Home Survival StrategiesFood & Water Building your food supply

Building your food supply

by Survival Dispatch Staff

When you’re prepping your home or bug out location for a SHTF scenario, there are many steps and points of focus to consider. One of your priorities should always be to build up a long-term food supply. However just keeping your pantry stocked is not enough. You need to know the right types of food to store and how to do it without breaking the bank. There are many DIY projects to take on to make sure that when things start to fall apart, you have the food needed to survive.

How Much Food do I Need?

This is a question that I hear a great deal from new preppers. How do you know how much food to store? The easy answer is that more is better. We’re talking about storing dry food, canned goods, MREs, and other preserved foods so it’s not in danger of going bad.

However, even these foods have a shelf life. Canned goods last anywhere from one to four years on the shelf. Dried goods and MREs can last longer if they’re kept in a cool, dry place. You do want to be cautious not to let your food storage get so out of hand that it’s spoiling. Most experts believe that an average SHTF scenario will last anywhere from a few days to a few months. Using that estimate then you should have at least three months of food on hand. If you have a family of four and assume three meals a day, that comes to 360 servings of food.

Food Rotation System

When setting back food for storage, you really don’t know how long it will be before it’s needed. It could be 20 years or it could be next week. That means that if you just buy the food and let it sit on the shelf, it could be spoiled by the time it’s needed. To solve this problem, you need to rotate your food.

You need a system to ensure the oldest food in the pantry and freezer is eaten first. All food should be immediately dated once you buy it. Then put the newest food at one end of the shelf and the oldest should be at the other. When you cook meals, you should constantly be pulling from the old side. There are also can rotation systems you can buy that load at the top and push the oldest cans to the front.

Renewable Food Sources

While food storage is vital, so is having renewable food sources that can continuously supply you with fresh foods. There are plenty of SHTF scenarios in which you can still go outside to collect food. A garden is a great way to constantly have vegetables available for canning, drying, and for eating fresh.

You can also plant trees so you have fruit on your property during the growing season. There is a stocked pond on our property so there’s fresh fish whenever we need it. We also have let about half of our property grow up as a brushy area so there are rabbits and deer for hunting. For those that have limited land, I’ve seen people grow hydroponic gardens in their homes or raise catfish for food.

Dry Goods

The backbone of your food storage should be dried goods. These will last the longest if they’re kept dry and cool. You should keep them in airtight containers to avoid insects getting into your food. You can buy dry foods like pasta, flour, oatmeal, sugar, rice, powdered eggs, powdered milk, powdered potato, dried fruits, nuts, dried beans, onion flakes, jerky, and bouillon to name a few. To save money,

I suggest drying your own foods whenever possible. You can use a food dehydrator, use your oven, or even dry foods over a fire. My family likes to dry vegetables from our garden as well as peaches and apples from our trees. In addition, we make jerky out of venison, rabbit, squirrel, turkey, and fish.

Canned Goods

You can always purchase canned meats, vegetables, and fruit to add to your food supply. However, with the limited shelf life of canned goods keep the amount of money you spend low. A better bet is to can your own foods. Between pickling, wet canning, dry canning, and pressure canning, you can preserve just about any food.

However, canning is a true science. You need to know the right way to can each type of food so that it’s not contaminated with bacteria. If you’re not careful with your canning process, it could end up making yourself or your family very sick. My grandmother had a huge garden and canned everything from green beans to persimmons. She always had enough canned goods on hand to feed her and my grandfather for months.

Frozen Foods

Frozen foods are great for short term survival scenarios. You can freeze vegetables, fruits, breads, and soups but mostly meat. We have three freezers and keep them full most of the time. Unless it’s winter or live some place that stays cold year round, you’ll need electricity.

Therefore if you plan to keep a large percentage of your food frozen, make sure to have both a generator and a backup. If you lose power during a SHTF scenario, keeping your food frozen should be one of the top priorities. Otherwise you’ll need to eat as much as possible and barter with the rest before it goes bad.


Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) are often what people picture when they think about survival food storage. These are entire meals that are preserved for long term storage and transport. They’re most often used by the military. It can consist of anything from nutrient pills and protein bars to full meals like spaghetti or beef stew. However, there are some major downsides to MREs. They typically don’t taste nearly as good as canned, frozen, or dried foods would.

In order to preserve foods like this they have to add a huge amount of preservatives which limits the flavor. Plus another big issue is the price. The MREs that I own cost about $25 to feed one person for six days and the taste is rough. Compare this to canning or drying meat, vegetables, or fruits and it will make you wonder why buy MREs? I have them for my bug out bag or for situations in which I don’t have time to cook, but that’s about it.

Final Thoughts

There are many ways that you can build up your food storage for survival scenarios. The key is to get started right away. Don’t put it off until it’s too late. If you just set back one or two items every time you go grocery shopping, they’ll start to build up quickly. Build up dried, canned, and frozen food storage using your garden and other renewable food sources. Be careful to rotate your foods to eat the oldest ones first and you’ll be well fed whenever the time comes to rely upon them.

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