Planning the foods to add to your stockpile on a budget can be hard!
Stockpiling and prepping are filling our social media feeds right now all over the world. We are entering a period when many people, regardless of where we live, fear for their food supply.
While we are facing a crisis right now, stockpiling isn’t just for global emergencies; sometimes, you need a stockpile for a personal emergency.
Imagine that you or your spouse lost your job. Losing income is a huge deal, and even though you get unemployment, it’s never as much as you earned before. Those pennies need to be pinched, and having a stockpile of food helps you send your money to bills and other necessities.
However, when the shelves start to empty, you start to feel that knot forming in the pit of your stomach.
What will I feed my family?
That’s where making a stockpile comes into play.
Pick Your Goal
First, you want to decide how big of a stockpile you want to create. Right now during this pandemic, they’re recommending a 14-day quarantine, so you should be prepared to stay in the house for 2 weeks straight.
Depending on the size of your family, this can be quite a bit of food, but you might need to start off small.
Plan to have three days worth of food on hand, then add three more days. It can be expensive to stockpile, especially if you’re doing it all at one time.
However, if you’re preparing for a possible job loss, having 1-2 months worth of food can be hugely beneficial.
Start with a small goal then extend it as your budget allows it. With each step, you’ll feel better.
9 Tips for Creating a Stockpile on a Budget
I have a family of 6 people, so I understand that stockpiling can be expensive. You want to feed your family, but you don’t want to blow your entire budget to do so.
Here are some tips for making a stockpile on a budget.
1. Buy Bulk
Perhaps the easiest way to stockpile on a budget is to buy in bulk. That might mean hitting up your local Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJ’s.
Not everyone has bulk stores close to them though! So how in the world do you stockpile bulk foods if you don’t have one of those local? Here are some options.
- Check to see if you have any local food co-ops nearby. These stores let you bring in glass jars or other containers to fill, so they’re also plastic-free.
- Look to see if you live near a drop-off point for Azure Standards. If you don’t, start a drop-off location!
- Shop on Amazon! They often sell large quantities of bulk staples.
- See if Costco or other bulk food stores will deliver to you. Costco offers, for members, a 2-day delivery service for some, not all, items. That can be helpful if it’s just too far for you to drive with your kids.
- Go to Amish stores – Seriously! I live about 1.5 hours away from the Amish country of Ohio, and they have some of the BEST bulk stores you can find.
- Look for scratch and dent stores. These stores still sell good food or food that isn’t expired, but the packaging might be damaged. It could be close to expiration, so you do need to know how to preserve food in some cases.
2. Shop Local Sales
Some of the best advice I found was to stockpile based on your sales.
Did you know that sales happen on a six-week rotation, on average?
So that means if your family REALLY loves peanut butter, like mine, you should watch the sales and wait to see the lowest price it hits. Typically, for us, that $.99. When it hits that price, buy as much as you need for six weeks until the next sales hit.
This goes for almost everything. I suggest you keep a price journal of all the foods you typically buy to help you figure out the bottom dollar price at your store.
Then, stock up when it hits that price! This tip saves TONS of money!
A current example? My local grocery store – Kroger – has Quaker oatmeal on sale for $.99 a box with a limit of 5. We eat a lot of oatmeal, so I grabbed 5 boxes. That’s $5 for a lot of breakfasts!
3. Include Fast-Growing Seeds
If you’re stockpiling seeds for emergencies, I recommend that you grab some seeds as well. Losing a job, for example, could disrupt your household for weeks or months. Growing some of your own food will lighten the burden – and you might even be able to sell some of your food and make money from your extra surplus!
Not all seeds are fast-growing, and you don’t need to be a microgreen farmer either. Here are some suggestions.
- Radishes: Some mature in 18-30 days
- Peas: Look for varieties that mature in 50-60 days
- Green Beans: Some varieties mature in 55-60 days
- Chinese Cabbages: Look for plants that mature in 45 days
- Greens: Plants, such as watercress and lettuce, can mature 35-45 days.
4. Shop Generic
You might really love Heinz ketchup, and that’s fine for normal times. For your stockpile, it’s really all about survival and keeping food in your belly. I highly suggest that you go with generics.
I like to shop at Aldi, where almost everything is store-brand. Truthfully, I’ve never found a difference in anything with the store-brand vs. name brand, but some people do.
Remember, the name of the game is to do this CHEAP!
5. Buy Staples Not Convenient Foods
Potato chips will only get you so far, so I suggest staying away from them. Sure, add a bag or two as comfort food, but they won’t feed your family.
Instead, you want foods that can lead to meals and that means you do need to plan to cook. TV dinners aren’t the ideal route to go either.
Instead, you want foods that will fill your bellies. Think things like:
- Oatmeal (packets and plain)
- Sugar & Flour
- Canned Chicken
- Canned Tomato Sauce
- Canned Veggies
- Frozen Vegetables
- Canned Soup
- Instant Potatoes
- Cooking Oil
Of course, I can name a dozen other things, but I think you have the picture. So, shop staples not convenience foods.
6. Preserve Fresh Fruits & Veggies
Here is another trick that I’ve found helpful at all times but especially times like right now.
I went to the store yesterday and there wasn’t a single frozen veggie in sight. I was shocked! However, I took a walk over to the fresh produce section. While that, too, is pretty cleared out, it wasn’t nearly as empty.
