You don’t have to be stuck in a desert to experience what it’s like to run out of food.
So, it goes without saying that having nothing to fill your belly is something you should be concerned about.
The question now is: have you already stocked up on non-perishable food and other emergency essentials?
Here’s why prepping for a food shortage matters and what you can do to avoid starving to death:
Why Should You Prepare for a Food Shortage?
A food shortage is a very real threat right now.
It’s not just natural disasters like wildfires, drought, and floods that can affect a country’s supply of meat, poultry, and produce. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that one problem with a small cog can affect the larger wheel. In this case, it can jeopardize the entire supply chain.
Not having the funds to continue operating will cause food manufacturing companies to shut down and lose workers. Without workers, who will produce the food? And without these goods, what will the public consume?
Nothing, nada, zilch.
You know what else can happen, right?
Average law-abiding citizens turning into one big angry mob. They’ll ransack all the grocery stores just for a can of tuna and won’t think twice about breaking into other people’s homes.
Remember, people can only last 3 weeks without food. So if you don’t want to compromise your safety journeying through a crowd of desperate, reckless people, you better start preparing while you still can. This brings us to the next section:
How to Prepare for a Food Shortage
Preparing for a food shortage will spare your household from extreme hunger. But we’ll warn you ahead: it’s not gonna be easy. Don’t be intimidated, though. Just take baby steps and you’ll have more than enough to satisfy your family’s bellies.
Here are tips that can help:
Build a Prepper Pantry
A prepper pantry is where you stash your extra food supplies. Because it’s meant for emergencies, you’re not supposed to touch your stockpile unless it’s to check if anything has gone past their expiry date or looks damaged.
Keep these things in mind when you assemble your pantry:
Consider Your Household’s Preferences and Needs
Before you clear out a whole grocery aisle of food, make sure you’re choosing stuff your family will eat. Otherwise, you’re gonna waste a ton of money and pantry real estate.
If your elderly dad is living with you, what dietary restrictions should you keep in mind? What about your baby’s formula? Focus on addressing their urgent needs first, then think about the long-term after you’ve secured those emergency essentials.
Once you’re done writing those down, you can think of wants. Add everyone’s favorite snacks to the list. Don’t forget about your pets, too!
Gauge How Much Food You Need to Store
Will you be starting from zero or do you already have a fridge and cabinets stocked with food?
Knowing the answer to this will help you make a more accurate estimate of how much to prepare. As a rule of thumb, your stockpile of emergency essentials should have enough food to feed each member of your household for at least 3 months. If you can make it a year’s worth, even better.
Spoiler alert: that’s gonna be a lot of food. The average woman needs 2,000 calories a day, or 730,000 calories a year. The average man, on the other hand, needs 2,500 calories per day. That’s 912,500 calories for 365 days!
Use Your Money Wisely
Don’t worry if you can’t afford to drop thousands of bucks on a single Costco trip. The average Joe can’t.
One option to grow your stockpile is to do it gradually. During your weekly grocery runs, for example, you can grab two additional canned goods for your pantry.
Another tip is to have a fund specifically for your emergency food supply. Put some money into it each month, and don’t touch it until you reach the target amount you’ve set for the quarter or year. Use it to buy non-perishable food in bulk. This saves you more cash in the long run.
It’s also smart to know how much your food costs. Prices can drop or skyrocket depending on the season. Pay attention to prices on your grocery runs throughout the year. List them down so you’ll know the best time to buy specific food.
Designate a Place to Store Everything
Choose your storage area carefully so your cache of food won’t get damaged by the elements or discovered by pests (both the insect and human varieties).
If that sounds like a challenge, these suggestions can help you out:
- Go for a spot with a stable temperature, one that isn’t too cold or hot. Sudden spikes and drops can number the days of your non-perishable food.
- Don’t expose your stockpile to moisture if you don’t want to find fungi growing in it. Warm and damp spaces are your enemies.
- Direct light isn’t your friend, either. It won’t just fade the food labels; it also alters the taste.
In simple terms: you need to keep your emergency essentials away from the sun and places where it can get wet. Your basement and attic are good options because they don’t get a lot of sunlight. But since moisture can be a problem in these areas, take care of any leaks right away. Tell-tale signs include musty smells, rotten wood, water stains, and peeling paint.
Staying at an apartment? You’ll just need to be creative. Use whatever you have, whether it’s a closet or the space under your bed.
