The economic climate has a lot of people scrambling to stock up on food right now. Add to an uncertain job market the food shortage caused by extreme weather conditions across the country, and we could be looking at a perfect storm on the horizon.
Do you read about people’s giant stockpiles of food and wonder, “Where the heck do they find those giant 50 pound bags of grains?” or “How on earth do they afford that extra food on top of the high cost of their day-to-day groceries?”
My inbox has been flooded lately with people looking for ways to rapidly expand their food storage supplies. I wrote about building a 30-day food supply quickly, but honestly, that article is for absolute beginners with no stockpile whatsoever. If you’re working on building a serious, long-term food supply, it’s going to be a lot more cost effective to purchase bulk quantities of high-quality staples.
A lot of us are looking for reliable sources of organic food. The grocery store is not your best bet. Most of the time, they don’t sell in the quantities we’re seeking, and often the quality is low. I personally use Amazon to build my grain stockpile, because it gives me access to a wide range of vendors, many of whom offer free shipping. Below, I’ll list a few of the items that I personally purchase on a regular basis to add to my pantry.
Here’s why grains should be the focus of your bulk purchases.
One of the mainstays of a prepper’s pantry is grains.
I know, you’re thinking, “Wait, I try to avoid grains as much as possible!” It may be true that in your everyday life of working 9-5 in an office, then doing some hobby gardening that grains aren’t as vital, but in a long-term situation, grains are the best way to stock up on storable food. They provide more calories that can be stored for a long time than anything else you can put back.
If you have issues with gluten, don’t despair. There are lots of non-gluten grains you can store. A simple omission of wheat products is the only adjustment you’ll need to make to your stockpile. You can focus more on corn, oats, and rice.
Here are just a few of the reasons that grains are such a valuable addition to your stockpile:
- They’re high in carbohydrates. While this might not be desirable in our everyday life right now, in the aftermath of a disaster, you’ll be burning off calories almost as fast as you can consume them.
- They’re a great way to extend a meal. How do you feed a family of 4 on what should be one serving of meat? Easy – add it to rice or noodles. It’s an inexpensive way to make the most of pricier ingredients.
- They store well for long periods of time. With the exception of brown rice, which has more oils that can go rancid, most grains can last for years if properly stored. They’re the perfect “store it and forget it” food for the pantry.
I strongly recommend organic grains. Yes, they’re more expensive, but they are not doused in pesticides or potentially genetic modified. The high nutritional quality is well-worth the added expense.
How many pounds of grains should you store?
Food storage calculators recommend 300 pounds of grains per person for a one year supply. For a family of four, that is a whopping 1200 pounds of food that you should store if you are trying to build a one year pantry!
That sounds like a really daunting number until you remember that it is divided over many different items. Most grains can be purchased in very large quantities at a greatly reduced price. When purchasing in amounts over 20 pounds, your food storage methods become particularly important. When deciding what storage methods you intend to use, you must ask yourself whether you intend for these goods to be your long term food storage, remaining untouched unless disaster strikes, or whether you intend to rotate them from the pantry to the kitchen, using them and replenishing your pantry as needed. Check out
When purchasing in amounts over 20 pounds, your food storage methods become particularly important. When deciding what storage methods you intend to use, you must ask yourself whether you intend for these goods to be your long term food storage, remaining untouched unless disaster strikes, or whether you intend to rotate them from the pantry to the kitchen, using them and replenishing your pantry as needed. Check out this detailed information on food storage methods. Do NOT skimp here. What could be worse than buying all of that food, only to discover it is spoiled or loaded with bugs when you need it the most?
Get good buys by doing your stockpile shopping online.
As I mentioned above, I’ve found that Amazon has pretty good selection of bulk grains, and many are available in organic varieties. I make a point of ordering at least 20 pounds of a grain each pay period. It’s a nominal amount of money that allows me to build a stockpile of food insurance. Be sure to look for grains with free shipping, though, or the cost could be prohibitive.
When compared with purchasing the same items in smaller quantities at the store, particularly if you opt for the organic, non-GMO varieties, ordering online seems to be the best deal. Ordering online adds the convenience of delivery right to your door, if you so desire. I used to order directly from a mill when I lived in Canada, but I had to add shipping costs, as well as a hefty minimum purchase. With resellers like Amazon, you can purchase smaller quantities more frequently, which can mesh better with a tight budget.
Some items are better to purchase locally, however. Pasta, cold cereal, and crackers, to name a few, are generally not the best deals when purchased online, because they can often be found as loss leaders at the grocery store. For those items, watch the flyers for good sales in your area.
What grains should you store?
Following are some of the most common additions to a prepper’s pantry.
I’ve found that I can usually order these online less expensively than I could purchase them in smaller sizes locally, even with the very best of sales going on. I’ve embedded a link into the products, so simply click on the underlined words to go right to the item. All of the items below are things that reside in my own pantry, neatly repackaged into long-term storage containers. At the time of posting this article, they all had free shipping.
Please, please don’t buy rice from China. While it might be dirt cheap, their food standards are very low. You do NOT want your stockpile to be made up of food like that. If you can’t afford organic or eco-farmed (this means there was no use of chemical pesticides but it isn’t certified organic), please buy American-grown rice.
Bonus: Support American farms!
Nearly all of the recommended products are grown in the USA, with the exception of the quinoa, which is from Bolivia. I was unable to find out where the corn for the grits was grown, but Great River Mill responded to me immediately to let me know that the listed products were all products of American organic farms.
These products won’t be available to be shipped to Canada. When I lived in Ontario, my favorite resource was this:
They did not offer free shipping, but the prices were very reasonable and the quality was fantastic.
Don’t forget a grinder!
By purchasing grains that are not yet ground, you get several benefits. First, the shelf-life is often longer. Secondly, you can save a fortune from the cost of the specialty flours by grinding them yourself. I have both an electric grinder and an off-grid, manual grinder. Don’t skimp on quality – grinding grains is tough work. The WonderMill is a good choice because it comes with a lifetime warranty.
It doesn’t save you money if you must continuously replace flimsy grinders. On that same note, from someone who learned the hard way: don’t try to use your blender or food processor for this unless it is specifically rated to grind grains, like this attachment for your Kitchen-Aid Mixer.