40 Best Essential Foods to Create Your Emergency Stockpile

How do you work out the best foods to stockpile when you usually just shop from week to week? In fact let’s rewind one step further, should you have an emergency food stockpile and if so where are you supposed to keep it?

I know the feeling, you don’t have acres of land with outbuildings you can suddenly turn into a nice emergency food storage area.

Having a food stockpile IS a good idea, regardless of whether you live in the city or out in the sticks but you need to store the right foods, not any old thing.

With global warming we are experiencing more weather extremes; floods, snow storms and natural disasters that interrupt the grocery stores supply chain (hello pandemic).

So yes, you do need a stockpile.

I’m going to take you through the best foods to stockpile, where to store them, how to work out what you need and how much.

What are the best foods to stockpile?

The best foods to stockpile are those that last a good length of time and that your family can and will eat without wastage.
Your stockpile needs to be edible and tasty otherwise it’s not doing it’s job of being your go-to emergency food supply.

2 pictures side by side of open sacks of various beans and pasta shapes to signify best foods to stockpile
An emergency stockpile list is a very useful thing!

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Why Everyone should be prepping for an emergency stockpile

A co-worker friend of mine used to buy exactly what her family needed for one week, to the point where the night before shopping day they had nothing in the house.

No emergency meal, no half open packet of pasta or a can of sweetcorn. She couldn’t delay going to the grocery store for one day unless they ate out, because they had no supplies at all.

Can you imagine her stress when we had the panic buying frenzy that preceded the 2020 pandemic?

Can you imagine not having enough food put by to go just one extra day without shopping? No, neither can I. Building a small stockpile of foods, even if it’s not for an emergency is sensible for everyone.

Everyone should have an emergency food supply because you are not in control of being able to buy more food when you need it. Not always.

Pandemics happen, as we now know; snow storms and floods happen and cut you off from everything for potential a week or more. Life happens and gets in the way of best laid plans.

You never want to be in the position of thinking: I wish. I wish I had gone shopping yesterday and I wish I had thought about the best food for surviving a few days unexpectedly. I wish I had a small emergency stockpile to see me through.

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Storing your emergency food stockpile

I know some people think about what to stockpile for shtf type scenarios and the size this might mean. But really, let’s not worry about an apocalypse today, let’s just start with where you could store some extra food and how much.

You can worry about an apocalypse next week.

Your stockpile does not have to be large or kept in a special room. You can make do and store foods in a variety of places outside of your kitchen or pantry.

Being creative with your emergency food storage area

People living in tiny houses take creative storage options to a whole new level, taking a leaf out of their book is a great place to start. Creative places could include:

  • Under your bed
  • Above your wardrobe
  • At the back of your wardrobe
  • Behind the bath panel (yes people really do store things here)
  • In the cupboard under the stairs
  • On shelves in the guest cloakroom
  • In your attic and roof space

Storage Containers

Cans don’t need to be stored in anything other than themselves. Other food items will store better if you place them in air tight containers.

Items like flour and pasta, even in their sealed packaging, can be got at by ‘things’ you don’t want in there.

When you don’t have a lot of space these containers are perfect for neat and accessible extra storage protection.

Where your storage is at floor level you can make great use of these containers on wheels, they are larger and very accessible.

Helpful storage products

Pantries and kitchens need effective storage. Creating a pantry stockpile requires organization. These are essential storage solutions you can use to store your stockpile and save money doing so.

What are the best foods to store long term?

If long term to you means years, then the best foods to store long term are usually canned goods. Canned goods have been known to still be edible 10 years, 20 years or more after they were placed in storage.

Can canned food last 100 years? In theory yes, but let us be honest, you are creating a list of foods to stockpile for your family, not your great grandchildren!

Keeping your stockpile Updated

One half of the issue about which good foods to stockpile is knowing which ones you should buy and store. The second part is making sure your stockpile is still edible when you need it.

No point having an emergency stockpile of foods that are years past their sell by date. Following the 3 rules below will ensure you have a stockpile that is there when you need it.

Rule 1 – Rotate your stock

One of the great things about storing your emergency food supply inside your house is that it is easily accessible so you can a)use it and b) check on best before dates.

