For a Stormy Season – Stocking an Emergency Food Pantry

Be Prepared.

That’s the motto of the Boy Scouts.

“Be prepared for what?” someone once asked Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting,

“Why, for any old thing.” said Baden-Powell.

Like the Boy Scouts, I believe in being prepared.  2011 tested the survival skills of many New England families with its particularly extreme weather – heavy snowstorms, tornadoes, and a hurricane.  Hurricane Irene left me with out power and water for 7 days.  The emergency food pantry is where I fell short with my emergency preparations.  Although I had non-perishable foods, I did not have what I needed to make balanced meals.  The goal of this blog post is to give you recommendations to start your own emergency food pantry.

With the the winter season here, now is as great time to get stated. Below you’ll find my emergency food pantry list and an emergency shopping list.  I’ve also included a link to “Emergency Kitchen” a website with recipes for one pot meals that can be made with canned and non-perishable food.  Non-perishable foods are “stable” foods that do not spoil and have a shelf life of several months or even years.  They are foods that can be found in many American home pantries.  The emergency list also contains perishable items that do not need refrigeration and have a shelf life of approximately one week.  These include foods like; bread, fresh fruits, and vegetables.

When planning an emergency food pantry, consider the cooking appliances and tools you’ll have accessible in the event of an emergency.  I have a natural gas stove in my kitchen and a propane outdoor grille, they will both work without electricity.  Matches and manual can and bottle openers are important tools to have on hand for emergency situations. Also consider stocking paper products (napkins, plates, bowls and cutlery) as these will make meal clean-up easier.

When shopping for your emergency food pantry, consider purchasing single serving sizes whenever possible to eliminate the need for refrigeration after containers have been opened.  Emergency food pantries should include a variety of foods for balanced nutrition.  It’s also a good idea to periodically check expiration dates on these food items. Peggy Van Laaned’s PDF, “Safe Food Storage” is an informative guide that’s well worth reading.

Fruits and Vegetables Group

  • Canned vegetables (choose low/no sodium to minimize the need to drink water)
  • Vegetable juice
  • Canned tomatoes (juice and sauce)
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Canned fruit and fruit cups (in natural juice rather than syrupy fruits)
  • Dried fruits (bananas, pineapple, apricots are good examples)
  • Applesauce
  • Fruit juice and juice boxes

Protein Group

  • Canned meat (tuna, salmon, or chicken for example)
  • Canned ham sandwich spread
  • Dried and dehydrated meats (jerky for example)
  • Soups, stews, and chili
  • Baked beans
  • Dried and canned beans and peas
  • Chili Beef stew
  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts

Grain Group

  • Oatmeal
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Breakfast Cereals
  • All pasta types
  • Whole grain rice
  • Whole grain crackers (good replacement for bread)
  • Granola bars
  • Cereal bars
  • Quinoa


  • Water
  • Electrolyte drinks
  • Alfredo sauce
  • Gravy
  • Bouillon cubes (great for flavoring rice and pasta)
  • Dry soup mix (also great for flavoring rice and pasta)
  • Mustard, ketchup, and soy sauce
  • Salad dressing (types that do not need to be stored in refrigerator after opening)
  • Pudding cups (a welcome treat!)

Emergency shopping

  • Bread
  • Fresh fruit
  • Mayonnaise packets
  • Fresh vegetables (that do not need refrigeration: Green beans, broccoli, and brussel sprouts )

Helpful websites:

Emergency Kitchen – one pot recipes for canned and non-perishable foods:

Safe Food Storage – PDF food storage guide: