What’s the LEAST you can get with the LEAST amount of money and still be able to take care of your family’s nutritional needs? Today I share with you the simple, affordable bare bones so kitchen pantrythat you can eliminate some of the overwhelming feelings that the current worldwide events might be causing you. After today you’ll have a very simple, cost-effective plan to fully address your Food Preparedness needs.


With all of the mayhem going on all around us, it has a tendency to make some people panicky—knowing that they NEED to be ready but for whatever reason they aren’t there yet. In spite of there being 7 other Principles of Preparedness that are a higher priority than the 8th Principle, Food Preparedness, most “preppers” are more concerned about providing their family with enough food to get through a crisis. Considering that an event such as an economic collapse, major earthquake, famine, pandemic, or EMP would put most families “on their own” for food supplies for an entire YEAR, I thought it might be helpful to share with everyone what the absolute LEAST amount of food items are that they can make due with for a year.  Which items can they do the most with to feed their family for the least amount of money?  It won’t be glamorous, mind you, but it will enable you to have some peace of mind in a worst case scenario.


When I receive an e-mail like this: “We have hardly any money but I can’t shake this feeling that something’s coming and I don’t have enough food! What can I do with the least amount of money to provide food for my family?” or “Circumstances have caused me to start over completely in our preparedness efforts. I’m scared that I won’t be able to feed my family in time though.” I can feel their sense of panic and anxiety.  I know what it’s like to feel helpless in the face of looming challenges. I know that I would have appreciated knowing at the time that there were just a handful of basic essentials that I could stock up on which could carry me and my family through a year. In fact, one can have a wide variety of meals available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner by stocking up on just FOUR basic, multi-purpose items.  Yup, that’s right; just four. These four most basic of food stores are 1) Whole Grain Wheat (or other WHOLE grain substitute for gluten intolerant persons such as quinoa, millet, or amaranth), 2) Salt, 3) Honey, and 4) Powdered milk. And here’s why.


For starters, all four of these items naturally have a LONG shelf-life.  If stored in a cool, dry, dark place you’ve easily got a couple of decades in which these items will patiently wait on the shelves for you. Additionally, not only can these four items morph into hearty, healthy meals but they can also provide you with the vitamins and nutrients you need to live healthy that you’d normally only associate with getting from fruits and vegetables.  Yup, that’s right. You see, when you sprout a grain, it compounds the nutritional value by as much as 600%! And if you stock up on salt that hasn’t been stripped of all of its minerals, such as RealSalt, then not only do you get flavor but you get key minerals as well. If you stock up on LOCAL honey, then you’ll improve your body’s immune system easily with a teaspoon of honey daily (Not to be fed to infants 1 year or younger). And if you ensure that you get a powdered milk that you actually LIKE (and yes, they actually do exist—Thrive’s brand, also Country Cream and Country Fresh and Nido’s whole milk) you’ll also ensure that you have an additional source of vitamins and minerals.


Not only are these four items multi-purpose and effective, but pound for pound they are some of the least expensive FOOD items you can purchase even today. (I said FOOD, folks. Cheap processed foods won’t sustain you in a crisis or even a non-crisis lifestyle and they are also the most permeated with GMOs and all kinds of other ingredients that the food industry doesn’t think is important to inform you of.) So, if you could just focus your “year’s supply” on four items for your family, you’ll also be getting the best bang for your buck.

Note: I recommend you purchase items from the LDS Church by going to ProvidentLiving.org. You do NOT need to be a Mormon to buy from them and they strive to keep their products clean. In fact, they even just notified all of their farms that compost wouldn’t be used any longer due to the potential for disease to be in the soil in the event it comes from a diseased animal.) Anyway, I’ve looked all over and I find this to be the best option for price and quality–especially if you don’t live in Utah! You can also check out Azure Standard and Augason Farms. I believe you can also find wheat and such in bulk online at Sam’s and Costco.  By the way, there are some GREAT tutorials and information resources available free at ProvidentLiving.org too for anyone wanting to pursue a more self-sufficient lifestyle.


