How to Prepare for a Food Shortage

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Just a few short months ago when the entire world was first ensnared by the pandemic, we did get a small glimpse of what empty grocery shelves actually looked like.

To me, it brought an eerie feeling that our lives were more fragile than we could have imagined. Many families were completely unprepared. Keep reading to discover how to prepare for a food shortage. 

How to Prepare for a Food Shortage 

Now, just imagine for a moment, if a major disaster like a flood, hurricane, or EMP attack were to strike your area, think about the effect that it would have on your food supply.

It’s very likely that it would have a more devastating impact than you ever thought. It might be a reality where buying food would come to a screeching halt. That’s pretty scary to think about, and it’s not something that should be scoffed at.

Following a disaster, you don’t want to find yourself at your local grocery store when it becomes the center for stealing and looting, or if it’s even left standing for that matter. I was amazed to see how quickly the store shelves became empty at most of the local grocery stores shortly after the pandemic lockdown took place.

It’s critical that your family is prepared long before the storm. Here’s how you can properly prepare for a food shortage.  

Take a Current Inventory

If you were to take a peek in your pantry right now, about how long would your family be sustained with the food on hand? My guess is not much more than one to two weeks’ worth of food, if that.

That might not be enough if your situation becomes desperate. Do you have food that everyone in the family likes to eat? You might want to check and see whether your food supply is nearing the end of its life based on the “best if used before” date. It’s time to take that inventory and bump it up a bit.

I had these free printables made if you can use them: Tracking Food Storage

FSM What Do I Have-BasicPDF

FSM What Do I Have-LiquidPDF

FSM What Do I Have-MeatPDF

FSM What Do I Have-FruitPDF

FSM What Do I Have-GrainPDF

 FSM What Do I Have-VeggiePDF

FSM What Do I Have-DairyPDF

Building a Food Supply

Cans of Food Storage

When you’re preparing for an extreme scenario, I’d encourage you to stock up at least a 3 month supply for you and your family.

That might sound expensive (and it can be), but you don’t have to feel pressured to come up with this type of reserve during only one grocery shopping visit. 

Do so a little bit at a time. Every time you head to the grocery store make it a habit to set aside a number of canned and dried foods that you can add to your supply.

Here’s some Canned Food I Highly Recommend that you should consider stocking. All of them can last for a fairly long period of time and they have plenty of protein and nutrients to keep your family going. 

If later on down the road you have enough resources and decide to establish a supply that could last for a whole year, go for it. Just make sure that you keep rotating through your stock and using it up before it goes bad.  

Learn to Cook From Scratch

Did you have a grandmother or your own mother who could whip up just about anything while using the least amount of ingredients? Not only was it full of substance, but it actually tasted good too.

Maybe you didn’t spend the time to acquire that gift, but it’s not too late. If you missed these great posts please check them out: Cooking From Scratch 101 or How to Save Money Cooking at Home

Stock Your Freezer with Meat

If you happen to be a big meat eater, having to go cold turkey would not be a pleasant experience (no pun intended). Even if you are still able to find meat at the grocery store following a major disaster, you may notice a huge spike in prices.

To solve this dilemma, stock up your freezer(s) with meat that you thaw as needed. Just be sure to regularly check that your meat is being rotated and used up in time. You may want to check into a generator to safeguard that freezer and the stored meat in case you lose power in your neighborhood.

Start a Garden

How to Prepare for a Food Shortage

It would also be wise to consider having a garden in your backyard filled with fruits and veggies that could help sustain you in the aftermath.

This ensures that your family members are getting the nutrients they need when it becomes impossible to find products on the shelf. In case you missed this post: Fruit Trees: The Ones You Need To Grow

It’s also just a great hobby to have it growing, and it’s fun to see your garden produce good food to eat. A few fruit trees would also be great, if you have the room in your yard. 

When winter comes around, think about growing a small garden indoors. That way you’re able to add an extra growing season while bulking up your supply. 

