40 Must-Have Pantry Items for Preppers
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Prepping is all about preparing to survive for weeks, months or even longer after a major event disrupts the world as we know it. The power grid is vulnerable. Everyone knows it. That means when you are thinking about prepping, you need to forget about wasting precious money on things that require refrigeration or need to be frozen. It’s a waste of time, energy, and money to load the freezer with meat and dairy.
Instead, you need to be stuffing the pantry with shelf-stable items that will last for years. In some cases, even decades if you store it right. You’ll want to store ingredients. The ready-made stuff is okay, but it isn’t nearly as nutritious as homemade stuff. Plus, it costs more.
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You can make more food for less money when it’s prepared from scratch. You’re also opening the door to a variety of recipes instead of just the one thing. Food fatigue is real. You need to be able to change things up from time to time.
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The following list includes the pantry items you want to stockpile now.
Baking cocoa for desserts.
Baking powder will be called for in almost any dough recipe.
Baking soda is essential to baking and also serves as a good cleaner.
Bouillon cubes in a variety of flavors to toss into a dish to add more flavor.
Brown rice can go rancid after some time due to the oil content. Buying in bulk is cheaper. However, to ensure your rice stays fresh for longer, separating the bulk rice into smaller containers is a good idea. You’ll want to add oxygen absorbers to the packaging you choose to give your rice the best chance at staying fresh for decades.
Canned and Dried Fruits
Canned and dried fruits aren’t just desserts. They are excellent additions to breads, rice, and oat dishes.
Canned soups and broths
Can be mixed with pastas or eaten as is.
Canned and Dried Veggies
Canned veggies are quick and easy to toss into a recipe or eat as is. Dried veggies require a little more time and liquid to reconstitute. Both provide valuable nutrition to your diet.
In all varieties. Consider your family size before you go all-in on the bulk can sizes. Remember, you won’t be able to put the leftovers in the fridge. You don’t want to waste food. Pinto, black, navy and so on all have different flavors. The more types of beans you have means the more recipes you can prepare. Having some dried beans is important as well.
Canned meats, i.e. beef, tuna, and chicken are sources of protein. You may not always be able to get fresh meat. The protein will make a meal more filling.
Canned milk doesn’t have an extensive shelf-life but condensed milk will stay good for a couple of years. It’s a thickening and sweetening agent that is an amazing addition to chowders and stews.
Sauces, diced, stewed and tomato paste are ideal. Change it up with different flavors.
Coconut oil is another cooking oil you want to have on hand. It lasts for years and can be used beyond the kitchen.
Coffee is very important to many people. You are not going to stop craving coffee because the world fell apart. Give yourself the luxury of coffee to help you tackle the many other things that will be thrown at you.
Condiments like mustard, ketchup barbecue sauce and so on.
Cornmeal is a change from the typical flour option for breads.
Cornstarch is another inexpensive, long-lasting staple that will thicken up stews and gravies.
Crackers may not last for years, but even if they are stale, they can be smashed into crumbs and used in recipes.
Dried pasta in a variety of styles. Spaghetti, rotini, macaroni and so on. The goal is to have a nice variety to keep things fresh. Before storing your pasta, put it in the freezer for a couple of weeks to kill off any weevil eggs.
Extracts used in baking, like vanilla, almond, etc…
Garlic powder to steak seasoning
…and to just about anything else you find in the spice aisle. Spices can change a flavor profile of a bean or pasta dish to change things up.
Honey is a staple in the diet and for first aid. Raw honey is best. It will provide a healthy boost of energy and give you nutrition you are lacking.
Maple syrup isn’t just for pancakes. Use it for oatmeal or in some recipes, and you can make it yourself.
Nuts are huge protein packers. They can be added to a rice dish or eaten plain for a burst of nutrition.
Oats aren’t just for breakfast. They are a pantry staple and can be used for desserts as well as a thickening agent for soups and stews.
Olive oil is better than vegetable oil for storing. Vegetable oil can go rancid in under a year. Get the extra virgin.
Pancake mix is a whole lot easier to whip up breakfast than making from scratch.
Peanut butter is an excellent source of protein and fuel. It’s also a comfort food. It can be used in cooking as well as for dipping.
Popcorn is one of those snacks that can act as a comfort food and can be dressed up in many ways. A little goes a long way.
Potato flakes aka instant potatoes are perfect for a quick meal as well as a thickening agent.
Powdered butter can be mixed up to give a butter-like substance to spread on biscuits or added to a recipe for butter flavoring.
Powdered cheese can make a bland meal delicious. Anything dairy is going to be hard to come by when there aren’t any stores and you don’t have easy access to milk. Having the powdered varieties will give you a somewhat normal diet.
Powdered eggs are surprisingly good made as is. They can also be used in recipes as well. They last for decades and provide about the same amount of protein as a whole egg.
Powdered milk will last longer than cans. It can be used as intended or in bread and stew recipes.
Rice is an absolutely critical addition to any stockpile. White rice varieties are best for long-term storage.
Salt, salt, and more salt. Bland food is edible, but forcing yourself to choke something down isn’t going to do much for your mood. Salt is a critical part to ANY recipe. It adds flavor and is a functional ingredient in dough recipes.
Shelf-stable milk like oat and almond milk. These do not require refrigeration.
Spices of all kinds, especially pepper, cinnamon, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, ground cumin, onion powder, basil, oregano, bay leaves, rosemary, and chili powder.
Sugar makes life sweeter. It is used to add flavor to bread dough, stews and of course desserts. White sugar lasts a long time when stored correctly. It needs to be kept completely dry. Oxygen absorbers are necessary. Brown and powdered sugars should also be included.
Tea is soothing, uplifting and can be medicinal.
Vinegar is used in recipes to balance fat while adding a burst of flavor.
Yeast when stored correctly can last for years. You’ll want it for bread and dessert recipes. It isn’t a necessity but it is something you will find yourself craving after a while.
With your pantry staples, you can make the following recipes. The recipes below are just the tip of the iceberg. Use your own imagination to mix things up that your family likes. Recipes that call for cheese, butter or eggs can all be substituted with the powdered varieties.
Most recipes will call for some substitutions or eliminating fresh ingredients for dried or canned. It’s a good idea to have a conversion list somewhere in your pantry to help you tweak recipe when you are using powdered eggs in place of real eggs and other substitutions.
- Mac and cheese
- Chili cheese popcorn
- Chicken casserole
- Pantry pizza
- Hasty pudding
- Stew with canned meat
- Pasta penne
- Pasta with black beans
- Chicken and bean stew
- African red beans
- Chicken and rice
- Tuna pasta
- Corned beef and rice
- Vienna sausage mac and cheese
- Spam fried rice
- Corned beef and scrambled eggs
- Oatmeal bread
- Pantry soup
- Linguine with canned clams
- No bake cookies
- Depression cake
- Amish bread
- Apple brown betty
You can certainly tailor a recipe to suit your tastes. When you are stockpiling your pantry, make sure there is a variety. You need to think long-term. You’ll want the flexibility to change ingredients in a recipe to make it just a little different. If there is something your family truly doesn’t like, you can always use it to trade down the road.
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