Disasters, droughts, flooding, wildfires, and wind storms disrupt hundreds of thousands of lives every year and this number seems to be increasing if you count the recent global pandemic. Every disaster or pandemic has lasting effects such as people that are left without essentials like food and water. After looking at all that we’ve been going through in recent years you can’t help but ask yourself, is there a food shortage coming? Considering the rising price of groceries, the slowdown of production in meat packaging, failing farms, labor shortages, and political upheavals leads one to entertain the idea that a food storage could possibly be on the horizon.
So.. How can we prepare for, survive, and overcome a food shortage?
To prepare for and survive a food shortage one must identify potential risks in your area, take an inventory of your current resources (especially food and water), develop a food storage plan to grow both a short and long term food storage, start a garden (even if it’s small or only indoors), learn to preserve foods either that you buy or grow yourself, raise chickens and other livestock, and stock up on other emergency items.
Don’t Panic! But remember that those who are prepared will have no need for fear.
Let’s look a little deeper at these items and ideas on how to survive a future food shortage.
Identify potential food shortage risks that are specific to your area
Is your geographical location more likely to experience a drought, a flood, tornado, wildfire, high winds, earthquakes, or something else? It’s important to consider natural disasters because they can happen fast and with little warning leaving you and your family without food or freshwater. Or maybe inflation will take hold in your country and food prices will skyrocket.
Natural disaster caused food shortages
- high winds
- or something else
If a disaster occurs local responders may not be able to reach you immediately, so being prepared and understanding what to do can reduce fear, anxiety and losses. Communities, families and individuals should know what to do in case of disaster. People can also reduce the impact of disasters and sometimes avoid the danger altogether if they are prepared.
You must have at a minimum 3 days (72 hours) worth of food and supplies to plan on surviving being stranded by disasters as to give time for emergency responders to reach you. The easy way to acquire a 3-day emergency supply of food is to find a premade kit that can be stored for the long term. Here is a great option that has a 20-year shelf life, check the price of this 4-person Emergency Food Storage Kit on Amazon. You can pack your own emergency food as well, just make sure to store it in its own bucket or bag that you can carry with you if you need to leave your home in a hurry.
Rising food prices or slowed food production cause food shortage
Could food production or packaging companies shut down (for whatever reason) and cause a major shortage of food for sale in your local grocery store? Considering recent events it doesn’t sound as crazy anymore to think that companies shutting down can happen even on a global scale. It seems that steeply rising food prices is becoming a larger concern than I ever thought possible. We can’t just shrug our shoulders and pretend that this isn’t happening or isn’t possible. It is not only possible but happening right before our eyes!
Take an inventory of your current resources (especially food and water)
In order to survive a food shortage it is essential that you know what resources you already have on hand so that you can determine what you need to stock up on.
Look at how much food that you currently have stored. How long can you and your family live on that food? Determine how much food you need to keep your family eating for 3 months and then start considering what it will take to stockpile enough for up to a year. Use our helpful food storage calculator tool to determine how much food storage you will need for you and your family.
Water reserves or emergency water purifier
How much fresh water do you have immediate access to? A few packages of water bottles, gallon water jugs, and if possible a couple of food-grade water barrels are handy in emergency situations. To help with planning Check out our water storage calculator tool and our article How do you store large amounts of water? Long-Term Water Storage.
Storing a large amount of water might be impractical for you depending on your situation so having a good water filter that you can fit in a bag or 72-hour kit could be life-saving.
The Survivor Filter PRO (See on Amazon) is one that I use camping and have on hand for emergencies. It is great because it filters to 0.01 Microns which removes all bacteria, parasites, and reduces most heavy metals, taste, and chemicals.
“Store at least one gallon of water per person for drinking and sanitation. A normally active person needs about three-quarters of a gallon of fluid daily, from water and other beverages. However, individual needs vary depending on age, health, physical condition, activity, diet, and climate.”Department of Homeland Security
Do you live in a rural place with a yard that you can utilize a section of for a home garden or do you live in an apartment in the city? Even if you don’t have a yard try getting some pots and planting an inside garden. Assessing whether or not an outside or inside garden is right for you in your situation is worth considering. Gardens are a great way to be self sufficient and provide food for yourself with no dependence on a grocery store. See more about gardening lower in this article and check out our article How to Prepare a Peach Seed for Planting.
