View Full Version : How much food do you keep onhand?

05-22-2016, 12:55 PM
Im being nosy about what other people keep on hand for emergencies.

Here we have two wildfire seasons, May and October. If there are big fires, we can expect to be homebound for 4-5 days. Most stores, fast foods, and restaurants are closed. But we do have electricity and water.

I know other parts of the country face their own perils - hurricanes, snowstorms, zombie apocalypses, etc.

'Prepping' sites (the more realistic ones, at least) seem to advise that you need 1-6 months of food and water on hand, and that you need to be continuously using the supplies so they dont get too old. To me, thats eating way too much processed food.

I buy top ramen, chicken broth, black and kidney beans, canned pineapple, tomato, rice, pasta, and flour in bulk, along with a case of bottled water (mostly used when offered to guests because I know I dont like straight tap water from other peoples houses). I estimate we could probably go a couple of weeks (but having electricity) without being completely miserable. Running out of milk and butter and meat (honestly, nobody is going to miss running out of veggies) is a bigger inconveneince.

I also noticed that we are more likely to eat junk food and snacks during emergencies.

How much do other people keep on hand? What do you do food-wise during your regional *routine* emergencies?

05-22-2016, 01:06 PM
We lived in Florida for a few years so we had a hurricane box full of food/emergency supplies. When we moved to the San Francisco area (east bay) we relabeled it Earthquake box. :) Now its mostly mountain house backpacking food which is really tasty and all you do is add hot water to it, stir, close the bag and wait 10 minutes. We have a paint can filled with chicken that is cooked this way - supposed to be food for 10 days I think. We have a couple of those and various other things. My cupboards have canned food and I always keep a case a of water in the back of each car. So we probably have food for 2 to 3 weeks if we did it carefully. We also hav a bug out bag - with four old backpacks in it, each backpack has some emergency supplies - space blanket, packets of drinking water, matches, etc. I'm not sure what all is in there - dh is the paranoid one and packed it.
We cycle through the camping food, eating some of it each summer when we camp and then restocking it. We also have a few cans of dog food in there.

05-22-2016, 01:22 PM
I put a week, but we might make it two. And a month if you count what we have in protein powder.

I have it down on my list for next year to learn about hurricanes and make a hurricane kit with DS. We've never has one.

05-22-2016, 01:28 PM
We sort of fall in between KonMari and Costco. So Konstco? CostMari? That's us. No big box memberships, but I Kroger every two weeks and keep one or two back-ups of everything but produce and meats on hand. No "stockpile", though.

05-22-2016, 01:46 PM
Food Security for the Faint of Heart: Keeping Your Larder Full in Lean Times: Robin Wheeler: 9780865716247: Amazon.com: Books (http://www.amazon.com/Food-Security-Faint-Heart-Keeping/dp/0865716242/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1463933522&sr=1-1&keywords=food+security+for+the+faint+of+heart) I love, love, love this book! It's not a crazy prepper book, but a common sense, motherly instinct to prepare and provide-type of book, IMO. It's got a lot on the gardening front, if you don't garden AT ALL and have no interest in it, or even finding some local farms, this book might not be perfect in your eyes. It's not a book about storing and making meals out of dehydrated foods, though they are out there, and there is nothing wrong with that. :)

We've got our critters and a huge garden and just finished our root cellar two years ago. Yeah, we are fairly self reliant. I also live in an agriculture heavy valley, so there's that. I should also add that I hate grocery shopping and do it as infrequently as possible....Costco (likewise, Cash and Carry) is a friend too.

I absolutely think that, at the very least, being prepared for a few weeks is just good parenting. Who wants to face their hungry child? Grocery stores will be empty after 3 days of a prolonged emergency, tops and that is if they are open at all. Stores don't have a back room anymore. Computer programs give stores what they need, delivered by trucks, just at the right time that they are expected to run out. Stuff happens.........unexpected stuff. It's just reality, not scary, in fact if you are prepared for a few weeks, there is less to worry about. It's near impossible to be prepared for everything, but doing something is better than ignoring it :)

I'm good.

