Working Prepper Pantry List with Guide to Stocking

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Ultimate working prepper pantry list with tips and guide for how to stockpile food and household items, both for survival and everyday use. Learn how to organize and store items, so your family is ready for whatever situation you face, whether it's an emergency, illness, or natural disaster. Free printable checklist!

For a long time, Dan and I have both wanted to spend some time stocking our survival pantry and household supplies that have a long shelf life. We've always stockpiled to a small degree, but we've wanted to take it further.

One thing or another has kept us from really jumping all in, whether it's keeping our finances in order or actually having the time to plan and implement.

Like I said, I've always had this tendency to keep a little stockpile of things we use on a regular basis. I'm pretty sure my growing up on a farm has a lot to do with my habits, and I count that as a good thing.

Why Everyone Needs a Preppers Pantry

There are so many reasons to keep a working pantry full of survival foods and household supplies you use on a daily basis.

  • An illness could keep you stuck at home for awhile.
  • A natural disaster scenario with widespread power outages.
  • Think spring storms with the threat of power outages.
  • You or your significant other could experience a job loss.
  • It's possible we could experience food shortages in the near future.

You name it, a prepper's pantry is a really good idea all 'round. We've personally experienced power outages, job loss, and illnesses that have kept us from getting out to the store. Life happens, and it's good to be prepared, so your family has peace of mind and enough food to last an extended period of time.

So how can you get started, and what kinds of things do you need to stock up on? What even is a working pantry? And how do you do all this on a budget? I'm going to answer all of these questions and more as you keep reading.

You'll also find a FREE PRINTABLE PREPPER PANTRY LIST and a VIDEO OF OUR OWN WORKING PANTRY toward the bottom of this post.

Need to know how to make a weekly meal plan from your pantry? <– I've gotcha covered!

What Is a Working Prepper Pantry?

First you need to know the difference between a working pantry and an emergency pantry. And then you can decide which is right for you.

An emergency pantry is basically a side stash you collect for emergency situations and emergency use only. Many prepper pantries function like this.

A working pantry, on the other hand, is a pantry you stash with all the foods and supplies you use on a regular basis, and you use a rotation system, so nothing is wasted.

By rotation system, I mean you're constantly pushing older things to the front and putting new replacement items in the back, so older foods are used up first.

emergency food supply, including canned vegetables, canned fruit, and more

We've always kept a working pantry, and we knew right from the start, that's the kind of pantry we wanted to continue to build. With family members that have special dietary needs, like diet-controlled diabetes and a gluten intolerance, it's important that we stock the kinds of foods we can eat without literally dying or living in misery.

We also didn't want to waste one can, one crumb, or one nutritious morsel of food. When we're constantly rotating and using the foods we collect, that pretty much ensures that nothing will go to waste.

How to Stock a Pantry for the First Time

How to even get started and how to stock a pantry on a budget are both questions that demand answers when you're just getting started.

Getting started is easy as long as you have paper and pencil. I actually have a little notebook (or Field Notes) I use, as well as my Notes app on my phone. Both help me keep track of what we need to continuously stock and things that are running low.

Go through your cabinets, as well as your fridge and freezer. Compile a list of all the foods and supplies you use on a regular basis.

I'm talking food and non-food items, including meats, vegetables, dry ingredients, spices and seasonings, medicines, cleaners, paper products, water, other drinks, essential oils if you use them, etc.

Even if some of the foods are frozen, you may be able to start collecting things that are shelf-stable in their place. For instance, frozen/fresh chicken… You can start collecting canned chicken in its place (or better yet, can your own).

Think about how much food and supplies your family use in any given week, and write that number down next to the item. Multiply that by the number of weeks in a month, and you know how much you need for a month's supply, which in turn, will help you figure out how to stock a pantry for a year.

best survival food like home canned applesauce, evaporated milk, and honey on white shelves

Building a well-stocked prepper pantry may seem overwhelming at first, but just take baby steps. Speaking of which…

How to Stockpile on a Budget

Whether you're trying to stock up on a budget, or you've come into a windfall of extra money, there are specific ways you can scrimp and save to make the process less painful on your bank account.

  • Take a small part of your weekly grocery budget, and dedicate it to stocking your pantry.
  • Shop at Aldi or other grocery discount stores. We find some of the best deals on canned food at Aldi.
  • Watch sales and BOGO offers at ALL your local grocery stores. This will require going to more than one local grocery store.
  • Watch instant savings or discounts at big box club stores, like Costco and Sam's Club. They often have sales, where if you buy so many of one item, you acquire a significant discount.
  • Compare Amazon Prime Pantry prices to local prices. Our oldest, Jacob, makes all his own bread, and one way I've found to more affordably get his bread flour (when it's in stock), is to order a Pantry box from Amazon.
  • Use coupons if you can get your hands on them.
  • While I haven't personally tried this, my neighbor sometimes finds “damaged” deals on Amazon, where she'll get a big package of something that has been slightly damaged, but still usable, and is significantly discounted.
  • If you get a Christmas bonus or a tax refund, or maybe you're self-employed and have a really good month… Take a small part of those earnings, and invest them. I say invest because this truly is an investment into your own, as well as your family's, health and well-being.
  • Sell something to stock your pantry. Just about everyone has things just lying around the house they could likely sell that would help them get a good start.
  • Think about food preservation strategies you can implement. You can also garden and grow food to can, but gardening takes money too.

