keep a Clean Pantry to Keep Pests Away

 

Air-tight containers not only keep out the moisture, they also prevent your food feeding pests.  But this is all undone it you leave a few food particles on the shelves or floor.

 

Tip #12: Keep your Pantry Safe and Secure

None of this will be of any help in an emergency situation unless you keep your survival pantry protected.  Invest in a good quality door and a secure lock.  Keep copies of your keys safe.

 

Tip #13: Consider the Pros and Cons of the Deep Freezer

Deep freezers have good insulation and maintain low temperatures without power.  In a well-insulated freezer, foods will maintain ice crystals (so safe to eat) for at least two days.

You can maintain cold temperatures by keeping your freezer well-packed and ensuring the seal is in good condition.  Try to limit the number of times you open the door.  An inventory helps you know the contents of your freezer without opening it.

 

Tip #14:  Organize for the Short, Medium and Long-Term

Knowing when items are going to be consumed helps use space efficiently.   A simple scheme divides your store into the short, medium and long term.  Generally your short-term supply feeds you for six months.  The medium-term supply will cover you for a further six months, and perhaps a year or so longer.  Finally, your survival pantry also contains food that keeps indefinitely.

 

Tip #15: Store all Necessary Ingredients

When you use your survival pantry, you will find that in order to use some food types, you will need to have other food types.  There are some ingredients that might not have been high on your list that you really need to make a fully functioning survival pantry.

 

Tip #16: Mix it Up

Avoid packing the pantry with an easy and long-lasting food.  This will drive you and your family crazy and lack the variety of nutrients they need.  Employ a variety of foods, types of preservation and ways of preparing food.  No one knows the scenario you will have to deal with.  It’s best to be prepared for anything.

 

Tip #17: Spice it Up

Condiments and seasoning are easily forgotten, but they add variety to meals and make them more enjoyable.

 

Tip #18: Choose Containers Carefully

Nothing will be worse than vigilantly preparing your food store only to find that when you need it most it has been ruined by substandard or inappropriate containers.  Food needs to be protected from moisture, bacteria, insects and rodents.  Poorly stored food might only help household pests to survive better than you.

Be careful when opening food boxes and other re-sealable containers.  To keep out damaging moisture, seal them tightly after each use.  Once packets of cookies, crackers, sugar, dried fruits, and nuts have been opened transfer them to air-tight containers.

 

Tip #19: Keep an Inventory 

An accurate inventory is essential.  Begin this good habit straight away.  A good inventory records exact quantities, instructions for use, storage dates, and those all-important expirations.  Use a permanent marker to write important information directly onto items in your food store

 

An inventory really becomes useful when you start to remove items.  Your records starts to show how your family uses the store, what items they consume and how much – invaluable information!

 

Tip #20: Use a Checklist to Evaluate Foods

For each food you consider putting into your pantry ask these ten questions:

  • How long can it be stored for?
  • What conditions does it need to be stored in?
  • Does it require a special container?
  • Does it take up a lot of space?
  • Does it require special equipment to be prepared?
  • Does is need to be heated?
  • Does it need water?
  • Does it need to be used in conjunction with other foods?
  • Can it be used to provide a range of different meals?
  • Is it enjoyable to eat?
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