What tools do you have at home? Tools may include helpful items such as food preparation tools like a wheat grinder, a bread mixer or a pressure canner. Home production tools might include anything from gardening tools to beekeeping supplies to specialty tools for raising livestock.
Knowledge and skills
Learn all you can about building a food supply, gardening, food preservation, and basic survival skills. This education will literally be live-saving in the case of a widespread food shortage.
Develop a food storage plan to survive a food shortage
Can you allocate a percentage of your monthly income to building up your stockpile/supply of food? Put together a simple plan to acquire a little bit of food storage each month. Simply decide how much to budget each month to put toward building your food storage. Check out our article How to be a prepper on a budget and where to start.
Build up a short and long term supply of food
A Short-term food supply could include any number of foods that you already have in your pantry and are eating on a daily or weekly basis. The wonderful reality of a 2 week to 3-month food supply is that most non-perishable foods will work well in your storage plan as long as you are using and rotating your food supply.
A long-term food supply of basics such as wheat, rice, beans, oats, pasta, sugar, and salt can be stored for 20 to 30 years if packaged appropriately. Freeze dried and canned foods are great for long-term food storage. If you ever experience a food shortage, a long-term food supply could be one of the best insurance policies you ever invest in. Check out our article on The Best Long-term Food Storage Items.
What should I buy to prepare for food shortage?
Here’s a list of what you should buy to prepare for a food shortage:
- Noodles and Pasta (various varieties, white & wholewheat)
- Vegetables (Freeze Dried, Canned, and Dehydrated)
- Fruit (Freeze Dried, Canned, and Dehydrated)
- Sugar (white, soft brown, dark brown)
- Vegetable and Olive Oil
- Powdered Milk
- Salt, Baking Powder, Baking soda, other Herbs, and Spices
- Chicken (Canned and Freeze Dried)
- Beef (Canned, Freeze Dried, Dehydrated, and Jerky)
- Cans of Soup
- Peanut Butter (protein)
- Nuts (variety of)
- Beans (various varieties of dried and canned)
- Full Freeze Dried Meals
Things to consider when buying food storage to prepare for a food shortage:
- What’s available
- Freeze dried, canned, dehydrated, and other shelf-stable foods
- Plenty of calories
- Within your budget
- Foods that you enjoy and regularly eat
Start a garden (even if it’s small or only indoors)
Gardening is a great way for you and your family to survive a future food shortage. Your own education is one of the most important investments you can make and learning to garden can help you grow your own food.
10 easy steps to start garden
To get started, here are 10 steps recommended by the National Gardening Association.
1. Find the right location
Choose a location for the garden that has plenty of sun, ample space and close proximity to your hose or water source. Find a level area to help prevent erosion.
2. Select vegetables
Decide what produce to include based on your climate, space, tastes and level of expertise. Newcomers may want to consider some of the easier crops to grow, like carrots, beans, cucumbers, peppers and lettuce.
3. Prepare soil
Mix compost and natural fertilizers into your garden to condition the soil for your plants. Garden-supply stores can test the acidity of your soil and recommend supplements, or you can simply purchase specially made soil in bulk.
4. Check planting dates
Growing conditions and ripening cycles are different depending on the plant and the season, so you should not sow all the seeds at the same time. Planting dates can be found on seed packets. Review the ideal conditions for each veggie you want to plant before creating a gardening schedule.
5. Plant seeds
Place your seeds or plants into the soil, following the depth and spacing directions carefully.
Gently spray the garden with water to keep the soil evenly moist throughout the growing season. Purchase a spray nozzle for your hose so you can create a gentle rain-like mist for your garden.
7. Prevent weeds
Mulching is the most effective way to prevent weeds. Add a 2- to 4-inch-thick layer of organic mulch to your garden to keep the weeds from overtaking your crops. If weeds do appear in the garden, grab them low on their stems and yank sharply, making sure to extract the entire root.
8. Give plants room to grow
Check the spacing guide on the seed packets and be sure to remove crowded seedlings right away.
Lightly till the soil by hand and add fertilizer to keep it rich. You can purchase prepared garden fertilizer or make your own from items like Epsom salt, eggshells, fish tank water and kitchen compost.
