Cheap Emergency food is stockpiled for SHTF events like inflation, economic downturn, and job loss. Considering the craziness in the world, consider storing emergency food as a priority now and into the future.
Best Cheap Emergency Food: Dry Staples
Have a sense of urgency in stockpiling dry staple foods like beans, rice, wheat & rolled oats. I currently have hundreds of pounds of dry staples stored and plan on storing more of them because dry staples are anti-starvation food.
Let’s talk more about dry foods.
Dry Foods (cheap emergency food supply)
Dry staples are ideal for long-lasting survival situations and not so much for short-term emergencies. These foods have supported the Romans, Egyptians, and other ancient civilizations for thousands of years and they have decades of shelf life if stored properly.
As a prepper, store staples so your family doesn’t starve during a protracted survival scenario. Dry foods are cheap and shouldn’t be overlooked. I would go one step further and say these foods should be the bulk of anyone’s long-term emergency food storage. Following is a list of the most popular dry food to stockpile.
- Dry beans
- Dry Lentils
- Dry White Rice
- Rolled Oats
- Dry Pasta
- Flour (White all-purpose)
- Hard Grains
- Soft Grains
Storage Tip: If you want to store food and eat cheaply, learn to cook from scratch. By cooking and baking from scratch ingredients like dry rice, beans, and wheat, your family will eat higher quality food for less.
To learn more about dry staples, check out the Ready Squirrel article, Cheap Long Term Emergency Food Supply.
Canned Food for Survival (emergency food cheap)
Canned foods are some of the most accessible foods for short-term emergencies and are often used for disasters like Hurricane preparedness. These foods have limits in a long-term survival scenario because the average shelf-life is only five years.
Canned Food For Short-term Emergencies
Canned meat, fruits, and vegetable are shelf stable, meaning they don’t have to be refrigerated. Most are ready to eat out of the can.
Some foods are hard to store without using cans. For example, meat stores well in a can and can offer necessary fats that are difficult to store any other way.
Reasons to Avoid Canned Food
The downside of canned foods is that the shelf-life is not clear. Many preppers get around this by rotating canned foods by the “Best by Date.” To rotate canned food this way, eat the food before the date and replace it with new cans.
Fresh is always better, but it isn’t always an option. Canned goods alleviate palate fatigue by varying what you eat day after day on a dry staple diet.
In the next section, we talk about canned meat, a necessary evil.
Canned Meat (not so-cheap emergency food)
Meat isn’t cheap. I went into the market yesterday to pick up some grilled steaks and didn’t buy anything at the grocery store because the prices were astronomical.
Meat is one of the more expensive items on the survival food list, so start storing it a little bit at a time. Following are canned meats to consider storing.
- Keystone Meats
Are you interested in learning about all of the options regarding canned meat? Check out the comprehensive article, Canned Meat: A must-have survival food.
Up next, canned fruit.
Canned Fruit (cheap emergency food)
Canned fruit is a staple of any pantry, used by preppers for baking, making salads, or eating out of the can. An ideal survival situation would include fruit trees and home canning, but for the rest of us, canned fruit is the only option. Following is a list of canned fruits to store for emergencies.
- Apple Sauce
- Mixed Fruit Medley
- Mandarin Oranges
Canned Vegetables (cheap emergency food)
Canned veggies make a poor substitute for fresh vegetables, but they are better than no vegetables at all. My family
- Mixed Vegetables
- Green beans
- New Potatoes
- Spinach (not me)
Tomatoes are a staple in my household, so much so, that we have a difficult time keeping them on hand. Mostly, we use canned tomatoes for pasta sauce and to make salsa.
Up next, If you are stockpiling foods for short-term emergencies where the power is out and cooking is a difficult chore consider stockpiling canned meals.
Canned meals are ideal for short-term emergencies because they are everything you need in one can and there isn’t much to do but heat them up. For example, imagine a post-hurricane scenario where you sit down to eat a can of Dinty Moore stew vs. making the same type of stew from scratch. Following are three examples of ready made meals.
- Pasta Meals
Next up, how long does canned food last?
How long do canned foods last?
Canned foods have a shelf life of 2 to 5 years. High-acid foods like tomatoes and fruits will last two years, and low-acid foods like spam will last five years.
Indeed, some canned foods will still be edible beyond the “best by date,” but it’s impossible to tell exactly how long. Most preppers use the best-by-date to rotate canned goods, so they have a point of reference. This also ensures you aren’t eating canned goods that have gone bad.
Another issue with canned goods beyond the best-by date is they tend to diminish in overall quality, including taste and texture, and the nutritional value declines over time.
Peanut and Nut Butters (cheap emergency food)
The peanut butter will last a couple of years on the shelf, and it’s chock full of protein and fat.
