How to Prepare for a Food Shortage

For the most part, we don’t have to worry about not being able to buy what we needed or wanted.  But what if something changed?  What if you went to the store and the shelves were empty?

What if you couldn’t instantly buy the necessities you need.  It sure feels like this year has been dubbed “Food Crisis 2022” and we’ve been made more aware of how easily a food shortage could happen, here in Canada ,as well as the United States, and pretty much all over the world.

Look, I’m going to be real honest here – I tend to not be doomsday person.  But I also don’t believe we should put our heads in the sand and think we are invincible.  That nothing will happen where we can’t access food.  Because the truth is it has happened in the past, it does happen in parts of the world today, and one day it could be us.  

And we don’t know if that will be sooner than later, because there’s been talk this year about a “food shortage 2022”.

It could be a supply chain issue, or it could be a natural disaster that hits.  Either way, it isn’t a bad idea to prepare for a potential food shortage.

Now, I am by no means a prepper.  But can I just say something about preppers?  So many of us laughed at them at one time or another, but who was laughing recently when you went into a store and couldn’t find a single roll of toilet paper on the shelf, or a bag of flour?

I tell you, I was no longer laughing at preppers as I stood in that toilet paper aisle confused at what was going on.  I suddenly realized they were pretty wise people.

So, while we should be prepared for a food shortage even if there is no talk of one, I will say, there have been talks recently in the news which makes it that much more important to stock up on a food on a budget, among other things.

I can’t predict the future but I won’t be surprised if in the coming months we hear of more talk about upcoming food shortages, or we start to see short supply of more things in the stores.

What are some reasons there could be a food shortage?

Natural disasters are known for causing food shortages. In the last year we’ve experienced labor shortages that may have contributed to your local grocery store not receiving products. Civil unrest can cause blockages at the border or worker strikes preventing food deliveries. Things like war and drought affect our global food supply.

There are plenty of reasons we need food shortage solutions. Having an emergency food supply for when things go wrong is not crazy – it’s wise.

Not only can it help you in a food shortage but having some long-term food storage means when there are price increases that make paying your bills difficult, you can buy less and eat from your pantry. The expiration date of a lot of non-perishable food have a long shelf life so you don’t have to worry about your food going bad.  Having even a little pantry stockpile of canned foods can help prevent food insecurity so that you can shop the good deals and avoid buying products when they aren’t for a decent price.


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Stock up on cheap items like grains and legumes.

The thing you don’t want to do is to panic and charge thousands of dollars of food to your credit card.  The best way to stock up to prepare for a food shortage is to invest in cheap foods that will last a long time on your shelf at home.  

Things like big bags of rice, beans, and oats are cheap, filling, and will keep for a while.  Purchase bags of beans instead of cans to stretch your budget even further.

I like buying oats in bulk because I can make things like granola and oatmeal with them, but I can also add them into a meatball or a burger as a filler.  I can also bake with oats for snacks for the family.

Stock up on non-perishables that are on sale.

If you feel like there is a food shortage coming, your sales are your best friend.  Look at the flyers, and then stock up on canned goods and non-perishables that are on sale and can be used in many meals that you and your family will eat.  Things like peanut butter and white rice are good options.

That’s the key – make sure it’s food you will eat.  You don’t want to buy a bunch of non-perishables that no one will touch.  That being said, in a food shortage we are also a lot less picky, so it doesn’t need to be everyone’s favorite, but you want to make sure it isn’t food they will despise.

Don’t forget the things you need that aren’t food.

Laundry soap, toilet paper, toothpaste, shampoo, soap – these are things you don’t want to forget.  Stock up on these in preparation for when the shelves could be empty.  This one is super realistic to me after the shelves were empty of toilet paper a year and a half ago.  I’d rather stock up on toilet paper now and not the moment everyone else is panicking and raiding the shelves.

Consider buying meat in bulk directly from a farmer.

We are currently in the process of going in with a few other families to purchase a cow together.  There is a big of an initial cost, but it means we will have plenty of meat in our freezer for months to come and that gives me peace of mind.  

Change what you eat.

In a food shortage there  might be some items you always eat that aren’t available, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t food available.  It’s just not what you usually eat.  Our choices may be limited and we need to to make do with what is available.  A little creativity can make boring foods into amazing dishes.

Buy food storage containers.

You don’t want to buy all this food and then it goes bad, or bugs or critters get into it, which is why you need airtight containers.  Find some large glass jars (pickle jars are great for this kind of thing.)  Invest in some food safe buckets and lids. 

These Gamma Seal lids are my favorite. I’ve used them for years and they’ve changed my life! I know that’s a pretty bold statement about lids, but it’s true.  Check out this food safe bucket that comes with these awesome lids so you don’t have to buy them separately.

What if you don’t have a good storage area?

Some people have smaller homes that don’t have a good spot for long-term storage of food. This is where you’ll need to get creative to find space for your food supplies for an extended period.

First of all, let me tell you that I completely understand as we have a small house with no pantry. We’ve had to put shelves in a room away from the kitchen that doubles as our piano room as well as our office. I call it the pantry-piano-office room.

Take a look around your house and consider where you could put your food stockpile that isn’t the kitchen. Can your food products go in some plastic totes under a bed? What about in a bedroom closet? Can you build shelves somewhere?

When you have a small space it’s a great idea to look everywhere in your home to consider where you could store food long term


What if you are on a budget and it’s hard to stock up?  If you have time to stock up, each grocery shop just put ten extra dollars to stockpiling.  If 10 dollars is just too much, do 5.  Most of us can spare 5 dollars.

But what if you don’t have the time?  What if there is word that a food shortage is coming, and it’s coming NOW and you aren’t prepared?

Okay, this is going to be controversial, especially on a frugal living site, but I’m going to say it.  If there is a food shortage coming RIGHT now, and you don’t have any extra money, my personal opinion is it is okay to go into a small amount of debt to grab essentials.

If it’s between eating and debt, and not eating and no debt, I’ll choose the first.

That being said, you will want to be very wise in this.  Don’t buy excessively.  Buy SUPER CHEAP food items.  Pull out all the stops to save money on food at the grocery store and prepare for any potential food shortages that may be on the horizon.



1 thought on “How to Prepare for a Food Shortage”

  1. i live on a island off the coast of canada and there is always the chance the ferry wont get here on time or bad weather like hurricane or a bad snowstorm in wintertime having emergency food stored is a way of life that goes back for hundreds of years its not something new and its the rite idea.

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