Most people aren’t familiar with the fact that wheat can serve not only as a great source of fiber and carbohydrates, but it also makes a great protein source when it’s used to make “wheat meat”, aka seitan. I’ll never forget the first time I successfully made seitan meatballs. Seriously! They were SO GOOD—but more importantly, I felt a huge weight come off of my shoulders as I realized how easily I could address the protein needs for my family on a shoestring budget—and I could do so without the cholesterol, USDA approved chemical additives, hormones, and anti-biotics.


book Passport to SurvivalThere’s a great book that’s been republished called “Passport to Survival” by Esther Dickey. In it the author takes you on a journey that she experimented with in her family—one in which she used only a handful of the most basic of ingredients to feed her family on these FOUR ingredients for ten days. After that experiment she continued on, adding another ingredient or two and so on, as she experimented and created fabulous dishes that she could rely on to feed and fulfill her family’s nutritional needs. She’s done all of the work for you. She’s got the recipes, helpful tips as well as great information to help you get there MENTALLY if you find yourself having to rely solely on these four items. What’s more is that she’s done such a great job of coming up with creative recipes, you’ll find enjoyable meals, not depressing starvation rations.


The nice thing is that this list brings a person FOCUS—a finite amount of focus—which enables a person to more easily accomplish the goal.  My suggestion for people who are just starting out and who don’t feel like they have the time or the money to prepare using my preferred method of Food Preparedness, find that at least this is something they can accomplish rather quickly and certainly affordably.  However, there is a word of caution: IF you are going to begin with this method, then you MUST begin incorporating whole grains into your diet now, otherwise you could literally die if you suddenly went from your existing diet to a hearty, whole-grain diet, diarrhea would set in and you’d likely die of dehydration. The second caution is that you MUST become familiar with working with these foods NOW—in fact I suggest that EVERYONE—even those who have every food they could possibly imagine at their disposal right now—become familiar with how to work with these foods because A) You never know when your “other foods” might run out with this staple selection being all that remains and B) Because a crisis is not the time or place to experiment with cooking and eating new foods. Talk about STRESS!!


Lastly, if you have this foundation, I would suggest that the simple addition of other items comes more easily and will drastically improve the palate profile as well. For example, if I wanted to expand to FIVE items instead of just the four, I would select oil—cooking oils of all kinds such as olive oil, vegetable oil, coconut oil, and definitely butter, etc.  Next, I would seed boxspend just a little bit of money on 10 basic, organic, heirloom, non-hybrid seeds because if you’re able to harvest a garden each year while you endure the crisis, fresh produce will add a plethora of possibilities—ways for you to upgrade each mealtime. I would ensure that potatoes, onions, beans, squash, peas, corn, and tomatoes were a part of that line-up of ten due to the versatility of each of those items. For example, with a couple of potatoes I can make a fabulous sourdough starter that will add an entirely new dimension to waffles, bread, and rolls. Next, I would add the staple of vinegar and lemon juice to my pantry. There are SO many ways I can use it to liven up a dish, ferment food for greater nutritional value, and for health and hygiene purposes and vinegar actually costs only 10-20% of what it would cost you to make it from scratch! (At Costco and Sam’s Club at least.)  And lastly, I would be sure to grab a couple extra cans or boxes of food products each time I went to the grocery store. Every can I can store away will add an additional dimension to the possibilities and peace of knowing that I’ve got my year’s supply of food taken care of.


Now, I’ve broken this down for you into specific ingredients, let’s break it down for you in calendar with moneyspecific increments. One month’s requirement of these staple items for one person is as follows:

27 pounds of Whole Grain (hard wheat, barley, quinoa, millet, etc.)

3 pounds of Honey

5 pounds of Powdered Milk

And 1 pound of RealSalt

Hopefully this helps some of you who are anxious feel more confident in the task of providing for your family. You really CAN accomplish this task one small step at a time.

