Get our free updates by email and never miss a thing!


Emergency Preparedness

How is Your 2 Week Pantry Challenge Going?

It’s been nearly 2 weeks since we started the frugal 2 week pantry challenge.  How are you doing on the challenge so far?

The point of the challenge was to live off your pantry stockpile for at least 2 weeks, making your menu plan to contain meals from all ingredients you already have on hand.  However, this sounds a lot easier than it is. 

A lot of us frugal shoppers and extreme couponers end up with pantries full of surpluses of condiments and deodorant, but a lot fewer cooking ingredients and meal items.  When I go into my pantry right now, most of what is left is breakfast cereal and bbq sauce!

It was difficult, but I did my 2 weeks of menu plans using up the ingredients I had on hand.  Some of the meals were odd combinations of food, but that’s okay.  Plus, I’ve made sure everyone is taking leftovers for their lunches during these 2 weeks.  This means that not only will the pantry get used up and cleared out, but the refrigerator will too.

A clear pantry is a great way to start off a new, fresh stockpile.  If you have a little more inventory to clear out, feel free to keep the pantry challenge going until you use up more of your food stock on hand. 

Remember to use up the food in your freezer too- yes, dig to the back to get out the roasts and other forgotten meats!  My family was able to recover some pork ribs yesterday forgotten in our big freezer, and we had a great bbq ribs dinner cooked on the grill.

Let us know how you did with the pantry challenge in the comments below!

2 Week Challenge: It’s Time to Use Up the Pantry!

146With every natural disaster that happens, our thoughts turn to pantry stockpiles and how many supplies we have on hand.  Now is no exception, with the recent 9.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan.  At our regular shopping trip this week, we noticed people had started their food hoarding already.

Remember that being prepared with a sensible stockpile is NOT the same thing as hoarding.  Will we use up 50 pounds of flour? Probably not.  What about 100 bags of beans?  You get the point! 

In a practical pantry stockpile we want to have about 3 months’ supply of foods we will actually use, even if there is no disaster.  Check out our list Emergency Preparedness for the Pantry: Checklists To Get You Ready to get started putting together your pantry supply. 

2 Week Challenge: Use Up Your Pantry

Over the next two weeks, I challenge you to live of of our pantry groceries so that you can 1) save on your grocery shopping and 2) start your stockpile over fresh with new foods.  My family will be doing this pantry challenge too.

During the use-it-up phase, you may be putting together some strange meal combinations. That’s alright!  We had frozen pizzas one night with roasted asparagus on the side as our veggie! 

Use up  the oldest foods you have in your pantry first.  Use up the foods you don’t like to cook and therefore, keep getting pushed to the back and forgotten (just get them out of your pantry for good). 

So whip out your menu plan template and start filling in meals using the inventory in your pantry.  You should have enough on hand to only buy minimal ingredients, fresh produce, and milk during your grocery shopping trips during the 2 week pantry challenge.

Let us know how you do in the comments below!

Rethinking Emergency Preparedness for Bombings After Jericho

Are we prepared to live in a state of emergency?  My previous research into emergency preparedness brought me to develop the Emergency Preparedness for the Pantry: Checklists To Get You Ready.  These checklists are a great starting place, but are designed for natural disasters, fires, earthquakes, loss of power, etc., not specifically for dealing with bombings.  How much different is emergency preparedness for surviving a nuclear attack and living in a world after radiation and fallout? 

My husband and I have been watching a TV series called Jericho, which, strangely enough, started in 2006 but we never heard of it until now!  The show is about a small town in Kansas which sees a mushroom cloud in the distance and loses all power and communication with the outside world.  We later find out that all the major cities in the United States have been bombed and the world as we know it has completely changed.

Watching Jericho has sent me seriously deep into thought night after night.  How prepared would we be if something like this nuclear attack actually happened?  As dependent upon information as we are in our society, would we know how to survive if our information sources (the internet, the news, etc.) disappeared?  Really, would we be able to make butter from scratch if we couldn’t just go to Google and search “how to churn butter recipe”?

