How to build a food storage/prepper’s pantry for $20 a week.

When you start thinking about building your food storage/prepper’s pantry, it feels expensive and overwhelming. It doesn’t have to!

Each week, start buying this little list and add to it, and then after a few months you’ll realize you’ve grown your stockpile. Food that will help your family should the need arise. You’ve done it in a way that won’t break the bank.

I’ve broken it down and, in my area, at my Walmart, you can buy this list each week for about $20. I know prices may vary a bit but do your best. I’m not talking about buying the name brand stuff, that’s not what this list is. I’m talking about buying the store brand food to help build your food storage.

My goal is to help you build a food storage system/extended pantry so that you can have food for your family.

This list is simple and stuff we already know that we should be buying and have.

We are not talking about buying in bulk. We are keeping things budget friendly, if you’re looking for a more in-depth way to build your storage, stay tuned. I’ve got a super in depth food storage plan coming in a week or so!

If you’re here for a budget friendly way to begin your food storage/extended pantry, then let’s get started.

Water $1.22

We all know how important water is. Each week I want you to buy a gallon of water.

At my Walmart, in Utah, I can get a gallon of water for $1.22 – $1.48, depending on the brand.

This water won’t be for long term storage, the plastic isn’t the best but for a year it should work. After some time, you’ll want to start rotating your water. Meaning, use one and replace it with a new one. Always use the oldest bottle of water first. This way you always keep the water in stock, and you always have good water. It’s recommended that you have a gallon per person per day. And you will want at least 2 weeks of water in stock.

Protein $0.88 – $1.34

We all know protein is good and essential for our bodies, so of course we need to have some in our food storage.

For a can of tuna, it costs $0.88! It packs a ton of protein in a small can.

You can also get a can of chicken for $1.34. So, it is a bit more than the tuna, but more people prefer chicken over tuna. It’s versatile and easy to season to anyone’s taste.

Peanut Butter $1.84

I could live off of peanut butter! Not only does it taste good, but it has 7 g protein per serving and some much-needed calories and healthy fats.

Salt and Spices $0.57 – $1.12

Salt and spices can help spice (no pun intended) up your food and make it more enjoyable to eat. Salt is the staple, as you can use it to also cure meat if needed.

I know that people will like the pink Himalayan salt or the sea salt, and that’s fine. You’re just going to be paying a bit more for those. These prices are for regular iodized table salt.

When buying spices, buy garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, thyme, cinnamon, etc to help you have a variety of spices to choose from. Again, if you don’t typically cook with thyme, don’t buy it.

Batteries $3.68

Right now, I can get AAA batteries for $3.68, AA batteries for $3.77, C batteries for $4.76, D batteries for $4.76 and 9 volts for $4.98. You can spend up to $30 on batteries if you buy a big pack at a big warehouse store, but we are starting small, so these ones are 2-4 packs. After a few months though, you’ll have a decent number of batteries in supply.

Rice $1.62

I know a lot of people say to stock up on rice but there’s a reason for that. It gives you carbs in your diet but also helps to fill hungry bellies. You can add spices to it that will help it taste better.

This is for the 32 oz bag of long grain rice. I prefer Jasmine rice but the price on that is $2.46 which isn’t a ton, but it is more expensive.

Beans $0.78 – $2.74

I’m sure you could’ve guessed that beans would make it to this list. But again, it provides much needed protein to our diet. Buy a variety of beans. Pinto, kidney, navy, black, great northern, chickpeas and more.

The $0.78 will get you a can of beans. the $2.74 will get you a bag of dried beans. It’s important to have a variety of beans in your house. I like to have dry and canned beans in my house.

Vegetable $0.50 -$1.24

Vegetables are super important in our diet; we all know this. While it’s ok to buy the corn, peas and green beans that we all eat don’t forget about the petite diced tomatoes, carrots or even potatoes that can also be used in many ways.

One week buy corn, the next buy a can of some type of tomatoes, the next buy some peas etc. Buy things your family will use (so you don’t waste your hard-earned money) and that will be easy to rotate.