05-22-2016, 02:11 PM
We live in a flooding zone and we are at the southern most tip of tornado alley, on top of that we get plenty of tropical depressions. I learned after the flood in October 1998 to keep food on hand and a charged cell phone. And the closer you live to a river, a canoe or some kind of reliable watercraft with basic supplies in it. What I keep on hand is canned vegies, fruit, meats. Bottled water, water purifier tablets, fire starter, mirror, compass, can opener, swiss army knife, flash light, keeping some light dry clothes in a baggy ( i havent done this one yet, but now that i think of it, i should). And of course a small firearm (with the safety on and a safety lock) Just last week a woman and her baby were plucked from a tree. Last year it flooded in Wimberly, a couple of people, including a young boy, have not been found. The mother, instead of leaving the house, made her good by phone call. I couldnt understand this. Maybe frozen with fear. I feel bad. In the 1998 flood, ds was 3. The road going to Seguin had 12 ft of water and the road going to San Marcos had 6 ft of water. Thankfully we were pretty high above these dry creeks. After seeing a house in a tree along with cars and other debris, I decided to have supplies and a plan.

05-22-2016, 02:58 PM
We've got our critters and a huge garden and just finished our root cellar two years ago. Yeah, we are fairly self reliant. I also live in an agriculture heavy valley, so there's that. I should also add that I hate grocery shopping and do it as infrequently as possible....


I voted "take prepping seriously." Honestly though, we have a freak lake-effect snow storm that may strand us for 2 or 3 days, and once in a huge, great while a tornado rolls through, so that's not our reason for a basement full of food. We've done it more for a combo of expense and control over what we eat (fresh eggs, fresh/canned froze veggies and fruit from our gardens, etc.). We also eat very little meat anymore (mostly due to dh's high cholesterol), so we have bags and bags of dried beans.

05-22-2016, 03:52 PM
I don't like shopping. I also belong to an organic buying club so I buy a lot in bulk. Buying in bulk allows me to simply visit the produce dept. and get out of the store.

I buy beans, rices, lentils, etc. in 25# bags. I buy a lot of items by the case so our pantry, fridges and freezers are typically full. We also freeze/can a bit from the garden. (Although we are not gardening this year.)

We are not prepping for a disaster...I'm just lazy and frugal :o

05-22-2016, 04:05 PM
We have a month of bottled water, (we have a delivery service, because our water softener makes the water taste salty :p ). Also, a month of animal feed, and a month of toiletries and laundry soap. Assuming the chickens survived whatever emergency was happening, we would at least have a few eggs every day, but as far as dried foods, we would probably last about 10 days. Where I live, the risks are flooding or tornados. In both scenarios, the odds are our food storage would be destroyed, so stockpiling huge amounts would not save us. I try to keep enough stuff around to avoid frequent store trips, since it is 20 miles to the nearest grocery store.

05-22-2016, 06:30 PM
We don't have much in the way of natural disaster threats on a regular basis. Yes, we had 3 feet of snow in one 24 hour period during a blizzard this winter. We were fortunate and did not lose power. The storm started on a Friday and by Sunday we could mostly get out - there was nowhere to go, however. DH made it to work on Monday and by the end of the week the schools were open. The longest I can ever remember being stuck at home, unable to get out, was 3 days during an ice storm/blizzard/ice storm combo back in the 90's.

