Food Prepping for SHTF: Essential Guide

published on 30 December 2023

Preparing for emergencies is crucial, but knowing what foods to stockpile can be overwhelming.

This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about food prepping for SHTF scenarios, with tips on storage, essential items, and printable lists to help you build a robust and nutritious stockpile.

You'll learn the best foods to choose, budget-friendly sourcing strategies, and how to utilize mylar bags and oxygen absorbers to extend shelf life. With this advice, you can confidently prepare for disruptions and focus on keeping your family safe and healthy.

Introduction to Food Prepping for SHTF

Food prepping for emergencies, also known as SHTF (S**t Hits The Fan) scenarios, involves building a supply of long-lasting food items and implementing proper storage techniques to preserve quality and longevity. This ensures you and your family have access to nutritious food if disruptions occur to normal supply chains.

Understanding the Importance of SHTF Planning

Preparing for potential SHTF situations is crucial to withstand short and long-term hardships. Food shortages can happen due to natural disasters, wars, pandemics, economic collapse, and more. Having an emergency food supply makes a huge difference in surviving these events safely. It removes reliance on external factors, granting you control, self-sufficiency, and peace of mind.

Assessing Your Emergency Food Needs

When prepping food for SHTF scenarios, first assess your family’s unique needs. Calculate the calories required per person based on age, health status, and activity levels. Then determine the quantity and type of food items needed to meet those needs over a defined period, accounting for potential spoilage. Generally a 3-6 month supply is recommended initially.

Selecting the Best Prepper Food from Grocery Store

Many suitable prepper foods can be found at regular grocery stores. Opt for nutritious, non-perishable items with long shelf lives like rice, beans, canned meat/fish, honey, salt, cooking oil, and more. Avoid foods requiring refrigeration or frequent rotation. Also choose items your family already eats to avoid waste. Consider nutritional variety and calories.

The Role of Prepper Food Storage in Emergency Preparedness

Proper storage is key to preserving nutritional value and shelf life. Techniques like canning, dehydrating, vacuum sealing, and cool/dark storage help maintain quality. When combined with a sufficient supply, robust storage enables long-term reliance on your food preps when SHTF events occur.

Incorporating Cheap Prepper Food into Your Plan

You can integrate cost-effective options without sacrificing nutrition. Buy staple ingredients like rice, beans, pasta in bulk. Get canned/pouched tuna, salmon, chicken when on sale. Grow a garden for fresh produce. Forage for berries, greens, mushrooms. With planning, healthy eating on a budget is achievable.

What foods should you prep for SHTF?

When prepping food for emergency situations like societal collapse (SHTF), it's important to focus on shelf-stable items that can last a long time without refrigeration. Some good options to stock up on include:

  • Canned goods: Canned foods like vegetables, fruits, meats, and soups can last for years past their printed expiration date if stored properly. Prioritize high-acid foods like tomatoes that can last 18+ months. Low-acid foods like vegetables and meats can safely last 3-5 years when canned.
  • Rice and grains: White rice, pasta, oats, and other grains are cheap long-lasting carb sources to stockpile. Opt for white rice over brown due to longer shelf life. Store in airtight containers.
  • Dried beans: Beans are packed with protein and fiber. Stock up on dried pintos, black beans, chickpeas, lentils. They last indefinitely when stored in airtight containers.
  • Freeze-dried meals: Freeze dried foods retain 98% of nutrients and are lightweight. Mountain House and Wise Foods make survival food kits with dishes like chili, rice/beans, eggs.
  • Fats and oils: Fats like vegetable oil, olive oil, shortening, and lard can help round out calories. Buy small bottles and rotate stock.

When building your food stockpile, focus on nutrient dense non-perishables you already eat. Download printable checklists online for guidance. Having 6 months to 1 year supply is recommended. Store in cool, dark place and routinely cycle out oldest items.

What foods should I stockpile for survival?

When building your food stockpile for emergency preparedness, focusing on shelf-stable items with a long shelf life is key. Here are some of the most essential food categories to have on hand:

Canned and Dried Goods

Canned meats like tuna, chicken, and salmon are packed with protein and will last 2-5 years unopened. Canned fruits and vegetables, beans, soups, and tomato sauce also have multi-year shelf lives. Opt for low-sodium versions when possible. Dried beans, lentils, rice, oats, pasta, and baking mixes provide carbohydrates and fiber.