Please Check Out What To Plant Each Month:

Storing Your Produce 

When it’s time to harvest your produce, you’ll need to have a way of storing it to last the winter. You probably don’t have a root cellar that you could depend on, but a basement that’s cool and dry would work great. Here’s more information on how to properly store certain types of produce. 

One of my readers told me about these vegetable and fruit containers and I love them. Vegetable Containers for the Refrigerator

Preserving Food

Another trick your grandmother probably did was to preserve her food by canning. Canning and preserving are great ways to enjoy your garden during the rest of the year. I highly recommend following the USDA Canning Guide. Hopefully, you can still get this book. USDA Canning Guide 2015.

It’s the one I received when I attended My Master Canning and Preserving Classes. I’ve been canning for over 50 years and I learned all the new issues with the acidity of fruit and vegetables we see produced today.

Home canning of fresh fruit and vegetables seems to make them taste much better than canned goods you buy from the store. It’s also much more enjoyable because of the love and care that went into the process. It’s just one more way to be ahead of the game if a food shortage were ever to happen. 

I do like smaller cans of freeze-dried or dehydrated food. Thrive Life has what they call: Freeze-Dried Food Pantry Size Cans For Emergencies  

Having the Right Tools

When it comes to a food shortage, the first thing that you worry about is what you’ll have available to weather the storm, if you will. But don’t forget about having the tools to make those meals possible. Be sure and have at least one can opener, and preferably more than one. Check this out: Can Opener

Whether it’s cooking utensils, a can opener, or garden cultivating tools, don’t be left without what you’ll need. A multi-tool would also be very beneficial to have under these circumstances. Now this is how you prepare for a food shortage.

Final Word

If a disaster were to ever strike your city, at least you’d have the comfort of knowing that you have enough food to provide for you and your family until conditions improved. Think about how much worse your situation would be if you didn’t prepare ahead of time.  

Have you ever survived a disaster and your food supply became a major issue for you and your family? How did you all manage, and what other advice would you give to others? 

Please keep prepping, we must. I sure hope people realize the government can’t take care of everyone. May God bless this world, Linda

Copyright Images: Grocery Store Deposit photos_204368848_s-2019

24 thoughts on “How to Prepare for a Food Shortage

  • May 26, 2020 at 8:17 am
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    Good morning, Linda. As always, I appreciate your information. Your link for “vegetable containers for the refrigerator” led to the can opener on Amazon. I would like to see which containers you recommend. Thank you.

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    • May 26, 2020 at 10:12 am
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      Hi Deborah, someone told me about these and I have several sizes. https://amzn.to/2yzSCH5 They have a deal at the bottom that keeps the fruit or vegetables above the liquid that may drip down. Thanks again for letting me know the link was wrong.
      I LOVE them. Linda

      Reply
  • May 26, 2020 at 9:11 am
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    Linda I’ve been doing grocery pickup since it first came out, so it’s easy for me to compare prices. Things I buy on a regular basis just went up 10%, so I am buying as much food as possible now as a hedge against inflation as well as shortages.

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    • May 26, 2020 at 10:16 am
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      Hi Roxanne, I am also stocking up. A reader, Janet told me all about lentils, so I’m stocking up on those. I love them! We need to buy as much as we can because the prices are escalating every day. 10% is a lot! Luckily we can cook from scratch that will save us a lot of money. I had to drop bacon from my want list, now hamburger is off the list. I will not cave to the prices. We will get through this but it’s going to be easier for us, compared to those who have never prepped. Linda

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      • May 26, 2020 at 11:02 am
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        Linda and Roxanne –
        I cringe at the prices of meat, especially! I am going to “learn” how to eat a mostly plant based diet for the future. The prices on everything is going up so rapidly that those who are not prepared to some extent already are going to have a difficult time with the prices. At least, Linda, you and I can forego the hamburger and bacon (tears!!) because we have food in our homes. But those who haven’t prepared previously or who have lost jobs recently are going to have a hard time with the prices.