We do have hurricanes and tropical storms come ashore across NJ or up the Chesapeake Bay and give us torrential rains and heavy winds and spawn a few small tornadoes, but we've only ever lost power for about a day. A few years ago TS Lee flooded our area severely. Our town (and specifically our neighborhood) is surrounded on one side by the end of a creek that dumps into the Susquehanna river, and the river. My house is probably at the highest point in town. We didn't even have water in the basement, but I know for a few days there was no getting in our out of town. We were away on vacation enjoying the sunny beach, but I saw pictures. A road that had 12 foot clearance under a railroad bridge was flooded up to the railroad tracks. A small retiree townhome community on the edge of my neighborhood had water up to the ceiling of the first floors. So flooding would probably keep us trapped quicker than snow, and of course the big concern I'd have there would be clean drinking water. I do have a whole house filter and RO system, and we keep a case or two of bottled water in the basement. We buy more if something like a hurricane or blizzard is predicted.

We buy our meat in bulk from a farm directly, so we have a freezer full of responsibly raised meat in the basement. We usually have frozen veggies, too. And 2 huge containers of protein powder in the pantry, and a few pounds of pasta, brown rice, oats, beans, etc. I'd guess we could make it at least a week or two if necessary.

Our biggest threat is the nuke power plant about mile away. We have KI pills that are given out each year, in case, but if anything happens there - we are getting out, ASAP. We have a close friend who works there, so we'd be forewarned.

05-22-2016, 07:03 PM
We don't go to Costco, but I think we could make it a month, maybe more. If we didn't live in an apartment, I would be squirreling canned and boxed stuff away, as well as stocking a chest freezer. I'd mostly do it to save money though--stock up on stuff when it's on sale or with coupons. I don't want to do extreme coupon-ing, because I don't need two dozen boxes of sweet-n-low just because coupons made them free--I'd just be stockpiling things we actually eat.

05-22-2016, 09:53 PM
We've generally got about a year's worth of frozen, dried, and canned food on hand (and a standby generator in case the power goes out so the freezer won't fail!) for our family. We have tried to be prepared for emergencies, economic problems, etc. for many years now, after living in a remote community where all food had to be flown in, and if the weather went down, the only store could run out of food quickly.

05-22-2016, 10:59 PM
(and a standby generator in case the power goes out so the freezer won't fail!)
Yes, a generator can be important if you have stocked freezers and fridges. Our generator kicks on automatically when the power goes off. We bought it because we used to have a lot of power outages...even on beautiful days. Since we installed the generator, the power is almost never out!

05-22-2016, 11:23 PM
We don't get snow, no hurricanes, no earthquakes, no mudslides, I haven't ever heard of a wildfire near me, and while we may get tornadoes, they aren't common. There is a reason we live in the part of the country we do. Flooding is even extremely rare where I'm at. Could it happen? Sure. The zombie apocalypse is about as likely. That said, I don't keep months stocked. My parents live a mile away and my mom is one of those obsessive stocking ppl. If something bad is coming, we'll be at their house anyway. When we move, I might have to stock more, but then, we're looking at moving about 10 miles from the busiest airport in the world, so if anything disastrous happens, it'll probably be related to that. I don't think we've even had a power outage for more than an hour or so in the 6 years we've lived here, and THAT was due to an idiot who took out the power lines with his car.

05-24-2016, 12:28 PM
I've gone as long as three months between grocery runs when I had my big freezer, but it wasn't earthquakes, hurricanes, or zombie apocalypses, it was an ex who didn't pay child support and an unexpected unplanned sudden move and a car that would break down at inconvenient times when I couldn't afford repairs.

It wasn't Costco, it was a volunteer job where yuppies or hipsters or whateverthebleep you kids call them would sign up for a CSA and then never show to pick up their food.

It wasn't junk food and snacks, it was 40 lb sacks of flour, oatmeal, dried beans, rice, etc. and too many cases of mason jars filled with peaches, apricots, pears, applesauce, tomato sauce, pickles, jams, etc. to fit in the kitchen.

At the time, it was just plain common sense.

05-24-2016, 01:24 PM
I do have to say, IEF, that your comment, "it was just plain common sense." is so important here. It doesn't take an earthquake or zombie apocalypse to present a family with a "food emergency". What about a prolonged job loss, or illness? Or like you said, IEF, a deadbeat dad. I mean, of course there is always the food bank, most people think to themselves.....until there isn't.