Preserved and Cured Meats

Beef and turkey jerky, canned ham and sausage, pemmican (dried meat mixed with fat), and hard salami and cheeses keep for 1-2 years. They provide protein and fat.

Fats and Oils

Fats are essential for energy and nutrient absorption. Stock up on vegetable, olive, coconut, and seed oils which store for 2-3 years. Nut butters like peanut and almond butter also store well long-term.


Store at least 1 gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation purposes. 5-gallon jugs or boxes with long shelf lives are best for stockpiling. Consider adding water filtration devices as well.

Focus on nutrient-dense, non-perishable foods you already eat and enjoy. Slowly build your stockpile over time, integrating a few extra items into each shopping trip. Properly store foods in a cool, dark place and routinely cycle older items to the front to maintain freshness.

What 2 foods can you survive on?

When prepping food for emergency situations like SHTF, it's important to have a balanced diet to ensure you get adequate nutrition. Relying on just one or two foods can lead to nutritional deficiencies over time.

However, if you had to pick only two foods to survive on, good options would be:

  • Rice: White rice is shelf-stable, calorie-dense, and provides carbs. Brown rice has more nutrients but doesn't store as long. Rice combined with beans makes a complete protein.
  • Beans: Dried beans are packed with plant-based protein, fiber, and nutrients. Varieties like kidney, pinto, black, garbanzo, lentils are versatile options with a long shelf life. They can be soaked and cooked into stews, added to rice dishes, or ground into bean flour.

While rice and beans would provide enough calories and macronutrients to survive, a varied diet is best for long-term health. When possible, incorporate other non-perishables like canned vegetables, fruits, proteins, oils, and seasonings to get a fuller range of vitamins and minerals.

No matter your food stores, having access to clean water is also critical. Stock up on water filtration devices and tablets in case municipal water is compromised.

When SHTF, the top priority is meeting calorie and macronutrient needs. But a diverse food prepper’s pantry will keep you healthier through an extended crisis. Rice and beans checks the minimum boxes, while additional shelf-stable foods will provide better nutrition.

What is the best foods to store for doomsday?

When preparing food storage for a doomsday or SHTF scenario, it's important to focus on shelf-stable items that will last a long time without refrigeration. Some of the best options include:

  • MREs (Meals Ready-to-Eat): These are self-contained, military-style meals designed for emergencies. MREs can last for years and provide calories, protein, and nutrients.
  • Canned goods: Fruits, vegetables, beans, meats, fish, soups, and more come canned, allowing them to be stored at room temperature. Focus on nutritious options over salty or sugary foods.
  • Dried foods: Dried beans, rice, pasta, fruits, vegetables, and meat products are lightweight and non-perishable. Look for items with long shelf lives.
  • Boxed/powdered goods: Shelf-stable milk, juices, grains, baking mixes etc. are handy for doomsday pantries. Opt for whole grains when possible.
  • Spreads/condiments: Peanut butter, jelly, honey, and shelf-stable cheeses add flavor and nutrition.
  • Crackers and bread: Crackers, melba toast, and bread lasts longer than fresh baked goods. Go for whole grain options when possible.

No matter what you choose, be sure to store foods properly in a cool, dark place and rotate stock to maximize freshness. Having a diverse mix of non-perishables, including comfort foods, will help you stay nourished in an emergency. Integrating long-lasting food prepping for shtf items into your pantry now ensures you'll be set when SHTF.


Strategies for Long-Lasting Food Storage

Properly storing food is critical for long-term survival preparedness. By optimizing storage conditions and utilizing specialized products, preppers can maximize shelf life and maintain nutritional value of their stockpiles.

Optimizing Storage Conditions for Food Longevity

When building your prepper food stockpile, focus on non-perishable items with longer shelf lives. Canned goods, rice, beans, honey, and freeze-dried foods are excellent choices.

Store items in a cool, dark place around 40-60°F. Temperature fluctuations can shorten shelf life, so maintain a stable environment. Consider a basement, cellar, or climate-controlled room.

Keep food in airtight, food-grade plastic containers or Mylar bags. This prevents pests, light exposure, moisture, and oxygen from ruining supplies.

