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How to Prepare for Food Shortage In 2023 [Practical Tips]

How to prepare for food shortage! Do you have a stockpile of essential foods ready and waiting for your household to use at a moment’s notice? If not, then you’re at risk of experiencing a crisis if food shortages occur in your area or even all across the globe.

Fortunately, it’s easy to learn how to prepare for food shortages – and we’re here to help with this guide. Here’s a look at all you need to know about preparing for food shortages.

Why Should You Prepare for a Food Shortage

how to prepare for food shortage and empty shelves
Empty shelves have been a common sight in supermarkets for the past two years. Preparing for a food shortage is more important now than ever.

Every day seemingly brings new alerts about shortages of essential foods. These shortages are typically limited to a few products at a time and tend to resolve quickly. But there’s always a risk of food shortages happening on a global scale.

When the global food supply runs low, you won’t want to be the one standing in long lines at the grocery store only to face empty shelves. It’s much safer to have all the right items already on hand at home just in case something happens to the food supply chain.

You can then keep your household well-nourished and hydrated while waiting for the food shortage to end. So, it’s well worth preparing for supply chain issues by stocking up on emergency food, water, and other supplies.

How to Prepare for Food Shortage

My mother-in-law, Sue, prepares food in Mylar bags for long-term storage. We now have a room dedicated to the storage of essential items. Most perishables are stored in Mylar bags (or are canned goods). We then store them in sturdy plastic buckets with lids to keep vermin out.

When you’re learning how to prepare for food shortage, plan to take a multi-pronged approach. You must have emergency kits ready to take on the go along with a fully stocked pantry and well-kept garden space.

1. Build an Emergency Kit

Start with the creation of a kit filled with everything you’ll need during emergency events, including food, water, and medical supplies.

This food storage and supply kit will have everything your household needs to survive on your own until help arrives. You may also need to take the kit on the road if ordered to evacuate or your home otherwise gets compromised.

2. Stock Up on Non-Perishables

Our emergency food supply room is getting fuller every week.

Stock up on non-perishables to ensure your household has enough essentials to last through an extended food shortage. Prepare for a food shortage by filling up your pantry space with items that have a healthy shelf life, including, canned food, rice, noodles, beans, and the like.

Or, you can go even further with food preservation to fill the cellar or other long-term food storage space with the items you need to last several years. This is what we chose to do. Our emergency supplies room has healthy stocks of food, water purification materials, toilet paper, blankets, and other supplies.

We add to the room regularly, especially when items are on special or when we can a batch of vegetables or fruit. See it as a work in progress, starting with the most essential items and working your way up to less-essential but great-to-have items. Amazon, for example, has great deals on bulk grocery buys – it’s worth keeping an eye on those and things that are on special.

Just food is not enough either. You will need kitchen tools, toilet paper, and other supplies to stay afloat until the supply chain issues work themselves out. We’ve even added a fishing net!

The Best Types of Non-Perishable Foods

The best types of non-perishable packaged and canned foods to put in your pantry and cellar include:

  • Rice
  • Noodles
  • Dried beans
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Canned beans
  • Canned veggies
  • Canned fruits
  • Canned meats
  • Dried fruit
  • Soup cans
  • Coconut oil
  • Crackers
  • Granola bars
  • Nut butter
  • Nuts
  • Jam

If you want to preserve foods, the sky is the limit in what you can store. Eggs in lime water, pickled vegetables, chutney, herb cans, and protein-rich soups are all great possibilities.

Overall, just focus on getting real food with a long shelf life and high nutritional value. Processed foods are fine, too, since they have the salt and other preservatives needed to last for an extended period of time.  

To properly process whatever you grow in your garden, keep manual kitchen tools around as well, like a grain mill, wheat grinder, and bread mixer. Learn how to use them ahead of time, too, so you’re not trying to figure out what to do in a high-stress situation.

Improve Your Pantry Supplies

Most food shortages are short-term events, but there’s always a chance of an extended shortage occurring in your lifetime. To withstand that, your household will need a fully stocked pantry filled with extra food and other supplies. The additional items will help your family survive while waiting out the low availability of food in your area.

If you want to stay self-sustainable for years, set your sights on filling your cellar or another long-term food storage area with preserved foods as well. The extra food will go a long way in keeping you out of grocery stores throughout periods of intense shopping frenzies.

