What to Store in Your Pantry for an Emergency

What to Store in Your Pantry for an Emergency

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Today it’s all about what to store in your pantry for an emergency. In almost every disaster situation, many people are left blindsided and totally unprepared. You just never know when an emergency could happen and you’re no longer able to head to the grocery store to pick up some last-minute supplies.

The recent pandemic, hurricanes, winter storms, and power outages have been true-life examples of this. This is why you need to have a pantry that’s ready for those emergencies.

At this time of year we are reminded of the importance of family, and friends, and how blessed most of us are. But we also hear about the plight of so many who suffer from hunger, and poverty, the mission of soup kitchens and food banks.

Are You Aware Of Homeless Students In Your Area?

Mark’s civic club, the Exchange Club, is involved in providing volunteer time and gathering donation funds to provide food and clothing to the local high school students who are homeless and living in their family’s cars.

So many of us are uninformed about our neighborhood community members and other residents who are the recipient of food stamps, and other essential services just to survive. The latest news on the radio this morning reported that the new mayor of Los Angeles has declared a state of emergency in their city as a means to move residents out of homeless shelters and into housing where they can feel safe and not feel helpless when it comes to food insecurity. Some of these people have been under the care of the VA in years past, but have fallen through the cracks.

We are all subject to changes in our lives that create the unexpected “emergency.” That could come in the form of a serious accident, severe illness, loss of job, or another event we hadn’t planned on. Now is the time to prepare by stocking up our pantry and taking other necessary steps so we are better able to protect our family.

Let’s talk about what to store in your pantry for an emergency. 

Related: Emergency Essentials Every Family Should Have

In times of emergency, it’s important that you’re still providing your family with the right nutrition, even when your circumstances aren’t so great. Here’s more on what to store in your pantry so that you’re prepared for an emergency. Please pass this PRINTABLE on to people who need help with food storage, Food Storage List-Where Do I Start Free Printable

What to Store in Your Pantry for an Emergency

What to Store in Your Pantry for an Emergency


For obvious reasons, drinking water takes up the top spot on my list. Your body is made up of around 60% water and can only last a few days without it.

Whether you plan on storing your drinking water in bottled form, in 5-gallon containers, or even larger tanks, make sure that you have at all times a minimum of four gallons of water per individual, per day, for at least a 3-day period or longer.

This will cover your family’s drinking and sanitary hygiene purposes for the most part. And don’t forget your pet’s needs. You need one ounce of water per pound for each day. So, if your pet weighs 10 pounds you will need 10 ounces of water stored for them to drink each day.

For those of you who live in a hotter climate, are pregnant, or have a baby that drinks formula, you’ll want to have more on hand. Another reason you may want to plan on storing more is in case one of your family members were to get sick and require more fluids to keep them hydrated.   

Read More of My Articles  Superfoods You Should Stock

Related: What You Need in Your Working Pantry  

Electrolyte Drinks

It can be an extremely dangerous situation when you’re sick and your body is unable to retain fluids and electrolytes, especially during an emergency. Electrolyte drinks, such as Gatorade or Pedialyte, provide you and your children a way to hold on to those fluids if you were to have vomiting or diarrhea symptoms. I feel so much better when I have this product stocked in my home, Pedialyte Electrolyte Powder Variety

In case you missed this post, How To Know When Someone Is Severely Dehydrated

Natural juice products without a lot of added sugars are also very helpful as you try to stay hydrated.

Canned Vegetables and Fruit

Have you ever had the unfortunate experience of buying fruits and vegetables in the produce department of your local grocery store and never getting the chance to enjoy them? Happens to me too often. Instead of purchasing products that spoil far too quickly, why not buy them canned so you have something when you’re in a pinch? Not only do they last in your pantry for a reasonably long time, but they also have similar vitamins and minerals that fresh produce provides. 


Pasta contains important carbs that can give your family energy, as well as fiber to help with digestion. It stores for several years and comes in so many different shapes and sizes. Be sure to also have a variety of pasta sauces that you can use so that the pasta doesn’t get old when eating it multiple times a week if necessary.  

