Life Updates and Why Homesteaders Have Food Stockpiles

DSCN3808Can you believe it?  Less than a week til the end of October.  The weather this week has been pretty mild: up into the mid to high 60’s in the day time, which means we’ve been able to keep heating bills pretty low.  Thank you,  Jesus, for small favors. 🙂  My October challenge has met with mixed results: food wise I’m still doing really well: Had sugar once (fell prey to a DQ chocolate covered cone this week. 🙂 ) and flour three times this month.  Total weight lost?  I’ll tell you in a week. 🙂  Money wise we’re not doing so well.  More on that later, but I keep thinking about how people talk about how goals are better obtained when you do one goal at a time.


The subject of food stockpiles is on my heart this week.  So many people think that the idea of or need for food stockpiles is ridiculous.  I mean, after all, we’ve got a plethora of grocery stores and restaurants everywhere in this country, right?  It’s obvious that there’s no shortage of food in this country, based on the poor health and obesity rate of the majority of American citizens, so why would food stockpiles be necessary for the people?

Back in the pioneer days, everyone had food stockpiles.  Stores carried only the basics, such as flour, sugar and spices.  Everyone either raised and processed their own meat and veggies or bartered with neighbors who did so.  There was also a different mentality back then about preparedness.  Without all of today’s modern conveniences, people needed to be prepared, because the store wasn’t 10 minutes away and piled high with food and necessities of every kind.

However, did you know that your local big box grocery store only has a 3-day supply of food on hand?  How fast would that supply be gone if, for instance, the trucking industry went on strike?  Or if a major storm was coming, or had hit, your town?  Or if a pandemic hit and everyone was preparing to be quarantined to their homes.  What if the stores had to close down because power was out and they had no way to ring up your purchases?

If you happened to be at the beginning of your menu planning period, this likely wouldn’t affect you too much, but what if you were at the end and your once-a-month big shopping day was just around the corner?  Would you have enough food, water and milk to feed yourself and your babies?  Would you have enough of any medicines you need to get through your day if you have a medical condition?  Would you have enough toilet paper?  No?  So what then, would you do?

Not trying to be an alarmist, folks, but the pioneers knew something that we in our modern day easy-peasy life have forgotten: that circumstances can change at any time and because of that we need to be prepared.  Our friends who lived through Hurricane Sandy learned that first-hand.  We got a teeny taste of that when we lost power for six hours, had no access to heat and water, and had very little food on hand.  Although we were in no real danger, thanks to having friends and family close by and a car with gas in the tank, that six-hour experience really got us thinking about what we would need to have if we were to experience a real disaster.  And it made us realize that we didn’t have nearly as much supplies as we would need to have to feed our family of six and our animals.  Knowing that food, water and basic necessities were in short supply in our house in the case of a long-term disaster was a scary feeling, as we wondered how we would keep everyone watered, fed and warm should our small disaster turn into a BIG disaster.

And it got us thinking more clearly about why pioneers and the survivalist/preppers of today work so diligently to have long-term stockpiles, most at a minimum of six months worth of the food and supplies they need to live.

If the CDC came to your doorstep today and said you were legally quarantined to your house for the next three weeks because Uncle Fred who was over at Thanksgiving came down with Ebola from his plane trip the week before, would you be prepared?  I’m not saying that someone couldn’t bring you food, but we need to think in “what if” terms when it comes to prepping and homesteading.  What if someone couldn’t bring you food?  Would you have enough supplies to be well-prepared for the next three weeks?  Or would you be stuck eating only noodles, using reusable toilet squares, and rationing out your meds until the quarantine was over?

Although this type of scenario may be unlikely, I myself would want to be prepared, just in case.  Wouldn’t you?

Stockpiling of food and necessities doesn’t need to be an unobtainable task.  Dump your stuff, adopt a minimalist lifestyle and make room in your home to have a nice stockpile of supplies in your home.  Pick up a few things on each grocery store trip so the stockpiling task doesn’t overwhelm your budget.  Just start.  Do something to get yourself prepared for “just in case”.

Do you think it’s necessary in today’s world to have a stockpile?  Have you ever been in a situation where you wondered if you would have “enough”?

52 comments

  1. Lance @ HWI says:

    We have 6 months. We don’t just store it, we rotate it out with the food we eat so that it’s not just MRE and stuff that we’d only eat in emergencies. It works for a job loss or any emergency situation. Just two weeks ago we had the water shut down for 24 hours and there was a rush on the local stores. To us it was no big deal. We had water on hand. We keep cash in small bills on hand too. It takes some time and effort but no one ever gets mad at being over prepared…just when they didn’t do enough ahead of time.

  2. Myles Money says:

    A minimalist lifestyle has a lot to recommend it. We have been gradually getting rid of unnecessary things in our house for the past 10 years (okay, I said gradually…) and it’s a lot easier to move as a result: it has made us a lot more flexible about where we live. Recently we had a flood in the basement and a lot of our books (which were still in cardboard boxes from the last move) got wet, but we’re treating it as an excuse to sort through them and offload the ones we no longer want to keep.

