If you're scrambling with how to stock your pantry during this emergency, here are the foods I keep on hand. Your list will vary with your dietary needs and how you feed your family but it's a place to start. Stay calm, breathe deep, and remember we will all get through this together with some good lessons learned. Faith over fear!
How to Stock Your Pantry for an Emergency
While we may find empty shelves intermittently, America's food supply and distribution system are strong. There is plenty of food in this country so don't panic. Dedicated people behind the scenes are working overtime to get our stores stocked. And before you shop, here's a reminder on how to read food labels.
The CDC site advises having at least a two week’s supply of food in your home, as well as prescriptions, over the counter medications and other essentials.
Here is what I purchased for both my dry pantry and freezer pantry. We eat gluten-free and I buy all of the organic I can. I also don't buy stuff like processed cereals or frozen junk food which explains why they are not listed. Do what works for your family and your kitchen space. And be sure to check out this post on saving money.
Dry Pantry Supplies
Canned, jarred and dry goods usually have long shelf lives but check the expiration date before purchasing. Here's my basic list:
- Onions, garlic, shallots
- Tomatoes - diced, paste, puree, whole, crushed, sun-dried
- Pumpkin puree
- Coconut milk
- Artichoke hearts
- Canned wild salmon and chicken
- Canned beans (garbanzo beans, Cannellini, pinto, small white and black)
- Brown rice (I buy this one), black rice, quinoa, millet, oatmeal
- Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil. Never vegetable oil!
- Vinegar - white, Balsamic (and a few naturally flavored fruit ones, optional)
- Mustard - Dijon in my favorite flavors
- Dark 70% or higher
Nuts and seeds
- Almonds, cashews, walnuts, macadamias (optional)
- Hemp, chia, pumpkin
Nut and seed butters
- Cashew, almond and tahini
- Maple syrup, raw honey, liquid flavored stevia drops, monk fruit blend, coconut sugar
- Brown rice pasta
- Dried beans (packaged)
- Potatoes (sweet, regular, red)
Basic herbs and spices
- Sea salt, ground black pepper and peppercorns, granulated garlic
- Cumin, coriander, cinnamon, smoked paprika, ancho chili, red chili flakes, saffron, chipotle powder, turmeric, ginger
- Thyme, oregano, Italian blend, Herbs de Provence
- Low sugar snack and energy bars
- Protein powder for smoothies
What's Not on My Pantry List
What's not on my pantry list? In general, canned soups because of the high sodium and often unhealthy ingredients. If you can find some that are healthy and you like them, they are a decent pantry non-perishable.
I've also listed bone broth under my freezer pantry as most boxed brands are high in sodium (and I make homemade), and no canned tuna because of mercury. If you must buy canned or boxed soup or broth, be sure to read labels like a hawk.
For easy to make and freeze soups try my black bean and pumpkin, healthy homemade tomato, or Instant Pot Vegetable Lentil.
How to Save Money
Order pantry staples from ThriveMarket.com. And for tips on how to save on your food budget, read this post.
Freezer Pantry Supplies
If you have a big family you might need an extra freezer. If you need to freeze milk, here's a great article. Cheese freezes too.
- Bananas (chop them or peel whole bananas and freeze on a rimmed baking sheet. When frozen, store in a zip bag or glass container.)
- Ground turkey and beef
- Chicken and turkey, ground and various cuts
- Wild seafood
- Pre-cooked chicken sausage
- Homemade or store bought frozen
- If you cannot get fresh
Refrigerator Pantry List
These are refrigerated items I always keep on hand but might need a backup of during an emergency. If you enjoy dairy include foods like plain Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, hard whole-milk cheese and goat cheese.
A Few Words on Fresh Produce
It's challenging keeping fresh produce in the house for very long. Washed properly and stored it will last a week. Some things last longer, like root vegetables including carrots and beets.
Cabbage is another healthy and versatile vegetable that lasts a long time. Add apples, celery, Brussels Sprouts, peppers and citrus to the list. Wash and prep produce when you get home so it's ready to go.
Wash Produce Right and Extend the Life
To make fresh produce last longer, wash it with Eat Cleaner produce wash. I love this product and it works. It comes in powdered or liquid concentrate as well as wipes. Eat Cleaner reduces the risk of food-borne illness removing wax and agricultural residue. It's more effective than water or vinegar and it extends the life of your precious produce up to five times longer.
That my friends reduces food waste and makes your shopping dollars go farther. And not to worry about what's in it. Eat Cleaner is patented and lab-proven to be safe, natural and effective with no taste or residue. Read more on their website, here.
One more thing I stay stocked on is basic essential oils. Here's a few basics I keep to fight colds and to help us sleep. Lavender, peppermint, frankincense, tea tree (melaleuca) and eucalyptus are on this list but I stock others too. Here's a great book to refer to for many health needs.
Michelle K says
Hi! Thanks! I need some produce cleaner, and went to buy some using your link, but says out of stock and no date. If you see it become available, let me know. 🙂 I even tried their website, but it linked me back to the Amazon link. If we were closer or not in quarantine I'd talk you into sharing some if you have plenty, lol.
Sally Cameron says
Hi Michelle. I've been assured they will be back in stock quickly. All of their inventory is now on Amazon, nothing local. You might find it in some stores but since we are limited with shopping and exposure I'm not sure what stores. I'd wait for Amazon to get back in stock. Locally Albertsons and Stater Bros. are supposed to have the spray bottles. I'd look in the produce dept.
Gloria Valenzuela says
Thank you Sally for your helpful tips. My husband is preparing the majority of our meals & doing an awesome job. One of the tips I give to friends is that when you have left over mashed potatoes, you can make “Papa Tacos” (potatoes in Spanish), and fill them with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, avocado, etc. Families right now with children at home are struggling to feed their families on strict budgets, so keep the tips coming. God Bless You for what you do! Un Abrazo Fuerte
Sally Cameron says
Great idea Gloria! Thank you so much for sharing. How nice that your husband is cooking! Hugs and blessings back. Stay healthy!