Stocking A Real Food Pantry for Emergencies

Heather Dessinger

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We’re in this together. Washing our hands. Cleaning surfaces more. Caring for the vulnerable in our communities by staying home as much as possible.

According to Dr. Marguerite Neill, an infectious disease expert at Brown University, it’s ideal to have a 30-day supply of food and other necessities on hand if possible. (1)

For those of us that focus on fresh produce as part of a wholesome diet, that’s easier said than done. I’m not throwing in the towel and stocking up on Twinkies, though.

Consuming excessive amounts of sugar curbs immune function, so I’m sticking with wholesome options as much as possible. (2)

With that in mind, I thought I’d share my strategy for preparing, plus a specific list of my go-to non-perishables and must-haves. Although I’m not an emergency preparedness expert, my hope is that as you scan your shelves and make your shopping list this article will be helpful.

Strategy #1 – Stock up on longer-lasting fresh items when possible

My fridge is packed with veggies right now. Some we’ll eat right away, and some I’ll ferment to increase shelf life. However, I’m also stocking up on produce that last longer at room temperature, including:

  • Apples
  • Citrus (A good source of vitamin C)
  • Winter squash (Acorn, Butternut, Spaghetti)
  • Potatoes and yams
  • Garlic and onions

Tip #2: Focus on foods you’ll use anyway

With a few exceptions like beans and frozen veggies (which we rarely eat), I haven’t bought any supplies out of the ordinary. Instead, I’m stocking up on items I’ll use anyway . . . just in larger quantities.

Although my family’s grocery bill is going to be higher than usual this month, my hope is that we’ll be able to balance those costs in the coming weeks as we use things up. With that in mind, here’s what I’m focusing on:


In certain situations like natural disasters, electricity can’t be counted on. And right now, most of us just don’t have enough room in our fridge/freezer to store enough food for 2-4 weeks. With that in mind, here are some shelf-stable options that are nourishing and easy to incorporate into meals.


Canned Tuna – Safe Catch is my preferred brand because they scan every single fish for mercury levels (available at Amazon, Thrive Market, Publix, and Kroger)

Canned Salmon – Safe Catch also sells wild Alaska pink salmon, which is really good in homemade salmon patties. Their cans are out of stock, but you can find them in pouches here.

Sardines – Rich in omega-3’s, sardines are a great substitute for tuna in “tuna salad. Find them here.

PaleoValley Grass-Fed beef Sticks – These are so delicious! I personally like the jalapeno flavor, but my kids prefer the original and summer sausage flavors.

PaleoValley Pasture-Raised Turkey Sticks – These savory snacks add some much appreciated variety to our emergency stash. My kids love the cranberry orange flavor.

EPIC Bars – We like the Grass-Fed Beef, Habanero & Cherry EPIC Bar, Wild Salmon & Smoked Maple EPIC Bar, and Grass-Fed Lamb, Currant & Mint EPIC Bar

Fruits & Veggies

Dried Fruit – Raisins, mango, banana, apricots, etc.

Sea Snax – As far as healthy snacks go, seaweed is a great alternative to chips. It’s rich in minerals such as iodine, calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, copper and selenium. I like Sea Snax because they use olive oil instead of canola or safflower oil.

Kettle & Fire Bone Broth – I usually make my own using this recipe, but just in case I don’t have access to whole chickens for awhile I’m stocking up.

Jovial Whole Tomatoes – For adding to soups.

Bionaturae Tomato Paste – For Spanish rice and soups. Cooked tomato products are a good source of the antioxidant lycopene.

Broccoli Seeds for Sprouting – Broccoli sprouts are easy to grow and rich in a potent phytochemical called sulforaphane. (Here’s how to grow sprouts in a mason jar)

Onions & Garlic – Both are immune supportive and last a long time without refrigeration.

Winter Squash – Acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash can be stored at room temperature for 1-3 months. Here are some storage tips, and here’s how to cook spaghetti squash.

Potatoes – Red, yellow, russet, and sweet.

Apples – They’ll stay fresh longest if kept in the fridge, but my fridge space is already spoken for so I’m keeping mine on the counter. Based on my non-scientific observation, Granny Smith seem to last the longest.

Citrus – Lemons, limes, oranges, etc.

Grains & Legumes

Sprouted Quinoa – Can be served savory or sweet. I mix it with coconut milk and fruit to make “porridge,” or add homemade taco seasoning to taste for a savory Mexican-style side.

Beans – Dried or canned

Rice – Most beans are low in methionine and high in lysine, while rice is low in lysine and high in methionine. When eaten together, they make a complete protein.

Oatmeal – Some brands are processed on machinery that also processes wheat, so if you’re sensitive to gluten make sure to look for an option that is gluten-free.

Nuts & Seeds

Nuts & Nut Butters – Nuts are great for snacking, and nut butters can be paired with sliced apples or blended into smoothies with banana.

SeedsThis brand sells a lot of different sprouted seed snacks. As mentioned in this article, soaking and/or sprouting nuts and seeds is thought to increase the bioavailability of their nutrients.

Chia Seeds – For mixing with the coconut milk and dried fruit to make chia seed pudding.


Coconut Milk – For making smoothies, coconut milk yogurt, chicken curry soup, and more. I like this guar gum-free version.

Canned Soup – Safe Harvest makes wonderful soups but they’re not widely available. I usually make soup from scratch using whatever needs to be used up in my fridge so I’m not sure which brands are best, but most grocery stores seem to have decent options with clean ingredients.

Whole Bean Bulletproof Coffee – Can last up to 9 months sealed.