A stockpile that is never touched becomes an unusable stockpile within a couple of years. Unless you are a prepper of epic proportions.

Use a food stockpile checklist so you know what you have and the best before dates and you can rotate your stockpile so everything is always in date, just as it is for your pantry and food cupboards.

If your stockpile gets out of hand, have a pantry challenge to focus on using up food before it goes out of date. You don’t want to be wasting food!

Rule 2 – Use and replace

The key to having a successful stockpile is to have it separate, use individual items from it and replace them immediately.

Don’t use it all up with a future plan of replacing because you know exactly what will happen don’t you? Life, a pandemic, a snow storm. Something will happen. It’s called Murphy’s Law.

Related post: Why You Should Eat Your Pantry Stockpile

rule 3 – Opened items

Once you open something from your stockpile, move it into your regular food cupboards and store it there. The food you are currently using needs to be where you can grab and cook.

Otherwise you’ll end up with opened packets all over the house and that is an invitation for mice to move in! Add this item to your emergency stockpile checklist for replacing when you next visit the grocery store.

2 pictures side by side with open bags of pasta and an open hessian sack of rice to signify emergency food supply list
Start with the basics for your food stockpile

Getting started with your emergency stockpile prep

What should I stockpile? and how do I get started? are extremely sensible and legitimate questions to ask. You should stockpile food items that you will actually eat. No point storing cans of meat if you are a vegetarian!

Getting started can be as simple as thinking about why you want stockpile food, how long you need to prepare for and what money you have to invest in it.

If your don’t have much spare cash and need to stockpile food on a budget then please don’t fret, it takes a little planning and patience but totally doable. Here are some key things you should start your stockpile planning with.

Buy generic

To build an emergency food stockpile quickly can cost you a fair bit. Think about it, if you usually spend $500 on groceries each month and you’ve decided you want a 3 month stockpile, you’re not going to achieve it with $100.

Generic brands or store’s own brands, cost significantly less than the premium brands. To be honest this is actually one of the best ways to save money on groceries that I would encourage you to do always, not just for your stockpile.

Generic brands can be half the price of their more expensive cousin, if not even less. Definitely a money saver week in week out.

What is the cheapest food to stockpile? The cheapest food is going to be stores own brand and generic brand long life foods. Use them as the base for stockpiling food on the cheap

Related post: How To Prepare For Food Shortage and Build Your Stockpile

Bulk buy

Bulk buying can reduce your costs and help you build up a nice food stockpile quickly. Your bulk buying doesn’t have to be focused on huge bags of rice and catering size cans.

You can bulk buy when products are on a special low price. Buy more than you would usually and there’s your stockpile building nicely.

wooden hut with storage bins and shelves to signify best foods to stockpile
You don’t need a special storage solution for your stockpile

Buy Long life

Prepper websites are all about focusing on the best food for survival. That might seem a little extreme when you are sat at home in your quiet neighborhood but there is a method in their extremeness.

Long life food, as in really long life not just a few months, means you can stockpile food and store it for longer, rotate it less often and replace it less often. Very helpful when you don’t have a lot of spare cash.

Cans are the epitome of long life, they really can last for years. Just make sure the label stays attached!

What is the best canned food to stockpile? Canned food that you can eat cold for when you have no power source is great. Also, some of the best canned food to stockpile are those that your family really like.

Because when you need to rotate your stock and use those cans, your family will enjoy these meals.


Water is something a prepper focuses very heavily on. Whereas us suburban folk who think of emergency stockpiles as being a 2 week supply of canned tomatoes tend to ignore it.

In theory, if your emergency stockpile is to cover apocalyptic emergencies and the like then water is essential. For me, it’s not high on my list and it may not be on yours.

2 pictures of hessian sacks open with seeds spilling out
An emergency food stockpile list should always contain dry goods

How much should you stockpile?

Preppers might say you need a years supply of food as a basic stockpile. As a non-prepper I would suggest something smaller.

It does depend entirely on your individual circumstances. Are you in town or very rural? Does your area suffer from weather extremes and hurricanes?