Beyond that, if you have a large chest freezer, you can fill it with meat, frozen vegetables, and other items as needed to support your household’s food needs. You can even freeze bread made with whole grains if you wish.

Just be sure to stock up when food prices are low to save money in the long run. That way, you can ensure you can get enough food for any emergency that arises.

3. Create a Bountiful Garden

how to prepare for food shortage by planting vegetables and saving vegetable seeds
My daughter, Amber, planting seeds for our Spring crop. A vegetable garden is one of the best ways to ensure an ongoing food supply. Increase your self-sufficiency by saving seeds and planting perennial varieties as well as annual types.

A well-kept garden is a gift that keeps on giving, helping you prepare for a food shortage by ensuring you have enough fresh food to support your family. You can either set up your garden (learn how to get started from scratch here!) on your land or grab a spot in the local community garden.

Either way, you’ll want to create a bountiful gardening plan that allows you to harvest fruits, veggies, and herbs year-round. Plus, make sure to properly collect and save all your seeds to create a truly self-sustainable garden space.

By addressing these three areas, you’ll be ready to weather any upcoming food shortages that arise. You can then quit worrying about how potential supply chain disruptions might prevent your family from eating healthy foods.

4. Raise Chickens or Other Animals

how to prepare for food shortage by raising animals
Our newest lamb!

Besides a vegetable garden, raising your own animals is a great way to prepare for a food shortage. You don’t need a lot of room to add two or three chickens, rabbits, ducks, or quail. Small animals like these are incredibly productive!

Chickens and ducks will provide you with an almost endless supply of eggs and meat. Add butchering to your list of skills to learn to be even more prepared.

5. Learn These Long Term Storage Tips

Your stockpile of food needs to get stored properly to withstand the test of time. Freezer foods are not non-perishable, but they can work well if rotated out regularly. You’ll also need to rotate out your non-perishables in your food storage areas – just not as often as your freezer goods.

To keep your items edible and ready to nourish your family, start by labeling everything with the date you bought them. Then, mark the items down in a spreadsheet with the purchase date, ideal use-by date, and location in your home.

After that, store the pantry items off the ground in a cool, dry location. If you’re using your cellar, make sure that all your food sits on sturdy shelves. All your frozen goods go in the freezer for regular and emergency use.

Check your list monthly to see what needs to get rotated out. As you identify items to use up, rotate them into your normal food supply and replace them during your next trip to the store.

By taking this approach, you’ll avoid having to replace everything all at the same time, keeping your costs manageable without compromising your ability to stay well-prepared. Your efforts will also help reduce food waste through the years.

How to Start Your Garden

A productive vegetable garden is a great step on your journey to learning How to Prepare for Food Shortage

For true household sustainability, you definitely need to grow your own food in a garden. When properly maintained, a garden can provide your family with fresh produce nearly year-round.

You don’t need a lot of room either. It’s possible to get large harvests from a small garden patch in your yard or at a local community gardening space. Use this fantastic guide to help you maximize your crops – it tells you exactly what to plant and when:

Unless you already have a green thumb, you’ll want to start with easy-to-grow crops, like:

  • Radishes
  • Carrots
  • Green beans
  • Zucchini
  • Swiss chard
  • Tomatoes
  • Beets
  • Onions
  • Parsnips
  • Corn

Herbs can also help your household stay well-nourished through a food shortage. They’re chockful of flavor and nutrients, making them a great addition to your emergency rations.

If you have room in your yard, consider planting fruit and nut trees wherever possible. Although they can take a few years to produce meaningful harvests, they’ll be an investment in the future.

6. Year-Round Garden Planning

For the best yields, try your hand at square-foot gardening. To do that effectively, create a plan for your garden throughout every season. That way, you’ll have harvestable produce coming your way all the time.

Start your garden plans by focusing on the warm and cool season crops you’ll grow in the spring and summer. Weeks before the first frost ends, start your seeds indoors to create strong seedlings for the spring growing season.

How to Prepare for Food Shortage With Warm Season Seeds

Depending on your climate, springtime plants you might want to grow include:

Check your local almanac to see when to put the seedlings in the ground. Then, water them as needed to keep the plants growing strong through the end of the harvest.