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        • May 26, 2020 at 11:06 am
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          Hi Leanne, I totally agree. I love the “tears” over bacon and hamburger! LOL! I’m worried about those who are out of work. I have several family members right now out of work. Life is going to get even harder. I’m actually gearing up to move if I need too. Linda

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          • May 26, 2020 at 11:12 am
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            I was talking with my daughter (son-in-law is currently working from home, thankfully) and telling her that I will likely need to move by year’s end. Don’t know where as the prices of rentals are just as high in the outlying areas as they are here where I live! Even higher where my daughter lives in Seattle (1 bedroom apartments go for upwards of $1800 a month!!). So it is likely I will need to move further away from my daughter. Not looking forward to that for sure. But, it is what it is and will be what it will be.

          • May 26, 2020 at 12:21 pm
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            Hi Leanne, I hear you on that. I told my husband as long as his body works we will live here so he can golf with his friends. He has two of his very best friends here and I can’t take that away from him right now. We have four daughters, 2 in Salt Lake City, Utah. One in Flagstaff, Az. and one in Southern California. We are in that stage of life our kids live in other states. We don’t want to shovel snow. My dream would be to walk to a Farmers Market every day to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. That’s not going to happen because those places are too expensive. So for now, we wait until something happens to make the decision for us. Linda

  • May 26, 2020 at 9:43 am
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    Linda ~
    I have been having groceries delivered up until last week with only a few trips to the farm market down the street (not a “farmer’s market though). Well, today I decided to brave the “contact” and go myself (ha ha, I woke up really early!!)

    I got to my favorite store at about 6:45 am because I know they restock between 10 pm and 6 am. Well, I was SHOCKED at how many shelves are still not being stocked. I could have purchased flour but didn’t really need any at this time but there was no yeast or baking powder to be had! There was little in the way of sugar either but plenty of non-sugar sweeteners. The prices blew me away! In the meat aisle, I again had a big shock – lean hamburger was $8.99/pound and a limit of 1 pound per shopper! Eggs were in plentiful supply at $3.99/dozen for plain old large white eggs; organic going for $7.99/dozen. Fruits and veggies were plentiful as well but since I purchase fruits and veggies at my local farm market, I didn’t really look at that. The bread aisle was not completely filled but there was lots of bread products. In the paper aisle, the shelves were pretty bare still but I was able to get TP and paper towels (I don’t always use paper towels but like to keep a few rolls on hand). There was a limit on paper products to 2 per shopper.

    Well, I could go on but I won’t!!! I brought home 2 bags of groceries, one 12 pack of TP and one 2 pack of paper towels. I did not buy any meat but I did buy eggs. I am not sure how to process all the price increases and limited supplies right now!

    I also am keeping my running list of pantry items. I am not including my long term storage in that list but only because I have the long term storage on a separate inventory and not using it unless I run out of my shorter term storage. I figure I am good on most things for at least 8 months when I include both short term and long term storage. I know that things won’t be easy if I cannot purchase more food in the future but it is what it is.

    My tomato, beans and lettuce are doing really well on my deck. Herbs did really well last year but this year not so much!

    Something else I just thought of in terms of food shortages – I think it is going to become necessary to also have cash on hand with the food shortages. I might be able to drive out to a farm and purchase directly from the farmer if I have cash. Stores will likely always prefer us using a card if possible but having cash on hand would come in very handy.

    Reply
    • May 26, 2020 at 10:23 am
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      Hi Leanne, squeal the tomatoes, beans, and lettuce are doing well!! Woohoo! Great news. Thanks for the comment on the grocery shelves. We need to here from different areas. I know you live in the NW. I live in Southern Utah, the shelves are not full at all. Some are empty but scarcely spaced on the shelves. Limits on everything. Even at Costco. I picked up some canned chicken, we were allowed only one 6-pack. I didn’t need TP but picked some up anyway. Flour (bread) limit one per card. The stores prefer debit or credit cards. They do not want to touch the cash, I get it. I wear a face mask wherever I go. I do not go out often but when I do, I have it in my purse ready to put on. I agree we still need some cash, yes indeed. Linda

      Reply
  • May 26, 2020 at 9:50 am
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    I’m a little bothered that our kitchen is still unfinished and the people who are fixing it do not seem to be in any hurry, but then why should they. Their homes are fully functional. I better not get started on that.