Fruit $1.28 – $1.38

Eating fruit can bring many health benefits and can keep your body regular. You don’t want to be without fruit. It may not be fresh fruit (which is why everyone should be growing a garden if you can.) but a can of fruit is better than no fruit.

Again, have a variety of what you store. Mandarin oranges, fruit cocktail, peaches, pie filling (yes that’s right. Some yummy sugary fruit can help boost some spirits one day), pineapple, dried fruit etc.

Flour $2.24

Flour is a basic staple when it comes to baking. You can make your own sourdough starter which in turn you can make sourdough bread with very few ingredients. You can make simple flatbread type of food with just flour and water. Yes, it’s basic and you can add other ingredients to make it taste better, but in a situation where you’re starving, flour is a good thing to have in your pantry.

This is 5 lbs of flour for $2.24. Buy this every week and you will have a nice supply of flour. After some time, and you feel like you have a decent amount of flour, start buying other baking necessities such as baking soda, yeast, baking powder etc.

Fire stuff $0.97

Heat and ways to cook are a topic when it comes to emergency preparedness. Even food storage. If we find ourselves in need of using our storage, we may find ourselves needing a way to also stay warm or cook that food.

You will want to have matches, fire starters, lighters, propane etc. in your stash to be able to provide you with ways to heat and cook. Start small, a box of 250 matches is $0.97. One grill lighter is also $0.97. One week buy matches, the next buy a lighter. Once you feel like you have enough start buying a small propane tank or some briquettes. Don’t buy the same thing over and over again. Diversify what you store. You’re going to need matches in order to light briquettes so make sure you plan accordingly to what you buy.

Propane and briquettes are going to be more expensive but also you will need a grill or Dutch oven to use them. Don’t buy what you won’t or can’t use. I’m just trying to get thoughts going for you so that you can think of what you need for your family and what you have.


All of that stuff cost me around $20. It would be a great start to anyone wanting to have some extra food to have around or to start building some food storage.

BUT, if you have a bit more you are able to spend each month, I have some more bonus items that would also be a great addition.


Sugar $2.94

You can get this 4 lb. bag of sugar for only $2.94. And while you don’t need to have as much sugar on hand as you would flour, you can mix it up a bit. Honey would be preferential however it’s just more expensive. You can grab some brown sugar and powdered sugar to have a variety of sugars on hand for a variety of uses.

Pasta $0.98

Pasta can be another staple full of carbs and calories for your family. Mix it up and have a variety (as with everything). I chose penne this time. But you can also get macaroni, shells, spaghetti, fettuccine, lasagne, egg noodles etc.

They are cheap and can last a long time. Eventually, they are something you can add to mylar bags with oxygen absorbers to help them last longer.

Broth $0.72

Not only can broth be used for soup, but it can also be used in place of water when you’re cooking rice. I love having broth in my home to be used for a variety of dishes.

Don’t stress

While it’s true that trying to plan or be prepared for any type of emergency can be overwhelming and stressful, it’s important to remember to just start. Having something is better than having nothing. You don’t need to go out and have everything that everyone recommends.

This isn’t a complete list by any means, just a way to help you get started on a budget.

Having food and preps for a year is a goal of mine, but it’s unrealistic to think I can have that tomorrow. (Unless you have endless supply of money to buy anything and everything you would ever need, including clothing. If you do, then way to go. Go out and get yourself and family taken care of.) But chances are, it’s something that needs to be budgeted for.

Use what you buy.

Don’t forget to rotate the food that you buy. Figure out a rotation system and implement it if you don’t already have one. FIFO. First In First Out. New foods go in the back while older food is in the front ready to use first.

In my extended pantry I write on my canned food the expiration date so that I can be sure to use food before it expires.

Only buy what your family uses. Unsure if your family will like something? Just buy one of it and have your family try it.


Thanks for stopping by!

For more on food storage, food preservation, or homemade recipes go visit me on Instagram and Tik Tok.

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