From blizzards to bacterial or viral outbreaks, a well-stocked pantry is vital to help you stay healthy and fueled if you get stuck inside. Discover the must-have items for an emergency food pantry so you can add them to your next shopping list.

By Karla Walsh
March 06, 2020
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As much as we like to be in control, things like the weather and unexpected illness are out of our control. But you can always take steps to be prepared. Starting with the food you have on hand. Enter: Our complete guide for what to stock in a pantry in case of an emergency. This emergency food pantry list can come in handy for weather events, power outages (when your local supermarket likely won’t be open), and other unexpected crises. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other government and medical organizations are currently recommending that Americans prep for a two-week stay at home, in the event of a widespread COVID-19 (aka coronavirus) outbreak. 

Two important details to remember when considering what to stock in a pantry to be prepared for 14 days at home: Choose foods your family will eat. In other words, skip anything on this emergency pantry list you wouldn’t eat normally to cut down on potential food waste. And take note of any special dietary needs or food allergies, and adjust our list accordingly. Also, don’t forget about your pets.

Just as important as stocking an emergency food pantry: Refilling any prescriptions or equipping your family with enough prescription, over the counter medications, and vitamins that might be needed during that same two-week span. 

Michael Partenio

What to Stock in a Pantry for a Two-Week Supply

FEMA, Homeland Security, and CDC experts recommend the following items for a stocked pantry.

Food

Aim to keep a balance of foods that provide essential nutrition if you won't be able to get to the store for many days.

  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, and vegetables—and a can opener such as this Stainless Steel Can Opener ($6.99, Target)
  • Pasta, rice, and whole grains
  • Instant rice and potatoes
  • Protein bars
  • Protein powder
  • Dry cereal 
  • Instant oats
  • Dried soup
  • Shelf-stable boxes or cans of juices and milk
  • Crackers and/or pretzels
  • Nuts and/or trail mix
  • Nut butter
  • Jelly
  • Jerky
  • Dried fruit
  • Stock/broth
  • Condiments
  • Jarred baby food and formula
  • Baking staples: Sugar, flour, salt, pepper, honey, oil, etc.
  • Comfort foods: Candy, cookies, instant pudding, coffee, tea, etc.

In the event of a non-power event, you can also utilize refrigerator and freezer staples, including:

  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Fresh and/or frozen fruit
  • Fresh and/or frozen vegetables
  • Yogurt
  • Meat, poultry, and/or fish
  • Bread (store in the freezer and use as needed to prevent spoilage or staleness)

Water

Just in case tap water isn’t safe or clean to drink, add one gallon per water per day to your stocking the pantry list, the American Red Cross Recommends. A two-week supply should keep you covered (that’s 56 gallons for a family of four), and snag an extra water filter or pitcher filter to store in the back of your emergency food pantry.

Buy It: PUR 11-Cup Water Pitcher with Filter, $34.99, Bed Bath & Beyond

Aim to fill your stocked pantry with enough to fuel every family member with about 2,000 calories per day. If you have time before shopping for your emergency food pantry, it can be helpful to jot down a tentative meal plan to make the math a bit easier.

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