Don’t Overlook this when Stocking your Prepper Pantry

Two cases of Hormel chili
Two cases of Hormel chili

Chili has always been one of my favorite canned foods for prepping, and recently I’ve been adding more chili to my prepper pantry. I recommend you do the same.

There are many reasons I like chili as a prepping food, but the first is that it is a strongly flavored food that I enjoy (and I think many others do as well) and can be eaten with rice, cornbread, or another carb-heavy food such as macaroni noodles. You can even serve it on bread, just like it was a sloppy Joe, or scoop it up with corn chips (not that I expect there to be many corn chips available after the SHTF).

The second reason is that it is about half the price of the same amount of canned meat. In fact, as I write this, Spam is $3.58 for 12 ounces at Walmart while they have chili starting at $1.63 for 15 ounces and many brands in the $2.20 to $2.40 range. This makes it cost effective.

Another plus is that there are many varieties. We have at least five varieties on our storage shelf, including chili made with chicken meat and chili made with no beans. You can also buy vegetarian chili, extra spicy, and chili with Angus beef. There are also multiple brands and multiple price ranges. That not only gives you some variety but also increases the chance that they will have something on the store shelf.

Finally, I am willing to eat chili on a regular basis. This is not only good after the trucks stop running and the stores close, but it allows us to rotate it by consuming a can every couple of weeks.

Fat and Protein

People have different likes and dislikes and different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, so I don’t expect everyone to join me on the chili bandwagon. If chili isn’t for you, I encourage you to find similar canned food that offers not only calories, but protein and fat. I have a post on why these macronutrients are important, but the key point is most long-term storage foods are carb heavy because carbs are easy to store. Your body will need fat and protein.

For example, here’s what the Latter Day Saints (aka Mormons) have recommended its members store per person per year:

  • 400 pounds of grains
  • 60 pounds of legumes
  • 16 pounds of powdered milk
  • 10 quarts of cooking oil
  • 60 pounds of sugar or honey
  • 8 pounds of salt

In this diet, beans are the primary source of protein and cooking oil is the primary source of fat. It is mostly carbs. My research into the ideal ratio of grains to legumes would recommend 170 pounds of legumes to 400 pounds of grain or 130 pounds of beans to 300 pounds of grain. In other words, seven parts grain to three parts beans. You can also round this to twice as many pounds of grains as beans.

I have no doubt that you can survive on the LDS diet, especially if you have some yeast, herbs and spices, but wouldn’t it be better if you had a hundred or more jars or cans of fruit, vegetables and meat? Whether you can them yourself or buy them at the store, extra fat and protein will make this basic menu tastier and more nutritious.

Storing Fats

The best process to store fatty meats like bacon, sausage and other pork products is canning. There are plenty of recipes and videos of people canning bacon and sausage online, so do your research and make up your own mind. It could be a very viable option if you find some sausage or other fatty meats on sale for a great price.

If you are not a home canner, you can buy canned meat. In our prepper pantry, the top three canned meat products are chicken, pork with or without barbecue sauce, and corned beef hash. We have and will eat the canned roast beef, corned beef, canned ham, and canned turkey. I also store Spam, which my wife doesn’t like. Like chili and corned beef hash, there are other canned foods that contain meat and fulfill our requirements for fat and protein. These include beef stew and canned soups with meat in them. Don’t ignore canned fish. We store tuna, salmon, and sardines.

We are not fans of potted meats, canned sausage, and Vienna sausage.

Freeze Dried Meats

If you read the owner’s manual for a freeze driers, they recommend that you trim the fats off meat. Why? Because it is difficult to store fat without it turning rancid and chunks of fat often do not dry out completely in the freeze-drying process. It is better to freeze dry a meal that has fat in it that to freeze dry chunks of fat on a piece of meat.

Can you buy a #10 can of freeze-dried chicken or beef? Sure, but for the reasons I outlined above, it’s less expensive to buy a #10 can of chili mac, chicken and rice, beef stroganoff or chicken teriyaki.

If you are contemplating buying freeze-dried foods for your long-term storage program, be advised they are expensive. A pouch that claims to contain two servings of freeze-dried food will cost you about $10 and you will be lucky if it has 500 calories. For $10, you can buy four to six cans of chili and get up to 660 calories per can.

Freeze-dried foods are good if you plan to store your food for 20 or 30 years. They also give you a wide selection of menu options if you buy from multiple brands. Because of the price differential, freeze-dried foods should not be the first foods you buy for your storage plan (unless you are rich), no matter how neat those buckets look. You should stock your prepper pantry, then buy dehydrated foods in #10 cans and 5-gallon pails of the aforementioned beans and grains. Only when you have done these basics, should you invest in freeze-dried foods.

An exception is buying some having freeze dried pouch meals for your bug out bags because of their lightweight.

Back to Chili

Right now, a pouch of Mountain House chili mac is $9.97 at You can buy a can of chili and a pound of elbow macaroni noodles for $2.71 and you will have enough macaroni left over for several other meals.

Keep in mind that you can also store beans and spices and make your own chili. Generations of people have eaten whatever small game they can catch when hungry, from pigeon to rat. There may come a day in the future when you are grateful the flavor of the meat in your chili is covered up by the chili spices.