Over the last week, more people have started to realize that they should heed warnings and make sure that they have some emergency supplies and food on hand. With all the pictures of big stores and small grocery stores being out of stock on some items, those that have still not stocked up are a bit intimidated or at least at a loss as to what to do.
While it is easy for a lot of people to say that so and so should have been prepared before and say I told you so, that is not helpful behavior. Most people that prep started somewhere and that somewhere is often caused by a disruptive event.
Some of us grew up in households where preparedness and looking ahead were part of everyone’s lifestyle.
That is a rarer thing for people today, especially the younger generation.
Many were simply not taught to be prepared people. I wouldn’t be sitting here typing this today if the older people in my family, especially my father had not taught me the importance of preparedness and how to go about it.
If you were prepared well before COVID-19 made the news then that is great. People that are ahead of the game help take the pressure off of the supply chain while others are scrambling to prepare.
The COVID-19 outbreak has made a lot of people into preppers. Even when this is over, the people that started realizing the importance of preparedness will keep those lessons within them and be changed people that are better able to provide for themselves and their families during any disruptive event.
So with that said, I am going to dive into this post on creating a last-minute food stash from items I have found that are still available, shelf-stable, and versatile for creating a variety of meals regardless of how experienced of a cook you are. These items can all be delivered to your door at the moment but since the situation is constantly evolving, the availability of items I list in this post may change at any moment.
I wrote this article fairly fast. I apologize in advance if you feel anything was left out or for any errors. I wanted to get you this information before it becomes even harder to prepare.
Meals need to be balanced at least most of the time for overall health and well being.
Think about how to combine meat, vegetables, and starches. In order to conserve meat products, you can utilize the high protein content found in beans or add a little of both to get the protein levels up in a meal. I already know that some of the foods listed here are salty, heavily processed, etc but this is an emergency situation.
Yes, you may not feel the best if you have to suddenly change your diet but staying fed and with a good balance of meat, veggies, and starches or grains is better than finding yourself at home with not much to pick and choose from or getting nervous because you are starting to deplete your supply. Make an effort not to wast as much. Sometimes cooking things in several different pots can allow you to make more creative use of leftovers.
These cans of beef are great. At the moment I could only find shredded beef in stock but Keystone also produces canned ground beef. You can get smaller cans but they are not nearly as cost-effective.
Turkey is fairly low calorie but it is a source of protein worth mentioning.
Keystone is a brand that is consistently good. Look for smaller cans of generic chicken or when in doubt, search for Swanson’s.
Bisquick Baking Mix or Similar Brand
A lot of name brand Bisquick is sold out but there are many other brands out there to choose from.
The really small packets are not usually the best deal but at this point, you may have to take what you can get. Try to find larger bags and boxes if you can.
These are excellent as a hot cereal and they add extra nutrition and flavor to bread.
A good all-purpose flour and some self-rising flour are good to have on hand. For gluten-free flour, I recommend Bob’s Red Mill 1-1 Gluten Free.
When I had to stop eating wheat products we started making our own tortillas. It is actually really easy to make tortillas and it can save money. Here is a link to another brand. So many things are selling out quickly.
Grits are a staple in the South but they are often overlooked in other areas. They are very high calorie and can be used as a base for many meals or allowed to get cold and made into patties and fried. The link above is to the quick version for those that don’t want to stir grits for 20 minutes.
A 24 pack of tomato paste will last a long time. This is very concentrated stuff that you can use as a base for soups, pasta sauces, and more. The Muir Glen Organic Tomato Paste show above is an excellent value and inexpensive despite being organic. Tomato paste takes up a lot less space in your pantry than conventional canned pasta sauces.
Uncle Ben’s Rice
These rice pouches are really convenient and come in many flavors. One of the more popular varieties is the 4 Cheese. You can combine an Uncle Ben’s pouch with some meat or veggies and enjoy a complete meal.
These are small meals that you can just throw in the microwave. There are many flavors available. They are not low sodium.
Tasty Bite offers entrees in a pouch featuring classic Indian cuisine. They are also vegetarian although, in an emergency, I think a lot of people might change their minds about not eating meat.
Prego and Pace both make Ready Meals. Flavors and availability vary due to massive demand but some are still available. The Pace Cheesy Chicken Quesadilla flavor can be consumed by those that don’t eat wheat.
I used to love this stuff when I was a kid. Not sure if it is the same as it used to be. Selection is becoming limited. I was able to find beefaroni and cheese stuffed ravioli still for sale via Wal-Mart’s online store.
Suddenly Salad Pasta Salad Mix
Pasta salad kits are easy and versatile. Add in some canned meat or whatever else you have to mix in and you have a meal. You do need some oil or mayo for most of these kits.
Canned and Dried Fruit
Inexpensive apple sauce can be eaten alone or on pancakes, grit cakes, or even in hot cereals. Even the Great Value brand linked above doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup in it. You can also get apple sauce that is not sweetened if desired.
My Dad likes the Dolefruit in a jar that can be easily resealed and refrigerated but it is sold out a lot of places. Fruit cups are still available but they are expensive compared to cans.
Big bags of dried cranberries and raisins are still available and they are good on cereals both hot and cold. You can also use them in pancakes or breads.
Oils, Spices, and Yeast
Butter can be frozen for up to a year. Grape seed oil is excellent for frying and high heat cooking.
Spices are very important when cooking from scratch. Be sure to stock up on spices. Chili powder, taco seasoning, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and seasoning salt are a few of the basic spices that come to mind.
Soy sauce is another excellent item to have for adding flavor. It adds a lot to beef stews and soups.
I recommend buying a container of bread yeast so that you can make some yeast breads while stuck at home. Buy a jar rather than the packets. I have never found packets to be cost-effective.
Tea and Coffee
A 100 pack of green tea bags go a long way. It is an even better deal to get loose tea and a tea ball but not as convenient for some people.
A 5 lb bag of roasted coffee is a good thing to buy if you are a coffee drinker.
- Bulk rice if you can find it
- Tuna, herring, and other canned fish
- Dried soup mixes
Electrolytes and Vitamins
I wrote an article on electrolytes that I will refer you to for some suggestions. A big bottle of vitamins is also recommended to fill in any gaps in your diet.
Luxury Items and Treats
Allow yourself some treats. Chocolate, candy, soda, etc are all items that I can think of. If you drink, consider a box of wine, case of beer, or a bottle of liquor.
What about frozen foods?
If you have freezer space then, by all means, make some use of it. Frozen vegetables and meats are great to have and freezing can allow you to buy larger packages and save money. Schwan’s and Instacart will deliver frozen foods to you as well but Schwan’s is more expensive than a regular grocery store.
I would recommend making the most of your freezer space by picking foods that are low on the packaging and deliver a lot of calories or nutrition for the amount of space they take up. If you happen to experience a power outage, then the frozen foods should be consumed first.