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:  http://www.homeeverafter.com/emergency-preparedness-for-the-pantry-checklists . Thank you!

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