By the way, this is my PREFFERRED way of taking care of all of my Food/nutritional needs for a year: http://preparednesspro.com/the-magic-number-12/ which also simplifies your best case scenario for food in a way that’s more doable. Many of our readers have used this approach and have exclaimed that it’s “the best thing since sliced bread.” I don’t know about that, but I do know that peace is always better than feeling panicked and feeling helpless to do much about it.




dee · April 20, 2013 at 1:17 am

That book was the first one I bought when I started food storage in 1981. I also love her daughter’s book of 1999, “The New Passport To Survival”, and use recipes and preparedness info out of it!

Jamie · April 20, 2013 at 3:19 am

Can anyone give me some reliable resources for purchasing wheat in bulk?

    Kellene Bishop · April 20, 2013 at 9:20 am

    YOu’re going to need to give more information such as where are you located??

saundra · April 20, 2013 at 3:34 am

Thank you Kellene! This absolutely eases my mind. I think I can…..I think I can….. I think I can………………………………………..

Lesli Wilkinson · April 20, 2013 at 5:27 am

This was a fantastic article. I have learned so much from you!
I’m always adding to my food and prep storage, but I sometimes let it get to complicated. Thanks for all you do!,

jacqui · April 20, 2013 at 6:33 am

Hi Kellene,
Your mention of sprouting grain brings to mind the comment ‘ but you can’t sprout grains that have been stored in an oxygen depleted environment – eg dry ice or with oxygen absorbers – do you know if this is accurate?
Thanks for the time you take to educate and encourage us all
Jacqui NZ

    Kellene Bishop · April 20, 2013 at 9:24 am

    Absolutely that’s accurate. You’ve got to keep seeds and whole grains alive in order to sprout them.

Nan Lee · April 20, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Kellene how do you store seeds long term then if not in an oxygen free enviorment? I mean if we have no refridgeration either, how long will the remain viable? Thanks for the article, going to order that book you mentioned even though my food store is pretty good never hurts to know how to get by on less. Thanks

    Kellene Bishop · April 20, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    I planted tomatoes 2 years ago from 1986. They were just fine. cool, dry, dark place. Don’t deprive them of oxygen IMO. However, the high falutin’ seed storage places use dry ice all the time.

Doris Gruber · April 20, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Where is a good place to buy powdered milk? It is soooo expensive! What is the best wheat to buy? Where should I buy my honey.

    Kellene Bishop · April 22, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    I’d suggest you look up other articles on this site which have been written. Also, I already covered the wheat and other grains resource in the body of the article. In actuality, you can get a gallon of powdered milk that tastes great for less than what you pay at the grocery for the “ready made” stuff.

George Henson · April 20, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Thanks so much for the info. Wheat, honey, salt, milk. I will start working on that as well as coming back for more essential information. Food is my next priority.

Patti Thompson · April 20, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Thanks for all the great info! Really enjoying your site!
Have a good start on the Salt, Honey and Milk, but I’m stumped on wheat.
In looking to purchase wheat in bulk, the sites I’ve checked, sell them in #10 cans or the mylar bags. Who knows how long they’ve been sealed? Could you direct me to where I could purchase bulk not in Mylar?

    Kellene Bishop · April 22, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    I’ve provided that in the body of the article now…the blue, italicized font section.

Connie · April 20, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Well, maybe we didn’t seal up our wheat properly in the buckets and mylar bags and the oxygen absorbers…but…*I* can sprout my wheat! I was sprouting my wheat because I had heard that would change its properties and I thought that would help my daughter with her various issues. But we discovered both she and I are gluten (or at least wheat) intolerant so I have stopped putting myself through all that hassle when making flour for the guys’ bread. We both feel so much better not consuming wheat products! But I do have to get on the millet, quinoa, amaranth train…

