16 Ways to Prepare For Food Shortages

When food shortages happen, they are high impact. They are usually accompanied by economic collapse and destabilization of everything else in a country; if food shortages reach starvation levels lookout.

If you live in the United States and there are food shortages it is likely shortages are on a global scale. There will be nowhere to run to. Your only option is to prepare for food shortages.

Scott, Ready Squirrel

If you are ready to prepare your family for food shortages, read on.

#1 Prepare a Food Storage Space

Ready Squirrel’s Main Food Storage.

I store most of my food in my bedroom closet, so I don’t have anywhere to put my clothes. That is how seriously I take food storage.

Where should I store my food?

Store your food on storage racks or pantry-type shelving. Make them from dimensional lumber or buy Gorilla-type racks. Store food under beds, in closets, and inside furniture.

What temperature should I Store Food?

Prime food storage temperatures are below 75° F and above freezing. Look for areas that are cool, dry, clean, pest-free, and provide good ventilation.

It may be challenging to get constant temps of 75°, so pick your coolest, darkest location.

Where Should I not Store Food?

Avoid storing foods in your garage or outside in a shed. Fluctuations in temperature severely reduce food shelf life.

#2 Stockpile Food

Ready Squirrel Stockpile: beans, rice, and wheat stored in Mylar and #10 cans

I Stockpile shelf-stable, non-perishable foods like dry staples, canned fruit, vegetables, meat, or professionally packaged emergency food. I store everything I can afford and get my hands on.

Start With Short-Term Emergency Food

To start, stock up on non-perishable canned food and bottled water for FEMA’s suggested 72-Hour Emergency Kit, which includes 2000 calories per day per person and 1 gallon of water per day per person.

Second Begin Storing Long-term Emergency Food

After setting up short-term food supplies, start working on bulk food for long-term survival. These types of food have a shelf-life of 30 years if stored properly.

I built my long-term food storage around polished white rice and dried pinto beans. I suggest you do the same.

Check out these Ready Squirrel articles to get started, How to store rice in long-term storage: by the numbers, and Store Bulk Beans Like a Rockstar.

My favorite way to stockpile food is in Mylar bags or #10 cans.

Foods to stockpile for food shortages

  1. White Rice
  2. Dried Beans
  3. Hard Grains Like Wheat
  4. Instant Potatoes
  5. Dent Corn
  6. Salt
  7. Sugar
  8. Honey
  9. Soy Sauce
  10. Rolled Oats
  11. Pasta
  12. Dehydrated Foods
  13. Freeze-dried Foods
  14. Dried Lentils and Split Peas
  15. Low Fat Powdered Milk
  16. Powdered Eggs
  17. Canned Fruit
  18. Canned Vegetables
  19. Canned Meat

#3 Stockpile Water

5-gallon Water jugs are an excellent way to stockpile drinking water

Yes, store water for food shortages. The social environment and upheaval that comes with severe food shortages create an atmosphere of chaos. Since You need water to survive, it’s good to ensure you have a supply if the tap stops running.

How Much Water Do I Need?

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), You need a minimum of 1 gallon of water per day to survive. Half of that water is for hygiene, and half is for hydration.

How do I Store Water?

For a long-term water supply, store bottled water, catch and store rainwater, take water from freshwater sources like lakes, rivers, and streams, punch water- well or siphon water from a freshwater pool.

For societal collapse, you need enough water to last an indefinite amount of time.

7 things you will use water for

  1. Hydration
  2. Sanitation and Hygiene
  3. Washing Clothes
  4. Maintaining Gear and Equipment
  5. Gardening
  6. Food Preparation
  7. Livestock

The bulk of my emergency water storage is in 55-gallon drums.

To learn more, read the Ready Squirrel article, Societal Collapse: Emergency water sources and storage.

#4 Have a Plan

How Much Food and Water Should You Store for a food shortage?

Plan A: Store at least 2000 calories worth of food per person per day. I suggest a year’s supply, but you have to decide what best fits your situation.

Plan B: Store a minimum of 1 gallon of water per day per person to survive or have a method to clean natural water sources and or water catchment.

Read the comprehensive Ready Squirrel article, “How Much Food To stockpile per person, ” To learn more about stockpiling food for your family.” This article breaks calories down by age, sex, and activity level and hits the foods you should focus on storing for maximum shelf-life.

Check out the Ready Squirrel article, 21 Emergency Water Container Ideas for SHTF, to learn about the best emergency water containers.

#5 Grow Food

Jefferson Hazelnut Bush. I planted 3 varieties of hazelnut for cross-pollination.

Grow hundreds of pounds of food on a tiny plot or grow food on the patio of your apartment.

What if I don’t have the room to grow a survival garden?

If you have limited space to grow a garden, get involved in a Community supported agricultural program (CSA) where food is grown locally, join an urban garden, or rent a growing plot. These gardening options are available in most metropolitan areas, even in NYC.

