10 Hints For The Survival Kitchen


Here’s a list of general preparedness hints for the survival food pantry and kitchen.

Let’s get right to it:


1. High quality foods

When choosing foods that you won’t be consuming right away, it is important to use so called ‘high quality’ foods. This will help assure that your preservation method coupled with long term storage will result in a more nutritious and tasty meal later on.

One thing this means is to beware of storing foods which may be nearing their end of shelf life. For example, sometimes fresh foods are put on sale at the grocery store because they’re seemingly just hours away from ‘going bad’. This might be a good deal to make an upcoming meal, but for food storage – not so good…

Another thing this means is simply that some foods aren’t that good of quality. This may be manufacturer related or for other reasons. Generally you have come to know what’s ‘good’ versus ‘not so good’, so use your better judgement when selecting long term storage foods.


2. Good variety of foods

Variety is the spice of life. And that includes the foods you eat. As you fill your deep pantry, be consciously aware to procure a variety of foods. Not only a variety of foods, but also a variety of storage such as canned, dry goods, freeze-dried, dehydrated, etc..


3. Store foods in the coolest place

This can sometimes be difficult. That is finding the stereotypical ideal ‘cool and dark’ place to store your foods. You might have already filled your kitchen shelves and cupboards, and maybe even a small kitchen pantry. But what about all the rest?

Some are tempted to store some of their long-term food storage in a shed out in the backyard. The big problem with that is summer heat! Higher temperatures will drastically reduce the food’s shelf life!

Others will store food in the basement. This is a good idea (it’s cooler and generally ‘dark’) however be very aware of potential rust problems because many basements are somewhat damp with a higher humidity level. Additionally, this excessive moisture will work its way into many types of packaging and eventually affect the food.


4. Rotate your foods

Don’t just set it and forget it… A good food rotation plan or method will keep that food in motion. Use the oldest first.

Take From The Right
For example, if one of your shelves holds a variety of canned beans, when you remove a can, take the one all the way over on the right. When you restock, put the new can on the left while sliding the remaining cans to the right. This technique always ensures that the can on the right is the oldest (and the next one to consume).

Take From The Front
When your shelves are deep enough to store multiple rows of food items, place the newest items in the back while moving the older items to the front. This will assure that what you take from the front is the oldest – which should be consumed first.


5. Be aware of potential issues if storing lots of wheat

Most all serious preppers will have a storage of dry goods, including wheat (wheat berries). However be very aware that not everyone can adapt to eating lots of wheat. It may take time for your system to adapt, while others may have issues no matter how long they try…

So it’s a good idea to actually process and consume some of that wheat on a regular basis (e.g. make your own bread) so if TSHTF your body won’t be in ‘shock’ while suddenly consuming other foods. This will also let you know if you or anyone in your household has an issue with wheat.


6. Beware of appetite fatigue

This ties in with having a wide variety of food storage. Can you imagine eating just rice and beans over and over and over again? While it is quite easy to quickly acquire a large quantity of dry goods such as rice and beans (for example), don’t just stop there… because if the SHTF and you and your household are now eating from your long-term food storage, it won’t take long for appetite fatigue to set in. This is a serious thing, so don’t ignore it… Be creative and really expand your pantry for variety.


7. Store what you eat and eat what you store

I dare say that most preppers simply build up a big food storage, and then mostly ‘sit on it’. I suspect that too many people do not actually proactively consume (rotate) from their deep pantry stores. The obvious problem with this is shelf life. While some of your storage may have a decade or longer shelf life, other foods may not. Additionally, why risk having ‘bad’ food if and when the time comes to use it? I realize that food storage is an ‘insurance policy’, but the beauty is that unlike a typical insurance policy, you can actually use (consume) what you put into it.

A serious goal should be to really begin to eat as much as you can from the foods that you store. This will enable excellent food rotation and minimal waste. Plus, if you aren’t eating it, that might mean you’re acquiring the wrong foods…


8. The importance of cooking oil

Cooking oil is a very important item to have in your storage. It is hard to cook without, and it adds calories and flavor to your meals.

Be cautious of how your store cooking oil. Without proper storage, it may begin to go rancid in a year. So definitely keep in a cool and dark (dark is important) place (maybe in a box, sitting on the cool basement floor). If you are able to freeze it, it will last a very long time (many years).