10. Pick, enjoy, preserve, and store
Harvest vegetables when they’re young and tender—but only pick them when you plan to use them. Pull root crops as soon as they reach edible size. Collect leaf crops by cutting them to within 2 inches of the ground. Finally, enjoy but also preserve your harvest!
Growing a garden using pots indoors is also possible for those who may not have space outside.
Food ideas to grow inside include:
- Mandarin oranges
Things you’ll need include:
- Light – low to medium to high depending on what you’re growing
- Potting mix
- Containers with drainage holes
- Humidity and Water
- Air circulation – to prevent mold and fungus, assist pollination
- Temperature – 60°F/15°C or 70°F/20°C range depending on plants
- Fertilizer – your soil will need feeding as the plants grow
Learn to preserve foods either that you buy or grow yourself
Preserving fruits, vegetables, meats and other foods is a great thing to learn that will prepare you for surviving a food shortage. If you have or get a garden growing you can learn how to preserve your harvest. If you buy bulk fresh fruits and vegetables you can learn how to preserve them. If you buy extra fish, chicken, beef, pork or other meat you can learn to preserve them for the long term.
- Canning (pressure canning or water bath canning)
- Freeze Drying
Learning how to preserve foods through these five methods listed above can be invaluable if you ever face a food shortage. My favorite food preservation method is freeze-drying. You can freeze-dry your garden produce, create the perfect emergency food supply, make camping meals and healthy snacks. Unlike other methods of food preservation, freeze-drying does not shrink or toughen the food and retains flavor, color, and nutrition. Freeze-dried food stores for up to 25 years on the shelf. To know if a freeze dryer is right for you see my article Buying a Home Freeze Dryer, What You Need to Know First!
Also, check out our article Pressure Canning: The Ultimate ‘How To’ Guide For Beginners or our article How To Freeze Fresh Fruits And Vegetables.
Raise chickens and other livestock
To help you survive a food shortage consider getting chickens for eggs and poultry and/or other livestock such as a cow for beef, a pig for pork, or fish is worth considering. Depending on your climate and the size of your land, consider cattle for ongoing milk supply and eventual meat supply.
Really chickens aren’t very difficult and worth considering. Watch the video bellow to learn really how easy raising chickens can be.
Learn how to catch and cook fish
Learning how to catch and fillet fish can help you and your family survive a food shortage. I grew up fishing and can honestly say that it not only a way to catch your own food but it’s actually quite enjoyable to get out and away from every day life, stresses, and the pandemic. Here is a YouTube video of Luke showing you how to pick gear, locations, bait, rigs, and more to help you who are interested in starting to fish.
Here is a good starter rod and reel kit (check the price on Amazon).
If you really are interested in starting to fish you may want to look into an accessories kit that has a tackle box, sinkers, jigs, swivels, and bobbers like this cheap kit on Amazon.
Getting bulk meat to keep in freezer
We buy a half of a beef about every year and a half from a guy that raises cattle and then we keep it in our freezer. The great thing about doing this is it is cheaper than buying smaller amounts of ground beef, steaks, roasts, and hamburger patties from the store. Additionally, I’m sure you all have seen the price of beef in the grocery stores… It is not unreasonable to be worried about skyrocketing food prices and food shortages in the near future.
Stock up on other emergency items
Finally, it is important to stock up on other emergency items. If there is a future food shortage coming then there will be some panic and people will turn to many other items beyond just food to stock up on. At that point it will be difficult and even dangerous to compete with people at stores. Make a list and start acquiring other things that are most important to you.
Some ideas include:
- First Aid Kit
- Medication and over the counter drugs
- Waterproof Lighter/Matches
- Flint and steel
- Gas Stove
- Garbage Bags
- Toilet Paper
- Water Purifier
- Bug Spray
- Hand/Foot/Body Warmers
- Duct Tape
- Walkie Talkies
- Extra Blankets/Bedding
- Contact Solution/Glasses
- Deck of Cards (for entertainment)
- Hard Drive with backups of all your pictures and important documents
- Money (Cash in small bills)
I sincerely hope that we won’t face any food shortages in the future but I’m not willing to put my wife’s and kids’ health and safety on the line by just ignoring the possibility of it actually happening. From natural disasters to global pandemics it is very possible that we may face a food shortage or two in our lifetime. Also, with rising food prices, looming government shutdowns, and closing businesses the fear of a food shortage is becoming more and more real for many people. Prepare now and you will not fear.