    My father isn’t a real prepper in the sense that he needs to see potential problems while I tend to look ahead and want to make preparations early like before there actually is even confirmation of a crisis looming over the horizon. That way you prepare without rushing and you beat the panic buying.

    My thoughts have been towards gardening like many people, but also to raise some chickens and find myself a butcher to process the meat for me. I feel it’s worth it to barter with one in exchange for his/her services and for me to spend my time on other things. Sprouts would also be an easy way to raise some fresh greens. I still don’t have a dehydrator, mason jars, buckets and Gamma lids, Mylar bags or a Food Saver to create some dehydrated foods or to package things for increased shelf life.

    Reply
    • May 26, 2020 at 10:29 am
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      Hi Frank, oh the kitchen not being done is so frustrating. I love your idea about the chickens, our HOA will not allow them. You may read articles that HOA’s can have them. Not mine. I would check out thrift stores for a used a dehydrator. I dehydrate only what I grow or buy at a discount and do not use Mylar bags or oxygen absorbers. I took a Master Canner Preserver class and we were told they are only good for one year if WE dehydrate them. They are not commercially processed. That works for me. I will do new jars next year. Fingers crossed you can find a FoodSaver with an accessory port and the hose. Linda

      Reply
    • May 26, 2020 at 10:57 am
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      Frank –
      Great idea bartering for a butcher to process your meat. I live in an apartment so no raising meat for me!! I do have a small garden on my balcony but very limited space.

      Try to find mason jars at the thrift store when you can get in there. New Ball jars – quart sized – are going for $18-19 for 12 jars. Pretty spendy! The biggest thing I use my Food Saver for is meat for my tiny freezer. As I said, I live in an apartment and only have the freezer on the top of my fridge so I have very limited space. The FS saves my meat so I can purchase larger amounts of meat and vacuum seal in portion sizes. There is no freezer burn and the meat stays fresh like it just came from the animal!!

      I was able to get some sprouting seeds from my local nursery – organic, non-gmo. I am going to grow micro-greens with them come fall and will sprout some during the winter.

      Reply
  • May 26, 2020 at 10:39 am
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    Actually, I have two of the jar adapters. One we had from a Food Saver that never worked and my mother was in no rush to fix. I think by the time I realized it wasn’t working it was too late to return or exchange the particular model. The other adapter I did buy at Goodwill.

    Now I just need to find a food dehydrator whenever they might get one or buy one brand new when I can afford it unless my father decides we need the equipment for dehydrating and storing food sooner.

    I’m hoping he gets on board with the idea. I’d love to have some food in jars ready for emergencies or everyday use. The jars would help keep our granola bars and crackers fresh and crisp.

    Reply
    • May 26, 2020 at 10:59 am
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      Hi Frank, I hope he gets on board with you. You can always dry food on screens outside covered with mesh. EXCEPT where I live, we have desert rats. I sure hope you can find one, Linda

      Reply
  • May 26, 2020 at 1:45 pm
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    The wife and I literally just got done last week with a full pantry inventory and restock as well as the long term “closet of life” with our LTS foods. We are now making purchases to fill in the gaps we’ve identified.

    Reply
    • May 26, 2020 at 2:15 pm
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      Hi Matt, oh my gosh, I love your statement “closet of life”! I’ve been doing the same thing, Matt, by filling in the holes after organizing my short term stock, again. It never ends. Which is what we must do to stay on top of it. Great comment as always, Linda

      Reply
  • May 27, 2020 at 6:43 am
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    Greetings from NW Florida!
    Praying your kitchen remodel gets finished pronto, Frank! You might check Ebay for dehydrator… my husband bought me a never used Excalibur 4 tray in March for under $80 including shipping. Ebay also has FoodSaver vacuum sealers & the rolls of bag materials. Just check the mm thickness if buying the rolls, as some are pretty flimsy.