What are the ideal vegetables to grow in a survival garden?

The ideal vegetables to grow in a survival garden are perennials that come back year after year vs. annuals with one growing season.

For example, Asparagus, walking or Egyptian onions, sunchokes, fruiting trees, bushes, and other perennial vegetables are ideal because they keep coming back once you get them going.

There is a place for annual vegetable gardening, i.e., potatoes, but I’d get the perennials in the ground first.

American colonists planted fruiting trees and bushes before they started building their houses. Most of their drinking water came from hard cider, either full-strength or watered down.

Scott, Ready Squirrel

14 Tips On How To Plant a Survival Garden

Here are 16 general tips that will get you started in planning a survival garden.

#1 Growing Zone

Your growing zone tells you which plants are most likely to do well where you live. You want plants that are vigorous in your area, bordering on invasive.

#2 Rotate crops

Growing different kinds of plants in the exact location but in different seasons. This cuts down on pests and can be used to feed the soil naturally.

#3 Plant Propagation

Propagating is an excellent way to create a food forest without spending money. Propagation methods make many plants from just one plant, tree, or shrub. You can practice different techniques, including plant cuttings, air-layering, division, and seed collecting.

#4 Bioaccumulating Plants

Comfrey, Black Locusts, and Willows create nitrogen you can feed to your garden by mulching garden beds or planting fruit trees next to them.

#5 Storing and Conserving Seeds

Learn to store seeds from the best tasting, most vigorous plants in your vegetable and flower garden. Use open-pollinated seeds.

#6 Companion Planting

Plant things together that are complimentary. Corn, Beans, and Squash are good examples of this. Each of the 3 plants adds something that makes the plants more vigorous.

#7 Perennial Food-Forestry

A low-maintenance way of growing fruit and nut trees is based on a forest system. A food forest includes perennial vegetables, fruiting shrubs, edible vines, and flowers.

#8 Land Race Gardening

“A traditional method of growing food in which the seeds to be planted next year results from the survival of the fittest in a particular garden in previous years.” Mother Earth News”

#9 Silvopasture

This is a method of raising animals in a food-type forest. It’s an integration technique using animal rotation to improve land and meat quality.

#10 Permaculture

Permaculture is a set of design principles based on whole system thinking, created by Australian Ecologist Bill Mollison.

#11 Vertical Gardening

Growing plants up instead of out. Useful if you have limited space.

#12 Mulching

Mulching is placing plant biomatter on garden beds and around trees and plants. Feeds plants, improve soil, and maintains ground moisture.

#12 Multiple Fruit Trees

Plant similar fruit trees in the same hole, 24″ apart, if you have limited space for your survival garden. It is used to maximize fruit production in a confined space.

#13 Hugelkultur Mounds and Gardening

Hugelkulture is a raised garden bed built with logs, sticks, and other biomass. Hugelkultur mounds are excellent in areas where you can’t water regularly. Hugels work well when combined with mulch.

#14 Korean Natural Farming

Use microorganisms in the soil and other natural materials to increase soil fertility, increase earthworm populations, and the soil’s overall health.

Practice specialty skills related to gardening and fruit production like using a still to make alcohol, baking bread, making hard cider, or mead and honey from beekeeping. Plant tobacco as a pest deterrent and use it for barter.

Scott, Ready Squirrel

#6 Learn Food Preservation Methods

You will have to conserve the food you raise or forage during a food shortage. Food may be plentiful during warm weather but set some aside for more challenging seasons like winter.

8 Types of Food Preservation For Food Shortages

  1. Drying: removing water from food using sunlight. It decreases bacteria and mold and increases shelf-life.
  2. Fermentation: Used to make hard cider, beer, or fermented foods like Kimchi or Kefir
  3. Pickling: Preserving food in an acid solution of vinegar or salt
  4. Water Bath Canning: the method used to process high-acid foods like tomatoes for a longer shelf-life.
  5. Dry Canning: method of canning grains, beans, and nuts in canning jars and baking
  6. Pasteurization: Heating foods quickly to kill bacteria
  7. Smoking: Provides flavor to meats and provides some preservation
  8. Salt Curing: Using edible salt to cure meats like pork, beef, or fish

#7 Grains, Rice, and Beans Are The Best Survival Food

Hard grain, rice, and beans are so crucial for long-term food storage, I gave them their own section.

If you had to, you could survive on these foods alone for an extended period. When stored properly, you’re looking at a 30-year shelf life. Perfection.

If you do nothing for food shortages but store hundreds of pounds of beans, rice, and wheatberries, you are way ahead of the game.

#8 Raise Livestock

Chickens provide protein and fat-rich eggs (fat is the hardest thing to store long-term)

Start raising Chickens, Rabbits, or raise fish in your pond.

Raising large livestock like cows is more complicated and takes a lot more resources than raising chickens. Start small and see if it’s something you want to do.

My favorite livestock food is Eggs.