Back in the old days, it was just seasonal changes, and the unavailability of different foods that came with it....tomatoes in January and peaches in March? Thank you fossil fuels....you're welcome climate change. Sorry California, you didn't really need that water as much as the folks in Chicago needed raspberries in February. Did you? Some day, our kids just might tell our grandkids what that was like.....and apologize for all of us.

And having a well-stocked pantry/root cellar/basement now gets you sideways glances, as if you are wearing your tin foil hat. Folks used to just know this stuff. Now houses are built with little to no kitchen, and as for food storage options....you're lucky to get a few cabinets.

It makes me sad sometimes, however, that so many in our culture don't see the need to learn to take care of themselves now. We are setting ourselves up for a bad scenario if we have lost our fierce sense of self-reliance as a people, IMO. Folks are definitely removed....and short-sighted.

Sorry for the mini-rant...

05-24-2016, 03:39 PM
Oh crud, I didn't get the prepping part - we just like to have lots on hand and I buy rice and beans and staples for cooking in laughable quantities (like a years' worth). But I'm not worried about the apocalypse (or fatalistic about one - food would be one of the least of my worries) and our area is like lowest in the country for natural hazards. We just don't have any, really - other than flash floods (uh, don't drive into washes, duh!) and heat (stay indoors - not a food storage issue!).

05-25-2016, 02:38 AM
We are required to keep bags packed for NEO evacuations which must include three days worth of food and water for your family. That's all the extra we keep on us other than the normal stuff of whatever's left from regular shopping. If something happens (weather, political, or otherwise), we won't be staying here. ;)

ETA: There's seriously no storage here for extra stuff. We can *barely* fit enough food for the week in our cabinets and fridge.

05-25-2016, 09:34 AM
Now houses are built with little to no kitchen, and as for food storage options....you're lucky to get a few cabinets.

Our house was built in 74 I think, and we don't have storage for anything. No attic, basement, or crawl spaces. We do have a lot of cabinets in the kitchen, but they aren't large enough for the big bags of rice. Plus, we have to put the dishes and pans somewhere. Pantry and extra freezer? I've never lived somewhere with either of those! Maybe only the people with well designed kitchens and pantries will survive.

05-25-2016, 11:13 AM
Love this thread - good idea alexsmom!

I live in central NM, which has is a pretty low natural disaster area. Our main threat are fires, but we'd have to leave for that, so a bug out bag is more useful than a stockpile of food. Every so often we'll get a snow that knocks power out, longest was 3 days.

I just naturally happen to keep a stock pile because I'm frugal. If something is a good sale, I'll buy a 6 month to year supply.

I garden in the summer and I put up a fair amount of food from it - canning, freezing, dehydrating. Food preservation is my geeky passion.

05-25-2016, 01:11 PM
I hadnt even thought of how frugal = buying in bulk, therefore a *prepping* stockpile. I feel like Ive only recently graduated to baking enough to warrant the 25# bags of flour and sugar.
What about the bulk bins in the no-nabisco/fritolay-grocers?

I wonder if pantries are smaller in places that expect you to buy fresh food nearly-daily? So if theres a correllation smaller pantry = bigger fresh local market?

Except for TFZs case. :( Isnt Florida supposed to be full of old people, who save everything? In southern CA, we dont have storage attics or basements, either.

What are peoples bug-out plans?
There are three ways out of San Diego (other than south)... I went one night to see the Leonids meteorshower from the eastern mountains (such was the plan)... and the freeway at 11:30pm was a solid line of similarly minded people heading east. No accidents, just too many people. The quiet mountain road we had thought to use was a solid line of cars.
In case of an actual evacuation - I figure theres no chance in hell we could be away in a timely manner. I never would have even expected it to be such an impossibility.