Canned Soups

Another warm and hearty meal that lasts for a number of years in your pantry is canned soup. Many have plenty of nutritious value and only require to be heated up. It’s also not necessary to add any milk or water to some of them, which is a good thing when you’re dealing with an emergency situation where those ingredients may not be available to you. 

See the comments below about case lot sales on canned goods, it can save you some money and give you peace of mind knowing you’re better prepared.   

Canned Meat and Fish

Listen up, all you meat-eaters! If you’re ever faced with an emergency situation and fresh meat was not currently available to you, that doesn’t mean that you have to go entirely cold turkey (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Canned meat and fish come packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids that are important for your family.

You also have plenty of tasty options, whether it’s canned chicken, ham, SPAM, Manwich, sardines, tuna, or salmon. They not only come in cans, but you can also find them in foil pouches that don’t require a can opener.

Mark and I particularly enjoy the canned chicken breasts from Costco. We make chicken salads, chicken salad sandwiches, and other entrees we both enjoy. The same can be said for canned tuna products, with lots of versatility when it comes to meal prep. 

We’ve had “case lot sales” a lot this fall and early winter where the stores in our area sell various canned goods products at a discount if you’re willing to purchase them by the case. If that’s an option in your area, I’d strongly suggest you take advantage of the sales and be creative when it comes to finding places in your home to store some larger inventories.

Beef Jerky and Other Dehydrated Meats 

Beef jerky and beef sticks are excellent snacks for you that are filled with protein to provide you with energy. Just be careful not to eat too much because they tend to contain a lot of sodium. As long as it’s sealed up properly, jerky can store for a couple of years.

If you’re not much of a beef fan, there are a number of other dehydrated meats that you can try, such as ham, turkey, venison, salmon, alligator, buffalo, and even kangaroo.    

Read More of My Articles  10 Affordable Ways to Spread Kindness

Protein and Granola Bars

Granola and protein bars come individually wrapped and can come in handy when you’re in need of a quick breakfast or a sweet snack. Plus, they’re much healthier comfort food for your children instead of them eating a chocolate candy bar.  

Dehydrated Fruits

For those of you who can’t seem to get enough fruit, you should consider storing raisins, craisins, apricots, and other dried fruits to hold you over. While most dried fruits typically have much of their vitamin C compromised, there are still plenty of other nutrients that they contain.

It’s better if you go with the “no-sugar-added” dehydrated fruits when you can, but no matter which way you prefer them, they’ll last for a long time when properly sealed in their container. 

You may want to consider canning some fruits at home. As we raised our kids, the fall harvest and canning season was a busy one in our home. We canned peaches, pears, and apricots, and made tons of apple sauce in quart jars.

These canned treasures made memories as we processed the fruit, but also for months after as we enjoyed them as part of a healthy breakfast or mid-day treat.

Nuts and Seeds

Another wonderful emergency snack to stock in your pantry would be a combination of nuts and seeds. Whether you’re a pecan, walnut, cashew, pistachio, or peanut lover, each of them has plenty of protein, along with fiber and other important nutrients.

If you’re looking for a supply that will last you the longest, then I’d encourage you to purchase the nuts and seeds that still come in their shell.

While I’m on the topic of nuts, don’t forget to have a few jars of peanut butter, especially if you have children. Please remember all nuts must be kept in the freezer for longer storage plans. Because of their oil content, they’ll go rancid very quickly. In case you missed this post, Health Benefits of Nuts: Stock Up


It’s pretty safe to bet that your family could be missing out on some rather important vitamins and minerals from their diets when dealing with a stressful emergency situation. Don’t allow it to come to that! Be sure to add daily multivitamins to your pantry to fill in those deficiency gaps. 

I’m not a doctor, nurse, or anyone in the medical field, but I will recommend these vitamins if they work with any medications you are taking. Always check with your medical advisor. Vitamin D3, Vitamin B-12, and Zinc. Please stay healthy, let WHOLE food be your medicine.

Can Opener

Several of the food items on this list come in can form, but it’s going to be difficult to open any of them without a can opener, so make sure you have one set aside.  I have several Hand Can Openers, and because of my arthritis, I opted to have an Electric Can Opener as well.