Protecting Your Stockpile from Pests and Contaminants

Inspect supplies regularly for signs of insects, rodents, or mold growth. Discard anything compromised, and address the root cause like cracks in containers. Moth balls, sticky traps, or diatomaceous earth can also deter pests.

Wipe containers periodically to remove dust and debris that can introduce bacteria or pathogens over time.

The Importance of Inventory Management in Prepper Food Storage

Accurately catalog all items in your stockpile. Track purchase dates, shelf lives, quantities, storage locations, and nutritional data.

Set reminder alerts for when to cycle and replace expiring goods. This prevents waste and ensures you have a steady supply of fresh rations.

Take regular inventories and compare to records to identify discrepancies. This maintains accountability and helps streamline operations.

Utilizing Mylar Bags and Oxygen Absorbers for Extended Preservation

Mylar bags provide an air-tight, waterproof barrier that significantly extends shelf life for stored foods. Oxygen absorbers remove oxygen from sealed bags, inhibiting oxidation and decay.

When used together, mylar bags and oxygen absorbers can enable 5-10+ year lifespans for properly packaged survival rations like grains, beans, and freeze-dried meals.

Follow detailed packing instructions to maximize preservation. Items must have minimal air space and be completely sealed for oxygen absorbers to work effectively.

Creating an Efficient Food Storage List for 1 Year PDF

To build a comprehensive one-year supply, utilize checklists to plan purchases and track progress. Download this printable PDF checklist itemizing essentials like:

  • Grains (400 lbs per adult)
  • Legumes (60 lbs per adult)
  • Fats and oils (20 lbs per adult)
  • Sweeteners (60 lbs per adult)
  • Dairy products (75 lbs per adult)
  • Freeze-dried fruits, vegetables, meats (120 servings per adult)

Adjust quantities based on your household size and nutritional requirements. Replenish as you go to maintain target stockpile levels.

Comprehensive Doomsday Prepper Food List

Grains and cereals like rice, wheat, oats, and pasta provide a stable source of carbohydrates and energy, making them the foundation of a well-rounded food stockpile. Focus on items with a long shelf life that are nutrient-dense. Store grains in airtight containers and use oxygen absorbers to prolong freshness.

Grains and Cereals: The Foundation of Your Food Stockpile

Rice, pasta, oatmeal, and other grains are versatile, non-perishable, and packed with carbohydrates - an essential macronutrient. Prioritize whole grains over refined options for added nutrition. Some good choices include:

  • White rice: lasts up to 30 years when stored properly
  • Brown rice: packed with fiber and nutrients
  • Pasta: lasts 1-2 years
  • Oats: rich in fiber; steel-cut oats last longer than rolled
  • Wheat berries: nutritious whole grains perfect for grinding flour

Use airtight food-grade plastic buckets or Mylar bags when stockpiling grains. Oxygen absorbers prevent spoilage and insect infestations. Rotate stock to use oldest items first.

Protein Sources: Beans, Legumes, and Canned Meats

In an emergency, protein helps maintain strength and health. Stock up on:

  • Canned beans and legumes: nutritious, affordable, 10+ year shelf life
  • Canned meats like tuna, salmon, chicken, and beef: 5+ year shelf life
  • Nuts and nut butters: calorie-dense
  • Protein powders: versatile addition to foods

Canned goods are one of the easiest protein sources to stock. Look for BPA-free options stored in a cool, dark place.

Vitamins and Minerals: Fruits, Vegetables, and Supplements

Fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals. Stock up on:

  • Canned produce: choose fruit packed in juice; vegetables low in salt
  • Dried fruits and vegetables
  • Tomato products like pasta sauce and canned tomatoes
  • Multivitamins: guard against deficiencies

Properly stored, canned goods can last 2-5 years unopened. Dried produce keeps even longer.

Fats and Oils: Sourcing and Storage

Fats are concentrated sources of energy. The best for stockpiling include:

  • Coconut, olive, and avocado oils: nutritious plant-based fats
  • Butter and ghee: lasts longer than produce-based oils
  • Nuts and seeds like walnuts, almonds, chia and flaxseeds

Store oils in cool, dark places to prevent rancidity. Hard fats keep longer than liquid oils.