9. Spice it up

I cannot overemphasize how happy you will be if you’ve stored ahead lots of spices. Try eating rice and beans with no spice (for example). With a big variety of spices, you can tremendously expand you’re menu…


10. Beans with rice, wheat, or corn

The combination of ‘rice and beans’ makes a ‘complete protein’.

Rice is rich in starch, and an excellent source of energy. Beans are rich in protein, and contain other minerals. The consumption of the two together provides all the essential amino acids and it is no wonder that this combination is a staple of many diets throughout the world.

By adding either of the grains (wheat, corn, or rice) with beans – makes a nutritious combination.

The Encyclopedia of Country Living


  1. Where I live, in the past 4 years we’ve had a high temp of almost 108 and a low of -12. And that’s with the usual hot humid summers. I haven’t figured out low tech cool storage. Blasting out a root cellar is a dream/goal.

    1. @Lake Oz, It definitely can be a problem (heat). When I first started storing extra ‘long-term’ foods, and during a time when I lived in Calif., I first kept them in my outdoor shed. We were in a fairly small house and it had no basement. During the summer I discovered that the temp inside that shed could get up into the low 100’s! Not good. After that, I did manage to become more creative with how and where I stored some of the extra food inside the house. You’d be surprised at all the nooks and crannies that can be put to work;)

  2. We buy cooking spray, it is easy to rotate and lasts a long time it keeps it self in a cool dark space.

  3. Well I was expecting something a little different than Foods, but you’re correct on all aspects of your thinking.

    For me I would go;
    1) A multi fueled (wood and oil/gas) stove/oven, and/or backup smaller Colman type Propane or White Gas stoves. A wood/charcoal BBQ and/or a fire pit. All the food in the world will do NO good if you can’t cook it.
    2) Sink/counter and a way to get clean water for washing dishes/cooking utensils. Unless ya want the Dog to lick-clean everything?
    3) A table & chair/s of sorts, sitting on the floor or a log outside all the time will be very depressing after time.
    4) Someway to store fresh foods like Vegetables and Fruit you may gather, keeping insects and rodents out of your food will be a MUST!
    5) Some cooking utensils, even if only a knife, spoon, and a fork. A couple of bowls a frying pan and an oven baking pan.
    6) Some way to keep foods cool or cold, dig a deep pit outside or a root-cellar.
    7) A way to preserve foods, Pressure cooker, canning equipment, Salt, dehydrator, sun dryer, etc. Don’t forget the Jars and lids. AND the knowledge on how to use them.
    8) A coffee pot (not electrical), I know people that will KILL for a cup of coffee.
    9) A rug for the dog to lie on, ever see a Norman Rockwell painting of a kitchen without a dog lying on a rug?

    The hardware list is actually very short if you’re setting up a “survival” kitchen. But the most important thing for this list OR Kens list……


    Maybe a little off direction Ken wanted this article, but…

    1. Also, look at all your kitchen appliances that you use and see if you have non electric alternatives.

      1. @ Peanut Gallery
        You mean that $18-$20THOUSAND (do the math) worth of appliances I have are now scrap iron???? Well heck, your no fun HAHAHA

        1. You’re trying to make my brain work, and I refuse. Anyway, if you have even $10 of scrap iron in your kitchen you’re a marvel. Mine is more of scrap plastic. Except the pressure cooker which isn’t technically IN the kitchen so it doesn’t count.

        2. @NRP, well everything should have at least a duel purpose. You can always build a catapult and fling them at the enemy. :)

    2. There’s no such thing as a bad list (well almost), so, no you’re not off direction – and you’re in context with the kitchen.

      My short list was a brainstorm of ‘hints’ simply off the top of my head this morning, and just to be clear (because some people presume that ‘lists’ insinuate priorities) – it is not intended as a priority list. If it were, then it would be a different list.

  4. A good supply of sturdy spray bottles for various areas in the home…
    You may be in a situation with limited water.
    So you will want to conserve…
    I keep a kitchen spray bottle
    with 2 cups water and roughly 12-15 total drops of tea tree and/or thyme oil
    for an anti-septic and anti-viral spray.

    You can use on counters, floors, door knobs, other handles, hands (saves a lot of water to spray them with this, that is if you’re hands are not thoroughly caked in dirt), or to spray a utensil, lightly soiled dishes, or drinking bottle lid/mouthpiece to eliminate germs.

    I “heart” essential oils.

