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A Basic Prepper Food Arsenal


If you’re a big believer in having extra food on hand, “just in case”, we’re with you.  Different people have different ideas about how long to stock up for, what to stock, and where to store it.  Some are fine with a three-day supply of food and water, others save for a year or even longer.  Either way, it’s important to be prepared for at least “minor” emergencies, such as storms that may keep you housebound or without power for a few days.  Then the question becomes: what do you store?  After a few years now of experimenting with different plans for our food arsensal, we have kind of a “go-to” basics list of things we always like to have on hand. 

What’s on our list?

Main Dishes

We always try and have a few items stored that would qualify as main dish items.  We store things like:



-ramen noodles

-dried and canned beans that are protein-rich like black beans and pinto beans

-soups, stews and canned meals that have a long shelf life with expiration dates two-to-five years out (we try to look for “already cooked” items)

Side Dishes

Then we have our side dish items; things like:

-canned veggies that have a far away expiration date

-canned fruit that has a far away expiration date

Snacks/Comfort Food

Snacks and comfort food can be vitally important during a crisis or emergency, not only for the quick access to ready-to-eat food, but as a stress-reliever.  Although I don’t advocate using food for comfort on any kind of a regular basis, there are certain times when the crunching motion from a bag of chips or the smooth creaminess of a chocolate bar really will help cause your nerves to cool.  Here’s what we keep in our snack arsenal:

-nuts/trail mix

-chips and/or crackers

-dried fruits

-store bought cookies, etc.

-breakfast or protein bars

-high protein energy drinks such as Boost


Spices may not seem like an important part of a basic prepper food arsenal, but a bit of spice can go a long way in jazzing up your ramen noodles after you’ve eaten them for 14 days straight.  Here are the spices we’re always sure to have on hand:

-salt (GOTTA have salt 🙂 )


-garlic powder

-chili powder



This short list of spices can jazz up most anything.

Other tools you’ll need to have on hand for the most basic of prepper food arsenals:

-water, for cooking and drinking.  The general rule is one gallon per person per day.

-dried or powdered milk, hot cocoa, tea, coffee, etc.

-some type of a heat/cooking source, whether it be a camp stove with extra propane bottles, portable fire pit (if you have access to wood) or whatever

-some type of fire starter; wood matches are best, and dryer lint or some other type of kindling that is easy to transport if needed

This is obviously a very basic list, but it’ll give you some options, at least, to have some usable types of food on hand for a few days on up if trouble should arise.

Am I missing anything?  What’s in your basic prepper food arsenal?



  1. Kathy says:

    As I commented elsewhere, preppers get a bad rap as being either white separatists, conspiracy theorists, nuts, or all three. But if the day ever comes where we are immersed in a true national doomsday scenario, {I’m not talking about a 2 day snow storm} believe me everyone who didn’t prepare will be looking at those who did with a demand for redistributing the wealth. I read during the super storm Sandy that his the east coast last year that there were people who complained that some people had generators when the complainers didn’t. Why should they have generators unless everyone did? Well, because they purchased them in preparation. So sad that this culture of envy reaches that level.

    • Laurie says:

      Kathy, ironically, I watched an old episode of The Twilight Zone last night where this exact same thing happened!! A group of neighbors/best friends were all happy and well until the bomb warnings went off. They each went to their respective homes, then eventually came back threatening their best friend who’d built up and holed in with his family in their bomb shelter, eventually breaking down the door to force their way in. They said “It wasn’t fair” that he had a shelter and they didn’t, even though he’d “been begging them for years to give up a few card game nights and movies out to take the time to build themselves a shelter”.

  2. Laurie, this is a great list. For me, if I have rice, a few cans of veggies or beans, and spices, I could live for weeks. With salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder and cinnamon I feel as though you can change the world. 🙂 Have a fantastic weekend!

    • Laurie says:

      It really doesn’t take much if you’re not picky about it. The way I look at it, plain food is better than no food at all. 🙂

  3. In addition to what you have listed, we have oats, sugar, wheat, oil, instant potatoes, and lots of home-canned fruits and veggies.

    We also have lots of water. We live in the boonies and have a well. When the power goes out (and it does, especially during storms) we don’t have water (because the pump is electric). We have lots of water stored (both in juice/soda bottles and 55 gallon drums) and in some cases have had to use it for several days at a time.

    • Laurie says:

      Smart additions to the list – thanks, Stephanie!! Yeah, the electric pump thing freaks me out. We are toying with getting a manual pump added on to the electric pump someday….

  4. I’m with you in wondering what’s the right amount of things to keep on hand. Luckily, just for money-saving purposes, I have a lot of food stuffs that take a very long time to go bad — things like lentils, beans, and tofu all last a whole lot longer than the meats people have to have.

    • Laurie says:

      That’s the ticket, Mario. And I’m sure that, in a desperate situation, beans and tofu would sound wonderful, and meat and other luxuries wouldn’t be so much of a necessity anymore. 🙂

  5. I’m afraid our prepper arsenal really is just whatever is in our pantry. 🙁

    But we’re looking to get a good water pump for hiking, that will double as our purification system in the event of some sort of disaster. Some dried beans, rice, and pasta are probably good to have around, too. Thanks for the ideas!

    • Laurie says:

      Smart idea, DB40. Even a nice big bag of beans/and or rice would be good for you guys – just a little something you can live on in a short-term emergency.

  6. no onion powder or paprika??? how can that be? 😉

    Fun thing about emergency food storage… Costco actually sells 1 year meal kits for single people and other related food rations. Part of me would love to do an experiment where I bought it and lived on it.

    While I’ve never had to experience food shortages living in NYC, I experienced first hand gas shortages after Hurricane Sandy and so I will say that when a storm is brewing, fill your car as much as possible before so and if you can safely store a little extra, I recommend. Nothing like seeing lines of cars waiting for gas, only to be turned away when the station runs out for over a week! It shows how truly dependent we are on something so highly processed and difficult to obtain.

    • Laurie says:

      Tara, you got the blessing of experiencing first-hand the ramifications of that type of disaster – and you’re right about the gas tank – our rule is to generally try and keep the tank at least half full all the time. I love your idea about the Costco 1-year meal kit – that would make an interesting blog series! 🙂

  7. We had an emergency at my work yesterday because a client, who had come in for an appointment, had run out of her insulin and had not had her morning dose. I work in health care and we always have insulin so we were able to deal with her problem but why would you let yourself get so low on a medication that you need to live.

    The woman is on a government drug plan and pays nothing for her medications. She should always have at least a one month supply in her fridge just in case.

    • Laurie says:

      Perfect example of the importance of preparation, Jane. My parents always keep at least a month supply on hand for themselves, for which I am grateful to see.

  8. I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t have much of a feasible stockpile as far as ‘prepping’ goes. I even read a whole book about it but haven’t taken action! I think the biggest thing is water. I have some food in my basement, but I’d be in trouble if there was a prolonged period where the water was shut off. I really need to buy a few cases of bottled water “just in case.” They’re so cheap that there’s no reason I shouldn’t have done it by now.

  9. This article, Laurie, was one that I really loved to read. As a fan of Doomsday Preppers (but not yet really a prepper myself since I don’t really believe that the end is coming), I am always looking for frugal ways to be prepared for any kind of emergency.

    For example, this winter, my wife’s mother who lives alone got really sick, high fever and stuff and spent an entire week in bed. She was too weak to go outside to buy anything, it was freezing and snowing heavily – which for her already weak body was too much – and she really panicked when, after a few days, was left without any food. Really, this happened to her and had to call a relative to come bring her food. This proves that you can never be too prepared…

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