    Kellene Bishop · April 21, 2013 at 6:46 am

    Actually, a lot of folks who are gluten intolerant CAN handle the sprouts as opposed to the grain form, because yes, it does change it’s nutritional and content properties. But those who are woefully allergic will have to focus instead on the alternative grains I suggested. You’ll like working with the quinoa, etc. I know I do!

joanie · April 21, 2013 at 2:15 am

I recently just found out about the food storage centers operated by the LDS church. I am not a member, but I showed up and was able to purchase wheat and some canned items. It is actually a little cannery, and at least in Colorado Springs, CO it is a pretty busy place. They asked me to come back another day and someone could help me ‘can’ some milk powder. They even have starter kits that are already prepackaged. This is a link to their order form so you can get an idea of their products and prices: http://providentliving.org/self-reliance/food-storage/home-storage-center-order-form?lang=eng

    Kellene Bishop · April 21, 2013 at 6:44 am

    That’s funny, Joanie. I was just made aware that I needed to put that info in the article. LOL…great minds I guess–though not MY great mind–rather the person who mentioned this to me. 🙂

Christopher de Vidal · April 21, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Our family can’t eat wheat, honey or dairy. Or any grains, for that matter (every grain seems to have negative effects). And we don’t generally use any dairy alternatives… they don’t taste all that good. Except occasional tapioca cheese, coconut yogurt and coconut water (sorta dairy).

And we suffer with less-than-organic, less-than-free-range meats.

So it’s going to be interesting looking for long-term, inexpensive storage foods. We can store nuts, dried eggs, canned meats and dried veggies, but none of these are very inexpensive when you’re talking about organic or free range stuff.

So we’re probably going to have to begin canning things ourselves. Any thoughts are appreciated.

    Kellene Bishop · April 22, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    It sounds to me like you’ve got a Medical crisis on your hands that has symptoms of a food crisis. If it were me, I’d work on rectifying THAT issue if you’re going to have a chance at surviving a serious crisis. Having an entire family so sensitive to so many staples is definitely a nominally. Obviously, it doesn’t matter WHAT you need to do, the point is you should be doing it all along; if canning is your only option then you should have been doing it for some time if for no other reason that to stabilize your food costs.

    Read the articles I’ve written on making your own Almond Milk. Canning for one’s self is most definitely one of my favorite ways to strengthen one’s Food Preparedness.

Vera · April 22, 2013 at 1:21 am

I purchased Powdered Milk at the LDS cannery … I was told the shelf life was only 3 – 5 years???? It is canned with absorbers… Is this correct? What is the life of powdered milk and is one company longer lasting than another?

    Kellene Bishop · April 22, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    Expiration dates are made by attorney’s, not scientists. If you store it in a #10 can in a cool, dry area, it’s fine for 10 to 20 years. However, the whole reason why I loathe the term “food storage” is that NOTHING should be purchased with the intent to just store it away. You should be rotating and using your supplies.

SMH · April 22, 2013 at 6:07 pm

I really appreciate this post. It is helpful for both beginners and the experienced preppers, because getting back to the basics is always great in times of stress! I am glad you included honey; it is so undervalued. I am also glad you included salt. Electrolytes are very important for our body. Most people do not realize that salt is actually unneeded when eating a balanced diet, but in the absence of fruits and vegetables, we need to get our electrolytes elsewhere. Salt is not my favorite thing, but when you do not have the luxury of a diverse food storage, it is definitely a staple. I have never used the powdered milk from the cannery in anything but making yogurt; it is any good made into milk?

You are correct about the canneries being generally cheaper. We have done the math. Every once in a while our family will buy from Costco, Winco, (the bulk you get via order, not the bulk out in the store), or a local grainery and can it ourselves with the borrowed #10 canner and the materials purchasable from the cannery, but usually buying straight from the cannery is cheapest for the items it offers. We are still sad we cannot purchase wet pack anymore! But the essentials are dry pack, anyway.