Indulgence and Morale: Incorporating Comfort Foods

Besides survival, comfort foods boost morale in stressful situations. Set aside favorites like:

  • Chocolate
  • Honey
  • Coffee and tea
  • Comfort snack foods

Rotate these indulgences into regular meals. Enjoying small creature comforts helps ease anxiety in troubled times.

With the right balance of shelf-stable ingredients covering all nutritional needs, preppers can build a food stockpile to nourish and sustain families even in extended emergencies. Proper planning, storage, and rotation are key to optimizing nutrition and longevity.

Choosing the Best Prepper Food Kits

When building your emergency food supply, pre-made food kits can provide a convenient and cost-effective option. However, not all kits are created equal. As you evaluate your options, here are some key factors to consider:

Understanding Pre-Made Food Kit Options

There are a wide variety of commercially available prepper food kits on the market. These include:

  • Short-term kits with freeze-dried or dehydrated meals, designed to feed one person for around 3 days to 2 weeks.
  • Long-term bulk ingredient kits with grains, legumes, milk powder, fats/oils - meant to sustain an individual or family for 1-2 years.
  • Specialty kits tailored to unique dietary needs like gluten-free, diabetic, or vegetarian.

When assembling your own food stockpile, pre-made kits can give you a solid nutritional foundation to build upon.

Pros and Cons of Commercially Available Food Kits

Advantages of commercial kits include:

  • Convenience - ingredients and meals are pre-selected and packaged.
  • Long shelf lives of 15-25+ years.
  • Balanced nutrition if high-quality.
  • Portability for bug out situations.

Drawbacks can include:

  • Higher cost per meal compared to DIY kits.
  • Limited customization and personal preferences.
  • Need to supplement with additional foods.

Evaluate options to find the best value while meeting your food preferences.

Customizing Your Food Kit to Fit Your Needs

To overcome limitations of pre-made kits, consider customizing by:

  • Supplementing additional foods like comfort foods or required medications.
  • Tailoring servings to your family size and caloric needs.
  • Adding variety with home-canned or stored basics like oils, sweeteners, salt.

Mix DIY and commercial solutions to optimize nutrition, taste and affordability.

Comparing Costs: DIY vs. Pre-Made Kits

Pre-packaged kits offer convenience at a premium, with price per meal ranging from $5-$12.

Alternatively, you can assemble nutritious bulk ingredients for around $2-$4 per day. Take time and budget into account when deciding between DIY and commercial kits.

Best Practices for Storing and Using Food Kits

To maximize shelf life and effectiveness:

  • Store kits in a cool, dark, dry place like a basement or root cellar.
  • Use first in, first out system (FIFO) when rotating supply.
  • Integrate meals into diet prior to emergencies to evaluate taste.
  • Track expiration dates and regularly inspect kits for spoilage.

Following best practices ensures you can reliably depend on your food supply when SHTF.

By understanding the options and strategically combining commercial kits with custom additions, you can create a well-rounded, nutritious emergency food supply tailored to your situation.

Budget-Friendly Food Prepping Tips

Preparing for emergencies doesn't have to drain your bank account. With some strategic planning and savvy shopping, you can build up a substantial food stockpile without spending a fortune. Here are some budget-friendly tips for food prepping.

Bulk Buying Basics: Saving Money on Essential Items

  • Shop at warehouse stores like Costco or Sam's Club to buy essential long-lasting items like rice, beans, oats, and canned goods in bulk. This can save up to 30% compared to traditional grocery stores.
  • Split bulk purchases with friends to save even more. Divide up 50 lb bags of rice or beans to store in your individual pantries.
  • Buy flour, sugar, and other baking staples in 5-10 lb bags for the best unit pricing. Re-pack into airtight containers for long term storage.

Leveraging Sales and Discounts for Prepper Supplies

  • Check weekly circulars and stock up on canned tuna, chili, soup, and veggies when they go on sale. Aim for at least a 30% discount.
  • Use coupons or loyalty rewards programs at grocery stores to lower prices on shelf-stable milk, peanut butter, and other essentials.
  • Sign up for daily deal emails from outdoor retailers to snag discounts on long-lasting emergency food kits and MREs.

The Art of Gleaning and Foraging

  • Forage for wild edibles like berries, dandelion greens, acorns, and wild onions. Take a class or guided forage to learn how.
  • Volunteer to glean excess produce from farms during harvest time. Build community and stock your pantry.
  • Keep an eye out for unpicked fruit trees around your neighborhood after storms or high winds. Free food!

