How to Start a Prepper Food Pantry + PDF Checklist

10 Tips on How to Stock Your Pantry in a Time of Shortages and Inflation

learn how to start a prepper food pantry so you can keep life as close to normal as possible in a SHTF situation.

Emergency food pantry, prepper pantries, preparedness pantries, food storage… whatever you want to call it, you should consider in these times of uncertainty.

Inflation, the rising cost of gas, war, a potential collapse of housing markets… What are you doing to prepare?

Get peace with these 10 tips on starting a working prepper pantry. They will help to get you through a difficult time. Because you never know what can happen and typically disaster situations come with little or no warning. Also, the current alarm about food shortages is no joke, so start preparing now.

Keep reading to learn how to start a prepper food pantry so you can keep life as close to normal as possible in an SHTF situation.

UPDATE: Here you will find a list of 15 potential items in short supply in 2022

What Is A Prepper Food Pantry and Why Should You Consider the Effort?

A working preparedness pantry is a well-thought-out food pantry made to last for longer periods of time when disaster strikes. The idea is to learn about food preservation and the best nonperishable foods to stock to help you and your family through difficult times.

If you have a family with children or elderly family members or you live in a turbulent area (cities), you will definitely be worth your effort.

You can be creative with your shopping as long as you have the right supplies to meet your family's needs. You'll want to consider things like your budget, dietary restrictions, picky eaters, and foods with a long shelf life.

Why and When You Need a Prepper's Pantry

I can't think of one reason to not start a prepper's pantry, especially if you have a family or loved ones to look after. This way you'll have your own prepper pantry for essentially any situation that unfolds.

Your preps will serve as your lifeline in the event of a life-altering event that impacts your town, state, or country. From long-term utility outages to food shortages, to inflation, to natural disasters, to an epidemic… Your pantry will be there to support you and your family through it all without going hungry.

prepper food pantry
consider room for sturdy shelving to hold the items you will need.

How to Start a Prepper Food Pantry

A quick online search on how to start a preppers food pantry will result in hundreds of pages of information. This can make you feel a bit overwhelmed so please don't let it discourage you. Starting and maintaining a preparedness pantry does not have to be difficult.

Tips to start your prepper pantry

1. Select the Correct Space for Your Prepper Pantry

Consider where your Prepper's pantry will be in your home. In order for it to function best, you want to pick a place that is safe from pests and other infestations and where food can be stored properly.

Stay away from your garage or attic. These locations can get either really hot or humid and it's difficult to control the temperature. You want the location to be free of moisture to prevent mildew and mold so choose a place that is cool, and dry.

Measure the space so you can delegate enough space for each item you decide to stock. Also, consider room for sturdy shelving to hold canned food and the items you will need for long-term food storage.

2. Smart on a Small-Scale

Each time you visit your grocery market, pick up a few extra things on your prepper list, rather than buying out the whole canned goods aisle at once. Also, I recommend picking up a few gallons of water to store. Just keep in mind you have enough space to store the extras you pick up.

3. Include the Essential Basics to Be Prepared

Often the most basic supplies can slip your mind because they are so obvious. The idea is you want to be sure you have plenty of foods with protein and nutrition in your pantry.

I always make sure we have plenty of canned salmon, tuna, and canned meats like chicken. Empty calories have no place in your emergency pantry. Stock up on staples like rice, pasta, beans, nut butter, canned vegetables, and fruits. Also, consider investing in some freeze-dried meals.

Here is a list of prepper items to stockpile for an emergency.

4. Think about Space For Supplies Other Than Food

When you are considering your space, consider room for cleaning supplies, toiletries, first-aid supplies, and cooking supplies, and don't forget Mylar bags to store your preps.

You'll need these types of things if things go downhill quickly. Also, think about solar-powered generators and charges necessary if you need to communicate with the outside world or if you need to work from home.

5. Try Experimental Meals

Test and experiment with your shelf-stable foods and try some new recipes. If you find yourself in a position to depend on your prepper pantry, you'll be grateful to have a bit of variety in your meals.

Test and try new things, and add items to your pantry as you learn what you and your family prefer and actually enjoy.

6. Add DIY Shelf-Stable Foods

It's never been easier to preserve foods thanks to modern appliances. With a bit of practice and the right tools, you can pickle, can, dry, and ferment meats, fruits, and vegetables easily yourself!

7. Consider Your Budget

Don't put yourself in a bad situation to avoid a bad situation. It's never wise to go into debt or buy items to stock your prepper pantry. Take advantage of sales and start small and pick up little bits at a time every time you shop. There's no need to panic as you create your stockpile. You and your loved ones will be much better off if you remain calm and rational.

prepper food pantry
Always go with BPA free plastic with locking seals

8. Choose the Correct Containers

Always go with BPA free plastic with locking seals. These are perfect for storing almost any dry, shelf-stable food. Get assorted sizes to make it easier to store the exact amount you will need for each item.

You can also use small moisture absorbers to help these foods stay fresh longer. Tough plastic will keep bugs and mice from chewing and eating your food over long periods of time.

For example, foods packaged in thin cardboard boxes can easily be chewed by both rodents and bugs.  So transfer these foods to mylar bags to keep them safe.

Another great storage option is vacuum sealing. Some foods like cheese can last much, much longer when vacuum sealed, and it also works well with the use of a freezer by extending the life of some fresh foods by years.

9. Keep Preps Exclusive

Make sure your Prepper's pantry is exclusive for emergency preparedness or keep rotating up from the back. Otherwise, you will not have what you need should an emergency arise. Using your stock or not rotating could have dire consequences. Below I'll talk more about a working pantry vs a prepper's pantry.