What to Store in Your Pantry for an Emergency

Final Word

Covid-19 was certainly an eye-opener for Americans, as many began to see the urgency and importance of having a fully-stocked pantry in case of an emergency and related challenges like lockdowns. Because chances are, when you went to the grocery store, it was difficult to find what you needed.

A recent emergency in North Carolina was caused by vandals shooting high-powered rifles into a local electrical substation. There were hundreds of thousands without power for an extended period.

Those kinds of scenarios seem to be more common and will probably be more frequent going forward. Since you can control your own destiny when it comes to food, water, and other critical storage items, get ahead of the game and prepare now.

The experts have been telling us for some time that this winter could get even worse when it comes to sickness, severe storms, and other challenges. This is why I’d encourage you to prepare now and store several of these pantry items before things wind up being worst-case.

That way you’ll still be able to provide your family with meals and snacks that also have the nutritional value we all need. May God Bless this world, Linda

Copyright Images: Pantry AdobeStock_239082975 by artursfoto

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  1. I am so glad to say that we have all of these. No electric can opener though. But we have several manual ones. I did go and save the list of pantry essentials. We have all of those. I’d add Vegetable juice and/or tomato juice or powdered tomatoes. I use these to make soup with. I like the vegetable juice best. And Spices. Do t forget the spices.

    1. Hi Deborah, I’m glad you mentioned spices. I had heard there was a shortage of spices and I went through and rotated, tossed, and replaced several so I’m good for now. Great tip on the vegetable juice/tomato juice. Life is good if our pantry is full. Merry Christmas, Linda

      1. Linda, and all of you,
        Wishing you a very Merry CHRISTmas, and a much better New Year! May God bless you with all you need and some of what you want.

          1. No Linda, Thank you for all you teach us. And/or remind us. Another thing we need to think about is herbs. There are so many herbs that can be used for medicines.

      2. Linda, Deborah beat me to the punch. Store spices, especially salt, which is good for tons of things. Also, I store my sprouting jars there between uses–the seeds are kept in a fridge.

          1. HELLO: I did not find a “reply” arrow for Deborah’s post about herbs, so I am replying here. ABOUT HERBS: I once studied under Dr. Phil Fritchey, the Author of “Practical Herbalism” (now deceased). Dr. Phil (with hair, as he always joked), had his own herbal medicine company, so he taught us how he stored his organic herbs for freshness and shelf life. If you do this according to his description, supposedly your dried herbs will last 5 years before you need to toss them. Othewise, 1 year at best, and they should be replaced with fresh. Here is what he taught us to keep herbs fresh and in great shape: 1) Gather some 1 qt. glass mason jars with the same size opening (so you only need to buy one adapter), 2) pull out your Vacuum Sealer and the jar attachment, 3) place herbs in jars and vacuum them closed, using the jar adaptor, 4) put the sealed jar in a brown paper lunch bag or something that will keep light away from the herbs, 5) Tape the bag closed over the lid of the jar and then label the contents and the date on the outside of the brown paper bag. 6) store the bag(s) with jars in them in a cool, dry place with minimal sunlight. Dr. Fritchey swore herbs stored like this were good for 5 years in storage, then use up immediately, if you haven’t already. Just reseal the containers and the bags each time you’ve gotten into said jars to extract some of the dried herbs.
            I hope this will bless some of you! Have a Merry CHRISTmas, everyone! If anyone would like to know a “quick and easy” way to make herbal medicine tinctures, I can tell you about that, too! :0 Joyce S.

          2. Hi Joyce, oh, I love love love your comment! I love hearing how to store herbs longer. THANK YOU! I would love to know how to make a quick and easy way to make herbal medicine tinctures!!! Linda

  2. Lehman’s offers a longer handled manual can opener that is wonderful for anyone with arthritis or failing hand strength. The crank handle is much longer & very easy to turn. The other handles are also longer and give more torque for opening the cans. I have cysts in my wrists that occasionally flare up & create major issues for my ability to grip objects…. that longer handle can opener is a lifesaver! It’s been well worth the couple extra dollars it cost!