It's important to figure out what will work for you and your family without causing undue strife or stress.

And now we get to the meat of this post (no pun intended).

What Foods Should You Store for Survival?

Now your list of foods may look slightly different from mine because of our family's partial dietary needs (diet-controlled diabetes and a gluten intolerance). But for the most part, the foods on this list are survival foods every prepper should have in their pantry.

shelf-stable canned foods and survival foods in cabinet, including crushed tomatoes, green beans, oats, and dried fruit

Think long-term and shelf-stable. You want to stock basic pantry staples, essentials, and foods that last the longest.

Meats and Proteins

You can purchase different types of canned meats over time, or you can actually preserve and can your own beef, deer meat or venison, chicken, etc.

Vegetables and Fruits

Beans and Legumes

  • White rice – White rice will keep almost indefinitely, so it's a much more shelf-stable food to choose over brown rice, which will only keep for up to six months.
  • Dry beans – Again, we don't eat a ton of rice and beans, but it's always good to have a supply of both because they're very sustainable.


Spices and Seasonings

  • Sea salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Seasoning salt
  • Any other types of seasonings you use and enjoy, including and especially Badia seasonings.

Grains and Flours

Baking Ingredients

popcorn, Bisquick, and other gluten-free flours in working pantry cabinet

Miscellaneous Foods and Ingredients

Water and Drinks

  • Water Supply – Now you don't necessarily have to go out and buy a bunch of water. You can repurpose milk jugs and juice jugs by washing them out thoroughly and filling them with water. You can also fill up un-used canning jars with water and build quite the water supply that way.
  • Coffee – Also, powdered creamer if you like cream in your coffee.
  • Tea bags
  • Hot chocolate mix
  • Juice – I stock grape juice because my boys love it, and my oldest craves it if he's sick.
  • Ginger ale, Sprite, or other tummy calming drinks
  • Propel powder packets – I buy these in case we need to replace electrolytes when sick. They have zero sugar and zero colors.
  • Dry milk – I purchase canned dry whole milk, and if we don't end up using it by close to the expiration date, I'll use it in recipes, so it's not wasted.
  • Dry buttermilk – Our oldest makes the most delicious gluten-free fried chicken with this.
  • Wine or other alcohol

Recipes for Beginning Preppers

Recipes you can make with fresh or canned ingredients, whether you need breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert. Swap out fresh for canned, freeze-dried, or powdered ingredients straight from the pantry.

Perfectly Cooked Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal

Simplify mornings with a quick and easy homemade maple brown sugar oatmeal. Dairy free Instant Pot oatmeal recipe using rolled oats and real maple syrup.
Get the Recipe

Peaches and Cream Instant Pot Oatmeal

Make ahead a large batch recipe for peaches and cream Instant Pot oatmeal, and start mornings with a family favorite, kid approved homemade breakfast!
Get the Recipe
wooden spoonful of peaches and cream Instant Pot oatmeal

Quick and Easy Grilled Taco Tuna Melt

Easy taco tuna melt recipe, made with a secret ingredient, melted cheese, avocado, and English muffins. Make it on the grill or over the campfire.
Get the Recipe
grilled taco tuna melt with avocado on English muffin with tomatoes, on wooden cutting board

Chicken Fried Rice in a Wok

How to make the most delicious homemade chicken fried rice in a wok. Quick and easy stir fry dinner recipe that's so much better than takeout!
Get the Recipe
bowl of chicken fried rice in a wok with eggs and vegetables

Delicious Salmon Patties Recipe

Simple and easy salmon patties, made with crackers. Delicious with tzatziki sauce and perfect for dinner or served as an appetizer.
Get the Recipe
delicious salmon patties on white platter with small bowl of tzatziki sauce

Chicken (or Tuna) Salad Sandwich Recipe

There's nothing quite as easy for dinner as a chicken salad sandwich recipe. Made with eggs, apples, and walnuts, this chicken salad is my family's favorite easy weeknight meal.
Get the Recipe
open-faced chicken salad recipe with eggs sandwich with lettuce on white plate

Easy Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

How to make an easy Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup you can depend on, sick or not. Add to your stash of easy chicken recipes!
Get the Recipe
When you're sick with cold and flu, nothing tastes quite as good or makes you feel better like a good hot bowl of chicken noodle soup. How to make an easy Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup you can depend on, sick or not. Add to your stash of easy chicken recipes!

