Friday 13 July 2018

Prepping On A Budget - 7 Days Of Food

This is the second part of my Prepping On A Budget series. After last weeks post on showing how easy it is to store three days worth of drinking water, this post should show how easy it is to store an extra seven days worth of food.

Food should be another big consideration when you think about preparedness.

Now for the purpose of this post I'm not talking about going out and spending thousands on freeze dried food or hundreds on MRE's that you can put in your bunker for 20 years. More about how small changes in shopping and storage habits can make a big difference to the amount of food you have in case of an emergency.

With the bad storms this past winter hopefully everyone saw how fragile our supply system is and  how long it can take until the shops are fully stocked back up. Small things happening can have big impacts, not to mention our country's love of panic buying, but many things could easily upset supply. Things like a long term power outage, fuels shortage, strikes and a couple inches of snow all affect how well shops are stocked, they can clear in just a day or two if people panic.

So for this post, I'm going to talk about storing just 7 days worth of extra food. I know this is a small amount to most established preppers and probably most that read this blog, but it's a good place to start and an amount that's achievable on a very small budget.

What I've put below is in no way a complete list. What you and your family eat, as well as how large the portions are make all the difference to what you should store. My family is still quite young so portion sizes are quite small (although the boy ate 7 slices of pizza the other day). I'm also assuming you have seasonings, stock cubes and spices in stock, as well as things like golden syrup  and other sauces.

Things to fill you up!
Pasta, Rice, oats and flour are great thing to have stored up. They make great comfort food and fill you up a for a long time. Most have a great shelf life as well, the pasta and the noodles have until 2020 (two years) the rice will store for much longer. The oats if they are repackaged will store for a long time as well.

The 1kg of oats will provide breakfast for my family of five for far longer than a week, can be added to dishes to thicken them out or made into flapjack. A 1kg packet of rice would also feed us for multiple meals and we tend to use 500g of pasta per meal (we eat a lot of pasta).

I buy bread flour in bulk. I'd plan to keep at least 500g per day so a loaf of bread that would feed the five of us could be made. A tin of bakers yeast would be another useful addition here if you bake a lot, the tins have a good shelf life, flat breads can be made if not and if eaten when hot are lovely. Self raising and plain flour can be used for bread making but are better suited to filling cakes or scones.

I should also add that we normally keep lots of potatoes as well, although this time of year the storage ones have started the grow so we tend to harvest what we we need out of the garden until the farms around here harvest their big crops so I have no pictures to hand! We tend to buy 25kg at a time as it works out so much cheaper that way (around £5) and they store for months away from the summer.

Having some oil in stock is essential for cooking, it also means you can make some dairy free cakes should you need to. An extra 1 litre costs very little.

Tinned goods are great to add to a meal, there are so many possibilities.
A few jars of pesto means some easy meals as well as being able to add some extra flavour to home baked bread.
Chickpeas make hommous as a spread or a dip, or go great in with peaches and tomatoes to make what we call "Three tin curry". Sweet corn, mushrooms and beans make a great addition to any meal (although tinned mushrooms are tasteless really they tend to look nice!), my kids would eat a tin of sweetcorn a day given the chance.

As for baked beans we just love them! On toast is possibly the most English of comfort foods!

I'm not the biggest tinned meat fan but it can serve a purpose and is handy when you've run out of other options. We do love tinned fish though and I'll happily eat sardines anytime! Tuna is great added to pasta or in sandwiches with sweetcorn. The rest of the time we'd probably eat vegetarian meals as tinned meat options are limited in the UK. there's always Spam I guess...

Some sugar and rasins/sultanas make breakfasts a bit more tasty. The raisins also work as a great snack (they're called "yeah yeahs" here as when my eldest was a baby it's what she called them) and the sugar means you can bake cakes should you want to.

Tinned fruit gets a bad press, you want to see how excited my children get when they see me opening a can of pineapple! Good comfort food and also healthy if you buy it in juice rather than syrup.

My children drink so much milk I've decided there's no way I could deal with it, so they'd have to be on limited rations (they drink 24 pints a week on average). We do keep plenty of rice or soya milk in stock as it's what I use (I can't drink milk or cream) and this has a long shelf life and can be used in cooking or on overnight oats. As for other dairy we're really lacking here, powdered milk won't be drunk by the kids and you can't easily buy canned butter or cheese. The best bet for a seven day supply would to buy a week in advance each week.
I do also keep evaporate milk and condensed milk int he house as well which can be used in baking or as a substituent if needed.

With three young kids my house is full of snacks and treats to keep them happy. Having something like jelly in the cupboard is a great way to put a smile on their face if you're snowed in or can't buy your regular shopping for whatever reason.

Dried fruit is something we don't tend to buy as we have a dehydrator but we would certainly buy it if we didn't. Again it's a great snack and is really healthy. It also takes up very little space and stores for a long time.

