Keeping a stockpile of food is a good idea for an emergency, whether it’s stockpiling for a pandemic or getting extra supplies for a freak change of weather.
Stockpiling food – it sounds like a thing from America TV shows like Extreme Couponing.
You see people with garages and cupboards stacked up to the ceiling with bulk bought products and coupons glitches.
The groceries stored could easily see some of these families through for years, but it’s not really true stockpiling.
Having an emergency stockpile of food is more about being intentional about the groceries you decide to keep for an emergency.
Why should you stockpile food?
Having a small emergency stockpile of food is quite a good idea.
If there is some kind of emergency, then you have a back up of supplies to see you through.
It could be any emergency; like there could be a freak snowstorm and you can’t get out of the house.
There are also times when the weather has affected the growth of UK veg. Heatwaves have caused there to food shortages on some vegetables, which has increased prices, in the past.
Or, if there is another kind of emergency that sees shops reduce the stock.
Even if nothing happens, an emergency supply of food can act as a back up if you’re a bit skint and can’t do a full food shop. Maybe you’ve had a cut in benefit payments, or you’ve lost your job, or there’s a massive bill, and it’s hit your usual budget.
While most people will have a few days worth of food in the freezer (when was the last time you actually checked what was in there?!), if you need food for a few more days it won’t last well.
What foods should I stockpile for an emergency?
You don’t want to be adding all foods to your stockpile as it would be a waste.
Foods with a short shelf like (think use by dates) won’t last too long so will be no good for an emergency supply.
You need to think about packet, tinned and frozen foods, that can’t easily be gotten to by bugs. Plus, consider non-food items like toilet roll, cleaning products and toiletries.
Getting a stockpile isn’t about buying your average weekly food shop then duplicating it by 2 or 5 or 10, or however many, weeks.
That wouldn’t get you food suitable to keep as a stockpile as a lot of it would go off.
You’ll also want to consider that if something happens that stops power, your fridge freezer will stop working.
Best foods to stockpile
What you need are staple store cupboard foods with a long shelf life.
Plus you want to have a mix of carbohydrates, protein, and fruits and veg.
You’re looking to get foods that give as much nutrition as possible.
- Pasta – high in carbs and stores well. Can be used in loads of different meals
- Rice – high in carbs and stores well. Can be used in loads of different meals
- Lentils – nutritious, easy to cook and a good source of protein
- Pulses – nutritious, easy to cook and a good source of protein
- Cereal/oats – avoid ones with processed sugars
- Beans – a good source of protein
- Canned meat
- Canned fish
- Canned veg – fulls of vitamins. Keep the liquid for stocks
- Canned fruits – get your vitamins.
- Dried fruits – last for ages and keep your fruit intake up
- Powdered milk – it may not taste great on it’s own but is good for oats.
- Soups – can be used as the base for other dishes
- Baking goods to make bread
- Nuts – for protein and fats
- Coffee and tea
- Herbs and spices – to help flavour foods
- Sweets – not just for a treat, good for a quick bit of energy.
- Bottled water – it’ll be clean
- Anything specific for kids under 2 years old, if you have kids
- Pet supplies, if you have pets
It’s probably best to avoid too many processed foods as they don’t as long shelf life so won’t keep well for longer periods of time.
You may also want to make sure you’ve got a trusty can opener as it’d be rubbish having all those cans and no way to open them!!
On top of food, it’s also useful to have an extra supply of other things too.
Consider getting extra:
- toothpaste – to keep yourself fresh
- soap/sanitiser – to keep hands clean and clean surfaces
- toilet roll – always handy!
- washing detergent – to keep clothes and bedding clean
- candles/flashlight – in case of a blackout
- basic medicines – to help with aches and pains, fevers, etc
- batteries – for your torch or other items
- bin bags – to tidy away waste
How do you work out what to stockpile?
You’ll need to work out how much of each item you’d need to buy. It’d be different depending on how many people there are in your home and how long you want your stockpile to last.
Most people are not used to cooking or making foods solely from dried foods, so it’s also worth researching some recipes in advance, so you know what to make. This research will help determine how big your stockpile needs to be.
A good place to start is by preparing a two-week meal plan, then just multiply the shopping list by how many weeks you’d need.
Don’t try to buy it all in one go! That’d be very expensive! You could just add a few items to your usual food shop and, over time, your emergency stockpile will start to add up nicely.
This will give you a chance to get the best offers and bargains.
Be sure to keep an eye on what you’ve got and rotate the stock every now and then to make sure everything is fresh.
This will also make sure you’re not wasting money with it just sitting there doing nothing.
Emergency stockpiling for a pandemic
In the event of a global influenza pandemic, things might not go as smoothly as they usually do.
It may be worth making sure you stockpile for a pandemic as basic items might not be available.
Obviously, if things get severe, other people could start “panic buying” which can see items sell out quicker, leaving shelves empty.
There may also be issues with getting supplies into the country so shelves cannot get refilled.
Also, in the event of things like viruses, it’s probably best not be in crowded supermarkets with other shoppers, so having some food and supplies at home can be a good idea.
Should you stockpile for Brexit?
Well, I suppose that’s up to you.
I wouldn’t necessarily look to panic or believe everything you read in the news.
There has been a lot of scaremongering around food.
Some media outlets write what they do to sensationalise stories, making you want to click through and read what they’ve written (it’s how they make money). Just take what’s in the media with a pinch of salt.
However, sales can’t lie, and there has been a clear increase in people buying things like painkillers and toilet roll.
In advance of a no-deal Brexit deal, Tesco, M&S and Premier Foods had started to stockpile foods.
Morrisons also started to stock up on “cupboard fillers” but won’t say which products they’re starting to stockpile.
Britain imports around half of the fresh food we consume, and if there are issues after Brexit, then we’ve got a backup supply in stores of tinned food.
So, supermarkets are stockpiling as there may not be enough fresh food. On top of that, (some) people are also starting to stockpile (they are known as preppers).
There could be an issue that if there’s mass stockpiling, the supermarkets won’t be able to keep up with demand and will have a shortage of food anyway.
Or, there will be no delays to supply lines, and everything will carry on as usual.
Having a stockpile
We are not going to be stockpiling for a pandemic, or for Brexit, or for the freak snowstorm some of the papers say we’ll get every other week … well, not specifically.
However, we do already have a small amount of staple foods in our cupboards to fall back on – so I suppose we already do stockpile some foods and toiletries.
We were super-skint a few years back and never want to run out of food again.
We make sure to keep stocked up on basic foods that we can make an easy meal if we run out of fresh foods – for whatever may happen.