    Having said that, the freezer and the cupboards are always well stocked with non-perishable food, and I am pretty sure we could survive 2-3 weeks without venturing out of the house if we really had to.

  3. Iforonwy says:

    I have a thing about inventories. It all stems from when we were first married and living in military quarters and there was a great to-do on “marching out” day when I it was discovered that I had lost the mustard spoon. Don’t ask! You would have thought it was an antique Georgian one not the plastic one that came free with Colman’s mustard!

    Well I still like to have my lists. Last week I sorted through the box that holds the first aid items and toiletries and completed my up-to-date list.

    Yesterday I did the same with the freezers. By US standards they are small but I wanted to know what was there and how long it would last as I want to de-frost the smaller one this week making room for garden produce.

    This afternoon I picked about a half of the grapes from our one vine and as we speak just over 3 pounds weight is slowly simmering on the stove. We will be making grape jelly flavoured with cloves and a dash of brandy tomorrow. I have just wrapped about 7 pounds of apples to store in the garage.

    Again I think we could manage for 2-3 weeks too.

    • Laurie says:

      Great story!!!! Man, I would love for us to come visit your place some time and see how you do things. Feel free to submit a guest post anytime, my well-prepared friend. 🙂

      • Iforonwy says:

        Well we now have 11 jars of grape jelly! Quite a marathon task as setting point seemed to take for ever!

        I “discovered” a couple of pounds of last year’s plums – I had traded them with a neighbour – and so I made two large plum crumbles one for this week’s puddings and the other is in the freezer. I also decided to make redcurant jelly from this year’s very small crop and that is dripping – s l o w l y …. through the jelly bag as we speak.

        Thank you for the suggestion that I write a guest post – maybe I will one day.

  4. Fortunately, we have never been in a situation where we haven’t had enough. I’m hoping that day will never come, however, we do have some emergency food on hand. I would like to expand our inventory and have small bills tucked away as well. It is definitely worthwhile!

  5. I’m so looking forward to stockpiling as soon as we get where we’re going (still not sure where that is yet, but we had our first house showing today, YAY!). I’ll be clicking on those links up there to take advantage of your expertise. It would be nice to know our family would be okay “just in case”. Thanks Laurie! 🙂

  6. We will definitely have more of a stockpile when we live out on a homestead simply because we won’t have easy access to a grocery store. We have far less food on hand right now, but, we do have something of an accidental stockpile since we buy so much of our food in bulk from Costco.

    • Laurie says:

      A smaller stockpile is better than nothing, that’s for sure. I think I’m more excited for you guys to buy your homestead than you are. 🙂

  7. Well I didn’t expect a post about food stockpiling to get me thinking, but you certainly have Laurie! More than anything, it made me think about people who live paycheck to paycheck, and don’t ‘stockpile’ any earnings. They don’t consider any possible downside scenario (of which there are many in this case!), and assume it will all be OK.

    I do try to think this way when it comes to investing though – preparing for how you’ll deal with worst case scenarios, and investing accordingly. If you don’t, you might experience some pretty serious emotional distress when things don’t go the way you expect. Being prepared for as many circumstances in life as you can is really the key to me. So looks like its time for me to start preparing my food stockpiles!!

  8. Kathy says:

    The preppers in this country seem to get a really bad rap from people who consider themselves to be so superior to everyone else. (Can you say coastal elitists?) But guess who will be the ones people come to in times of a true national emergency. I’m quite confident they will be expected to share their stockpile with everyone else just to “make things fair” or to “level the playing field” or “redistribute the wealth”. Ok, I’ll end my rant now.

    I don’t have as much of a stockpile as I did when we were living in the country with a giant garden and fruit tree orchard. But I do have reserves of soup, canned vegetables, a freezer that is full, and even shelf stable milk. (Freezing milk doesn’t work for me). We should be ok for several weeks.

    The one thing that is really tough to stockpile is prescription medicine. Our insurance only allows us to get refills within about a week of our current supply running out. We do have our doctor write the prescription so we can get a 90 day supply but beyond that, we’re out of luck.

    • Laurie says:

      Hmmm, I think about the meds a lot due to family members that are on them. Is it possible to “lose” a month’s worth, or something along those lines?

      • CT Mommy says:

        Our ins company only covers 30-90 days supply of mess as well and if you lose them or run out early you have to pay out of pocket, the only exception if if the doctor changes the dose you need you can get an extra month that way.

  9. Amy says:

    Thankfully, we’ve never experienced any times when we thought we’d run out of necessities. My husband’s family went a week without power and barely any access to gas, after Sandy hit NJ. This post reminded me to (1) get more bottled water for our (small) stockpile, and (2) to not let the car’s gas tank get too low.

  10. I really like these articles, Laurie as I am slowly understanding that being prepared has no drawbacks, only positives if things are going to get bad. We’ve recently moved to a new apartment from our house where I lived with my mother and we’re just a 15 minutes walk away. I am seriously considering starting a stockpile there: I want to start with foods that “never” spoil (such as beans and rice) and then slowly work up with cans of foods and other items that we normally use. Then, we’ll simply have an inventory and make sure that we eat what’s about to expire and replace that. Just like having our own little supermarket at my mom’s place. I also want to do it there and not in the apartment because we have a wood stove there and enough wood stored to hold for an entire winter – again an advantage! I have no reasons to believe that anything goes wrong, but it’s never a bad idea to be prepared, at least a little bit.