    Hurray for the garden boxes, Leanne!

    We are seeing meat prices triple here! 70/30 hamburger is over $6 lb and roasts/ steaks in double digits. Pork starting to go up and even chicken going up. Most stores have a limit of 2 pkgs per fresh meat purchase. Will be shopping at Commissary & Sam’s Club for any meat we buy.

    Like Leanne, many shelves are still pretty bare in most of the stores. TP, paper towels available in limited brands, sizes and only 1-2 total allowed. Kleenex still hard to find. Alcolhol, hydogen peroxide, even vinegar hard to find. Nitrile gloves and disposable masks available in very limited supply at Sam’s Club…. prices double pre March prices. Hand sanitizer and wipes in very limited supply once a week or so & frequently only in the smaller stores. Canned meats / canned pastas available in limited amounts. Rice back on shelves and flying out the door in larger sizes. Canned fruits and veggies, canned beans available in limited amounts…. prices up a bit…10 cents a can more.. Sugar, flour available, yeast & powdered milk pretty much not available yet. Pet and livestock feeds beginning to go up. Seeds getting cleaned out. Adult Chickens, Rabbits are through the roof!

    Parmalat milk is a shelf stable liquid milk that stores well, tastes good, comes in individual and quart sizes, needs no refrigeration until opened. Frequently found on bottom shelves in beverage/baking/powdered milk aisles.

    Also in the Hispanic/Ethnic Food aisle …Nestle Nido is a powdered milk that stores well and tastes good. I’ve put back several of the smaller cans in our LTS.

    There are also powdered goats milk (Meyer brand) and powdered buttermilk available in the baking aisle. Both are great for baking and are in canisters. Any of the powdered milks can be vacuum sealed in smaller packages.

    We have finally gotten a bit of rain this month, with another batch due this afternoon. My rainbarrels are full. All the tomatoes have fruit growing, but so far only the Matt’s Wild cherry tomatoes are ripening. The Japanese Eggplant and Cubanelle Sweet Peppers have blooms, the cukes and yellow squash have tiny little fruits. For once the basil and parsley are thriving! And Momma Hen still has her 7 chicks. They are getting out in the big yard to chase bugs a couple of times a day, so growing like crazy! Hopefully the babies will be fully intergrated into the whole flock by the end of the week!

    Stay well, friends!

    Reply
    • May 27, 2020 at 7:24 am
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      Hi BDN, you know I love hearing what’s going on with you personally and what’s happening at the grocery stores in your area. If there was EVER a time we needed to stock up it is NOW! I still need to get a rain barrel. You are amazing my friend, you are living the dream with farm animals and gardening. Stay safe and stay well, Linda

      Reply
  • May 28, 2020 at 10:27 am
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    Keystone canned Roast beef, canned hamburger, canned chicken, 28 oz. cans best by 7-09- 2023.
    I buy these at Walmart. Or order them online from walmart. Am storing these for later use. They also have 15 oz size cans. Taste good.

    Reply
    • May 28, 2020 at 12:36 pm
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      Hi Brenda, thank you for reminding me about these. They are good! Linda

      Reply
  • June 18, 2020 at 6:26 pm
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    Over the weekend I found a several packages of beans I had vacuumed sealed with Seal A Meal bags. Two were Garbanza beans I sealed in 2015 and a 2 lb package of Great Northern beans I sealed in July of 2013. I had stored them in a white food grade bucket. I had no idea if they would still be edible or not, but decided to try them. Fortunately, I can report they were delicious. I hadn’t meant to leave them for so long, but now feel more confident in storing beans this way for the future.

    Reply
    • June 18, 2020 at 6:28 pm
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      HI Carolyn, great comment! I would have cooked them for sure! Life is so good when we have food storage! Linda

      Reply

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