Survival Preparedness Food Preps – Raw Ingredients vs Prepared Foods


“When the emergency is upon us, the time of preparation has passed.”

If you’re new to preparedness, you’re probably focusing first on food storage. If you’ve been preparedness-minded for awhile, you probably revisit your food storage once in a while to re-evaluate.

Here’s a consideration: While purchasing so called ‘prepared foods’ may provide a quick-and-easy way to fill your pantry with foods that are pretty much ‘ready to eat’, you might also consider purchasing bulk raw ingredients for your food storage to facilitate preparing your own foods ‘from scratch’ so to speak…


There are a few techniques or philosophies as to how best go about building your preparedness food storage preps.

One, to buy pre-made ready-made foods (canned foods, packaged foods, food survival kits ready-to-eat, and typical grocery store items).

Two, to buy the raw ingredients that are used to make, prepare, and cook your own meals ‘from scratch’.

Three to buy a combination of both.


Buying food pre-made or pre-packaged foods for your food storage is simple, easy, quick, and doesn’t require particular skills in order to eat. For someone who is behind in prepping and preparedness, they can quickly catch up by purchasing foods this way.

Buying the raw ingredients (food staples) for your food storage will likely be more cost-friendly (in the long run), while the method will require a deeper commitment to food storage and preparation skills, cooking skills, and ‘know-how’ in order to prepare meals.


In addition to a storage of prepared foods, consider buying the ingredients themselves.

Raw ingredients such as salt, sugar, honey, rice, wheat, and dry beans will generally last a lot longer than ‘prepared foods’. In fact some of these ingredients have an indefinite shelf life. Others will have a shelf life of many many years (even decades) if stored properly.

Here is a list of ideas for various raw ingredients to consider for one’s food storage. I’m simply ‘brainstorming’ here in no particular order, so feel free to add your own recommendations…


Beans (dry) (variety)
Rice (white)
Wheat berries
Oats, Oatmeal
Cooking oil
Spices (too many to list)
Powdered milk (non-fat dry)
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Instant potato flakes
Pastas (spaghetti, macaroni, etc..)


Note: An emphasis here is to consider diversification into raw ingredients for your food storage (food staples) and to learn how to cook. Get yourself some recipe books…

Add your own recommendations to the short list above. Additionally, if you have a favorite practical recipe book, let the rest of us know…


  1. I may have taken raw food storage to an extreme but here are my ideas and what I have done. Some of these stored seeds are for animal food as well as for human usage. All can be used for regions that may have a few years of low rain fall; yet planted and still get a good crop. Listed below are some dual purpose seeds.

    1.Corn – for people or animals
    2. Sorghum – for people (syrup)or animals
    3. Millet – a major crop in dry regions of Africa/U.S.

    But take note that most commercial seeds are sold coated with a herbicide, insecticide (nematode, etc.) and fungicide. Editable seeds are available. Some seeds are coated with chemicals that will kill a person if consumed, know what you purchase the first time and there after save some of your harvest.

    1. Another interesting and easy to raise type of grain is amaranth, i started a bunch from some seed i got from Horizon Herbs and its growing out nice, huge seed heads, can be ground for flour (gluten free too) or used for feed for chickens etc, am thinking i might naturalize it on my place, might take over though

  2. IMHO there are only two “cook-books” you really need. Ken help me out with the links, thanks. I know there are thousands of “cook-books” out there some specialize in all sorts of things from Wild Game to Vegan, but these are my two “go to” books. If I cant find it here I don’t cook it… HAHAHA

    1. Betty Crocker Cookbook

    2. Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

    I personally like the Spiral-bound, but that’s my preference.

    As far as the “staples” list, it could be miles long, as such I always suggest you “store what you eat, and eat what you store” also “if you use one, buy two (or more) to replace it”.


    PS; Don’t forget the TP.

    1. BTW – for those who like spiral bound books, you can take regular books to Kinko’s and have them do it for you (for a price, of course).

  3. We focused our freeze dried food with more meat and high protein foods. Raw food such as wheat, rice, beans, etc are much cheaper to store in bulk. There is a lot of information on preparing raw foods but one should practice cooking and eating raw food if a newbie. Food grade buckets from US plastics corp is a good source as are bakery’s in grocery stores. Put your raw food in a mylar bag with a oxygen absorber pack, seal and your set.