05-25-2016, 02:02 PM
I have a pantry and a basement and what I think of as "standard" kitchen, and our house was built in 2010. But cooking is important to us and we put the money into our kitchen when we built rather than upgraded lighting or flooring (we upgrade those as we find what we like/things wear out.) I don't think my kitchen is large or fancy, though.

I do have a lot of storage, I suppose, but that's mainly due to having an island and a pot rack. One thing I did in our first house that I continue to do (and will going forward because it's so space saving and convenient) is to put up a pot rack and hang those up out of the way. Easy to put away, easy to access, saves a ton of cupboard space. The only pots and pans I have in a cupboard are 2 ceramic nonstick pans I use for eggs and one big stockpot/steamer. For around $100 I got a stainless pot rack (to match my cookware) that mounts against the wall and has 2 shelves above it. On one shelf I have jars of staples like beans, popcorn, sugar, etc. And decorative stuff on the upper shelf. I have an extra S-hook for aprons, too, to save our clothing. I was throwing out a lot of tops from grease splatter stains. I also put those over the door storage racks on the inside of the pantry door, and took out the standard builder shelves and added new ones - floor to ceiling.

Bug out plan? Drive back roads and get away. It depends how far I have to go. I have Amish friends, prepper friends (who have a remote cabin), and family an hour or two away or so if need be. I have family 2 hours away, 8 hours away, and 20 hours away, too.

05-25-2016, 02:27 PM
Our house was built in 1992 and we have pretty good storage. We are the only owners but did not design the house - it was a spec house for a parade of homes so maybe the builder put in some extras. I think part of the reason the house is laid out nicely is because it was built by a woman builder. She thought about how the house will be lived in.

e.g. The house plans called for a kitchen island, but she decided the space would be better used as a large walk-in pantry. For us, this works well. She also put linen closets in the bathrooms, large closets with custom organizers in the bedrooms (her husband was a wood-worker), two small walk-in closets in the playroom. We use one for Xmas decorations and one for games and toys, etc.
Unfortunately, she didn't care about the garage...it is so shallow my husband's truck cannot fit in the garage :(

In our area basements are standard. In hind sight, we should not have finished the entire basement. If we ever move, we will keep a portion of the basement unfinished for storage.

05-25-2016, 03:08 PM
AM, I think bug out plans are for city/suburban folk ;) You know, when you start to see the zombies at the mall..... LOL!!

Seriously though...under what circumstances would one "bug out"? If it were fire or hurricane....the routes, I would think, would be dictated by authorities. Ask the folks in Houston or New Orleans how that was. Otherwise...say earthquake, flooding, zombie or foreign invaders ;)....you just might be screwed. LOL...but then, so will everyone else.

You said, "I hadnt even thought of how frugal = buying in bulk, therefore a *prepping* stockpile." I assumed that's why you asked originally. It's all a big circle anyway....."prepping" (which is what it's called now, though I like preparedness as a term cause that's what it always was considered) is the outward appearance that comes from buying/storing/gardening/canning in bulk, which doing so is frugal, which all makes you more self reliant, which is what most folks used to be without being called "self-reliant" or "green" or "preppers". Not necessarily just for an emergency, but to have less to worry about in general....even in terms of finances = frugal. :)

At least that's the way I see it. It's not that I think my family has any more chance to be fine in a natural disaster. Everyone is vulnerable to the unexpected. An asteroid could hit my house, or more likely, I could be in a car accident. But I feel I have a good ability to be adaptable, when the unexpected comes.

05-25-2016, 03:24 PM
It's not that I think my family has any more chance to be fine in a natural disaster. Everyone is vulnerable to the unexpected. An asteroid could hit my house, or more likely, I could be in a car accident. But I feel I have a good ability to be adaptable, when the unexpected comes.

If there was a big disaster, I figure my 'stockpile' may not be much good because it would be gone quickly when friends and neighbors ask for help and I give it to them.

