When you see posts on Pinterest or videos on YouTube about prepping, there are lots of “20 First Things to Store” or “25 Must Have Items for Prepping” type articles. The problem is that the lists make no sense for the short term and are therefore worthless for most families. The lists have lots of important food stuffs on them, but if you really needed to depend on those supplies for a few weeks, you would have no variety.
And therein lies the problem, especially if you are stocking up with a family. Beans, rice, olive oil, salt, SPAM, oats, and canned tomatoes won’t get you very far. Yes, you will increase your chances of surviving. But food fatigue is real and I personally would not want to convince small children that eating those same foods again for the thirteenth day in a row is fun. So let’s look at three reasons why these lists are worthless when you are building a pantry and what you should be doing instead as you get started.
No One Eats Like That
If you look at these lists, they focus on storage of items that last a long time. There certainly is value to this if you are preparing for worst case scenarios, something we’ll look at in later posts. But the reality is that no one eats like that if they have a choice. I’m assuming since you are reading this that you currently still have a choice regarding the kinds of foods to put in your pantry and use on a regular basis.
You need to fill your pantry with the foods that your family actually eats no matter what the lists say. So you should focus on building up a pantry full of food that is practical, economical, tastes good, and that everyone will enjoy eating if difficult times come.
It makes no sense to fill your pantry with foods you rarely eat just because they store well. Now one of your long-term goals might be to start incorporating more of those foods into your family diet so it will make sense to stock up on them as you establish your pantry. In fact, that could be an excellent goal to write down! But in all honesty you are better off stocking up on Cheerios, granola bars, and canned fruit if that is what your family eats right now than investing in beans, rice, and huge jugs of olive oil if you don’t currently incorporate them into your diet.
Most Emergencies Will Be Relatively Short Term
There are many different kinds of situations and emergencies that we’re going to consider in this Prudent & Prepared Homemaker series. Some of them are the mundane things like a power outage for 24-48 hours or the stomach bug goes through the house and no one can leave to get to the store. Some of them are much more serious such as a pandemic or a breakdown of the delivery system in our country.
But the reality is that most emergencies we will face will be relatively short term. For that reason, our initial focus is on making sure we keep our pantry stocked with food that meets our immediate needs in a relatively brief period of interruption.
This is why many of the lists that float around out there don’t make sense. They focus on stocking up for Armageddon, but that is probably the least likely thing we will face. It’s far more likely you’ll end up with an entire family that’s sick with the flu and no way to get to the store. Or you’ll have a ice storm or snow storm and nothing moves for three days. Or you will have a hurricane or earthquake if you live in a part of the world where those occur.
Those are the easy kinds of emergencies to prepare for and what you should focus on first. Later in this series we’ll think about what we should do regarding the catastrophic type events, but building up a regular pantry is the first step.
Less Stress by Keeping Things Normal
The last reason I think most of these lists aren’t useful has to do with stress. During difficult times, the more you can keep things normal the better off everyone will be. This is especially true if you have children.
Changing your diet and staple foods when you are already in a difficult situation won’t make things easier. Additionally, if you change from a diet heavy on refined foods to beans and rice, you’ll also be suffering stomach upset as your body isn’t used to that. That will do even more to contribute to family members being uncomfortable and unhappy!
This is, again, why it’s so important to store foods that you eat regularly and not just download a list from the internet in order to quickly buy the things recommended by the self-proclaimed expert. The online expert doesn’t know your family. He can only operate in hypotheticals. You are much more knowledgeable about what your family needs than a random person on the internet.
This is why you don’t buy up a bunch of food that has a long storage life just because you can get it for a great deal. It’s not a great deal if no one wants to eat it.