  4. Really dont have any commercially produced so called storage foods, just too damn expensive, have found it easier and cheaper to just add extra canned goods from costco or sales. Believe me, if i had the money i would definitely invest in a couple years worth of dehydrated and freeze dried basics.

    lately been getting into canning, so thats sort of fun, need to create a pantry for keeping that sort of stuff, we have great year round growing in my AO though so my gardening abilities are what im honing.

    As far as long term storage foods, grains are the base, lots of wheat, oats and rice. We do not have any grain production here in the islands, so that is front o my mind with regards to food stuff. Bread is easy to make, im working on getting the stuff together to build a wood fired bread/pizza oven, IMHO baking bread could be a good barter item. The coolest thing i recently discovered is that the wheat and oats ive been storing will sprout, i know the quinoa i have will sprout as well. That adds a whole new dimension to my stored grain, can sprout it for eating as sprouts, or can plant it to grow out more.

  5. I’ve being doing option 3 from the start. I feel I can eat and resupply items before they expire and waste very little money this way. It also gives me the option to have enough supplies incase I need to bug out from my home. I don t purchase items that will go to waste or not be eaten by my family. I prepare 95% of the meals in the home so I know what is in need of resupplying, also I know what items that are essential to my food plans. One item for those who do start to prep, that is not mentioned are seeds. I purchase & collect seeds when growing season is at the end so I can get seeds 1/2 the price in order to get as many items I can for the BANG my BUCK theory. Older seeds take longer to germinated but still will produce crops.

  6. The ‘best’ cookbook I have found is “The Fannie Farmer Cookbook”. Over 800 pages of recipes that work. (Even I have made quite a few from the book… still alive.) First published in 1896. Includes deserts, pies, pastries, microwave specific cooking, food processor hints, etc., etc. Index is 37 pages.

  7. Something else to consider in the bulk vs prepackaged discussion is usable packaging.

    A few questions to ponder:
    – Can you package bulk supplies as well as an MRE? Not suggesting that MREs are a good solution for anything but the short term.
    – How much will repackaging cost you? Mylar bags, buckets, Gamma seal lids, etc get expensive in a hurry.

    1. I can pack 2 1/2- 3 x’s the amount of food staples, generally, for what it costs ME to buy prepackaged..INCluding the costs of my food grade buckets, oxygen absorbers and any other “packing materials”.. like tape , labeling supplies and bags…
      I had rather have three buckets of rice a opposed to one. I will do my own work to secure it, thank you. With that said, there are those who do not have time or knowledge yet to secure properly, they are better off getting something secure, rather than having nothing… there are times I buy bulk items, especially if I am having problems getting in sufficient quanities locally…like wheat, I will buy asparagus in cans, because I have not been able to grow it here..Sometime I buy frozen and dehydrate myself..sometimes can..but try to do something each week..I can’t afford to place 200$ orders each week, but I can do something, even if it is cleaning up canning jars or rotating a water supply.

  8. You missed salt Ken. I suppose that could be considered a spice .

    I believe a good blend of basic foods and prepared foods should be considered . If you are on the run or trying to keep a low profile , you may not want to start a fire or even have the time to start a fire . So having ready to eat is vital .

  9. We store what we normally eat. We also store the bulk items we normally use near-daily, in Mylar bags inside food grade buckets. We also have SOME freeze-dried food supplies as an addition to our normal stores. Other than that, we plod along re-stocking as we normally use items. Pretty simple “system” for us.

  10. Anyone know how long spices last??? I have had some in climate controlled storage for the last 8 yrs? Should I keep them or toss them???

    1. @ 21Bravo
      I have some old, very old spices that are ohhhhh 20 years old. I use them at times like camping and stews . I just use more to taste. I would not toss out. Heck if TSHTF, they may be the best thing since apple pie.

    2. I agree with NRP. We have some spices that have been around for close to 20 years . They just lose their potency and you have to use more and more to get the same amount of flavor .

  11. I store wild rice up here which is not a rice, but a grass that provides more nutrition than rice. It never clumps or gets sticky when cooked. It is expensive compared to rice, but it is an addition to rice when I can get it for $4 a lb. Natives use it for barter up here, and I have traded for wild rice.

    I also live in maple syrup country so I have a few quarts of it. It also is expensive to buy, but I got mine free. It pays to know someone in the syrup industry.

  12. Spices are too many to list, but what would you suggest? For me it would be black pepper, hot paprika, cumin and the the Simon and Garfunkel spices, and basil, oregano.