I’ve been rethinking my emergency preparedness efforts since I’ve started watching Jericho.  Where before I thought my modest pantry stockpile was a good start at being ready for an emergency or disaster, I now know I was way off.

I told my husband yesterday that I realized we would probably die in a post-nuclear world and definitely would not be able to provide for our children.  I think I’ll be adding in some survival training to our homeschool curriculum this year, not only for the kids, but for mom and dad as well.

Most Needed Items to Have or Have Stockpiled to Survive Nuclear Attack

The people of Jericho found themselves trading, fighting, and stealing for necessities in a post-nuclear attack world.  What were the items considered necessities?  How many of these do you have on hand in your emergency preparedness kit?  Below are 17 most needed items I brainstormed after watching Jericho.

  1. Food with long life that doesn’t require refrigeration or freezing
  2. Salt
  3. Pesticides (to save crops from infestation)
  4. Antibiotics
  5. Medicine
  6. First aid supplies (bandages, iodine (for radiation poisoning), etc.)
  7. Clean bottled water
  8. Non-electric tools (hand can openers, hand crank washing machine, etc.)
  9. Guns for protection against invaders and looters
  10. Duct tape and plastic sheeting for sealing off a home from fallout
  11. Candles and flashlights
  12. Gasoline and diesel
  13. Blankets
  14. A fireplace in your home to use as a heat source and firewood
  15. A basement
  16. Batteries (not rechargeables)
  17. Clock (not digital)

Top Survival Skills Used in Jericho

How many of the survival skills below do you know?  If you’re like me, you’ll be lucky if you can check off one or two items on the list.  There are a lot of survival skills we may need to use after a nuclear bomb near our town which are NOT things we do in everyday life.  Perhaps it’s time to get back to basics and learn to take care of ourselves!    The people in Jericho were able (thankfully) to do the following survival activities:

  1. Hooking up a generator
  2. Hunting animals for food
  3. Washing laundry by hand
  4. Building windmills (wind turbines) for electricity
  5. Sending and receiving morse code
  6. Repairing ventilation systems (in fallout shelters)
  7. Harvesting crops by hand and storing them
  8. CPR and other first aid skills
  9. Self-defense training
  10. Taking apart machines to salvage parts
  11. Using salvaged parts to build a radio for communication
  12. Hooking up a fire hose and putting out a house fire without help of firefighters
  13. Shutting off electricity to a building in case of electrical fire

It’s always a good idea to be prepared, as every boy scout knows very well.  It’s not likely that we’ll have to deal with a situation like living after nuclear bombings, but having a good emergency plan, provisions, and skills is a good idea anyway.  This solid basis can help us in case of a natural disaster as well, and help us to give our kids the necessary skills to survive should they ever be in conditions like these.  Give your emergency preparedness plan a good look today and start making some additions!

Rethinking Emergency Preparedness for Bombings After Jericho is linked to Works for me Wednesday.

Emergency Preparedness for the Pantry: Checklists To Get You Ready

Updated 2-27-10:  Due to the recent earthquake in Haiti, and earlier this morning, the earthquakes in Chile and Okinawa, as well as tsunami warnings for the entire Pacific basin (including Chile, California, Hawaii, and Alaska), we decided to republish this article.  Are you really prepared for the possibility of living in a state of natural disaster?  Get yourself ready now!

When it comes to emergency preparedness for the pantry, there is never a case when being prepared isn’t helpful.  You never know what will happen, and whether there is an earthquake or your husband loses his job and you have to live off your pantry for a while, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Is your pantry ready for a possible emergency?

My Grammie asked me about the shape of my pantry last week.  I said it was fine because it is full.  That’s what I thought anyway, until I got home and took a good look at the pantry.  It is full of things I got with great coupon plus sale deals, but that mostly is comprised of condiments, laundry supplies, and cooking soups.  Uh oh.

I stared at my pantry and wondered how long we could live out of our pantry if we had to.  The bleak answer that struck me was, “Not very long.” 

Is Your Pantry Ready?