Essential Food to Stockpile
Every prepper pantry needs shelf-stable and non-perishable food because these have a longer lifespan. Here are some examples you should stockpile for a long-term crisis:
But remember: don’t pile up on a certain type of food just because it’s cheap and lasts forever. If your family doesn’t eat canned tuna, it’s only gonna take up the space you can use for food everyone actually enjoys.
Grow a Survival Garden
While a prepper pantry is great, all that food you’ve squirreled away can run out if a crisis lasts longer than everyone anticipated. So you can’t rely on it alone. You also need a survival garden.
As you can guess from its name, it’s meant to supply you and your family with produce that you can live off of when things go south. It ain’t the nicest-looking garden out there, but it’s like that on purpose to deter others from stealing its crops.
Here are tips to help you start planting your survival garden:
Work Your Way Up
Have a whole acre you can use for your garden? That’s cool, but don’t get carried away and cover every inch of it with seeds. You might set yourself for disappointment if none of them mature.
Since you’re still starting out, it’s best to begin small. Try container gardening or planting in a pot. Stick to one kind of crop first. This way, your focus can stay in one place and your chances of success will be higher.
Once you get the hang of things, that’s when you can plant more variety and expand your garden’s area.
Related: [Updated] What’s A Survival Garden?
Choose Your Crops
Your survival garden should give your family enough food…with a little extra you can preserve or barter. Ideally, the crops you pick should be easy to grow, packed with nutrients, have a high yield, and can withstand harsh weather conditions.
These are some crops that fit the bill:
- Herbs like rosemary and sage
Of course, the same rule for your prepper pantry applies here: don’t plant what you don’t eat.
Related: More Plants For Your Survival Garden
Get Your Spot Ready
Besides finding a location that enjoys the right amount of sunlight and rain, you also have to prep your spot by adding compost and mulch as well as removing the soil you don’t want.
Hide It Well
What do you think a ravenous person will do when they see a vegetable patch right in their street? Anything they can to grab as many leafy greens their hands can carry.
To avoid that, try not to make it clear that you have a survival garden. You can spread out your crops and build a fence that can cover the view of your home and backyard.
What if You Don’t Have Lots of Room?
You can still have a survival garden even when you’re in the city. It won’t be as huge as the ones rural and suburban preppers have, obviously, but it’s better than not having one at all.
Need inspiration? Here are just some of the types of urban gardens you can start in your tenth-floor apartment:
- Hydroponic garden: This technique lets you grow plants using water instead of soil. The cool thing is that it makes your fruits and veggies sprout faster. There are different kinds of hydroponic systems, including the ebb and flow, drip, and NFT (nutrient film technique) systems. Here’s an article that dives into each of these.
- Vertical garden: This method involves planting your crops on a panel that hangs…well, vertically.
- Window farm: Want to munch on fresh greens no matter what the season? It’s possible with a window farm, which Britta Riley thankfully introduced to the world. This technique uses natural light, some electricity, and no soil.
- Community garden: The more, the merrier — at least when it comes to community gardening. With several helping hands, you can create a bountiful garden in no time. But be warned: when SHTF, community gardens will likely be targeted by the horde.
Learn Food Preservation
Don’t rely on your fridge alone to keep your grub fresh.
What will you do when there’s a power outage — wolf down as many of your supplies as you can before they go bad? No hecking way.
You need to learn how to preserve your food the old-school way. Check out some of the techniques you can use:
- Dehydration: To stop microorganisms from growing on food and making it spoil, you need to take the moisture out. You can do this by sun drying, oven drying, or using a dehydrator. Just make sure you store the food in airtight containers after.
- Canning: This method involves sealing food in jars and then dunking them in boiling hot water. Before electricity was invented, our ancestors did this to their meats and produce to have nourishment throughout the winter.
- Curing: If your household is filled with meat-lovers, curing will be your best friend. You can cure meat by salting it or soaking it in a saltwater solution. This food preservation approach is also effective on fish.
- Fermentation: With this technique, you can make the produce you harvest last a long time. It’s how kimchi, pickles, and sauerkraut are made and also why they taste so good.
Other Things You Might Want to Consider
If you want to cover all your bases, you can also:
These will be a little hard to do in the concrete jungle, but if you’re based in the backcountry, these skills may just save your life.
Whether short- or long-term, a food shortage has devastating consequences. We know it’s terrifying to think about. Still, panicking won’t get you anywhere.
Preparing for a food shortage involves a lot of things, so it’s smart to start now. Stock up on non-perishable food, put your green thumb to work, and learn how to preserve food the way folks did years before electricity was invented.
If you want other helpful tips on prepping and survivalism, take a look at our other articles!