    I loaded up on clearance pickled foods today at the grocery store. I noted that many grocery carts of shoppers were filled with ‘corporate food’; soda, pizza, chocolate syrup and ice cream, microwave dinners, cake & pie mixes, whipping cream, Halloween candy, marshmallows, miracle whip, pop-tarts, frozen fish sticks, cookies, chips, canned cream of whatever soup, chicken wings at $3.99 lb for Monday night football, and a can or two of smoked oysters.

    A lot of wonderful old cookbooks can be downloaded for free at

  13. I was reading that baking powder only lasts about 1 year but just found a can that is about 3 yrs old & it is still making light biscuits but since I just opened it I may find that it deterriates rapidly. I therefore found recipes for making my own. Cream of tartar, baking soda & cornstarch. none of which has an expiry date. The cream of tartar in the little boxes is very expensive but I found a health food store that repackages many items including cream of tartar so when ever I go to that city & buy a bag at about 1/3 the price of the boxes & now I’ve stated making my own BP. I have a couple years ahead so far & now that I have made some & it is good as boughten I will stock pile more.

  14. To me the best way is to have 1 year LDS recommended in bulk sealed buckets. It is a one and done cost with a 20+ year shelf life. Then keep a 90 day fifo pantry .If in 20 years nothing has happened I will replace and feed the old to the chickens.

    1. or you could begin using and replacing those 20 year buckets, in say 12-15 years, and not have to feed any to the chickens or have any go to would also stretch your weekly/monthly food budget…this could be very iimportant to those who are on fixed incomes… Just replace what you use back into long term storage every couple months..

  15. We store foods for very long term (20+ year), intermediate term (about 2 years), and short term (about a year). We have tiered our food storage to provide a variety of ways that the foods were preserved while also offering variety in those foods. The 3 storage categories are composed of commercially freeze-dried/dehydrated #10 cans, or home-preserved methods via mylar bags, canning, dehydrating, or freezing.

    We also grow foods so we garden, have meat-on-hoof, dairy goats, rabbits, the occasional pair of pigs, and chickens for meat/eggs — they would be in our intermediate and short term food plan.

    Everything on the above list that Ken wrote, plus some other grains like barley and oat groats.

    We also store quantity of some seeds for sprouting and growing micro-greens — both have high nutrient content. Both of these can be grown without a greenhouse if the basic growing conditions are met in the moderate to hot climates. (Don’t have a clue if micro-greens could be grown in Alaska in the winter when sun is almost non-existent.)

    Most of our commercially made freeze dried and dehydrated foods are additional veggies and fruits that are not normally used in our household. They are a financial investment (yeah, we are long on collapse).

    We only have a few ‘just add water’ Mountain House meals because I cook from scratch. But there may come a time when home-canned meals are gone and time/energy does not permit making a meal.

    Many 5 gal buckets with mylar packed dry foods stored (see above list). Those are not disturbed, but packed for long term. Also have commercially tin-canned LDS items that can be stored for long term but they will be the first used if we exhaust all intermediate storage items.

    For intermediate storage, we have about 20 2 gallon plastic jars that hold pastas, sugar, beans, salt. Then cases of half-gallon glass jars, vac sealed with the typical sugar, salt, cocoa, some spices).

    Sweeteners include honey, maple syrup, molasses, and sorghum, and sugars, of course. Mostly stock organic sugar and make jams w/ that sugar or turbinado.

    Home-canned foods are for both intermediate storage and short term. I have some canned foods dating back to 2009/2010, mostly jams.

    I don’t store flour because I hand-grind for flour.

    1. If you store wheat and yeast, what will you do if problems last more than a year? Even if I store yeast in the freezer it doesn’t last much over the expiration date. For many other things that I store the expiration date has no meaning, but for yeast it does. I have learned to bake wonderful artisan style loaves using sourdough starter that can be renewed and will last forever. I was given my starter in the early 1970’s and I have kept it going all this time by refreshing it every once in awhile. The book that helped me the most with baking this type of bread is Tartin Bread (by Robertson). I know that you can buy sourdough starter from King Arthur Flour. Your other option would be to plan on making quick breads using baking powder.

      1. I just used yeast that had an expiration in 2014, still worked fine, used double just in case, but seemed to work fine.
        Use SAF instant yeast in the 16oz block, well is a block until you cut it open, then its granules, keep it in the refer after opening. I have re packed it before too split into 4oz batches then vacuum sealed, worked well for keeping it fresh.

        1. I keep my instant yeast in the freezer. Going on 12 years now and still viable. If recipe calls for a teaspoon of yeast, I add an extra third of a teaspoon and no problems yet with the yeast.