#9 Manual Cooking Tools

Plan on preparing food without electricity. During a significant food shortage, there will be chaos. Who knows if we will have power from the grid. Here is a list of tools that you will find helpful, but ultimately you will have to make this list based on your situation.

Fifteen Manual Cooking Tools

  1. Manual Grain Mill
  2. Dutch Oven
  3. Cast Iron Pans
  4. Outdoor grill
  5. Fire Ring
  6. Firewood
  7. Matches
  8. Spatulas
  9. Whisk
  10. Wood Spoons
  11. Manual Timer
  12. Wood or steel mixing bowl
  13. Pie Irons
  14. Coleman Stove and Fuel

#10 Learn To Cook

The Dutch Oven is the most useful pot for outdoor cooking.

Learn to cook so you can make dishes from staple foods from long-term storage. Please keep it to the basics, learn to boil beans and rice, and bake bread.

Experiment with how you will cook food when the grid is down. Consider cowboy kitchens, covered outdoor kitchens, wood-fueled ovens, wood-burning stoves and cooktops, tripod cooking over an open campfire, or build a colonial-style outdoor kitchen with a DIY bread oven.

If you are cooking outdoors, use cast iron pans for cooking directly on hot coals or over direct flame.

A large Dutch oven with a lid is the single best piece of cast iron you can own. Cook just about anything in any style from frying and boiling to baking.

Scott, Ready Squirrel

#11 Prepare to Protect Your Stockpile

If we have severe food shortages, you will have to protect your food. The best way to do this? Don’t talk about your food storage. Ultimately, people will smell food cooking and notice you’re not losing weight. That means you’ll have to protect your food from theft.

Best Weapons For Protecting Food During Shortages

#1 AR-15

The AR is accurate, reliable, and simple to use, and it’s so popular in the United States that it is pretty easy to barter for ammo and find replacement parts.

#2 .22 Rifle

It’s controversial whether the .22 has a place in self-defense, but it is an excellent, lightweight caliber for hunting small game. You can carry thousands of rounds in a backpack, and the ammo is readily available.

#3 9mm pistol

The Ammo is popular, readily available, and easy to shoot from a pistol or carbine.

#4 Convertible Single Action Revolver

Convertible revolvers allow you to change ammo calibers by swapping out cylinders. This might be a good option if you are in a barter situation or scavenging

#5 Shotgun

Arguably the best weapon for home defense, the shotgun is versatile, reliable, simple, and deadly at close quarters.

There are many ammo types for shotguns; the most common types are Buckshot for hunting foul and Slugs used to hunt deer.

(Check your local gun laws before purchasing a firearm.)

#12 Start Bartering Now

. If there are food shortages, you may want to trade your food for a different kind of food you need.

What is Bartering?

Bartering is trading a skill like carpentry or a supply like white rice for something you want or need. Bartering will be an essential skill if society collapses.

The recent collapse in Venezuela is an excellent example of this. The only way people are getting food is if they Barter for it.

Look in your closet or garage for something you don’t use anymore. Put the item on craigslist or Facebook and trade it for something you will use or want. Take an inexpensive item and barter for maximum profit. Keep bartering and see what you can get by contuning to barter.

Scott, Ready Squirrel

10 Items Bartered During A Food Shortage

  1. Seeds
  2. Food: Sugar, Powdered Milk, Rice, Beans
  3. Baby Formula
  4. Medicine
  5. Hygiene Items: Razors, Soap, Shampoo
  6. Flashlight, Batteries, Candles, Matches
  7. Coffee, Tea, Alcohol
  8. Tobacco
  9. Fuel
  10. Skills: Construction, Plumbing, Nurse, Carpenter, Electrician, Blacksmith, Sewing, Cobbler, Security, Protection…etc.

#13 Get a hunting or fishing license

Fresh Water Muskellunge (related to the northern pike)

Have a hunting and fishing license handy to supplement your food stores.

Most of us won’t be able to sustain ourselves by living the hunter-gatherer lifestyle fully, but we can put meat on the table every once in a while.

I currently live on the Gulf Coast of Florida which makes the cast net one of my favorite methods of fishing. You can usually get some small fish to flavor rice and beans or the stew pot.

#14 Hard Copies of Books and Manuals

Have hard copies of your survival manuals, how-to books, recipes, conversion tables, etc. so you have a way of looking stuff up that isn’t based on electricity.

For example, if you have recipes written down or in a book, you will have access to the information.

#15 Make Lists or A Prepping Journal

Start paying attention to the foods you can’t do without in a food shortage and put them down on a list or in a prepping journal. List anything you think you’ll need and start checking things off as you get them: food, supplies, tools, skills, etc.

Putting ideas on a running to-do list will keep you from getting overwhelmed and make you feel in control.

#16 Take Action

I’m not preaching here. But it goes without saying if we want to put ourselves in the best possible situation for food shortages, we have to get off the couch and do the work.