You can take fresh fruits and vegetables in the store and freeze them for a later date.
It’s not hard! I love to freeze fresh green beans, but the idea is similar to all other veggies. You can even freeze fresh cabbage heads. So, grab the fresh produce that you eat and some plastic gallon baggies. Then, make your own frozen veggies.
Don’t have freezer space? If you have a pressure canner, you can learn to raw pack and can all fresh veggies. It’s so easy!
7. Learn How to Can
I’ve canned for years, and I think everyone needs to learn how to can. Canning is a great way to build up your stockpile; it’s not just for making jams and jellies!
If you’re going to can meat or veggies, you need to have a pressure canner. Please don’t make that dangerous mistake of trying to can green beans or other veggies in a water bath canner!
Pressure canners are an investment, but so is building up a stockpile. If you have the right equipment, some things that you could preserve with canning (aside from jams and jellies), include:
- Chicken Soup
- Smoked Salmon
- Sloppy Joes
- Tomato Sauce
- Cooked Chicken
- Vegetable Soup
- Tomato Soup
- Cooked Ground Beef
That’s just a few ideas, but you can see how learning how to can could stock up your pantry!
8. Check Small Stores
Most people head immediately to those big stores, like Wal-Mart, but I can tell you that your local stores might, in an emergency, have more in stock than other stores.
So, check your local mom and pop stores during a crisis. You might pay more, but chances are it’s more readily available.
Also, these stores tend to have better sales. We have a chain of local stores that are just in my county and their prices are typically higher than Wal-Mart or other huge chains.
HOWEVER, their sales are off-the-hook. No one can beat their meat sales (and quality) and their fresh produce sales are fantastic. Don’t limit yourself; check all your stores!
9. Contact Local Farmers
Last, but not least, contact your local farmers for help. Depending on the time of year, they might have extra vegetables to sell, and buying in bulk from your local farmers is key.
For the last few years, my tomato plants haven’t done so well, so I had to buy in bulk from some farmer friends of mine. I buy canning tomatoes, so they all have blemishes, but you don’t see that in a jar of tomato sauce. They’re sold at a steep discount and help fill my pantry because I learned how to can and have plenty of canning supplies on hand.
What to Add to Your Stockpile on a Budget
Your stockpile on a budget should contain the most valuable items that will aid your family during whatever emergency you face. It’s best not to plan for one emergency. Instead, just plan to be prepared!
Water is the key to survival. You can live longer without food than you can with water. Depending on your emergency, you might not need to worry about water, but it’s always wise to have some stocked.
It’s recommended that you stockpile 1 gallon per person per day, and you should have seven days of water stockpiled, at least. Don’t forget to include a gallon for your pets!
You should also have a way to filter water in case the emergency becomes long-term.
Having a well-stocked pantry is one of the most important parts of having a stockpile. Your family will survive off of this food.
Homesteaders often have food put away anyway, but even if you aren’t a homesteader, it is important to stockpile food in your pantries and freezers.
Stockpiles are about survival not really about your favorite snack. So, you should stock what you need to survive and keep your family fed, not what you love to munch on at night.
Here are some food staples to consider for your stockpile:
- Dried meat, such as beef jerky
- Grains, such as rice, pasta, oats, and quinoa
- Dried or canned beans
- Canned meat, such as chicken, beef, tuna, and salmon
- Baking ingredients, such as flour, sugar, baking soda, yeast, and baking powder
- Dried milk
- Dried fruits & nuts
- Canned or frozen vegetables
- Oils, such as olive oil, coconut oil, lard, or butter
- Salt, pepper, and other spices
- Pet food
- Animal feed
- Coffee and tea
3. Prescription Medication
If you take any prescription medicine, it’s a smart idea to have a 30-day supply if possible. The worry is that they can become scarce during emergencies, but if you need to isolate yourself, you might not have access to a pharmacy.
4. First Aid Supplies
If you have kids in the home, you know that accidents happen all the time. You never know when someone in your family is going to get hurt, and having the supplies on hand is a smart idea. This is particularly important if you are far away from medical personnel.
Stockpile all of the items you’ll need so you can face anything. To stockpile on a budget first aid supplies, watch sales and consider buying some things in kits.
- Pressure Dressing
- Trauma Shears
- OTC Medicine
- Irrigation Syringe
- Petroleum Jelly
- Silk medical tape roll
- Suture Kits
- Butterfly Bandages
- Safety Pins
5. OTC Medicine
OTC medicines are different than your prescription medications. I recommend keeping some of these on hand just in case!
- Cough medicine
- Cold & sinus medicine
- Pepto Bismol
6. Emergency Supplies
These supplies are helpful in so many situations, like when your power goes out!
7. Toiletries & Cleaning Supplies
You don’t want to be dirty while you’re facing an emergency! This means you need to grab some things, such as toothpaste and soap, that can keep you and your body clean.
Don’t forget your house either! If you’re holed up in your home and not leaving, it’s easy to create a huge mess, but messes are a breeding ground for bacteria. Keep your house clean and have some basic cleaning supplies on hand.
Creating a stockpile on a budget can be difficult, especially if you’re left to do so when the situation is taking place or you have limited resources. It’s best to take it one day at a time and take a step each day towards a better stockpile.