17 Ways to Prepare for Upcoming Food Shortages

by Becky
Published: Updated:

In March, President Biden said food shortages are going to happen. It’s important to prepare now before it’s too late and learn ways to prepare for upcoming food shortages.

We’ve been hearing this for a long time, especially surrounding the recent pandemic. When Russia invaded Ukraine, it add fuel to the fire and it looks like it’s only a matter of time before we see it come to full fruition.

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Food Shortage at Grocery Store

 “President Biden said Thursday that a food shortage is “gonna be real” following the sanctions that were placed on Russia by the U.S. government as a result of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion into Ukraine.”


While I don’t consider myself a prepper in an end of the world sense, I do like to be prepared for likely scenarios. Food shortages coming as a result of a major conflict, high costs of inputs like fertilizer, and supply chain disruptions seem very likely right now. 

 I hope that it does not happen, especially not to an extreme. However, in times of conflict, uncertainty, or in times of peace, it is good to be prepared. If you are prepared you are able to feel more peace. 

The food shortage potential was said once and then quickly fell aside to other more pressing news stories. I don’t think the media will fully cover the threat of food shortages until it is too late.

Update: the baby formula shortage is just one small example of how dire the situation became before any action was taken.

That is why it is so important to act now. Here are some ways that you can prepare yourself and your family for upcoming shortages. 

Also, please make sure you encourage your loved ones to be prepared too if they aren’t already. The more we can encourage and share this wisdom with those around us, the better off we will be as a whole. 

#1 Don’t Panic Buy, Instead Buy Two

Every time you head to the store, buy two of what you need instead of one (if it is a non-perishable item). Let’s say for example you need one jar of peanut butter. Buy two containers of peanut butter and only eat the first. The second is for storage. When you run out of the jar you bought, don’t use your storage. Go to the store and buy two more. Then repeat the process of eating one and storing one.

Stocking up on more than one food item at a time

This allows you to slowly build up your food storage without breaking the bank. Rising inflation means many of us have a tight budget already. If you use this method it will help ease the cost.

When you have your supply built up and you should still go buy a new jar but only what you need. 

After bringing it home, don’t use the new one, put it in storage and use an older jar that is getting closer to the expiration date. You should always be using your oldest food first.

#2 Grow a Garden 

I know not everyone has the ability to grow a garden or even wants to do it, but for those who are able it is a great way to have some food security. 

Small backyard garden
Garden at our previous home- I think this is 2017

Those living in urban areas can consider a community garden or growing in pots on balconies. If that isn’t an option, growing sprouts indoors or even microgreens under grow lights is a possibility.

In suburban areas you may have a yard that is large enough to grow some food in the ground. Raised beds are an option for keeping it neat and tidy but you can also grow food straight in your soil. 

Even though an in-ground garden seems “old school” it is still the most budget friendly method. I can attest that it works great! 

Growing all own food large vegetable garden
Our Garden April 2022

There is definitely a learning curve to gardening and if you want to make sure you have food via this method, it’s best to start now and get an idea of how to garden before there are shortages.

#3 Buy Locally

If you don’t want to grow a garden or you can’t grow everything in your garden, then buy locally. I can’t stress strongly enough how important this is!  

local you pick oranges

Too much of our food supply has gone overseas and the rest is run by large corporations and farmers with massive operations. 

Aside from the current world situation, I often think if there is one large scale trucking strike, then people are going to go hungry because so much of our food is shipped and our food supply is so interconnected. 

In addition to that example, if there were some kind of plant disease that affects a certain variety of food, there would be a massive impact. I often think corn would be a major one because so many foods and other products are derived from it. This has happened many times in history before, the Irish potato famine being just one example. 

The more small and local farmers there are, the more types of food will be grown and the more areas it can be grown in. Small local farmers are also more likely to have diverse crops. This is insurance we have against situations like I mentioned above. 

backyard eggs

As our family has started dipping our toes into farming, I am realizing more and more that if there was demand, and we knew there would always be people there willing to buy, we would work to meet it. 