A few notes though!
Make sure you store what you already eat and what you like. This sounds obvious but I've seen this mistake more than once. Make sure you're storing food that you actually eat. It's pointless storing 25kg of dried beans if you don't have them in your regular diet, the results could be "explosive"!

Storing what you like is even more important when you have young children, there would be nothing worse than having to use your stored food and finding the children won't eat it or that you're having to choke it down each meal time.

Rotation - The key to storing off the shelf store cupboard food as a preparedness item is rotation. If you're eating it on a regular basis like the above point recommends then it shouldn't be much of a problem. The main thing is not to shove it all in a box under the bed or in the garage and forget about it.

My can rotator also doubles as a door to a cupboard - no space is no excuse! 
Have it organised and use the oldest item first. Far easier said than done I know, but there are lots of ideas for this on the internet so looking around might help you solve a storage problem or discover an area for storage you hadn't thought of.

So in total for our one weeks worth of basic "emergency" store cupboard food for our young family of five I'd estimate:

1kg of oats  - £1.20
3.5kg of bread flour - £3.50
1.5kg of plain flour - £0.45
1.5kg self raising flour - £0.75
2kg of assorted pasta - £1.85
Two packs of noodles - £0.90
3kg of potatoes - £1.00
Vegetable oil - £0.95
5 tins of tomatoes - £1.75
2 tins of chickpeas - £0.70
2 tins of peas - £0.45
2 tins of sweetcorn - £0.40
2 tins of sliced mushroom - £0.45
2 jars of pesto - £1.30
3 tins of baked beans - £1.05
2 tins of tuna - £2.24
3 tins of sardines - £0.95
2 tins of corned beef - £2.50
1 tin of "steak" - £1.35
1kg of sugar - £0.45
1 packet of rasins £1.30
2 tins of pineapple - £1.30
2 tins of peaches - £0.90
1 tin of fruit - 0.45
Dried fruit - £3
5 x Soya or UHT - £5
2 packs of jelly - £0.90

Total - £37.04

So for far less than the cost of meal out you can have a weeks worth of food ready for when you need it. I know this list won't be to everyone's liking but it should keep you full and happy for a week. You won't hit your "5 a day" either but you wouldn't be hungry. For slightly more money I'd add evaporated milk and lots more tinned fruit and veg (and maybe some chocolate!!!).

Potatoes are on the list although they're not technically a store cupboard item. We eat them so much and buy in bulk so its not very often that they're not in the house!

Ours would be heavily supplemented by the garden and produce we've stored, as well as foraging should I need to, but this basic list would be a good starting point for us.

What would you add to this list. Do you know anyone that doesn't store any extra food?

Next in the series will be "Prepping On A Budget - Cooking"


  1. 3 tin curry?! I'm intrigued!

    I'm shocked by how few people keep even a small back up of food in the house. The most extreme was an old neighbour who literally only had the food she'd bought for the next few meals- up to a week at a time. It wasn't financial, more a minimalism thing I think. Tidy cupboards but not much security (or flexibility!)

    Oats are a great thing to store as they're steamed as they're rolled and so can be eaten without further cooking which may be useful if more than the food supply is disrupted.

    I don't buy self raising flour anymore, I buy just plain flour and add baking powder if I need it. One less item to store, although you obviously get through more plain flour.

    1. Ah, the three tin curry is a staple here! I'll find you a recipe and share it when I get chance. We bake a lot so get through loads of flour so lots of rotation here. Oats are great. I often do overnight oats and they're so filling and cheap as well as no cooking needed.

    2. I used to be similar to your friend Hazel, I had about a weeks worth of food for a family of four living in a big city. Never had a problem until the fuel strikes, we were eating some interesting meals by time those ended, so I started a stock cupboard. It was very handy during that snowy winter and would be handy if someone (ie me) suffered from flu or something debilitating like that. I live more rurally now and have a large garden so my stock cupboard is rather more than a few months :-)

    3. Mandy - I often say that a lot of my food is either walking round or in the ground! Our garden is normally pretty good - although not this year as I'm trying to finish the house! The supply chain is so easily disrupted and so many people have a short memory when it comes to this type of thing!

      Hazel here's the curry recipe -

    4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    5. Thanks Kev, I'll have to try that.

  2. Hi, We love Spam, dry fried, it makes a reasonable substitute for bacon. Also, a lot more water would be needed to cook a lot of the above dry products. Great assortment though and your children would be able to drink water and tinned fruit juice if not enough milk was available.

    1. Been years since I had it. I guess childhood memories have put me off it!
      It's a great point about more water needed and I will put a note in this about that.
      For drinks I also make a kefir which the kids love because it's fizzy!