Are you prepared with a well-stocked pantry should the unexpected happen, like a job layoff, a natural disaster, or something similar?  Some of the supplies listed below aren’t food items, but are necessary for cooking, eating, and everyday living, especially during an emergency.  When stocking up your pantry, make sure you’re prepared for any of the following situations with the items listed below.


If you have a baby, it can be hard to substitute certain items if you run out and can’t buy more.  Do you have enough:

  • Disposable Diapers (even if you normally cloth diaper, a loss of water may mean you can’t wash diapers)
  • Formula
  • Diaper rash medicine
  • Baby cereal and baby food

Loss of Water 

In case you should lose your access to running water, you’ll need items to take the place of the many daily uses of water.

  • Bottles or jugs of water for drinking.  Learn about purifying and storing clean water safely here in this document prepared by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizers and wet wipes for eliminating germs and cleaning.
  • Wet wipes for using after going to the bathroom.
  • Rubbing alcohol and cotton balls for washing hair without water.
  • Bottled juices or juice boxes (not concentrate) that are ready to drink.
  • Pedialyte and Gatorade to treat and prevent dehydration.
  • Paper plates, plastic forks and spoons, and plastic cups that don’t require washing.

Loss of Electricity

If you should lose power, you’ll need foods that can be eaten without cooking.  You’ll eat the foods out of the refrigerator and freezer first as much as possible to avoid spoiling.  Supplies to use for cooking outdoors are a good idea.

Cooking supplies:

  • Extra propane tank for bbq grill.
  • Aluminum foil to line the bbq with, so that you can cook foods (like frying eggs) that wouldn’t normally go on the grill.  You may be cooking a lot on the barbecue, so make sure you have several rolls.
  • Camping stove.
  • Hand can opener that requires no electricity.


  • Canned meats that are pre-cooked.  Spam, tuna, canned chicken, vienna sausages, and deviled ham are good examples of canned meats that are ready to eat right out of the package.  These can easily be warmed up over a fire or camping stove.
  • Powdered or dried milk.
  • Canned soups, pastas, bacon, stews, canned chow mein (includes pre-cooked meat).

General / Loss of Transportation/Shipping Methods

Loss of transportation and shipping methods is an important emergency preparedness issue for my family in Alaska, since we are remotely located from major food suppliers.  If an emergency was to happen cutting off our grocery stores from their regular shipments, we’d need to be stocked up on non-perishable foods (similar to what food banks stockpile).  These reserves would keep us going until grocery stores could get replenishments of fresh foods.

This is an important consideration if you live far from a major city, in a remote area, or on an island.

  • Canned veggies, fruits, meats, soups, pastas, juices, and beans.
  • Frozen vegetables and berries, meats, roasts, lunch meats, frozen loaves of bread.
  • Baking staples such as flour, sugar, yeast, corn meal, baking soda, baking powder, oil.
  • Baking mix (Bisquick).
  • Boxed all-in-one dinners that contain canned meat.
  • Grains to add to dinners or cook as hot breakfasts (oats, barley, wheat berries, etc.)
  • Protein substitutes like protein powder, TVP, and TSP.
  • Rice, dried pasta and dried beans.
  • Vitamins and supplements.
  • Over the counter medicines and first aid supplies.
  • Toilet paper.
  • Contact solution, spare contacts.
  • Toothpaste, floss and fluoride.
  • Shampoo, conditioner, soap.
  • Detergents and cleaning supplies.
  • All the items in the lists above.

Act Now to Stock Up a Little at a Time

Emergency preparedness is not something to do later.  The best time is now!  Be sure to print out this article and tuck these reminder checklists into your pantry.  Each time you go grocery shopping, add a few of the items above to your list to stock up. 

By stocking up a little at a time for an unexpected emergency, you’ll be ready for anything that life throws your way and will have peace of mind knowing that your family will be alright.

If you found this article useful, please blog about it for your readers or share it on a forum.  Here is the URL to link to: . Thank you!

We originally published this article on emergency preparedness on June 26, 2009.