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How To Organize an Emergency Pantry

How to Organize an Emergency Pantry

Organization is the key to building an efficient food pantry. Once your pantry is organized, you will be able to find all items quickly. Efficiency is essential during any kind of disaster. To avoid stumbling around and desperately trying to reach various items, make sure to add necessary hardware to your current pantry space. Sliding shelves, pull-out drawers, baskets, and other accessories will make creating a usable pantry easier. Aside from necessary hardware, it’s important to group foods together in a way that makes sense for you. Once organized, you can inspect foods and add new foods with ease.

Grouping Foods Together

Your regular, everyday, food pantry may, or may not, be organized. Most people create separate shelves for baking items, grains, canned goods, and other items. Organizing an emergency food pantry is similar to building a regular pantry. The only difference is that you will have numerous unusual foods lining your emergency pantry shelves.

Once you have bought most of the foods that will take space on your emergency shelves, take a good look at the items you have purchased. Then, attempt to group these items according to usage. For example, you may use grains and nuts more than you will use a box of chocolates. Therefore, putting the grains and nuts in an easily accessible place is a wise move.

Canned Goods Deserve a Special Place

Presumably, you will use canned goods during an emergency more than any other item. Therefore, it’s a wise idea to place canned goods in a certain area. Organize your canned goods according to those items that you will use frequently. For example, your family may prefer to eat canned tuna and chicken over canned beans.

Make sure to place canned goods above the floor of your pantry. In fact, it’s best to elevate your entire pantry, so that no foods are touching the ground. Even though your ground may be dry at present, a disaster or emergency could leave your floors wet and muddy. As a result, all of the food that you have stored will become ruined.


In spite of what you may have assumed, no food is truly imperishable. That includes canned foods (that start losing their nutrition after 2 years) and specialty survival foods and MREs (which can last for 5 to 10 years). Unless you are a savant with a photographic memory, there’s now you’ll remember which food is one year old and which food is four years old. Get that label maker or sharpie out and date everything. Better yet, arrange it on the shelf based on date (new stuff up front, old stuff in the back) and rotate it out on a “first in, first out” basis.

Prepare for Electricity Loss

A pantry is only worthwhile if you can easily access foods and open up canned goods. Some emergencies and disasters may result in a loss of electricity. When electricity is lost, you will not be able to see cans and other goods clearly. To ensure that you can access your food at all times, add a number of different flashlights to various baskets and shelves.

It’s also a wise idea to add manual can-openers to your pantry. Since you may lose one can-opener or flashlight, placing multiple tools in easily accessible areas is the best way to ensure that you will be able to eat and drink as needed. Further, letting everyone who lives inside of your home know about the location of each food item and tool is important. This way, everyone can access foods and drinks at all times. Organization is half the battle when it comes to an emergency food pantry. Spend some time each weekend organizing your emergency food pantry, and you will be ready for any emergency.

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