Small local farmers need you to buy their food not just in hard times but all the time. This is the way to combat frightening food scarcity situations. 

#4 Make sure you are prepared with more than just food.

A reserve of gas, oil, extra clothing, shoes, water, medicines, nutritional supplements, paper goods, bidet or toilet paper, building supplies, etc. is needed to be prepared.

Why would you need those things for food shortages? A scarcity mentality causes people to panic buy. If food shortages are happening, there is likely to be shortages in other areas too. 

emergency lighting

Remember with the pandemic the first thing to disappear wasn’t food, it was toilet paper! There was no actual shortage until the public decided that it was in high demand.

In actuality, there are already shortages of many of these non food items already because of supply chain issues, a pandemic, and conflict.

#5 Learn Preservation Skills

In most places, there is a winter where crops freeze, stagnate, or grow very slowly. If you’re growing food or buying food locally, in order to have food through winter or when there are failed crops, you need to have some food preserved.

Just like I mentioned with gardening, there is a learning curve. You build confidence in preservation skills with time. 

how to prepare for food shortages
Our pantry 2022

There are many methods of preserving, some take equipment but others you can use basic kitchen tools. For long term storage, I recommend freeze drying and dehydrating. Shorter term preservation for food through winter can be done through fermentation, canning, or freezing.

Here are some related posts I have that may help with embarking into food preservation:

#6 Buy in Bulk and Buy Whole Grains for Long Term Storage

A great way to prepare for food shortages is to buy foods in bulk. Keep in mind that buying in bulk doesn’t always mean it’s cheaper, just check the price per ounce and you’ll be able to see if it is. 

I buy all my bulk grains from Azure Standard. My first choice would be to buy grains locally, but I haven’t found a local grower. The next best thing has been Azure. They have a lot of foods that I can’t grow like coconut milk for a good price and almost always have organic options.

Shipping from them is cheap for heavy items because they are shipped in a group order for everyone at your drop and the drops along the way. 

how to prepare for food shortages

The only thing about Azure if you pick up at a drop is that you need to have a flexible schedule that allows you to pick up when they arrive.  If you aren’t familiar with Azure Standard, you can check it out HERE

Most whole grains like wheat have a very long shelf life 25+ years. I personally think that grains (if you eat them) need to be the foundation of your food storage.

If you store wheat or dent corn, I highly recommend purchasing a grain mill. I have THIS electric one. If you want a hand crank option you can find one HERE (high quality) , HERE (more affordable), or HERE (same brand as my electric one).

I used to have a cheap $65 hand crank grinder for emergencies but it broke after about 5 uses and when I could no longer return it. I recommend getting something a little more quality if you want it to be reliable. 

#7 Get out of debt and never go into it

This may seem like an odd way to prepare for food shortages but it is so necessary to be prepared financially too. Many think that it’s more important to have food for a possible shortage and buy it on a credit card to get there. Don’t do that!

get out of debt

Financial problems make it so you are unable to handle other emergencies in your life and will give you fewer options. 

A mortgage may be necessary but stay away from consumer debt and pay off any student loans.

#8 Learn how to cook from scratch

In our industrialized food world it has become uncommon to cook from scratch. These basic skills are necessary if you store long term foods like whole grains. You’ll also need to know how to cook if you buy whole foods from local farmers.

homemade sourdough bread

Oftentimes people have different definitions of cooking from scratch. In this case, I’m talking about true cooking from scratch, where if you need to add dressing or mayonnaise, you make it yourself. If you need to add pasta, you make it yourself. 

My all time favorite cookbook is HERE. If you want a book that is good for teaching you how to cook from scratch, I recommend THIS one. 

#9 Find a Community of like minded people in your area

My sister Amy and I were talking recently about how important it is to build relationships with neighbors and friends locally that are like-minded. 

Even though in the country our neighbors are more spread out, we’ve been blessed with kind neighbors and we help each other when needed. My neighbors are so kind they have offered for us to borrow livestock trailers, tractor attachments, and one of my neighbors said, “If you ever need a bale of hay, feel free to take one from my pile.”

