The beginning of 2020 saw Americans emptying store shelves as they panicked prior to quarantine. As shelves have slowly refilled, many new Preppers are taking a more organized approach to stocking their pantries in preparation for what may come. With an important election looming and the possibility of a contested outcome resulting in civil unrest and violence, the time to prepare is now.
If you entered a store in April, you would have seen some conspicuously empty aisles: rice, beans, canned goods, pasta, eggs, milk, and the frozen sections were all bare. Instinctually, many people turned to items that won’t go bad for years, as well as stocking up on daily staples for their families. While the logic here is sound, items that require refrigeration and freezing are risky if you don’t have an alternative power source available to you. In addition to threats to our power grids, natural disasters can wreak havoc on your region’s infrastructure.
Here are the 15 foods you should be stocking up on before another crisis, and to ensure a balanced diet:
1. Rice and Grains
When stored properly, rice can last for 30+ years. It is inexpensive and will keep your belly full. Similar grains, like quinoa, farro, barley, wheat berries, and bulgur, are adequate alternatives that can vary your diet. All are great additions to soups, stews, and salads.
2. Dried or Canned Beans
Dried beans and legumes are another Prepper Pantry staple, with a possible shelf life of close to 30 years (although taste and texture may change over that time). They are full of protein and fiber, and can be added to salads and soups, as well as used to make dips like hummus. Black beans, chickpeas, and kidney beans are all good choices.
3. Root Vegetables
Cool, dark, dry cellars with good ventilation can be used to store root vegetables for months. Potatoes, carrots, yams, beets, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, yuca, ginger, and radishes are all packed full of nutrients and don’t require electricity to maintain.
4. Garlic and Onions
Like other root vegetables, garlic and onion only need a cool, dark, well-ventilated spot to maintain their freshness for months. These flavorful building blocks elevate your dishes and add much-needed interest when you start to tire of simple meals.
5. Canned Fish and Chicken
Protein is critical for keeping your strength up, and fresh options can be hard to find when supply chains are interrupted. Very few people live on farms with their own source animals, so stock up on canned fish and chicken that will last for several years.
Another shelf-stable option for keeping your belly full, pasta is versatile and easy to cook. It is also inexpensive, so stock up while the shelves allow for it.
7. Stocks and Broths
Another healthy option for adding flavor to your food, stocks and broths can make soups, stews, rice, and sauce. Bone broth can be warmed and drunk on its own to increase bone density.
8. Canned Vegetables
Already-prepared and shelf-stable foods are your go-to’s in the event of a long-term power outage, and if you don’t want to draw attention to your location with a fire. Canned tomatoes are an especially valuable choice, as they are the starters to many soups and sauces.
9. Canned Fruit
Don’t forget about fruit! Many Prepper staples lack soluble fiber, but keeping your digestive tract healthy will be much more comfortable in the long run. Fresh fruit has a short life, but canned fruit will provide you with at least a 3-5 year supply. Be sure to buy fruit stored in water instead of syrup so that you don’t overdo it on the sugar.
10. Canned Soups
Ready-to-eat complete meals are invaluable in an emergency situation. In a worst-case scenario, a can of prepared soup can provide all of your nutrition and contain every food group.
11. Oils and Vinegars
Oils and vinegars can be used for cooking and dressing your food, adding moisture and flavor. Some can be stored at room temperature after opening, limiting your reliance on electricity.
12. Flour and Yeast
Being able to bake your own bread is an important skill to have when supply chains fail and you can no longer purchase packaged breads. Keeping baking supplies on-hand allows you the option to make your own.
13. Powdered Milk
Milk and cream were hard to come by early this year, and expect that trend to continue. If you don’t have reliable access to a dairy farm and you use milk and cream on a regular basis, now is the time to stock up on shelf-stable powdered milk. With a shelf life of 20+ years, powdered milk is preferable to canned milk.
14. Coffee and Tea
If you are used to consuming caffeine on a daily basis, quitting cold turkey when you run out can lead to headaches, irritability, and exhaustion. Your best bet is to stock up now.
15. Powdered Eggs
Eggs are a staple in most refrigerators, but are you prepared to live without them if stores are empty and you don’t have power? Powdered eggs contain the same amount of protein as fresh eggs, can be kept in your pantry, and will allow you to cook and bake the same way you’re accustomed to.
It’s easy to think of the COVID-19 pandemic as a one-time occurrence that America is recovering from, but it’s important to view it as foreshadowing of future events. While supply chains are back on track, take advantage of this time to prepare for the next crisis – at worst, you’ll have a full pantry to work out of. At best, you’ll be self-sufficient as conditions deteriorate.