    Also I think a survival kitchen would benefit from sturdy plastic plates other than ceramic plates. They break easily and are heavy and often larger than you need. Having a couple of sturdy plastic bowl like wares for each member of household can go a long way.

    And if we are in “scenario” situation of sorts.
    I will say to my dear fam, everyone gets ONE fork/spoon/knife and a eating bowl or two. Ideally each one is responsible for cleaning their own.

    Having separate plastic tubs for suds, rinse/sanitize.

    Ample hand towels and hooks and places to hang them.

    Goal is to streamline the process and make it easy to clean!

    BTW I haven’t had a working dishwasher since 2004. I store my plastic kitchen stuff in there.

    Funny how some folks think washing your own dishes is a hardship, though it is def not one of my fav chores! ;)

    1. @Shepherdess, thanks for the reminder. I need to pick up more spray bottles.

      We have also figured that everyone will get one plate, cup, utensils as we don’t want to risk passing germs around if the dishes don’t get quite as clean as they should. Everyone will be responsible for their own.

  5. Although I do have a dishwasher it is load, runs forever and does a cr*ppy job so I am in effect the dishwasher.

    I keep spray bottles around the house too and mostly fill them with colloidal silver that I make myself.

  6. I’ve had olive oil stored for 5 years and did not go rancid, thankfully. I started out with about 20 gallons and I’m now confident in storing it.

    It certainly doesn’t hurt to try out some of the different food storage powdered items. I now can’t go without tomato powder. It’s utilized in many of my sauces and recipes. Incredible stuff.
    Get to know your food storage !

    1. East Texas mom

      is that tomato powder purchased freeze dried in big can? seen those around the net, and they look good.

      once I had a case of tomatoes purchased cheap, and dehydrated them with Excalibur and put them through the blender… Tasted great powdered . added to everything, made “cup of soup”, etc..

    2. @ East Texas mom
      I agree 1000% on the tomato powder. Augason Farms is GREAT!!!!! stuff

      1. Hey, when you make tomato sauce and blanch the tomatoes, save the skins and dehydrate them. Then put them in a new coffee grinder and make powder. If you add equal parts of water & tomato powder it makes tomato paste. Pizza!!!

      2. Just dry your own and grind it to a powder. You need to dry till crispy, then grind. I have dried different varieties too. Fabulous!

        1. @ Papa J
          I would agree, but please see the long discussion on growing tomatoes HAHAHA

          Lets just say I am slightly tomato impaired LOL

          BUT that is going to change this year :-) :-)


  7. Three things… Learn to grow your own vegetables. Learn to can your foods and experiment with the many different ways one item can be prepared either by itself or mixed with other things.

    Take corn for example, using yellow or white field corn and/or fresh sweet corn. Ground corn (two grades fine and coarse). Make hot cereal with the coarse. Make corn bread with the fine. Add a little fresh ground wheat flour to the coarse and make fried journey cakes (Johnny Cakes).

    Canned sweet corn is a great side dish and it can also be added to corn bread. Corn chowder from a quart of canned corn; either chop the canned corn by hand with a knife (time consuming) or puree it with a stick, or regular blender. Can regular sweet corn or make creamed corn and can it. Make hominy from dry corn and then either can it or make hominy grits from the slaked (nixtamalized) corn instead of cooking the hominy to eat (corn grits are time consuming to make but well worth it).

    Make corn tortillas from the wet ground hominy grits or simply dry them and put it up later for regular grits or dry the slaked corn to cook down later as posole or even grind it for grits. I know this sounds confusing but ground field corn and ground slaked field corn are not the same. The simple explanation is that the niacin in regular field corn is bound and not usable but becomes available after the corn has been nixtamalized but, making nixtamalized corn is way outside the scope of this post.

    Make some Succotash with the canned corn and some of the other “canned” vegetables (or fresh if you have them) like butter beans, carrots, tomatoes and snap beans and throw in a little fresh ground corn meal as a thickener and flavor enhancer. Also, save and dry the corn shucks to make tamales later. Also, also… save and dry the cobs from field corn to make a corn cob pipe or use the cobs in the privy (my grandfather told me two reds and one white were best.) LOL.

    Chop up the corn cobs and put them in the compost. Feed the fresh sweet corn (cooked or raw) to your chickens, they love it and will lay lots of eggs in return. And, our dog can clean off an ear of sweet corn faster than I can. If you have too much dry corn simply crack some of it and feed that to your chickens too. I’m sure there are many more ways to prepare and use corn but these are just the things I’ve done with dried field corn and sweet corn from the garden to date.