SMH from EfficientPreparedness loves you, Kellene! Especially since you understand the humor of my name 😉

    Kellene Bishop · April 22, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    I didn’t know you could actually order in bulk at Winco. I’m going to have to make some phone calls.
    Thanks for your comments. Just please make sure in the future that you don’t post links as it ticks off our advertisers a great deal when they are paying for their info to get out there versus others who are just posting their links in their comments. Thanks in advance for your understanding on this matter.

Suzanne · April 22, 2013 at 6:45 pm

I’m a big fan of Quinoa but can you steer me to who might sell it for food storage and can it be stored longer than 2 yrs?
How about Amaranth?

    Kellene Bishop · April 22, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    I’ve answered that in the body of the article…the blue, italicized font section…

Christopher de Vidal · April 23, 2013 at 1:55 am

There’s much more information I didn’t include here. Yes definitely we’ve had a medical crisis and yes _definitely_ we are working on those things. By removing those items mentioned we’ve found we are feeling significantly better, probably 50% restored now, and maybe better than we’ve ever felt. But because of the medical crisis (too tired) we haven’t been able to can things up to this point.

So the next phase is looking to be preserving our own stuff. My wife currently makes almond and coconut milk but these are not commonly-used staples; just occasional.

Keep up the good work!

Jackie · April 23, 2013 at 3:38 pm

I love this article. I helps me be less stressed out. I espicially love the “fifth” item you listed. Cooking Oil is one thing that will be a luxury item. My father told me that he asked his second wife’s mother, what was the one thing that was really hard to find after WWII in Europe. She said, “cooking Oil”. She told him it was worth more to people than anything. However, cooking oil can be really hard to keep so you really have to do your homework on how to save up fats and how to make oil. Our town is loaded with Olive trees. Making olive oil is a process to say the least. But one I am going to study a bit and hope to learn. Because that could, like making olives, bring a barter item. It is just one of the things I am trying to learn about the land of hot and dry that I live in. I am trying to keep in mind that there is a potential for all kinds of foods around me. So while the getting is good, I best try out some of the things the locals long before me, always had at their ready. In the mean time, I know to refoucs on those 4 things and get a good, really good supply of them, and have the tools to use and cook with them before crisis and stress happen.

Thanks as always Kellene!

William · April 23, 2013 at 9:59 pm

I wanted to say “thanks” for putting in so much time and work into your site. I always find something interesting and useful. I wanted to briefly share our experience dealing with hurricane Sandy last October. We lost more than 10 large trees, some twisted out of the ground by a tornado that tore through here during the storm. Trees hit the power lines which sent a surge to our circuit breaker box, which then exploded. We rode out the storm and stayed in the house with out power for almost 10 days. A tree partially crush the roof also. The point is that years ago I bought a 650 gallon food grade water cistern for about $250.Now they go for much more. But we had a fair supply of potable water for our family of 5 plus a large dog and 25 chickens. We used the water for flushing toilets taking showers by using a hanging camp shower, as well as drinking, cooking and everything else that required water. We hauled it in using 5 gallon pails and anything to be consumed went through our Big Berkey water purifier first. We used much of the water in the cistern in a short amount of time. It lasted close to 10 days for our family of 5 (plus sharing) Using the popular formula of 1-2 gallons a day per person (unless you are really in dire straights) does not seem feasible. We drank more than that.
We also used portable emergency toilets when we got low on water. The point I was trying to make is that when it comes to storing water you cannot ever have too much. We could have rationed it to make it last longer if we needed to. But it saved the day for us and we had enough to share with neighbors too.
As for sprouts, we use them all year long to grow an amazing variety of great tasting and fresh greens. I break them down into small sizes and use either a couple of hemp draw string pouches or a 1/2 gallon Ball canning jar with a mesh lid to sprout them. It’s a great way to get excellent nutrition . I buy ours at (redacted for spam) They are very helpful in recommending the right type of sprouting method with the right seeds. They also sell on Amazon.