A two week supply of foods is a good place to start. Once you have achieved that, then you could increase it to a month or more.

I have always lived within 2 miles of a large grocery store and only 5 minutes walk from my local shop so in theory I shouldn’t need much of a stockpile. But even with this doorstep convenience I chose to have a one month food supply most of the time.

When the panic buying of the 2020 pandemic hit I was so thankful I had my one month emergency supply. I couldn’t get canned tomatoes, rice or toilet paper for love nor money for nearly 3 weeks!

Building a stockpile does not need to be an exact science, start small, build up to a 2 week or one month supply and then see how that works. If you need more, store more.

Related posts:

How To Build A Stockpile Quickly

☑ Need help in cutting your grocery budget? Want to cut your food bill in half? Find out how to do exactly that when you learn how to cut your grocery budget here

Your family’s Emergency food supply list

Working out the right emergency food supply list for your family will save you a lot of money. The right food list for you is about your usual diet, what you can buy easily and cheaply and what your family are prepared to eat.

That last one, what your family are prepared to eat is pretty important. Following the 3 rules to keep your stockpile up to date means you will be eating some of the items in a few months time.

So they better be things your family will eat!

Working out how much to stockpile

Break down the planning process into small easy steps. Firstly work out a 2 week food supply list, this is basically meal planning for a fortnight with the shopping list thrown in.

Alternatively, if you have a very varied meal plan then you can work out a month’s worth of meals. Then calculate a one month food supply list from this meal plan, including the shopping list needed to buy all these food items.

If you want to build a 3 month stockpile then multiply either of the two methods above to get your total emergency food supply list.

Remember to include sweet and savory snacks (and/or the ingredients to make them) for the whole family.

what’s the Best foods to stockpile for your family?

The best foods to stockpile for your family are those that you know they will eat time and again. There is a temptation to stockpile mainly grains and carbohydrates like rice, pasta and flour.

These items are great base items but on their own they’re not much fun to eat every night. You need variety in your stockpile because we all get bored if we eat the same things over and over.

In the list below there is a lot of flexibility and variety of different foods so you are not going to be confined to just rice and dried beans.

All these ingredients are about cooking from scratch, making your meals from the basic ingredients, much healthier and cheaper than food in a box.

Budgeting for your emergency food list

When money is tight but you still need to build a stockpile it helps to have good information at your finger tips. Like how much should you spend on groceries each month.

Once you know that, start with creating a budget grocery list for your weekly food shop to keep the cost down. Doing so helps to leave a little wriggle room for buying emergency foods for your stockpile.

What is the cheapest food to stockpile? 

Basic foods like flour, oats, peanut butter, pasta and noodles are among the cheapest foods to stockpile. Buying in bulk helps you pay less as does buying generic and store brand products. For instance store brand flour can be half the price of the branded equivalent.

For frugal recipes and easy cheap meals check out these posts:

100+ cheap, fast easy recipes with few Ingredients (5 Or Less!)

80+ Frugal Meals For When You Feel So Broke

15 Cheap And Comforting Chicken Dinners On a Budget

21 budget meatless meals to save money

15 Cheap Ground Beef Recipes We All Love To Make

55 Cheap And Easy Meals You Are Going To Love

2 pictures side by side with a hessian open bag of seeds with a full metal scoop and a spilled open bag of red lentils
Dry goods are perfect to stockpile

40 Best foods for an emergency stockpile List

Best non perishable food for emergency times

In some extreme emergencies you might lose power for a while so having some foods you can eat cold without cooking or heating up is very helpful.

They won’t be your usual meals and won’t be the same as eating them hot, but when you have to make do for a day or two, these will keep you going.

