I was in two different Costco stores yesterday, and the story both of them were telling was one of fear and panic buying. Customers were buying and hoarding toilet paper, flour, crackers, freezers (and food to fill them) and who knows what else. I wanted to put together a list that could help you make sense of a possible real life scenario due to either panic from possible outbreak or even the case of someone in your family actually contracting the virus and needing to be quarantined for a few weeks. This post is not meant to cause fear or panic, but to give some practical stocking advice from a mama who routinely overstocks items to #1 save money, but #2 to always be ready for any random reason that we may not be able to (or wanting to) shop for 2-4 weeks for any reason. These reasons may include (but are not limited to) real life scenarios that have happened to us – getting a flu, spraining an ankle, losing a job, having a baby, having a financial setback that tied up the grocery budget (such as a vehicle breakdown or a death in the family), stores being out of stock on our go to items when we are available to shop etc. It doesn’t need to be the apocalypse scenario to really appreciate having the right supplies on hand in reasonable quantity.
Without further ado, here is my stock up priority list, for items I always have on hand and how much I like to keep in stock.
TOP 3 Foods for emergency preparedness
These first 3 items are what I like to have in stock always, in bulk, in enough quantity to feed my family for 1-3 months if these were our only calories. It’s not complicated, they are fairly compact and super cheap when purchased in bulk. These are the items I don’t ever want to run out of, because they are the basis of so many meals, their prices don’t fluctuate a lot and they store very well. We eat them 2-3 days a week in general, and more often when things are tight. If we had to eat them every single day, they have a good balance of nutrients.
My top 3 basics
#1 is Rice. I keep bags of different kinds of rice that we like. Basmati is quick cooking, while brown rice takes longer, but has more nutrients. Wild rice adds some class. I also keep Quinoa in this catergory. 1 lb of dry rice contains roughly 1600 calories.
#2 is dry Beans. (Black beans, Pinto, Chickpeas, Lentils etc) Beans contain roughly 1500 calories per lb. Keep in mind that pre-soaking beans for 24 hours can help make them more digestible, and a pressure cooker (stove top or electric) is by far the preferred cooking method for convenience and digestibility.
#3 is Oats (Quick oats, steal cut, old fashioned rolled – whatever you like). Oats contain nearly 1800 calories per lb. We make hot cereal as well as granola and granola bars.
How much do I need of these 3 foods? This is my simple math. 2000 calories per adult per day and for our kids, 1200 for the 6 year old, 1000 each for the 4 year olds and 800 for the 2 year old. So 4 adults worth of food or 8000 calories per day. I like to keep a minimum of 30 days worth of a combination of these foods. I rotate what I buy, and I don’t generally calculate exact ratios of which, but if I was going to do that, I would aim for about 25% oats, 25% beans and 50% rice. At the lowest count of 1500 calories per lb, I would need 160 lbs of these dried foods for my family to meet our caloric needs for 30 days. This would be 40 lbs oats, 40 lbs beans, and 80 lbs rice. These can be picked up at any store in bulk bags, and I recommend getting a variety with more of the things you are likely to use regularly.
That’s my simple math, and of course I have so many other foods in reality that this amount of dry food is really a 3-6 month supply for our normal rotation of foods. You can see how this simple plan would add a lot of security in case of any kind of emergency. You can also reduce these amounts as you add in other calories, if you think having less food has an advantage for you, but for me, it’s better to buy the 5 kg or more bags of any variety and keep them in stock.
MY STOCKED FREEZER
I have a freezer that I keep stocked with a variety of things, including, shredded cheese, butter, beef and chicken (30 lbs per month is ideal). I strategically buy these more expensive foods on sale. I keep tortillas and certain bread products frozen. Frozen vegetables, frozen fruit etc. Simple stuff that we use all the time. I also freeze things like leftover bananas, bones from beef or chicken meals (to make broth) and when I bake, I try to individually wrap items and freeze them. I very rarely buy pre-made freezer foods, but when I have the time I make casseroles or pizzas, double wrap and freeze them for later. My freezer just stays full most of the time. If we combined my rice, beans and oats with the freezer, we could live for a couple of months for sure, but I really consider the condiments important as well.
CONDIMENTS for all the time and especially emergencies 🙂
- Mustards (Honey, dijan, plain etc)
- Hot sauce (Sriracha etc)
- Mayonnaise (I actually make this myself most of the time, but I like to keep 1 in the pantry in case I don’t have time to make it.
- Soy Sauce (I buy the big one at Costco)
- BBQ Sauce
- Olive Oil (100 calories per tablespoon) ( I buy 2-4 Liters at a time when on sale)
- Spices (Basil, Garlic, Oregano, Pepper, Taco seasoning etc)
- Coconut Sugar (for hot cereal and baking)
- Peanut butter (I keep a lot of this, because I also use it in granola bars and baking)
- Honey (we buy this by the 7 kg bucket)
- Lemon Juice
I keep an open bottle or jar and at least 1 back up of almost all of our condiments (except for things we use very slowly). If there is a good sale on any of the ones we use a lot of, I will buy 3-6 months supply.