We are happy to help them too when needed, and in dire circumstances I believe it will be very important to help and work together with our neighbors, whether it’s with food or other needs.

I think we can all take a lesson from the Amish and Mennonite communities. They thrive not because they are completely self-sufficient but because they are community-sufficient. 

#10 Don’t forget to stock up on pet food,  livestock, and poultry feed.

Pet food is already experiencing shortages. Some pets can fend for themselves if there is no food around but others may starve. We don’t have pets in our home but I know some people really love their animals. If you want make sure your pet has food stock up on their food too.

stock up on animal feed

If you are raising animals for meat or eggs, it is important to make sure to have enough feed for them. I also think, if you have a little extra outdoor space, it might be good to try and grow forage for the animals. 

There are many options for growing forage besides grains. For example you could sow beets, radishes, squash, sunflowers, and for animals that enjoy greens, cover crops. This would also be a great way to offset price increases from inflation.

#11 Plant fruit and nut trees, along with other perennial food producing plants.

Perennial food plants, bushes, and trees often take a long time to establish but will pay off in the long run with bountiful harvests.

It is a great security food because it doesn’t require seeds or planting every year, the harvest usually just comes! Plant things that grow well in your area naturally and don’t require excessive water or any spraying of chemicals in order to succeed.

It’s uncommon nowadays to live in a place for a long time but some perennial crops establish fairly quickly. Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, asparagus, elderberries, usually bear fruit in 1-3 years.

Other fruits like apples, pears, peaches, cherries, plums, figs take 3-5 years to start producing. And nut trees it takes about 5-10 years until production.

grow fruit trees

I planted apple and pear trees at my previous home and had them in the ground for 3 years. When we moved, I uprooted the trees and brought them with us! There were 6 trees, 4 survived the transplanting and two died. 

I still consider it a success because now the trees I transplanted are large and ready to fruit this year!

#12 Consider Relocating

This may seem radical but it may be necessary. If you live in a city and have very little ability to stock up on food and take care of yourself and your family in an emergency, you may need to move to a place where you can.

We live in a day and age where this is possible for most people if you put their mind to it and work towards it as a goal. In saying that, I’m referring specifically to those living in the US, not other countries. I recognize that we are very blessed in this country to be able to have this opportunity. I also understand that individual circumstances vary and this may not be possible for some.   

Here is what happened to us: For many years we lived in a suburban neighborhood but with every year that passed the pull to move to the country and become more self-sufficient became stronger. 

Our previous home

Cameron and I set a goal to move to a place with at least 10 acres within 5 years. At the time it didn’t seem possible. We were in the middle of renovating our home ourselves, all of our extra time and money was being poured into the renovation, and Cameron’s job situation was not secure. He had gone from full time to part time and we were living on one income.

Doing our kitchen renovation

We hit lots of stumbling blocks but also saw a lot of miracles happen as we prayed to be able to achieve our goal and figure out ways to get there. We worked so hard, during the day and into the night because we wanted this dream so bad.

Because of all our sweat equity, we were able to sell our home for a huge profit. Not only that,  but Cameron got a better job so we were able to save more towards our new place, and we cut our spending in all other aspects of our lives. 

Here is the same kitchen after we put in all the work to remodel

Just three years after we set the goal to move, we bought 52 acres! In the fourth year our home was finished and we officially moved to our new place with land.

 It can happen for you too. Don’t give up and try not to make excuses saying, “I can’t because of _______” (you fill in the blank). It can take some time, but I can tell you from experience, it is worth sacrificing for.

Life hasn’t become magically easy for us now that we have land, but it feels so good to work hard for something and then be able to achieve it. I feel gratitude everyday that I can put my hands in the soil, see the sun rise and set, and feel freedom to homestead as I please. 

#13 Rearrange your priorities

When I talk about food shortages and buying extra food, immediately lots of people bristle and say, “Not everyone can afford that!” While I’m sure that is true for some, for the majority, I believe it is possible. 