Olives – Because they’re full of healthy fat and antioxidants (and delicious, of course)

Mayo – When I don’t make my own this is my first choice. It’s also available at Thrive Market.

Herbs & Spices – To make taco seasoning and other flavorful additions. Good seasoning can seriously upgrade rice, beans and other pantry staples.

Salt – For seasoning food and making a hydrating electrolyte drink if needed


My family usually keeps an extra freezer in our garage but it went kaput recently. Although I’m working with less storage space, here’s what I’m prioritizing:

Homemade Bone Broth – Chicken soup has long been revered for its immune supporting properties during illness, and at least one study has concluded that it “may contain a number of substances with beneficial medicinal activity” that help to reduce symptoms. Here’s how to make homemade bone broth in an Instant Pot, and here’s how to make it in a slow cooker. 

Frozen Veggies – I don’t normally buy these, but they’re a great option for having “fresh” veggies on hand without restocking every week. Here’s what I’m buying:

  • California Medley
  • Spinach
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Green Beans
  • Asparagus


  • Grass-Fed Beef
  • Whole Chickens
  • Chicken Breasts
  • Low Mercury Fish (Haddock, Cod, Salmon)


I’m stocking as much fresh produce as I can cram in, plus:

  • Eggs
  • Fermented Pickles (Bubbies is widely available)
  • Naturally Fermented Sauerkraut (I have some Bubbies, and i’ll be making some, too)

So that’s my list for now. Because not every family is able to stock up as suggested, I also made a donation to a nearby food bank.

What are you stocking up on?

I’ll continue to update this list with ideas, so if you see something I missed please let me know.


  1. New York Times (2020) How To Protect Yourself and Prepare
  2. WebMD. How can my diet affect my immune system?
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Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding in 2009, Heather has been taking complicated health research and making it easy to understand. She shares tested natural recipes and herbal remedies with millions of naturally minded mamas around the world. 

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15 thoughts on “Stocking A Real Food Pantry for Emergencies”

  1. We don’t use mayonnaise. We do use Miracle Whip salad dressing. I stock up on what we eat when it’s on sale. Meats, frozen veggies, potatoes, canned soups, whatever. We have two freezers that we stock. We did have to clean them out not long ago. We had a malfunction with out battery back up when the power went off and the freezers got up to 40 degrees F. Not fun to have to throw away 2 freezers full of food, but it had to be done. One is almost full again. We are set to weather this for a month or so. I have bought powdered milk for our emergency use. We always have extras.

  2. Thank you, such an informative list. Since you have such a large reach in The wellness community, can you consider doing an email on the importance of helping those that don’t have the money to stock up like this? A donation of money or canned foods to a local food pantry would help those that don’t have the means to buy extra. Stay well

    • As a Hispanic that I’m
      And have we do stock up on dry items
      Like any or all types of beans like pinto beans, lentils, red and black beans Etc. white rice last a little longer than brown or jazmín rice, white flour which you can use for pancakes, breads, cookies, biscuits etc. instant coffe, dry milk, or can milk specially if you have kids,tuna salmón, pastas on times like right now it will be hard to eat right or try new types of food or be on a diet
      So be safe and God bless you all

  3. Thank you! I’m in Australia and public panic has set in! I’mGluten free and vegetarian and some of those items can be difficult to get. Some weeks ago I started stocking up similar items that you’ve mentioned – all the basics including cheeses with a long fridge shelf life, EVOO, coconut oil, flax and hemp seeds (omegas), good quality chocolate🤣 I sprout and have plenty of seeds, have some powdered milk, and I started planting baby spinach, spinach, beans and heirloom carrots in pots (it’s autumn here and I can move pots of seedlings and plants under more protection on cold nights)… we have a herbal mix my practitioner has recommended and essential oils for a diffuser if we should succumb to a cold/flu/ corona virus….. all the best to all communities worldwide! If you have to self isolate sing to your neighbours like the Italians! (How awesome is that) and keep in touch with those you love!

    • Stocking up on seeds for the garden (lettuce greens, spinach, kale, bok Choy), cheese, butter, coffee, food for the chickens and dog.

  4. Before this world panic, my husband and I put our heads together and started getting a few extra things each time we went to the store. We have a few packets of tuna, canned chicken, organic granola bars, canned veggies, instant coffee, creamer, some natural electrolytes, water, rice, beans, and a few other things. We didn’t go overboard, but we did get enough. We didn’t get garlic or onions, but we have organic garlic seasoning. :]

  5. Hi Heather! Thanks so much for sharing this post! Great ideas and information to help us all stay healthy during this time. The link to the tutorial for the broccoli sprouts doesn’t seem to be working, can you post that again? I think that is a great way to get in some veggies when going to the store isn’t an option 🙂

  6. These are rally helpul tips during this pandemic. You are a life saver! thank you so much for posting this. Keep up the amazing work!

  7. Thank you for helping me out in making a list of what to stock up and why. I am totally useless in this. But with your help I hope to do a decent job.

  8. I can’t believe how much time we are having to divert towards emergency supplies, but it seems to be a necessary thing in these times.

    Earlier during the season, we bought boxes of apples and pears and peaches. After a mulit-generational family work day (my mom and my wife with my daughters), we stored dozens of jars of storable fruits. Obviously others are doing this as finding the mason lids for doing this was difficult and in short supply.

    We also just joined a group which is doing intermittent “prepping” meetings to put our heads and hands together for brains and brawn.

    I asked this on another blog of yours, but let me know how I can appropriately share this information with others on my site?

    Eric Potter Functional MD