It is not hard to start a prepper pantry that works well for you and your family. Just put a plan in place and stick to it. All you need is a little bit at a time in the right environment, and you will have an amazing resource to turn to when you need it most.

10. Know When To Rotate

No matter what you fill your prepper pantry with, you'll need to rotate stock over time. This is why knowing how to rotate supplies with FIFO (first in, first out) is a good rule of thumb. Maybe your family loves a certain kind of jarred marinara sauce, but it only lasts about eight months on a shelf. Keep your oldest jars in the front and stock from behind so you can use the old ones before they expire.

How Much Does a Person Need to Eat Each Day?

When preparing for disaster your biggest and most immediate concern is starvation.

  • For a man, on average he will need about 2500 calories per day.
  • For a woman, it will be about 2000.
  • For children, it depends on their age. For example, pre-puberty children need less than teenagers. An average six to twelve-year-old needs about 1600 calories per day. But teenagers can need 2500-3000 calories to meet their growing needs.

As you figure out and build up your stockpile of food, make sure these are nutritious calories. Stay away from processed, starchy snacks, candy, and soda. Rather, invest your money, time, and space in beans, rice, protein sources, nut butter, canned vegetables, and fruits. You want the most nutrients for your money when it comes to creating a prepper pantry.

What Else Should You Keep on Hand in Your Prepper Food Pantry?

We've already done a lengthy post about best foods to stockpile in an emergency here… So, what else should you keep on hand beyond food?

Yet, there are a lot more things you will need in a catastrophic emergency situation other than food.

Consider medical supplies, personal hygiene products, hand sanitizer and more!

Keep reading for a in-depth list of things to keep on hand beyond food.

Toilet Paper

prepper food pantry

If there's one thing we learned during the coronavirus pandemic, toilet paper is number one. Almost overnight it disappeared from most markets, so pay attention to how much your family uses each month. This will help you to know how much to stockpile to keep a bit of normalcy through a bad situation. Additionally, it could save a lot of water should you be without it.


A top concern for preppers is dehydration. You're going to need enough water to drink, bathe, cook, and clean, so it is an absolute necessity to have as much stockpiled as possible. Have enough drinking water on hand for every family member to drink for the time span your planning for. Add to this enough water for cooking, cleaning, bathing, etc., You can never really have too much water.

How much water does each person need per day?

When it comes to staying hydrated, the best rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in a number of ounces each day. For example, if you weigh one hundred twenty pounds, you need to drink sixty ounces of water every day. Staying well-hydrated is important to consider how much water you'll need for your family to survive for the amount of time your prepper for.

Also, consider how much water you will for cooking as well as bathing.

A Source of Power

You're going to need alternative sources of power if the grid goes down. Solar panels, batteries, or a generator are all wonderful to have at your disposal. A way to provide light and regulate the temperature of your living space will be necessary. Extreme temperatures can kill as quickly as anything else, on top of causing lots of health issues.

Fire is an option, but you need to continually feed it and you'll need ventilation or it could suffocate you. So stockpile power sources mentioned above or get a solar-powered generator as well as a backup generator, just in case. Make sure you have some sort of burner to cook your meals and boil water on.

Cooking supplies

Cast iron is great because it is very durable. Just make sure that you have high heat-proof gloves to handle it with. You will need plates, bowls, eating utensils, cooking utensils, knives, can openers, and peelers as well. Do your best to find ones that are simple, durable, and all one piece. You do not want tools that will fall apart over time. I would recommend stainless steel for its safety and durability.

Medical supplies

Next to water and food, you will need medical supplies. Stockpile them carefully and pay attention to expiration dates.

You also want to have:

  • Disinfectants
  • Bandages
  • Compression wraps
  • Gauze
  • Stitching tools
  • Antibiotics
  • Expectorants
  • Vitamins
  • Supplements

You never know what can happen and it may even be wise to have crutches and a wheelchair if possible. It's good to be prepared for anything that could happen.


Having basic tools can be a lifesaver in an emergency. Be sure you have a hammer, wrench, screwdriver, rope, drill, soldering iron in your toolbox. Add to that plenty of nails, nuts, screws in case you need them as well.


Books have the knowledge you may need in an emergency and they don't require a power source. You may need to know about local plants in case you need to forage. Or you may need to hunt and dress game or know about medical first-aid or care. Choose books you need, then READ THEM.

There you have it, some things to keep on hand other than food when you are a prepper. Be inspired by this to take another look at your supplies and make sure you really have all the things you could need in the event of a catastrophe.

How Long Should You Store Food and Supplies For?

One of the most common questions you will come across as you build a prepper pantry is, “How long should I prep for?”

While there is no right or wrong answer to this question. It is completely up to you, and also depends on what kind of situation you are prepping for.

To know how much you need for how long, you need to take into account the size of your family, as well as how much food and supplies they use on average each week. Once you have a weekly average amount figured out, you can use that to start building a two week supply pantry as a test. This will show you how much space these supplies take up, and how much more you can fit into the space you have available.

Knowing how much you need to provide for each member of your family is the biggest guideline for how long you should prep for. This information is what you need to figure out how much you can fit into the space you have available to you. Then, you can get into the details of extra supplies depending on the disaster you want to be ready for.

Final thoughts

I hope this has been useful in helping you decide whether you need a prepper pantry for you and your family. Good luck, and happy stocking!

how to start a prepper food pantry
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Written by Jackie Parker

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