How to Prepare for Food Shortage With Cool Season Seeds

As the end of summer nears, start your seeds indoors once again, but this time for your cool season crops, like:

  • Carrots
  • Radishes
  • Turnips
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Lettuce
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage

After the summer heat tempers, you can start putting these plants in the ground. As with the springtime, always check the almanac for the ideal planting dates for your area.

Keep in mind that you can replant new carrot, parsnip, and radish seedlings as you harvest each row. Also, clip your lettuce at the base instead of pulling it up to keep the crops growing all season long.

Through each season, create a plan for all your harvests. You may need to keep pulling out the instant pot, pressure cooker, and other canning gear to create a large enough food supply to withstand a food shortage.

It’s well worth the time and effort it takes to build up your cellar shelves enough to get your household through whatever food shortage comes your way.  

7. Don’t Forget Seed Saving

When food shortages occur, seed shortages usually follow. To avoid getting stuck without seeds to grow next season, get in the habit of letting a few plants go to seed each season. You can also trade your seeds with neighbors to vary your crop types and build a large collection of seeds.

Good seed-saving practices to follow on your ‘how to prepare for food shortage’ journey include:

  • Only have the strongest plants in your garden go to seed each season
  • Let each type of plant fully complete the seed production process
  • Harvest the seeds  by hand and then let them dry fully before storing
  • Store all your seeds in clean, dry glass containers with tight-fitting lids
  • Label each seed jar and place them in a cool, dry location for later use

Plan to use your seeds across the next few seasons to keep them viable. Replace them as needed each growing season, so you maintain a robust collection of many different types of fruit and vegetable seeds.

How to Assemble an Emergency Kit

Start with your emergency kit to ensure you have grab-and-go goodness on hand no matter what food shortage situations come your way. To begin, get a plastic tub to store your food and other items.

The tub should fit in your vehicle just in case you need to evacuate. Then, fill it with all the right items and store it in an easily accessible location that’s protected from the elements.

Key Items to Include in Your Kit

For a family of four, you will need:

  • At least three days’ worth of food for each person, including protein bars, fruit cans, and canned foods
  • Enough clean drinking water to last each person three days or more
  • Manual can opener
  • Soap and hand sanitizer
  • Plastic utensils
  • Paper plates
  • Food preparation tools
  • Emergency blankets
  • Dust masks
  • Garbage bags
  • Hand-crank radio
  • Whistles
  • Flashlights
  • Extra batteries
  • Cellphone and portable chargers
  • Pet food and water

Put a roll of high-density painter’s plastic and duct tape in your kit just in case you need to shelter in place. Also, remember to purchase water purification tablets for your kit, just in case your water gets contaminated.

In addition, put together a first aid kit with:

  • Bandages
  • Gauze
  • Tape
  • Alcohol pads
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Instant cold compresses
  • Tweezers
  • Thermometer.

Beyond that, don’t forget to include:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Antihistamines

If anyone in your household takes prescription medication, include that as well.

How to Calculate a Day’s Worth of Food and Water

Look at the nutritional info on your foods to figure out how much to include for each member of your household. To properly sustain each person, you’ll want to pack about 2,000 calories of food per day.

How much food is that? For each day of the food shortage, you might want to pack each person:  

  • One can of chili – 550 calories
  • One sleeve of crackers – 480 calories
  • One shelf-stable complete meal – 300 calories
  • Two tablespoons of peanut butter – 190 calories
  • One cup of canned fruit cocktail in syrup – 140 calories
  • Two protein bars – 380 calories  

All these foods add up to 2,040 calories for the day. But you can mix and match whatever food items work for your household best.

Although you could reduce the calorie allowance for kids, it’s not advised. Also, remember to put formula, baby foods, and snacks for infants and toddlers in your kit if you have little ones. Overall, buy food that your kids will like to help reduce their stress about the situation.

As for water, pack one gallon of water per person for at least three days. The water should be used primarily for drinking, but it might be helpful for washing up in a pinch.

Do you have pets in the house? Pack up their daily food allowance as well along with one gallon of water per pet. Learning how to prepare for food shortage includes caring for the animals in your care.