One last thought. We had many battery powered fluorescent lanterns that we used, and they were terrible. They used 6 D-cells each and lasted only a short while. We have now switched to a much better lantern that we love. Made by Coast. They use L.E.D.’s and run on 3 D-cells and last for a couple of days if run continuously. They put out over 350 lumens and can dim way down or cranked up to light a good size room quite well. About $50. each and well worth it. Sorry to be so long winded. Keep smiling!

    Kellene Bishop · April 23, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story!!!

    Kellene Bishop · April 23, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    Fivestarpreparedness.com has a GREAT selection of sprouts!!!
    Also PLEASE be careful in how you rely on your Berkey. It may have the capacity to do a whole lot of gallons but by the time you get to exhausting that amount your filters will be riddled with contaminants. As soon as you start using it, you start the clock on the developing bacteria and mold inside. It’s the one thing that frustrates the GRRRR out of me with their false and misleading claims.

      Donna Richman · April 26, 2013 at 7:46 pm


      Have been following you and all your great information for years, love it!
      would you please expand on your thoughts about the Berkey filters and how often we should replace them.


Jerry Wells · April 24, 2013 at 3:12 am

I loved the article. The wheat thing kinda blows me away. 27 lbs per person per month. Family of 4 would be over 100 lbs a month & a ton & a quarter for a year. Where or how would i store that much wheat. I’m newly getting involved in all this & have a lot to learn. So the wheat must be processed somehow to use & then bake into a bread is that right? Sorry i’m so ignorant Thank you ahead of time..

Kellene Bishop · April 24, 2013 at 4:13 am

It’s all about priorities. Under beds, in the attic, basement, etc. Farmers used to store their grains in the silos; sufficient for SEVEN years as seven years was the typical amount of time it took to turn land/soil quality around after a severe drought.
There’s a lot more help on there about wheat and anything else I mentioned in this article. Just make friends with the search bar here, okey dokey?

101st Airborne · April 24, 2013 at 12:20 pm

I have been ordering in bulk from Bulk Natural Foods foe 2 years now. Check and see where they deliver and just sign up. Order then in about 3 weeks you pick up and pay….

Sherry · April 25, 2013 at 12:45 am

I thought you also need veg oil like olive oil? Because of all the fiber ect and also a mutivitamin mineral pill? I may be wrong ?

Susan Hilburn · April 27, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Hi I am new to prepping and have questions about the wheat. 1. When you have stored the correct number of lbs of wheat per person – how do you change it into wheat gluten when you want to make “wheat Meat”? 2. I have a person who is on a gluten free diet – for that person I would be storing other types of grain or rice. Can any other type of grain or rice be made into a “meat” similar to “wheat meat”? Thanks – Susan

Kellene Bishop · April 27, 2013 at 11:54 pm

Susan, chances are, if you can think of it, I’ve addressed it on here at some level amidst the 800 articles I’ve written. But that’s definitely the case with your questions here. Look up “wheat meat” or “seitan” in the search bar here as well as “alternative grains”. I do need to do a better job writing about the gluten free path though. But you’ll find your answers as well as some you didn’t know you needed this way.

Carol Oertle · May 7, 2013 at 5:44 am

Kellene – I’m very excited about this Mittleider material.
I get tired of sitting at my computer to study new and important information.
I’ve noticed that I can’t copy any of your articles. Will you please suggest a way that I can print things and sit on my couch to read them. I don’t have a laptop.
I’m just getting my SFG going and will be interested in learning about this new method. I sure would appreciate your help with my problem. Thanks, [redacted for privacy]

Kellene Bishop · May 7, 2013 at 9:10 am

If you press “control P” you’ll be able to print the entire page, however, you’ll be able to opt to see a “print preview” so that the only pages you print will be the pages that you want printed. I’d also suggest that you opt to “print in grayscale” so that you don’t waste ink on the colored advertisements. The good news though is that the Mittleider stuff won’t have any problems being printed out by you if you ordered them via an e-book or one of the free downloads.

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