Home » How to Build a 30 Day Emergency Food Supply Fast and Cheap

How to Build a 30 Day Emergency Food Supply Fast and Cheap

If you haven’t gotten on board with the whole prepping thing yet, now might be a good time. Less than 24 hours after it was announced that Donald Trump had been elected president, the protests are starting.

This is the kind of thing we are talking about when we talk about situations rising up quickly where you may not be able to – or be comfortable – leaving your house.

This is the type of scenario that has preppers everywhere begging with readers to at least have a small stockpile (7 days or so at the least) ready to go.

In an ideal world, a minimum of 30 days for a stockpile is best. Today I’m going to share how you can maximize your money and use as little of it as possible to build yourself a quick storehouse for an emergency type of situation.

Let’s assume that the protests are only going to get worse and you want to have a quick guide to get yourself prepared and not spend a boatload of money. This “quick guide” won’t help you with everything, but it will make sure you’ve got some basics on hand and make you better prepared than most of your neighbors.

By following the steps below you can hunker down for several days or bug out if need be.

Step 1: Hit your Local Warehouse Club

If you don’t have a membership, go with someone who does or buy a membership. If that’s not an option, you’ll have to hit the local Walmart. Walmart has the lowest prices (Aldi is super cheap too if you have one near) so go there first if you don’t have a warehouse club membership. Here’s what you need to buy. Remember to buy double what I’m suggesting if you have more than four people in your family or if your kids are growing teenage boys, because they eat A LOT. 🙂

A Few Words About the Types of Food You Choose

What you choose for food is just as important as getting enough quantity-wise. Remember these food rules when shopping.

Sugar can make moods erratic and is not a long-lasting energy source. Keep it to a minimum.

Protein is key – make sure to have enough protein sources.

Carbs are good – as long as they are mostly healthy carbs and are balanced with protein intake

Healthy fats are essential – Extra Virgin Olive Oil is best for stockpiling purposes. 


Get the BIG bag at the warehouse club if you can, or just a ginormous size of Minute Rice (or four) if that’s all that’s available. Brown, Jasmine or Long-Grain rice is better, but white rice will do in a pinch and Minute Rice cooks up very quickly.


Again, the big bag is best – no less than ten pounds. If you’re at Walmart, get four of the 5-lb bags.


I waiver on the sugar purchase, but most people eat it so go ahead and get it. It’ll spice up your oatmeal,etc. Again get the biggest bag available or get 3 or 4 of the smaller bags. Ten pounds should be plenty. We get ten pounds of organic sugar at Costco for about $8.


Quick oats. A good protein source that can be served with hot tap water if necessary. I’d suggest two of the boxes from Sam’s, each of which holds ten pounds of oats and run $7.50 each.


Dried is cheaper, but canned is good too if you don’t want to have to worry about cooking them. Check the prices; sometimes Aldi and Walmart can beat the warehouse club prices. Where we live, Costco sells organic black beans for dirt cheap; 8-can packs for about six bucks. Get the big bag of dried beans (we use Pinto) or 4 packs of the canned beans. The ten pound bags of dried beans sell for about $6 up here.

Canned Veggies and/Or Fruits

Get what you like. Or at least what you can stomach. Preferably 75% veggies and 25% fruits. I’d suggest roughly 30 cans for a 30 day supply as a minimum.


Bottled or in the gallon jugs. One gallon per person per day is the recommended but you can do with half that if you’re frugal with the water and not wasteful.


Salt. Pepper. Cinnamon. If you want to spend more, add chili powder, cumin, garlic and parsley flakes just to make things interesting. Again, the warehouse clubs can’t be beat as far as pricing when it comes to spices.

Recommended Reading: Hunkering Down: Prepping to Survive in Your Home During a Natural Disaster (The NEW Survival Prepper Guides Book 1)


This is for those of you who aren’t pleasant to live with until you’ve had your coffee. 🙂  Get the big container at the warehouse clubs and use it sparingly, especially if you have to use your bottled water supply to make it.


Get the things you like and the things that are cheap. Individually packaged snacks are almost always more expensive than the bags or boxes, so be sure to check prices. Remember, the goal is to eat snacks sparingly in an emergency situation but still have some available to change things up.


Olive oil preferably, because it’s healthier. Get the big bottle to use for making homemade tortillas with your flour. This is an easy and simple food that will fill your tummy for cheap in an emergency situation.


If you’re shopping frugally you should be able to get all of this stuff for under $125 and get it in about 30 minutes at the warehouse club.

If you’re okay with spending a bit more, consider these items:

  • 100% Juice or powdered milk or drink mixes such as Gatorade
  • Dried beef jerky
  • Peanut Butter
  • Quinoa

Remember that the goal with creating a quick emergency stockpile is not to live well, but just to live. Take that into consideration, especially if you don’t have a lot of money to spend. 