    Wheat, oats, barley, rye, corn, brown rice, white rice, buck wheat and any other dry grain, can be cooked and eaten either whole or ground to various grades and mixed together or with any number of fresh or canned vegetables to make great meals.

    When we get tired of eating just plain wheat bread we mix it with other things and make different types of bread or noodles. Regular bread, French bread, sourdough bread, pita bread, corn bread, rye bread, rolls… the list is almost endless. Bake it in the oven or bake it in a big cast iron pot on an open fire. And… you don’t need a fancy noodle machine to make noodles. Just mix up a simple dough and cut them by hand. Man… I’m getting hungry writing this. Anyway these are just a few of the many things we have done to enhance our survival kitchen capability.

    1. @ CrabbeNebluae
      Good post….
      On the Corn, believe you forgot only two, Grill it in the shucks still on and strip it down and just boil it… HAHAHAHA
      Good thing you mentioned the cobs though, cause you know dang well I would have LOL.
      Corn-Cob-TP for when you know times are rough. :-) :-) :-)

    2. I remember my grandmother making a corn cob syrup when I was a kid. I don’t know how she made it, or if it was from dry field corn cobs or sweetcorn cobs. I just remember it being very good.

      1. @grandee

        Now… that’s one I’ve never heard of. :) I will give it a try this spring when the corn comes in. Thanks.. :)

      2. Corn cobs can also be used to smoke foods. Soaked with kerosene they make excellent fire starters (that’s a household hint from the 1917 edition of the Home Comfort Cook Book – H-C was a line of wood cook stoves). And for the folks who’ll kill for a cup of coffee keep your eyes open for an old fashioned coffee grinder. Mine’s an Arcade Mfg. model, about 100 years old, and it still grinds the coffee for my morning pot every day.

      3. Hey y’all dont forget about the corn cob jelly. My SIL came up with a recipe a couple of years ago. Talk about good stuff! Just too bad that we dont seem to eat much of the jams and jellies around this household, but it was really good.

  8. On keeping things cool, for those of you with a crawl space under your house I’ve found this to stay very moderate even when it’s 100 degrees out. You can build a box under your house in a convenient location with a trap door and you have a root cellar of sorts.
    What we have for baking is two cast iron Dutch ovens, one is a 10 inch the other is 16 inchs with grates for the bottom, we use the smaller one to bake potatoes on our propane kitchen range as it uses a lot less propane than heating the entire oven, the larger one can be used on a propane burner or over a open fire, we wouldn’t get rid of them ever.

    1. @JD,

      Thanks for mentioning your cast iron dutch ovens. I have used mine for oven roasting, and on the stove-top, but had not thought about it as a true small oven for baking over an open flame when a “real” oven is not available (visual of me smacking my forehead with the heel of my hand – duh!). Guess I need a refresher on my dutch oven – time to revisit the cookbook. : )

    2. JD

      something I have always wondered about…

      you have two, one quite a bit smaller…
      — I am thinking they will hold the heat very well
      —-have always wondered if you could put a small one inside a big one,
      (on top of some live coals/briquettes under it),
      put both lids on, (with big lid left off a bit for air to feed coals)
      and would this make a cooking oven of sorts?

      1. The main thing I learned yrs ago is that what ever is being baked has to set up on a grate and not contact the cast iron.

        1. JD

          thanks, good to know. I don’t have these cast iron ovens, but have always thought they would be a good product.

          1. I’m glad someone mentioned cast iron. Multi-purpose item, can be used on electric, gas or even over wood fires. When taken care of, are a GENERATIONAL item, handed down to your descendants. I still cook meals on my Grandmothers Wagner deep skillet that she cooked over wood fires during the Great Depression with zero problems.

  9. I just hope to have something that resembles a kitchen. Another great thought provoking post… Hope you are all gearing up. I don’t think we will make it past summer of 2017…

  10. This is the reason I grow peppers, onions, garlic as well as parsley, cilantro, basil, thyme and oregano. I can’t imaging life without pepper, garlic or tomatoes.

  11. A survival kitchen would need multiple ways to start a cooking fire
    (if one is looking for something other than solar powered electricity)
    for an outdoor rocket stove or campfire

    flint magnesium strikers

    As I was getting ready this morning….
    I kept thinking how much more labor would be involved just to do the basics.

