Saturday, November 07, 2015

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - The Absolute Bare Bones Survival Pantry

Photo from USA Today

If there is one thing that keeps coming up in Comments and emails, it is this... I don't have any extra money to deepen my pantry.  Well, I truly do understand.  On paper I don't either.  Only through God's amazing provision can we put anything extra back.

I use most extra funds that come in for the pantry and even then I don't have a deep pantry at all.  I couldn't handle a long term emergency.  However, we all need to be prepared for a short term possibility.  We've all seen images on TV as people wait in long lines for one gallon of water or leave their secure home in a storm to make a quick (and dangerous) run to the store.

Emergency situations happen whether it is an ice storm, a hurricane, or civil unrest.  So by putting just a little bit of money into not becoming a victim, just a little each week, you are acting wisely.  You don't have to do everything to protect yourself in a short term emergency.

What would be in a bare bones survival pantry?  I'm glad you asked.

First and most importantly (I speak from experience here)... water.  Now, water is not as much fun as say... chocolate... to stock for an emergency.  But you can live without chocolate.  No, really.  You can.  I have my doubts, too.  But you can.  However, you really do need water to survive.

If you have no extra water in the house, then this week purchase one case of small bottles of water.  Not fancy French water.  Just water.  Then add another case next time you buy groceries.  (Places like Sam's Club and Costco have the cheapest prices and then would be Walmart, Target, etc.)

Make certain other people living in the house know it is emergency water and not to be used.   If necessary, store it in a closet or underneath your bed.  If you live alone or with one other person, a couple cases will be all you need.  More if you have a bigger family.  After a few months, rotate the cases by purchasing one new case and allowing everyone to use the oldest case.  Just to insure freshness.

Gallon size drinking water is only 88 cents each at our Walmart.  You can purchase them "as is" for both drinking and greywater use or fill your own containers for greywater (not milk or juice containers).  I now use the gallon containers from the water we had to purchase for greywater.  I filled about ten with tap water and labeled the containers Greywater, to indicate they have not been filtered or have added bleach as a preservative.  Now, if you have a good water purifier, you can run this water through the purifier and use it as drinking water.

Regardless... do not be that person standing in line for hours for a gallon of water.

Your next essentials would be food that can be eaten without cooking, just in case an ice storm has taken out your electricity.  I keep crackers, a few aseptic milk boxes, peanut butter, preserves, good quality granola bars (energy bars would be great for this purpose), canned fruit, canned meat, pork and beans, a few dried foods, etc. for this purpose.

Just walk up and down the aisles of your grocery store for inexpensive ideas.  With the Holidays almost here, you will see a lot of food items packed for gift giving that does not require refrigeration.  They will give you good ideas, even if you don't buy the pricey gifts (although they do often go half price after Christmas, which is a deal!).

When the electricity goes off, I try not to open my deep freeze but I would pull out frozen bread and other items that would last a week but not require cooking like quick breads and other baked goods.

This is also the time to throw in an important word from your sponsor.  That being ummm... me.  Money invested in a high quality non-electric can opener will save your sanity.  I realized long ago that the cheap can openers were awful.  After trying a few through the years, Farberware works best and lasts a long time.  I have one I purchased years ago at Bed Bath and Beyond and an older version that is a backup.

Don't forget food for your pet and extra kitty litter.  One extra bag of kibble and litter will be fine for bare bones survival.

Remember, you are simply preparing not to be a victim.  You are storing what will help you not leave the house when it would be unwise.

Think of those items you would miss a whole lot if you couldn't leave the house and then keep at least one (or a package) extra.  For instance... toilet paper, dish washing liquid, diapers, baby formula, feminine hygiene products, etc.  For my list, I include paper towels as an important purchase after going without water (and paper plates, and paper cups, etc.).