      2. @ Carolyn and All
        Being a Brewer I always have yeast stored from “previous” batch’s of beer and wine, much the same as the “sourdough starter”. Some of the most used are 20-25+ generation. New yeast is expensive so I harvest every batch of brew. Additionally I keep dried yeast in the fringe and have success with yeast that’s 2 years older than the “best by” date. I have a few recipes that allow “wild” yeast for brewing beer without the addition of packaged yeast.

    2. No matter where are… and have a power source and grow lights in multi-spectrum you can grow what you need to., as long as you can keep the temperature to a plants tolerance,..the grow lights can use a lot of power, but help with the heat and the problems of depression as well…Just don’t stay under them long….but it does take a special grow light for plants in darkened conditions.. these are available in flourescents at reasonable prices,12$ for a 28 “, and tubes are about 4$-5$ each..Those that grow plants for re-sale often start their tomatoes and peppers under these when temps and light conditions are lacking.

    3. Our grapes naturally have yeast on them. We don’t use it for anything now, but it could be used for bread.

  16. We store mostly what we eat. About a years worth of canned and packaged food. I also bulk store ingredients with no shelf life: sugar, salt, honey, etc. We also grow a huge garden and can several hundred quarts each year. I have the supplies to can much more if needed. Finally, do some research on wild edibles. Having gained that knowledge, I really think I could feed the family by just faraging if needed.

    1. i can add to our familys food supply by foraging as well, but my concern would be some dirty event that contaminated water and air, which would render things grown outside an enclosed space “contaminated” with what ever the agent might be…aquaponics are definitely something to look into, as it is available to be used in a vertical does not take much space…

  17. BRAND??

    What brand have folks here got experience with?

    Am looking into Emergency Essentials, not prepared meals but the ingredients, they sell 1 year combos that look pretty good, relatively speaking anyway…

    1. @ Kulafarmer

      I have tried several company/producers and I stick with Augason Farms or Mountain House. I also don’t go so much for the “Ready Meals” besides a couple of cases of Military MRE’s. I stay with 90% basic stuff. I do have a couple of cases of “pouches” for the GHB and the likes. I also stick with the #10 cans.

      Before you get the “1 year pack” you might price each item separately, I found one company that the “packaged deal” was actually 15% higher that the individual pieces. Watch for the sales. full price can be rather high.


    2. I have used the same emergency essentials as well as Auguston farms and Mountain House. They are all great companies with excellent products.

    3. @ Kulafarmer I have purchased from several co’s. including Emergency Essentials. I have not purchased “ready to eat” meals. I’ve tried several of the just add water meals and just didn’t like them. A lot of them fluff up the package with pasta and rice, etc. Guess I wasn’t hungry enough.

      anyway, most of my purchases have been from “Thrive”. I contacted Thrive and they sent a sales consultant who came to my office and gave a demonstration allowing us to taste many different items. Chicken, peas, corn, green beans, blueberries, pineapple (my favorite), cheeses, etc. Everything tasted great! I really appreciated their willingness to open the cans right in front of us and let us try anything we wanted. Nothing was re-hydrated. We ate straight from the can. Delicious!

      Most of the companies get their freeze-dried foods from the same giant freeze-driers and re-package it with their label on it. I supported Thrive because of the extra effort they made. The sales consultant drove several hours to get here. Pricing was very similar. If you’re unsure, I suggest ordering some of the pantry size cans or smaller cans and try a few things.

      1. Thank you for the replies all, i really appreciate it, feel its better to buy the material just in case if i can swing it, and without getting too carried away over taste preference i figure get a concensus of sorts,,,,
        Thank you much!

  18. My personal opinion is that you should eat what you store and store what you eat. Otherwise, you’re worsening your economic situation through waste.

    I doubt very seriously people really eat Mountain House or MREs on any regular basis. If they are then they are probably only a few short years away from cardiac arrest. Its nice to have a few cans around for those days when you just don’t want to spend the time cooking but for health reasons its not something you should be eating with any regularity.

    Ingredients is the way to go. Most especially if they are ingredients in foods you eat on a regular basis. Foods you will eventually consume even if the end of the world doesn’t come around. Of course the challenge is doing so with an eye on healthy eating. Of course that’s where a garden can come in handy..

  19. Another good cookbook, although it is vegetarian is “Laurel’s Kitchen”. She has many bread recipes as well as soups, vegetable casseroles and lots of good information. I have had mine many years and turn to it often. We do eat meat, but it is good to have bean and vegetable recipes if that all we have available. I also use the Betty Crocker book. These will be essential if we have no other resources.

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