  11. Less than week, October is over! When Christmas is coming, I do stockpiling because products are cheaper. So you know this saves from spending so much. I have started to buy some bottles of tomato sauce, gift cards, and other Christmas essentials.

  12. “How fast would that supply be gone if, for instance, the trucking industry went on strike?” Excellent point Laurie! I think the same on the storm issue as well. This is part of what makes me shake my head when we get told the snow storm to end all snow storms is on its way and people rush the grocery stores. We don’t have six months worth, but we’d be ok for several I believe. Better than nothing I guess. 🙂

  13. I don’t think stockpiling food is silly at all. I think it’s common sense! It’s not that hard to imagine some sort of disaster that could shut down our interstates for a few weeks (and food transport in the process). I’m sure the big grocery stores would be empty in a few days. Having food stored is smart.

  14. When Sandy hit he biggest issue was power in the Northeast. Gas stations had gas but had no power to pump it. Grocery stores lost all of their perishables because they had no power. Having a well stock pantry was key for making it through. Oh and some board games! 🙂

  15. I definitely want to start stockpiling. As you say with grocery stores just around the corner it’s easy to forget that this is important to think about. I had a power cut at my home for 12 hours the other week. I had to go out to eat because I didn’t have enough food in the house that didn’t need cooking! If I’d have stockpiled some canned goods, cereals and UHT milk, I might not have needed to.

    • Laurie says:

      Oh my gosh, Hayley – scary! It’s funny how those little “warnings” make you realize just how unprepared you are, isn’t it? We had a similar experience last winter.

  16. jefferson says:

    i have to wonder if we will have a situation at some point in the next decade or two where there is true food scarcity in this country.. it could be a cray hike in food costs.. it could be a major drought..

    stockpiling food to make sure you can feed your family is not silly at all..

  17. Modern Americans would all be in for a world of hurt if there was no power for more than a couple of days and they had to live on their own.

    Gardening and canning is a lost art, if it isn’t in a can or frozen package, most people would starve. Of course, that is if the pizza delivery guy didn’t come around.

    Does anyone even know they can make pizza at home, from scratch?

  18. Kim says:

    It makes perfect sense to stock up on canned foods and non-perishable items when they are on sale. We had our water turned off for a day recently, and it really was a reminder how much we depend on everything working. We had a couple of gallons of drinking water in the closet that were very handy. This reminds me to restock those.

  19. It’s hard for us to have a large stockpile at home as we are limited on space, but we definitely try to be prepared and to have the essentials and some extras just in case. It pays to be prepared. I’ve noticed that before a potential natural disaster hits, the stores are already cleared because of the panic. Plus, the stores jack up the prices due to the demand. So it’s best to plan ahead.

    • Laurie says:

      Andrew, within this post I’ve got a link to an article I wrote over at Three Thrifty Guys on how to stockpile in small spaces. Great ideas in there that should help you.

  20. Hmm thought I had commented on this post before but perhaps it didn’t go through? I DO think having some sort of stockpile is necessary. I think water is the most important thing, which can be accomplished by loading up on bottled water. I’m kind of a hypocrite, though, because I don’t have a water stockpile myself :/

    • Laurie says:

      UGH, many regular commenters are going into spam for some reason! Water is huge – we learned that with our power outage last winter. Suddenly we realized that we barely had enough of a water stockpile to care for ourselves, not to mention our animals.

  21. CT Mommy says:

    I totally agree that you have to be prepared and we usually have month or 2 supply of food and water on hand. Our biggest obstacle is that we don’t have a fireplace or Wood stove so heat and a way to cook our food would be a problem after a few days. We do have an extra propane tank for our grill and could cook on that for a couple weeks if necessary. I would think that a lot of other people living in urban/suburban areas would have the same issue as well as a space issue to store their stock piles. We did lose power for 6 days during Sandy and for 5 days during the Halloween snowstorm but we were close enough to areas with power for it to be more of a minor nuisance (boy did it get cold and we slept in our winter coats and sent our preschool aged son to my parents house where they had power) but it makes me concerned for the majority of the people in this country should a long term or wide spread disaster occur.

    • Laurie says:

      Smart move, CT Mommy. You guys have been through and understand the dangers of not being prepared. One of those small Coleman camping stoves would help too for cooking. See added link within post and the link to the Three Thrifty Guys article I wrote on stockpiling in small spaces.

  22. I must admit, I never think in this way. And as I read your post, I realized I actually have what can only be called an unfounded prejudice against this way of thinking. Somehow, I associate stockpiling with fear-mongering and extremism. Why? I don’t really know! Storms and strikes and political unrest all really do happen, so why is it “extreme” to be prepared just in case? I’m all for emergency savings funds – so why not a stockpile? Hmmmm… I’ll have to think about where my bias has come from. Thanks for the food for thought.

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