I originally started stockpiling partly because of frugality and partly because I knew what it felt like to live without. I moved out on my own at age 17 and spent years struggling. It is tough to shop smart when you are broke. So, the first items I started stocking up on, when I could afford it, were laundry detergent and toilet paper - both are items that are not fun to run out of. We have been financially secure throughout our marriage but I still worry knowing how quickly things can change. We now live on one income and it is not always steady and we've had years with a lot of medical bills, so I feel a bit of security knowing we can shop lightly if needed because we have a surplus of food and personal care items.

Originally my husband hated what he called my 'hording'. He grew up with parents who did the same and he hated it; he is a minimalist and clutter stresses him out. But my products are organized and unseen. (It's not like I have a room full of stocked shelving like you see on extreme coupon shows!)

eta: Lately, I've been using up/donating rather than replenishing my stock. I'm not sure if I've reached the point where we had too much and it was becoming stressful to see or wasteful because we weren't using it. Or maybe I've just changed. We'll see if I replenish in time.

05-25-2016, 08:29 PM
dbsam, you said. "If there was a big disaster, I figure my 'stockpile' may not be much good because it would be gone quickly when friends and neighbors ask for help and I give it to them." Yep, and won't it feel good to be the one offering help, rather than asking for it right away :) Good for you!

05-25-2016, 09:38 PM
Totally agree with you Muddylilly on all your points.

Also - maybe the people who are afraid of the zombies call it prepping, and the rest of us just call it self-reliance or something else. My motive for stockpiling is not fear based, maybe that is why it does not seem like prepping to me - it is just something I do. *puts tin foil hat on* :D

05-25-2016, 11:58 PM
I've never "stockpiled," but I do "stock up" on basics. We could easily last two or three weeks on what's in the house, although it wouldn't be very interesting. Eventually, we'd be down to oatmeal, flour, and rice. I used to put a lot more effort into gardening, storing food, and bulk-buying from local farmers and an organic distributor. Having a cold storage room and a freezer full of food was terrific when we experienced short-term cash crunches. I would cut my grocery bill down to the barest minimum and just use up what we had. It's a lot harder to stock up now that they're teenagers. The food just disappears.

It's interesting to note that a lot of people are stockpiling in case they're stranded in their homes. With the Fort McMurray wildfire in the province, everyone was evacuated and a lot of the food that people had in their homes will have to be thrown out.

05-26-2016, 02:27 AM
Food is not a problem, but drinking water would be. I have lots of dried goods, like beans and pasta, but I am moving away from processed foods, so I am a little concerned. In the winter, I have a freezer full of homemade, frozen meals and if the power went out it would still be fine since the freezer is outside. The summer would be a different story.

05-27-2016, 12:19 AM
We're between the Costco and Serious Prepper, we have three months of food for 3, a week of water in house and a purification system. We also keep emergency supplies in the car and our backpacking gear doubles as short term go-bags if we have to evacuate. We've had a few storms knock out power since we moved here, so we keep a camp stove in the house and use our emergency stock if we need to. We make sure if there is a severe weather condition or something we'll be fine, but at the same time we have neither the space nor the inclination to become the kind of preppers who end up on NatGeo.

05-27-2016, 11:27 PM
Yea, we could totally be fine with protein powder and frozen fruit in my freezer. I live in MI, so we'd never be stranded more than 5 days .

05-28-2016, 05:49 PM
Well we don't shop at Costco. I found it is more expensive than other stores here.

I buy staples once a month and try to have 20 lbs of flour, sugar, beans, and rice on hand.

We go to the store weekly for fresh fruit and vegetables (we do have a garden, but it is not producing yet), milk (we go through about 6 gallons a week) and bread. (Do do bake some of my own, but if could not keep up with the amount they eat).

Meat is another issue, it is expensive so I don't have a ton on hand. We have started buying pork in bulk and making our own sausage. (Save and seal and freeze) I do try and stock up when it is on sale, so I might have 4-5 flats of chicken in the freezer b/c it was less than $1.00 a lbs.

There is very little package food here, and just a few can items.