I know it’s summer right now but when winter lasts most of the year you have to start planning early. This year isn’t going to be like most winters, either. Most experts are saying we might see another wave of COVID-19. It might even be worse than the first one! If you’re worried like I am, you probably want to know what food to stockpile for winter.
In order to make winter easier, I’m planning to stockpile food all summer so that when winter rolls around we can make quick trips to the grocery store for necessities like milk and eggs. Since we bake our own bread and make most things from scratch we shouldn’t need a while lot.
What and How Much Food to Stockpile For Winter
What your family stockpiles as winter prep is going to be different than mine. For this post I’ll go over some basic tips on how to figure out what you should be stockpiling and how much of it. You’ll also have to look at your ability to shop and storage arrangements.
Here’s the steps I take to figure out what I need to stockpile.
How to build a stockpile
If you don’t have a few hundred dollars laying around it’s easier to build your stock pile up bit by bit. Every time you go to the grocery store, pick up some extras of the things on your stockpile list. Start with anything that can last a long time.
If things are on sale, pick up as much as you can.
Reasons why you should stockpile food for winter
- It saves trips to the grocery store at a time when you don’t want to go out much.
- Saves money on gas, which is higher in the winter especially if you live somewhere that gets very cold.
- You’ll get in the habit of buying in bulk which can save you money when done properly.
- Most fresh produce is out of season in the winter so you should be turning to frozen or canned varieties more often anyway if you’re on a budget.
1. Set a stockpile completion deadline
If you’re shopping in small batches you’re going to want to set a deadline. Most of the time I’d suggest the start of winter, since that’s when it’s more difficult to shop. Here in Manitoba that means at mid-October, or November at the latest.
Right now, though, I want to have my stockpile completed earlier because of a possible COVID-19 second wave. That’s expected to happen in the fall, so I want my stockpile done before the kids are due back at school at the end of August.
2. Look at your shopping habits and make a list
Every family has staples that they eat a lot. In our house, it’s things like flour, sugar, and other baking ingredients. Certain canned food, Stovetop stuffing, ramen noodles, popcorn… You get the idea. Look at what you like to buy for snacks, canned goods, and parts of meals.
You’ll also want to fill the freezer, if you have one. Do the same with that and really focus on what will get eaten regularly.
3. Figure out how much
This might take a little bit of guesswork but you can probably estimate how much of everything you need. For me, it’s a bag of flour every 2 weeks or so and a jar of peanut butter per month.
If you have the time, track some things you’re not sure about to see how long they take to get used up in your house.
4. Shop & watch for sales
Now that you have your list and total quantities, it’s time to buy your food! You can do one mega trip if you want, but most people prefer to slowly build up a stockpile. Add a few items to each trip, or watch sales and fully stock one thing at a time.
If your grocery store offers points I like to use mine on stockpile items to offset the upfront costs.
5. Replace as you use
Once you have your stockpile in place, or even part of it, make sure you’re replacing what you use until your ‘start date’. If the stockpile is meant to last from September to May, for example, then keep replacing until September 1.
Important tips for stockpiling foods
- Check expiry dates! Make sure you use soon to expire foods first or find items with a longer shelf life.
- Rotate your stockpile so you use the oldest stuff first.
- Store food properly so that nothing goes to waste. Check regularly for bugs or other critters that could possible get into your food. If you don’t have great storage, consider sealed tote bins.
- Don’t over use just because you have a lot. This is a common problem with have “lots” of food which leads to using more than you had planned.
- Think about meals. If you can’t get out, do you have enough different things in your stockpile to make some meals for your family?
- Consider adding powdered milk or egg replacement to make food in pinch.
- Don’t forget toiletries, cleaning supplies, and pet products!
- Shop in bulk as much as possible.
- You don’t need to stockpile the whole thing. If you’re able to spend the money upfront later, stockpile for a few months at a time.
What I’m stockpiling and how much
I decided to organize my stockpile with a spreadsheet to make it easier. That way I can keep track of what I’ve bought and how much more I need to get easily.
I’m still working on that exact list, but I’ll update this post when I do. Until then, here’s the basic categories you might want to consider when planning what food to stockpile:
- Baking supplies like flour, sugar, etc
- Soups and canned goods that we use regularly
- Cooking supplies like chicken broth, cream of whatever soups, canned tomatoes, etc
- Pasta and pizza sauce
- Meal side dishes like Stovetop stuffing or packaged gravy (we use this stuff a lot and it’s cheap)
- Spices, dressings, oils, and sauces
- Spreads like peanut butter, jam, etc
- Canned or jarred fruits and veggies
- Rice, pasta, and lentils
- Oatmeal and breakfast cereal
- Convenience foods like ramen noodles, Kraft Dinner, and pancake mix
- Coffee, tea, and powdered drink mixes
- Pet supplies and food
- Cleaning supplies, garbage bags, toilet paper, and paper towels
You’ll have to take into account what you buy regularly when planning your stockpile. Of course, I strongly encourage you to can as much of your garden as you can so that it will last through the winter!