  3. One tip for long term storage of flour, put it into a plastic bag and then freeze for two days. Then you can remove it from the freezer and put into your normal storage area. This kills any weevil eggs that might be lying dormant. I learnt this lesson after having to throw away four bags of well in date flour that I had in my cupboard. When I opened one it was teeming with the little buggers 🤪

    1. Yes, weavils are a nightmare. This post is more about short term storage so hopefully it'll be more what people use on a regular basis. I plan to do a long term storage post in the future though and freezing it is a great tip!

  4. Interesting post, we do not keep as much store cupboard food these days, as the shops are always open. Some items, rice and pasta we buy in bulk, so most of the time we have plenty, not so many canned items.

    1. I think for short term so long as you have something to fill you up it's fine. Its about being comfortable not sitting out the end of the world. Good to know when it snows you don't have to rush to the shops! We eat a fair bit of canned food. I'd love to have it as my own produce but I'm just not there yet!

  5. As Sue says, freeze flour, but I might add, we threw away some pudding rice this week as the jar was full of weevils - yuk!

    1. Yeah, keeping an eye on anything stored is key. I put a lot of effort into a shed to make sure it was rodent proof. Last thing I wanted was mice getting in there!

  6. A really good starting point for folks who don't keep any amount of "emergency" food in their cupboards. Yes, I know quite a few people who wouldn't be able to feed themselves at home for more than a day or two. The number of meals these people eat out either in restaurants or at a fast food place on a regular basis is almost unbelievable to me. The other sad thing is even if their cupboards were well stocked, they wouldn't know how to prepare (they simply do not cook!) any food other than possibly heating something up in a pan. Or most likely in a microwave oven. Cooking from scratch? They have no idea.

    Anyway, a well thought out post that I know took you a lot of time to put together. I hope many people read it and give it serious thought.

    1. Yeah, it's very rare we eat put to be honest. It's expensive and so Manny places the food just isn't that good!
      Cooking from scratch is the key to all this as is being able to bake. All key life skills. Trouble is many people rely on the internet for knowledge now so I thinknless and less people will have cook books kicking around the place.

    2. We have a big chalkboard menu in our kitchen (mostly to make me remember to make a plan. It's flexible but it helps stop the last minute panic!) and the children's friends are always very taken by it. Eldest's 19 year old friends the other day were amazed "your mum cooks EVERY day?" Well we all need to eat every day so...yes?!

  7. Excellent post Kev. When we were kids my mum would wait until we had all gone to school (5 kids) and then she would make powdered milk and then mix it half and half with regular milk. Nobody was any the wiser!! A good thing to have in your cupboard is beef jerky. Sealed in cans or bags, it keeps for a long time.

    1. I love ways to stretching a meal! My mum still adds oats to all here meals with mince to make them go further! Jerky is a great thing to eat I agree, it's no on our regular shopping list though, because I'd eat it straight away!

  8. As we age and become more efficient with our won homesteading we find ourselves canning more of our own food. initially there is the cost of the jars (can often be found at garage sales) lids and rings plus the pressure canner, but I love the idea of having a years supply of food at hand. This post does an excellent job though of showing how little money it takes to keep a family alive for a week. Well done.

    1. I Will can more when the house is finished. Trouble is over here it's such a bigger investment as the cans are so expensive. Probably three times what you guys pay. I'm slowly building a store of them though. The canners normally have to be imported from the states as well so cost loads! I'll get there one day with it all though!

  9. Are you doing vegetable baskets this year?
    I'm surprised that you don't mention how growing your own vegetables helps if there is an interruption in the logistics that gets food to shops.


    1. I Will. I'm trying to break it into manageable chunk. I'll do a prepping on a budget gardening post in the future. Wwhat I don't want is the posts to be too long or not talk about each subject in depth. Hopefully this post will just encourage people to increase their weekly shop to create a buffer to cusion against the impact of a disruption of the supply chain.

      The veg isn't looking good this year. I've plowed my time into the house to try and get that finished and the garden has suffered.

  10. My husband thinks I buy too much for just the two of us but if money is tight I know I always have enough food in the house.

    1. It's really handy when it's like that. We can miss a weeks shopping and it not have too much impact except on the milk levels!

  11. if space was no issue I would only store canned lentils and beans rather than have to soak and boil. So I would add lentils to this list. Some chocolate and some sweets maybe boiled ones for the kids and for adults. a sweet or 2 can lift the spirits. I will be interested to follow this and see what are your thoughts on first aid kits.

    1. Yes, to be honest we have a drawer of sweets and stuff but that's more for me as I don't let the kids have them that often!
      I still have a huge packet of dried chickpeas that I haven't used as I always forget to soak them! So end up using a tin instead. Dried beans and stuff will last a lot longer though so worth keeping.
      Medical will be in a few weeks time! But it will be low budget!


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