It all lies in where your priorities are. Ditch the TV or streaming subscriptions, sell the new car and buy an old beater, stop going out to eat, stop drinking soda and anything other than water, minimize driving and trips around town, don’t go on extravagant vacations, and thrift shop. There are things that can be done to cut expenses in other areas in your life and allow you to buy a little extra food.

 #14 Stop wasting food

In the United States, food waste is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply (source). This is a jaw dropping number! In my mind, I would think there wouldn’t be any food shortages if everyone worldwide was able to consume what usually goes to waste.

While there may not be much we can do in terms of big ag and food company waste, on an individual level you can make a difference. How much food is wasted in your home?

Recipe for this salad can be found HERE

Here are some ideas of ways you can use every bit of food.

  • If you have a garden, pick only what you’ll eat. 
  • At the store don’t buy more perishable items than you’ll eat.
  • If you do end up with too much of a vegetable or fruit, make sure to preserve what you can before it goes bad.
  • Store foods properly. Foods store longest in different situations. I have a guide for proper storage of root vegetables and some fruits HERE.  Vacuum seal foods you won’t use right away.
  • Rotate your foods so that you eat it all and nothing goes bad.
  • Use the whole vegetable, fruit, or meat where possible. For example, carrot tops make great pesto, celery tops taste delicious in soups or can be dried and made into powder. Eat beet greens and roots, cook a whole chicken, then cook the carcass for homemade broth.  This is just a few ways you can use the whole food.

#15 Have plenty of preservation supplies. 

You’ll need preservation supplies before they become in even higher demand. Trust me, they are hard to find even now! Canning lids, jars, canning salt, sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, etc. A CANNING POT, a DEHYDRATOR, and even a FREEZE DRYER if you want to do more long term storage. 

Fermentation can be done in any jar or a CROCK. It may be wise to invest in a solar dehydrator or oven. I haven’t purchased one yet, but it’s definitely on my wishlist.

But if that’s not in your budget, I’ve heard of other homesteaders using the front window of their car, parked at the right angle, to dehydrate foods and even thicken up jams. It needs to be summer and hot, but it can work too!

#16 Learn to save and store Seeds

We all remember how the pandemic wiped out the seed supply. Demand was through the roof and there weren’t enough seeds to go around. 

If you can grow a garden, make sure you grow at least one variety of open pollination seeds for each vegetable or fruit you grow. Open pollination means that the seeds grow true to type or if you save the seed in the plant it will come out the same the next year, as long as it doesn’t cross pollinate. 

Where possible avoid hybrid seeds which will not produce the same if the seeds are saved. It will either not produce seed at all (sterile) or it will revert back to one of the parent types of plants it was made from. 

Seed saving takes time, know-how, and practice. I would also start this now if you are able. My favorite places to buy seeds and what seeds I’m growing this year can be found HERE. My favorite informative and helpful seed saving book can be found HERE.

#17 Practice! 

Do a no-shopping month and practice making meals from scratch and using what is in your pantry. Practicing not shopping from the grocery store for a long period of time is very eye-opening. 

You can see what you run out of quickly, what you wish you had more of, and learn how you will change for the next “pantry challenge”. 

Growing all our own meats and vegetables has really helped us to practice being creative and using what we have to make it work. It will give you confidence and help you be ready for whatever food shortage or rations come our way.

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Wendy May 9, 2022 - 6:25 am

This is well writen, informative and very true. Thanks for taking the time to state all these items up. It tends to creep into our lives now. Many people that do not cook from scratch hardly notice it, on the package of some food maybe stated that another oil than sunflower oil is used, but if you do not buy processed food you know. I live in Europe and we cannot buy sunflower anymore (have enough in the pantry, do not use it that much) but it is not in the shops and if some shop has it is spreads in the circles that cook a lot with it. Flour you can only buy one kilo at the time IF the shop has it. My small garden has more veggies than ever but it is so not enough for 4 adults. We most definately do not have any REAL problems at the moment but I am alert.
Hope it will all make a turn for the good. Most of all for all the people at war and the hungry in Afrika.