  • long life milk (for calcium and protein as well as liquid)
  • canned ready meals such as chili, all day breakfasts, chicken supreme (not going to lie, I wouldn’t chose to eat these cold but if I had to, I would)
  • nuts such as peanuts, brazil nuts, hazlenuts and pecans (high energy, packed with protein and calories)
  • peanut butter (who doesn’t love to eat peanut butter straight out of the jar?!)
  • corned beef ( better in a sandwich but nice enough on it’s own if needs must)

Dry goods with a long shelf life

  • oats
  • cereal
  • rice
  • pasta (any shape or color)
  • flour
  • sugar
  • dried beans e.g. kidney, cannellini, haricot, black-eyed and lima (butter beans in the UK)
  • chickpeas
  • lentils

Best canned foods for easy stockpiling

  • tomatoes
  • fish e.g. tuna, salmon and sardines
  • hotdogs
  • corned beef
  • beans inc: kidney, black eye, haricot and baked beans for UK folk
  • chickpeas
  • lentils
  • potatoes
  • veggies, carrots, peas, beans
  • soups (or cartons)
  • fruit (peaches and mandarin oranges are often very cheap)
2 pictures of multiple silver food cans stacked up
Canned goods are some of the best foods to stockpile

Other top foods to stockpile

  • wholewheat crackers
  • trail mixes
  • granola and cereal bars
  • dry cured or vacuum packed salami and sausages
  • pasta sauce
  • fruit juice cartons
  • tea
  • coffee
  • dried fruit e.g. raisins, apricots and prunes
  • yeast
  • baking powder
  • honey
  • curry paste
  • tomato puree
  • stock cubes
  • spices and herbs e.g. chili powder, mixed herbs
  • salt & pepper

Useful and healthy short term food stockpile items

Many people think of a stockpile as being filled with just dried and canned goods. But there can be a place for fresh produce if you have the right type of storage and your stockpiling needs are focused on weather extremes and being temporarily cut off.

The following produce can last over winter and for some months if kept in a cool, dark area. Try to keep them from touching each other as this can hasten the ripening and going moldy process.

  • pumpkins
  • squashes
  • potatoes
  • sweet potatoes
  • onions
  • garlic
  • apples
  • oranges
2 pictures side by side, 1 of a pile of toilet rolls and the other with numerous soap hand pumps to signify best foods to stockpile
Stockpiling is not all about food

15 Essential non-food items to stockpile

No emergency food supply list is complete without some non-food items. If you don’t add these non-food items to your list then you will forget them.

  • can opener
  • candles & matches
  • firelighters
  • torch and batteries
  • toilet roll
  • toothpaste
  • soap
  • washing up liquid
  • washing powder
  • pet food and litter
  • spare medicines
  • toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, deodorant

Stockpile according to your needs

Not everyone needs a large stockpile. And if you are on a very tight income you may not be able to build one quickly right now.

Do what you can do and do not stress about what you can’t do. After all, that emergency might not happen!

Looking for free help in cutting your grocery budget down? Join the 1 week grocery budget challenge and see how much you can save.

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pinterest image of a pile of different foods to show best foods to stockpile

Last Updated on 28th February 2022 by Emma

About Emma

I'm here to help you become confident in making the best money decisions for you and your family. Frugal living has changed my life, let me help you change yours.

5 thoughts on “40 Best Essential Foods to Create Your Emergency Stockpile”

  1. Don’t forget a stash of paper plates, plastic ware and cups. We had no power or water for a week this past winter .My stash of canned goods,paper plates, cups and silverware were really a God send. I have always kept 4 shallow plastic trays from Dollar Tree as a backup pantry ( fruit, veg, protein, soups/misc ). The pantry has been helpful through power outage, work lay off, illness, and simply opps ran out of and grocery closed. Texas Nana

    • Hi Texas Nana! Yikes! A week without power AND water, in the midst of winter? That’s hard. So glad you had a backup pantry with things you could eat regardless of power and water availability. Having a backup is always helpful especially if you live more rurally or get thrown a life curve ball that hits your budget hard. Take care and thanks for stopping by!

    • Hi Bev. The list is toward the end of the article. Starting with dry goods with a long life – oats, cereal, rice, pasta, flour etc. Knowing where and how to stockpile your emergency supply is essential to stop it from going to waste. I hope this helps. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I store water with 1/4 cuo of bleach in rinsed out laundry soap containers from warehouse club stores. If we lose water pressure, we can still flush toilets and wash delicates. Bottled water is too costly to waste.


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