MY FRIDGE BASICS
These are the items I typically have in the fridge over the course of a month. The milk I will often buy 2 gallons at a time, and since we like to buy bananas and restock fruit and veg, I usually rely on extra trips that I can get milk. If I knew I wouldn’t be able to shop again, I would buy 2-3 gallons plus some almond milk tetra-paks and just make it work. I may also buy extra apples anticipating less bananas.
- Eggs (5 dz per month or more for baking etc – I would buy 10 dz if I thought I would not have another chance) 4,200 calories per 5 dz pack
- Cheese (3 x 1 kg blocks – 13,000 calories, plus 10 lbs of shredded cheese – 19,000 calories in the freezer)
- Sour cream (2-4 lbs)
- Butter (4 lbs + extra frozen for baking) 3200 calories per lb.
- Milk (4 gallons) 2400 calories per gallon
- Cream (3 liters) 3284 calories per Liter
- Yogurt or Kefir (1-2 Liters)
- Carrots (2-4 lbs)
- Apples (6-12 lbs)
- Celery (1 bunch)
- Oranges, Pears other fruit that keep well etc. (5-10 lbs)
- Cabbage (2 heads for making sauerkraut)
I also keep potatoes, onions and garlic on hand, and when the prices are good I buy lettuce and broccoli. Everything else is basically canned and dry foods that we use regularly. I’ll include a list of the basics here as well
- Canned crushed tomatoes (12 cans per month)
- Pasta (Spaghetti, Macaroni, Shells etc) I keep 12-24 x 2 lb packs on hand, but we usually use about 6 packs.
- Canned Tuna
- Canned maple baked beans (just a few for adding to a dish or as a side for a last minute option)
- Ramen Noodles (1 case, used as backup, not actual meal planning)
- Boxed Macaroni (6 boxes)
- Cold Cereal (6-12 box on hand, purchased on sale of course and used as sparingly as possible)
- Tea & Coffee (Decaf, instant etc)
- Taco Shells (lentils make good tacos)
- Coconut Sugar ( I usually use 2 x 4 lb bags in a month)
- Palm Shortening
- Flour (2 x 20 bags of unbleached flour is enough for 1 month here)
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda
- Chocolate Chips
- Cocoa Powder
- Nuts & Seeds
- Coconut flakes & Raisins
I think it’s safe to say I keep a good 3-4 months worth of food in my rotation. This is ideal for so many reasons, and if I didn’t say it already several times – getting things on sale in 4 month quantities is an amazing way to reduce your food costs or increase your food quality.
I am not including a list of snack foods, because they are just not staples. You can buy as many as you want or can afford, but they should not be relied on for meals. We try not to buy snacks at all, but of course we do buy some when we want to.
Yes, I buy the big pack at Costco. It lasts us 3-4 months, and it’s worth buying before we run out. I wouldn’t buy 4 giant packs, but I would buy a second pack before the other one is half gone if it was on sale. So here is my simple toiletries and cleaning supplies list. It’s not everything I have, but it’s everything I would not want to run out of, and typically keep an extra months supply on hand.
- Toilet Paper
- Paper Towels
- Baby Wipes
- Shampoo & Conditioner
- Bar Soap
- Razors & Shaving Cream
- White Vinegar
- Laundry Soap
- Dish Soap
- Dishwasher Soap
- Mrs. Meyers Multipurpose concentrate
- Hand Cream/Lotion
- Contact Solution/Contacts
- Hand sanitizer
And my last list is kind of an immune booster/home remedies and medical supplies list. We keep all of these items on hand in case of sickness and try to tend people with care and gentleness to ensure as much comfort as possible. These are not instead of medical treatment, and of course we seek that if needed.
- Activated charcoal powder. (Any kind of stomach upset)
- Slippery Elm bark (Stomach upset)
- Colloidal Silver (Topical antiseptic, anti-microbial solution and also ingested for colds and flus and can be used in the humidifier to clean it)
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Ace bandage
- Burn cream
- Super glue
- Emergen-C drink mixes
- Throat Coat tea (Traditional Medicinals)
- Cod Liver oil (immune support)
- Tylenol (Adult and kids)
- Caugh drops
- Caugh syrup
- Tiger Balm
- Epsom Salts
- Vitamin C chewables
BONUS! Kombucha Supplies
- Organic cane Sugar (2 x 10 lb bags from Costco)
- Organic Irish Breakfast Tea (1 lb loose leaf)
- Dehydrated Elderberries, ginger and apricots (plus other random things for second ferment)
Our water is pretty secure here and still runs if there is a power outage, but we buy drinking water 3 x 5 gallon jugs at a time with an extra on hand so we can re-fill before it’s gone. If we couldn’t buy any for a month, we would be fine with our tap water, but if you have any concerns about water safely, be sure to do the math so you have enough clean drinking water for your family.
What do you do to secure your family against these kinds of scenarios? Let me know in the comments below!