DIY Preservation Techniques

  • Learn to can and preserve in-season fruits and vegetables when they're cheapest. Home canning equipment pays for itself quickly.
  • Dehydrate excess garden produce or foraged finds. Dried veggies and fruit last for years and pack down small.
  • Try your hand at making homemade jerky from wild game or grass-fed beef on sale. Smoking and drying meat makes it last.

Bartering and Community Networks

  • Trade your skills, homemade goods, or even prepper knowledge for food items you need.
  • Join or form local resilience networks, crop mobs, skill shares, and more. Collaborating builds community food security.
  • Offer to help neighbors harvest produce from their garden in exchange for a share of vegetables.

Following these budget-friendly methods helps you maximize every dollar spent when building your prepper food stockpile. With some creativity and community spirit, you can prepare properly without going broke. What other cost-cutting tips do you rely on? Let me know in the comments!

Printable Prepping Food Lists and Resources

Having accessible, printable lists and resources can greatly assist with organizing and tracking your food prepping efforts. Here are some useful printables to help with short-term and long-term planning.

Essential Items for a Short-Term Emergency Food Supply

When preparing for a short-term emergency, focus on shelf-stable foods that meet caloric, nutritional, and water needs. Useful items include:

  • Canned goods (vegetables, fruits, soups, meats)
  • Dried fruits and nuts
  • Granola, cereal, oatmeal
  • Peanut butter and other nut butters
  • Canned beans, vegetables, meats
  • Bottled water and shelf-stable drinks

Download a short-term emergency food checklist here.

Comprehensive Prepping Food List Printable for Long-Term Planning

For a more robust long-term food stockpile, use this long-term prepping food list PDF printable as a guide. It covers:

  • Grains, cereals, pasta
  • Canned goods
  • Baking ingredients
  • Sauces, condiments
  • Snacks and comfort foods
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Dairy and egg substitutes

Adjust quantities based on your household size and length of time prepared for.

Survival Food List PDF: Your Guide to Nutritional Adequacy

Maintaining nutritional balance is vital. Download this survival food list PDF here to ensure your stockpile includes:

  • Sufficient calories
  • Adequate protein
  • Healthy fats and oils
  • Key vitamin and minerals
  • Variety for nutritional completeness

Follow the food group targets to build an adequately balanced stockpile.

Tracking and Rotation Schedules for Your Food Stockpile

Proper tracking and rotation helps avoid waste. Here are some useful printables:

  • Stockpile inventory printable log to record items and expiry dates
  • Stockpile rotation schedule templates to plan usage and replenishment

Use these to effectively manage your food prepping stockpile over time.

By leveraging printable food lists and management tools, you can optimize your prepper food stockpile for both short and long-term resilience. Let me know if you have any other questions!

Conclusion: Essential Takeaways for Food Prepping for SHTF

Food prepping for emergencies like SHTF scenarios requires forethought, organization, and adaptability. By prioritizing quality, variety, and regular updates to your food supply, you can create a robust and reliable stockpile to see you through difficult times.

Prioritizing Food Quality and Variety

When building your food preps, focus first on nutritious, filling items with long shelf lives. Stock up on foods you already eat and enjoy to make your preparations more sustainable. Build variety into your supply with foods from each food group - grains, proteins, fruits and vegetables, and dairy.

The Significance of Regularly Updating Your Food Preps

Set reminders to routinely cycle through and replace food in your stockpile before expiration dates. This ensures you always have fresh, safe foods on hand. Take inventory and shop sales to cost-effectively replenish your emergency larder.

Embracing Adaptability in Your SHTF Food Strategy

Be ready to adjust your food preps to unpredictable events. Set up systems that allow you to store more or less food as needed. Build skills like foraging, fishing, hunting and gardening to provide alternative food sources if plans change.

Maintaining Perspective: Prepping as Part of a Balanced Lifestyle

While emergency preparedness matters, don't lose sight of living life today. Make healthy, enjoyable foods part of your daily meals. Stay active, connected with loved ones, and engaged in fulfilling work. Prepping is about building resilience so you can weather storms without compromising wellbeing.

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