Whether eating fat is good for you is debatable, but one thing is for sure the human body needs fats to function. How well your brain functions are directly tied to fat consumption.
Fat is the hardest thing to store in long-term storage. The best option is to have egg-laying hens for a daily supply of protein and fat. For the rest of us, there is nut butter.
- Peanut butter
- Almond butter
- Hazelnut Butter
Many dried fruits are sugar-packed, but they also provide much-needed nutrition. They make a good snack and can also be mixed into baked goods to make them more attractive.
- Banana Chips
- Dried Apples
Start storing vinegar, salt, and sugar to preserve fruits, vegetables, and meat. Vinegar seconds as a natural cleaning agent and can be used to pickle. Sugar is excellent for fruit preserves and for boosting fermentation in fruit ciders.
- Granulated White Sugar
- Soy Sauce
Dried Food (Quick Food)
I’m a big fan of Ramen noodles because they can be doctored with available meat, vegetables, and herbs. Often, I eat a package of Ramen and stir in an egg and a 1/2 cup of frozen corn or peas.
- Ramen Noodles
- Mac and Cheese
- Noodle Meals
- Dry Packaged Meals
- Baked Goods (Betty Crocker Cake Mix, Muffin mixes)
- Corn Bread
Vitamins and Food Supplements
Store Cheap vitamins and supplements to fill the nutritional gaps your food pantry doesn’t provide.
- Protein Powders
- Protein Bars
- Body Builder Bars
Spices are the secret weapon of food storage. Take spices like salt, red pepper, chili powder, and cumin to make some pretty fantastic meals from essential bland ingredients like dry beans. I like to buy my spices in bulk at a big box store like Sam’s club or Costco.
Spices don’t go wrong, but they decline in how much flavor they give food. To fix the diminishing flavors, use more of the sauce as it ages.
Salt and sugar are an exception to this rule. As long as they are correctly stored, they will keep the flavor they have the day you package them.
Remember that you can also grow a window garden of the herbs you use the most. I like to have both dry and fresh on hand when possible.
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Rep Pepper
- Black Pepper
- Italian Mix (great for tomato sauces)
- Chili Powder
- Ground Cinnamon
- Ground Cumin
- Ground Ginger
Salt is a unique case spice. It’s a preservative and has an indefinite shelf-life. Salt is outstanding for barter, as is white granulated sugar. In my mind, salt goes way beyond being just a food item. It is so inexpensive and helpful in a survival situation it should be stored in bulk.
Learn more about salt as survival food. Check out the Ready Squirrel article, How many salts Do You Store for Long-Term Survival?
Feel Good Foods
Once you get your bedrock foods in place, it doesn’t hurt to store some foods that are good for morale. Feel good foods that raise the spirits in a survival situation.
- Hard Candy
- Powdered Coffee Creamer
- Meat and Vegetable Bouillon Cubes
Food That Needs the Refrigerator
Regarding stockpiling for emergencies, storing the bulk of your food items as non-perishable and dry staples is a good idea. Still, collecting the freezer is also a good idea because it allows you to get more creative with family meals.
- Frozen Corn
- Frozen Peas
- Meat on sale, Pork, Chicken, Beef
- Make stocks and broths and freeze them
Cheap Meals for a Week
This is just an example of how many meals you can make with some cheap ingredients. You probably already have some spices, leftover vegetables, or meat. If not, these ingredients alone will create some great meals for one person for a week.
What you need
- One Fresh Apple
- One onion
- One lb. of fresh carrots
- Powdered Cinnamon
- 5 Bananas
- 4 Fresh Jalapenos
- Package of Tortillas
- One lb. of Pinto Beans
- One lb. of Brown Rice
- One lb. of Quick Oats (filling)
- One dozen Eggs
- Vegetable or Olive Oil
- Soy Sauce
How to use the ingredients (Cheap meals for a week)
Cook your pinto beans and the pound of rice and store them in the fridge. One person can eat off of these ingredients for a week. Yes, it’s boring; yes, you are eating the same ingredients over and over. The idea is how to think about elements and how they are combined.
Cook your pinto beans and the pound of rice and store them in the fridge.
Quick oats, top with cinnamon and cook. Slice a banana or 1/2 of your apple, place it on the cooked oats, and eat.
Fry or scramble eggs, chop some onion and jalapeno, and place ingredients inside a tortilla or two.
Stir fry some of the precooked rice in an oiled pan, and add three eggs, soy sauce, chopped onion, and carrots. You can also add peas, green onions, or any vegetables you have on hand.
Eat some stewed beans with a side of onions, jalapenos, and warmed tortillas.