Easy Campfire Peach Cobbler Recipe

How to make an easy campfire peach cobbler recipe with canned peaches and homemade pie crust crumbled on top. One of our favorite cast iron skillet campfire recipes!
Get the Recipe
peach cobbler recipe dished up in blue enamel camping bowl with fork

Buttermilk Oatmeal Cookies

How to make the best buttermilk oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips. Made with old fashioned oats, they're a little soft, a little chewy, and full of chocolatey goodness.
Get the Recipe
white plate full of buttermilk oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips, with glass of milk

Buttermilk Cornbread

How to make a delicious buttermilk cornbread from scratch. Easy, simple, non-sweet recipe. Bake in a cast iron skillet and enjoy with dinner.
Get the Recipe
buttermilk cornbread with butter and maple syrup on white Pioneer Woman plate

Easy Campfire Drop Biscuits

How to make quick and easy drop biscuits, using a Dutch oven or pie iron, on the grill or over a campfire. Simple Bisquick recipe for deliciously fluffy biscuits.
Get the Recipe
fluffy campfire drop biscuits in a tin foil pie plate

Toasted S'mores Dip

How to make kid-friendly s'mores dip over a campfire, on the grill, or in the oven at home. Easy camping dessert recipe you can enjoy anytime.
Get the Recipe
fork with ooey gooey s'mores dip filled with melted chocolate, toasted marshmallows, and graham crackers

Kitchen Paper Products

Emergency Cookware and Utensils

If you're really serious about prepping, you'll stock certain types of cookware, as well. Probably a lot of things that are on my camping kitchen list.

Things like…

household cleaners from Melaleuca and Young Living in a working pantry, SoluGuard, Thieves Household Cleaner, and Tough & Tender

Hygiene, First Aid, and Household Supplies

While I want to focus mainly on food and kitchen in this post, it's also a good idea to think about your entire household, including hygiene items, medical supplies, and household products. To get you started, here are a few suggestions.

hygiene, first aid, and household supplies in a working pantry cabinet

Where to Store Everything

If you have a large house with lots of room, and preferably a basement, you're set. But if you're like us and have a tiny pantry with not much space, you have to be creative.

Instead of thinking, “I don't have room for that”… I want you to think outside the box.

Can you purge and get rid of some things to make more room? Do you have a closet you can clean out and use? What about a dresser drawer or empty shelf? Do you have room underneath beds or a futon? How about an empty tote or bin?

Have a crawl space or an attic? We actually store potatoes we grow in our garden in our crawl space because they keep better in the slightly cooler environment.

white food grade bucket with gamma lid for gluten-free flour

Keep in mind for some of your dry ingredients, you may need food grade buckets with gamma lids or mylar bags for long-term food storage. We usually buy our food-grade buckets at Menards or Lowe's.

Look around your home, and figure out where you can make room and where you can stash supplies for long-term storage. Where there's a will, there's most definitely a way.

Watch Our Video to See How We Stock Our Working Pantry

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17 thoughts on “Working Prepper Pantry List with Guide to Stocking”

  1. Really enjoyed your pantry list. Have been peeping about 9 months. You gave me a new list of items I overlooked. Thanks so much! But I worry about my stash considering FEMA’S laws about us preppers!! Us hoarders (that’s what we’re called) are a danger to Americans. Any suggestions! My husband and I are a couple of 70 year olds who stay mostly to ourselves and are fearful!! FEMA has authority to confiscate all our supplies and will!! What does a person do??

    • Hi, I’m sure by now you have received many replies. I’ve been canning most of my 65 years. First with my mom and I was taught how to garden from my father. I doubt that FEMA will be busy with us small time peppers. FYI I’m not a hoarder. To me that gives me a vision of people buying out everything in a crisis. I don’t do that. I buy some of different kinds of things and I never ever take the last item on a store shelf. During a crisis we should be at home and avoiding the craziness that people can cause. I do a lot of canning. I can
      ot of canning. Different meats, pasta, rice, beans, canned veggies, and cream of soups, along with condiments that you use. I make and can a lot of soups. The more you do yourself, the cheaper it’ll be. Think different flavors. Mexican, Chinese, barbecue, like that. Also don’t put all your food in one place. You don’t want to alert people that you are stocking up. A couple of cases under your bed, one or two in the corner of closets, if you’re lucky enough to have a basement, box up a dozen or two on your shelves and label them Christmas or cookie cutters, or yard sale items. I watch for sale flyers from my local grocery stores and stock up on food that way. If you eat meat that’s when to buy it, then home can it. You can find jars in thrift stores, yard sales, at your local feed store, even grocery stores or Walmart. Please feel free to respond if you have any questions. Take care.

  2. Hi!
    Is there a way I can get all of your information in printed form? I’d love to have it for permanent reference as I begin process of pantry storage with recipes. Thanks so much!
    Rebecca in Tennessee

  3. I love all of this info! It’s exactly the kind of list my bestie was looking for to start her journey! Thank you!
    (Please be careful with milk jugs- no matter how many times I clean them, they’re never drinkable for me and can cause some gastrointestinal distress.)

  4. I’ve been watching videos and scribbling notes for days and spent many hours doing so. HOWEVER…..I found your amazing site 2am last night and (queen the Angel’s singing) you have everything I’ve been looking for in ONE PLACE!!!! Thank you so much! I will remain a devoted follower forever. God bless you and your family and may you all Stay safe.


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