    We would have to haul water from our spring a few acres away on our property.
    That in itself would be a supreme luxury in many countries…

    I think it is important, not in a negative way, but a thoughtful way to mentally think how would I go through said part of my daily routine if we were off grid- a cyber down grid versus EMP has implications.

    Think clearly, think strategically, keep learning

    Good Shepherd bless you all~

    1. @Shepherdess, Life would certainly become that of constant work, just to survive. We would probably lose 90% of the population in a number of months. It’s difficult to imagine how our late ancestors lived without all of today’s modern conveniences and supply-chains… Lots of hard work – that’s for sure…

    2. @ Shepherdess
      Hence the “practice” Off-Grid weekends and a week during the “vacation” from work. I know it’s not totally like what may happen, but it will give one an idea where to put prepping efforts.
      Hauling water for instance, without using piped water, and having to haul it ¼ mile uphill; Water is heavy (VERY heavy), carrying 5 gallons at a time…. well one learns to build a cart very quickly… HAHAHA

      1. NRP, good for you that you have practiced!
        Your steps ahead of many…

        We too would have to haul water uphill…

        Fair weather is one thing, but imagine winters…
        that’s a whole ‘nother thing….
        Keeping warm and trying to cook and clean…

        Be blessed in your preps this week everyone~

      2. NRP, you and Shepherdess should consider making a ram pump to move the water uphill.Even the “primitive” technology will save us all many hours when it all falls apart.Carrying water is definitely no fun and the ram pump will do it for you.
        Doing grid down scenarios sure is an eye opener isn’t it?More folks should test themselves and their preps now when they can still adjust and correct mistakes/short comings.
        Every time I do I find areas that need my attention.Food prep/cooking always seems to be an area to do better in.
        Thanks for bringing it up again.

  12. Many vids on cinder block rocket stoves on Youtube. Not the most portable, but useful. Dave Canterbury shows using a single chimney block for a stove. The type with concave underside to allow for air flow. Not sure, but perhaps chimney block would withstand heat a little better.

  13. Another book to add to the Survival Library because it addresses off-grid cooking is: Expedition Canoeing by Cliff Jacobson. (3rd edition- Globe Pequot press) This book has a few recipes included as well. He does a good job addressing kitchen sanitation issues so travelers do not get sick along the journey. This book is a must have for people who are planning on bugging out for a period of time.

    Having travelled by backpack (mostly) climbing ropes (when I was young and skinny) and horses (for work) The meals were simple and the menu options were limited when in the backcountry. I cook to entertain at home and have listed some of the things I would eat at home versus things I tend to eat in the woods: For Home: Beer, Wine and hard booze. Salads, baked goods to include fresh made bread, cookies etc. Grilled meats and fresh prepped vegetables and rice. On the trail: Hard Booze only (more bang for the pound), Trail mix to include raisins and other dried fruits, (I am a big fan of dried apricots) Soups and stews, beans and rice, The more weight becomes an issue/longer times between resupply means a greater use of dried and freeze dried foods.

    Cliff Jacobson has been an Outdoor Educator for most of his adult life and was guiding trips into Canadian wilderness well into his 70s. So his advise and recipes are tried and tested. I lived off grid for 3 years and had the job of opening and closing backcountry stations in the Southern Sierra Nevada mountains for several years in the 1980s. I am a homebody now and the size of my gut reflects the fact I’m eating too good. I’ve had a steady “town job” for the past 22 years.

  14. One thing this means is to beware of storing foods which may be nearing their end of shelf life. For example, sometimes fresh foods are put on sale at the grocery store because they’re seemingly just hours away from ‘going bad’. This might be a good deal to make an upcoming meal, but for food storage – not so good…”
    I would’ve agreed with this until recently when I discovered a method of arresting rot in it’s tracks. We have a grocery that puts out clearance vegs; a bag of bell peppers for 99c for example. Or we might have a bag of onions that have decided to sprout. For any vegetable, although it works better for some than others, I slice them and douse them in canning salt for one hour. During that hour I use a masher to press them down. 4 or 5 big onions doused with 2 tbsp of salt will fill a bowl, but in one hour it will slink to a compressed mat swimming in it’s juices in the bottom of the bowl. Next: rinse 3 times and stuff into a mason jar and fill with a one to one white vinegar to water brine. For onions it is perfect for grabbing a bunch to put in a salad.

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