Take Into Account What You Already Have

Remember when planning a spur-of-the-moment stockpile supply that you probably have quite a bit of food laying around the house, even if it’s not your favorite food. Take this into account before you go shopping. Some people might not even have to shop at all after looking through your cupboards.

Recommended Reading: Urban Survival Guide (Outdoor Life)

Get Toiletries, Pet Supplies and Meds if Need Be

BEFORE you hit the store, check your pet supplies, toiletries and your medicine cabinets. Add any needed items to your shopping list before you go to get your food supply.

P.S. Before You Shop, Make a List.

Make a list of everything you need BEFORE you leave the house. This will help you to move through the stores quickly.  

2. Get Some 5-Gallon Food Grade Buckets

This step isn’t necessary if you’re going to be using all of the food within a month, but if you’re not, you’ll want to go to the local home improvement store such as Lowe’s or Menards for some 5 gallon food grade buckets for your flour, rice and beans.

That’s it for the emergency food supply. It’s really not that difficult and it doesn’t have to be expensive. 

But here are some other tips for things you’ll need to do quickly if you see your area developing into a crisis situation. 

3. Get to the Bank

Pull out some cash. As much as your ATM will let you. Between $300 and $1000. If electronic systems go down you won’t be able to use cards for purchases. And most people accept cash happily.

4. Fill Up the Tank

Get that gas tank filled up, and quickly. If you need to leave the area you don’t want to waste time at the pump, you just want to GO.

5. Get Bug Out Bags Ready

Just in case, put three days’ worth of clothing, personal and medical supplies for each person into duffle bags. Don’t forget pet bug out bags for Fido and Garfield.

6. Put Together a Plan

You need to start talking now about where you’ll go and what you’ll do if things get really hairy. Make a quick plan that will allow you to flee to safety if need be. P.S. If you have or want to leave town, figure out a non-highway route and write it down. The freeways could be gridlocked and you don’t want to go there.

If you leave the house now, you should be able to get your supplies, hit the bank, fill up your tank and be back home in 2 hours or less.

Anything I’m forgetting?





  1. Great food stockpiling suggestions, Laurie! I’m one that thinks coffee is essential, so I do stock up on that at the warehouse club. I tend to have a 30 day food supply on hand at all times – with lots of dried beans and rice.

    I slack on having cash on hand. It occurred to me this week that I should have more than I do. It’s on my list…Thank you!

    • Laurie says:

      So smart, Amanda!!! I think you guys are scores ahead of most people. Rick would agree with you on the coffee. 🙂 We always make sure to have plenty in our stockpile!

  2. Is it weird that I am much more likely to have Max’s needs cared for (extra food, litter) than I am for myself? It’s what makes me a good mom and also a bad mom, since he counts on me to be able to feed him and change his litter box too.

    • Laurie says:

      I think that’s sweet. 🙂 But make sure to put a few bucks aside for yourself too – you’ll be able to better care for MaxE if you’re not starving. 🙂

  3. Good stuff as always, Laurie. Though thankfully the protests seem to be of the ‘nothing to worry about’ variety this time around.

    Do you guys just eat through your provisions for the 30 day supply as expiration dates approach, and then replenish?

  4. Okay I’m the worst prepper because I don’t even have water stored, but once you have water stored would you say food is second most important? I ask because part of me thinks in Minnesota dealing with the frigid winters is a higher priority. It would be great to eat but if I’m sitting in a house that is at 10 degrees I would rather be hungry and warm!

    I know wood-burning stoves are ideal, but a generator could power a space heater and you could kind of camp out in one room with the rest of your family while you wait out the disaster. I’ve been really thinking about this since hearing about people in the Northeast being out of power for a week or longer last winter.

    • Laurie says:

      I would really recommend a generator. The one we recommend in this post has terrific reviews and it’s the one we own personally. This was a top-priority purchase for us because if the power is out for a long time during our cold winter months you could end up with HUGE expenses from frozen pipes. If you don’t want to spend a lot on food you could just do rice and beans, but I think it should be a top priority too. Definitely the generator though.

  5. Nobody around here would have believed a year ago that Trump would become the American President. The protests are not surprising, but my hope is that they will be contained and short-lived. As Hillary Clinton said, Trump must be given the chance to lead. Wishing my neighbours to the south well through this transition – and hoping that any stockpiles of food and water won’t need to be used at this time. (But I get it – the point is you don’t know when they will need to be used.

    • Laurie says:

      “Trump must be given the chance to lead.” Couldn’t agree more. But just in case the rioters are going to fight against that happening, we need to protect ourselves and our families.

  6. Mackenzie says:

    This reminds me that I should have more water on hand than I do, considering I live in earthquake country. It is good to be prepared no matter what the situation entails!

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