Emergency Kit Storage Tips

With the exception of canned goods, put as much of the food as possible in sealable bags. Do the same for your other supplies that could get damaged by flooding water and dust exposure.

Then, put it all in your plastic storage bin. You’ll want to place the food storage and supply bin near the front door or in the garage, so it’s easy to access in the event of an

Causes of Global Food Shortages

You’re not likely to see food shortages coming soon enough to adequately prepare your household for the bare supermarket shelves. By the time you get notice of an impending food shortage, it’s likely that everyone else in your area is on the same page.

The reason for the relatively short notice is due to the main causes of these shortages, including:

  • Crop damage
  • Natural disaster
  • War and other conflicts

These issues can all disrupt the supply chain without warning, leaving households scrambling for a solution. This is why is so important to learn how to prepare for food shortage.

Gradual food shortages may also occur due to the impact of climate change on the farming and fishing industries. Labor shortages can greatly impact food production, transport, and sales activities. An economic downturn can even leave communities struggling to get the resources needed to properly stock supermarkets with all the essentials.

Sometimes, the hint of an impending food shortage causes products to disappear from shelves for an extended period of time. This happened with toilet paper in 2020 due to supply chain issues caused by the pandemic. The results could be devastating if pantry staples, like flour, sugar, and yeast, got hoarded on a global scale and for even longer than the toilet paper shortages.

Preparation Is Key to Avoiding a Food Crisis

Now that you know how to prepare for food shortage, it’s time to get started. You simply cannot predict when a shortage will arise, after all, so it’s best to get prepared early.

As climate change, global conflicts, and the like continue to happen, the risk of communities falling short on food will always remain. So, keep your supplies well maintained with regular inspections and rotations as well. Your efforts will help ensure that your household has everything it needs to stay self-sustainable through any crisis.

Author

  • Elle

    Jack of all trades, master of some. Wild garden grower. Loves creating stuff. From food forests and survival gardens to soap and yoghurt. A girl on a farm with two kids and one husband (yep, just one - although another one would be handy). Weirdly enjoys fixing fences and digging holes. Qualified permaculture teacher and garden go-to.

Anna

Monday 12th of December 2022

I dehydrate almost every vegetable I can get and vacuum seals them. Does anyone make a hand powered vacuum sealer?

Elle

Thursday 15th of December 2022

Hi Anna! Funnily enough, this is something I've been looking into lately! I believe that in a crisis, power is one of the first things to disappear, so we've been on a mission to find as many hand-powered alternatives for everything, from animal watering systems to food preservation. It pays to be prepared! So, something I came across is Pump-n-Seal. This system doesn't use specific bags, but you can use it to manually seal mason jars, your own bags, and even bowls! It's an incredibly clever idea! You make a small hole in the mason jar lid, then use this system to vacuum seal it. It looks brilliant and has great reviews - but I have not personally tried it yet. I'm still in the research phase but if I do purchase it, I'll update this comment with my experience. If you decide to try it, I'd love to hear your thoughts about it, too. And so would our readers, without a doubt! Thanks so much for stopping by, Elle

Carol L

Thursday 27th of October 2022

To further protect your garden fare, and your freezer from ruination by power loss, I would suggest getting a dehydrator, canner and pressure canner, and although it is expensive, a freeze dryer. I'm getting one, having just had over $14k worth of meat go bad when my freezer broke down and I didn't notice it for several days. I won't ever rely on my freezer for long term food again. You can pressure can meats, but you can also freeze dry them to make shelf stable meals that only require a heat source and some water. Most people have those already in their emergency supplies. Going in with relatives or possibly neighbors and sharing the cost and time to freeze dry helps with the cost. Yes, there are companies that sell such things, but their supply could be stopped due to shipping issues, or shortages...plus, none of them have organic foods. I know as I have contacted the two most reliable sources: Auguson, and Thrive Life. The FD is a valuable tool in being prepared for whatever comes...and is a good investment as well. Whatever, you should begin to put away food and the methods to grow/raise and preserve that food for lean times and high costs.

You should not rely solely on electric appliances: the grid may go down or an EMP could happen. Find old school kitchen appliances that require no electricity: a hand cranked mill, hand chopper, hand powered meat grinder, solar dehydrator, etc.. Pretty thorough post! Thanks!

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