You need at least one good flashlight with fresh batteries (a backup set of batteries would be an excellent idea).  I keep a lot of nonscented candles for an emergency but I have to place them carefully with a curious kitty around.  I have a few battery operated candles, purchased on clearance.

Then there comes the subject of medical needs.  Most of us in the United States are dependent on our insurance company for how many meds we can obtain at once.  My physician has helped me get a three month at a time prescription for my thyroid medicine (I have Hashimotoes Disease).  He recently was able to change my prescription for long term insulin to being able to pick up two boxes at once instead of one box.

If there was a possibility of an emergency coming up, for instance a winter storm warning, I would contact my pharmacist and see if I could obtain more of both my insulins if I was very low on either.

If anyone else has a suggestion, please include it in the Comments.  Remembering these are recommendations for a bare bones budget to get through a short term emergency.

Don't put it off!  Add a little here and there as you can until you know you could stay home at least one week.  Then add more as your budget allows.  Add inexpensive food items that do need to be cooked (I always keep extra eggs in the house).  You don't have to do it all... just enough... and you will be snug and cozy in your home when an emergency hits.

Oh, before I forget... don't forget the tea, coffee, and books. 


Ann said...

And a wee bit of chocolate for my sanity! Great post ... I'm fortunate to have a large pantry but it took a good deal of time (and unfortunately $$) to get it stocked. I always watch for sales and try to get a few extras then.

I experienced running out of milk during a massive blizzard in Boston many years ago when my boys were small and it wasn't pleasant. We took the boys on a sled for a walk to the closest supermarket just to get a gallon of milk and were surprised to see people fighting to get the milk off the truck as the driver tried to unload. I turned around and went home and made sure after that we always had a stocked pantry for the winter. Now I live in hot, sunny Arizona and the pantry is still stocked -- it becomes a habit -- a good one I think.

Vee said...

(I hope that it is not true everywhere, but this excellent post has been languishing without updating for some time. The "joys" of blogging.)

So I am glad that I clicked in because you have offered excellent tips. I can not add a thing to them because you have thought of way more than I have. I will say an "amen" to a manual can opener...all that is ever used here.

My parents used to discuss the extra medications because they were leaving the country and used to have unbelievable difficulty getting the extra that they would need. Glad that you have an understanding doc and pharmacist.

A cozy weekend to you, Brenda. If it weren't so windy today, I should rake. Perhaps they'll blow away.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

Yes, books! It's important in challenging situations to have something to keep our minds occupied.

You always have such good suggestions. I'd also say things like instant oatmeal (if people have a gas stove or a wood stove for heat that they can also heat things up on).

Peanut butter is a staple pantry item here and it has good protein, and is fun on crackers or with apple slices.


Cheri said...

Regarding water: As you empty canning jars, you could fill them with water. When you have a canner full you could can them to seal the jars. Or use that water for gray water.

Good tips, Brenda!

Debbie said...

Since this is the time of year that baking supplies come on sale, I try to stock up on things like cake mixes, sugar, flour and yes, even canned frosting and evaporated milk. This is the cheapest time for me to get these items and I love not having them on hand.

Annabel said...

This is so important. I have been writing a series and one is how to stock your pantry for free and others are how to take every opportunity to stock your pantry as each small things add up. Many ladies write in with ideas I never would have thought of.
It is truly dangerous to be dashing to shops in a crisis when you could be safe and sound at home. It just takes planning.
People will also say they have no money to stock a pantry and be buying soft drinks or lotto tickets etc and could use that money each week to buy essentials. It's important enough to be trying things like this. This year over and over I have saved in one area of the budget to use the money on my pantry. Ie making all my Christmas gifts. Where there's a will there's a way, even if it takes time.
Good article. I hope people take action and are inspired. xxx

tealady said...

You are spot on, the only thing I would add is a first aid kit not just the basic kind but check the internet for more ideas.

Kim said...

Great suggestions...also I like to make sure we have books, puzzles, cards, n coloring items on hand for entertainment purposes.