    1. Hi BDN, you know now that you mention that I think I bought one from Lehman’s. I have a bucket of can openers, (I’m afraid I won’t have one that works-LOL)! I may be a hoarder on those, don’t tell anyone!! LOL! I remember speaking at a neighborhood group on preparedness and one lady said “I don’t own a can opener”!! WHAT???? I still laugh about that one. we won’t always have fresh food!! Merry Christmas! Linda

    2. I’d like to know more about the long handled manual can opener. I shop at Lehman’s all the time and I couldn’t find it listed anywhere on their site! Any information you can give me would help. Thank you!

      1. Robbie, you are right, Lehmans no longer carries the Swing Away Easy Crank can opener. I bought mine over 10 years ago. It is available on Ebay for about $18 – 20 & free shipping. Most likely on Amazon, also.

        Lehmans does carry the Swing Away wall mount can opener. The crank handle on the wall mounted unit is similar to the handle on the Easy Crank manual can opener.

        Hope that helps! Merry Christmas, everyone!

    3. On a only vaguely related note….

      That reminded me that my mother-in-law was having issues opening jars and bottles, so I sent her a set of strap wrenches from Lowe’s https://www.lowes.com/pd/Kobalt-2-Piece-Household-Tool-Set/50029434

      I had gotten a similar strap wrench for dealing with the 5 gallon water jug lids that were hard to open with the recessed lids giving me little finger space, and thought they would be just the thing for opening the Gatorade bottles she was having issues opening up. Turns out my wife wanted one too so she could open her apple juice bottles without asking me to help.

      So I now have a bunch of these to go along with my stash of manual can openers.

  3. Linda, I have quite a few herbal books. And how to make tinctures and other things. I love them. I got interested in herbs many years ago after reading about a girl raised in a cave by cavemen. Clan of the Cave Bear.

    1. Morning and Hello, I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter. I hope she’s better by now. I’ve been in between but started drinking Powerade and it helped big time.
      I’m still waiting to hear from Housing to move, still living with stairs. I am trying to build my pantry stuff back to a good level and dome of the things on your list I’m trying to add. Slowly but surely. Doing better with the back. Hope all else is well with you and yours. Happy Holidays.

  4. Some other items you can store…Dehydrated Potatoes..you can put them in Mason Jars with Oxygen Absorbers (available from Amazon) Dried Soups from Knorr..or Lipton…White Rice…Sugar..Soy Sauce which will last forever …in regards to a can opener…in an emergency you can take a can turn it upside down and rub it across your driveway…a section of concrete…or a large rock..just keep rubbing it back and forth and the top of the can will separate where it has been folded over at the canning factory and it does not take long….also canned plain Seltzer water is simply carbonated water…should last forever in a can..and is a good source of water…anything you store away that will help you survive has to make you feel good during an emergency..

    1. Hi Tom, thanks for telling us how to open a can without a can opener. I totally agree with you on the dehydrated potatoes, soups, white rice, sugar, and soy sauce. Canned Seltzer is a great idea! It’s all about being prepared for the unexpected. Great comment! Merry Christmas, Linda

  5. Linda…and anyone reading this…I promise you will get such a good feeling and a rush of Endorphins if you just store a few things..it feels so good knowing that you don’t have to rush to the store in an emergency to get the old standbys BREAD AND MILK…never figured that one out…but powdered milk is another standby that is pretty much good for long term storage…but I just love the feeling of being somewhat prepared no matter what happens I can hold out for 3 months…but even two weeks is good.

    1. Hi Tom, I totally agree with you. I believe once people understand the “endorphins” or “peace within” when they have food stocked, they will never look back. It’s a way of life for sure. Linda

    2. I was thinking about Tom mentioning the rush of good feelings when someone is ready for an emergency. Yesterday when we came home from doing all our doctor appointments and errands, I heard the weather predictions for another possibility heavy snow along with freezing rain and ice, I felt such a safe feeling. Like a bear ready to hibernate I am ready to burrow in for whatever comes our way. It’s a great feeling.

  6. Good Morning Linda, On the powder milk, if you add a little sugar and some vanilla, they will make the milk taste almost like fresh. Learned that trick a while back. It even tasted pretty good once mixed at room temp, but much better cold.

  7. Hi, I was wondering if any of these items could also be stored in a basement (as I know that some food items aren’t suited for cool & dark spaces). My pantry is usually packed with cooking supplies like flour and spices, so it would be easier for me if I could store these in my basement.

    1. Hi Nick, I used to store all of my excess food storage in our basements. As long as everything is in airtight containers, that’s a great area if it’s dry and cool. All types of nuts still need the freezer. Linda

  8. My husband laughs that we are ready for all kinds of emergencies. We aren’t, but we do come closer than a lot of folks! I do like dry milk, the Emergency Essentials brand. I was raised on dry milk so it’s not a bad thing for me to drink. I mix it up by the quart and put a teaspoon of powdered sugar in it and the grandkids will drink it. They don’t know the difference because it’s nice and cold when I serve it.

    1. Hi Paula, sometimes I laugh because we are ready for all kinds of emergencies! Better to laugh than cry I guess! LOL! Thanks for sharing about Emergency Essentials Milk, I have not tried that one. Thank you! My kids were raised on powdered milk mixed with real milk. I can still remember the smell, we’ve come a long way baby with Instant milk compared to powdered milk. WOW! I will try the powdered sugar, great tip! Linda

  9. I have most of the items listed but there are some my family won’t eat so there is no need to stock them.

    We don’t have any homeless kids in our community but we have lots of kids in One parent home, or Grandparents or Great Grandparents are taking care of the Grandchildren. I am trying to make a coloring book for younger children and older children so they have something to do during the holiday break. If you know of a site that has coloring pictures let me know and I will see if I am able to use them for what I want to use them for.

    1. HI Jackie, you are lucky if you do not have homeless kids in your community. I was shocked to see the high number of homeless kids in Utah. Mark and I are in a National Civic club that helps with the homeless and abused families. The numbers are astounding. I wish I knew where you could get coloring pages. That’s a great idea. Linda

  10. Linda,

    After Jane’s ileostomy surgery last April she was flushing essential salts from her system faster than regular food could replenish them. Gatorade and and Ensure like drink called Pure Premium Plus got her through the months until her body adapted to her new circumstances. (She didn’t like pedialyte or Ensure, but both are good recommendations). I now keep a case or two of Pure Premium Plus in the pantry. It’s 60% protein, and tasty besides. Fairlife also makes a good Ensure substitute.

    1. Hi Ray, thanks again for the tip! I need to tell my daughter, she has to take Pedialyte almost every day because she gets dehydrated so quickly. I’m glad you found one that works for Jane! Linda

  11. I have spices that are nearly 20 years old. I buy good quality spices first of all. If you don’t believe there is a difference, you are wrong. Go to the grocery store and buy two of the same spice or herb. Better yet, order one that you already have in your pantry from a company like Penzey’s and smell the difference. You’ll be cured of grocery store spices.

    I store them for long term in mylar bags with o2 absorbers. Shorter term go in mason jars that I vacuum seal. If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, buy o2 absorbers and drop them into your jars before you cap them off. My garlic is incredible after all these years. Some will clump, but when you open a bag, toss it in the food processor and give it a couple of pulses. After I open the bag, I then store in mason jars. If it’s something I don’t use often, like chile powder, I vacuum seal the jars. Chile powder will clump into balls the size of big marbles if you don’t keep it airtight. Or maybe it’s just chile powder without ant-clumping agents in it.

    Painter’s tape is my best friend. I mark everything with painter’s tape and a sharpie. I even label anything I open that needs refrigerated. It cuts down on waste and helps with rotation.

    1. HI Regina, I totally agree on the spices, I’m fussy as to the ones I buy as well. I will have to try Penzey’s, thank you for the suggestion. I used to teach cooking classes and learned so much about spices and so much more. I was able to take classes from a few different chefs in Utah, it was a dream come true job. Life is good when you have the best spices in your pantry! Linda

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