Ioanna May 10, 2022 - 5:44 pm

I noticed the change in cooking oil in potato chips of all things!!! I always cooked from scratch since I don’t know how else to eat, and I definitely see the prices rising from week to week on some products. But I was amazed at your comment about sunflower oil and flour! I live in Europe also and I haven’t seen any shortages or limits. May I ask where you reside?
I wish you all the best.

Wendy May 15, 2022 - 7:14 am

Hello Ionna,
I live in the Netherlands.

Laurel M. May 9, 2022 - 6:38 pm

Great article, Becky! You know what you’re talking about and I’m so glad you’re spreading this message.

Madeleine Dunker May 11, 2022 - 8:30 pm

Guess it is Germany, because I live in Germany and here it is how Wendy wrote.

Wendy May 15, 2022 - 7:24 am

Hello Madeleine,
No I am your neighbour, live in the Netherlands between the tulips 😉 and close to the sea. I used to make a shoppingtrip every other month in Kleve but due to the gasprices (and the rising grocery prices in Germany as well) it does not make sense anymore.

Joanna Kowalewski May 10, 2022 - 5:22 pm

Very informative!! Thank you ❤️

Carrie May 10, 2022 - 7:35 pm

Thank you for taking time to write this! You are very inspiring and motivational!

Jennifer May 10, 2022 - 8:16 pm

Great article! I have always gardened, but you inspired me to plan my vegetable gardening a bit more thoughtfully the last two years. Thank you!

Christine May 11, 2022 - 12:10 pm

Thank you Becky! This is helpful, and very inspiring. I’m in Australia and we are starting to think and plan ahead more. Canning jar are practically impossible to buy here, but I’ll just get creative.

Amanda May 11, 2022 - 2:38 pm

Thank you for this wonderful information. We are working here to preserve. I’m not sure we could make it a year, but we’ll do the best we can. I would love to have all the things you mentioned (grain mill, cookbooks,cetc), however we aren’t able to afford those things right now. I am worried some, but try to remember that worrying will not add a single day to my life. We won’t be able to process grains here, but we won’t have fruits as well. We purchased 4 apple trees 5 years ago. They were supposed to be red delicious. They have turned out to be crab apples. Not happy about that. I also would like grapes and blueberries for jam. I’ll have to work on that, but for now the honeysuckles are in and we are making honeysuckle jelly this year for the first time.

Kat May 22, 2022 - 5:59 pm

Hello Amanda,

Maybe you already thought about it, but if not: you could ask for this kind of kitchen equipment for your birthdays and for Christmas or whatever occasion you have to get presents. Tell people around you and invite them to share costs if necessary!

Also you can always try to find used equipments.

Good luck!

Madeleine D. May 11, 2022 - 8:38 pm

Thanks a lot Becky for taking the time to write this for us. I have a question. Point #14 Stop wasting food there is a sentence you wrote “I have a guide for proper storage of root vegetables and some fruits HERE”. Could it be possible there is no link under HERE? Send you sunny greetings. Madeleine

theseasonalhomestead May 12, 2022 - 5:32 pm

Thank you! Yes, I was going to put a link there and I got it fixed. I’m glad you pointed that out!

Stephanie May 11, 2022 - 11:05 pm

Do you have any suggestions on large food storage containers? I’m planning to buy some large bags of flour to keep on hand, but want to make sure I have a place to keep them first. Thank you! Love your videos!

theseasonalhomestead May 12, 2022 - 5:46 pm

I use 5 gallon buckets and gamma seal lids from Azure Standard https://www.azurestandard.com/shop/product/household-family/storage/buckets-pails-lids/buckets-pails/empty-5-gallon-plastic-pailbucket-without-lid/7838?package=PS092&a_aid=0Hay9RSz0J. It looks like they are currently out of stock on the gamma lids but you might check a local hardware store. I also see a lot of people using the pet food storage containers. They are a little more pricy but the design makes them easy to access if they are stacked. https://amzn.to/3McDFuX

Lynn May 13, 2022 - 2:36 pm

Well Biden says a lot of things blaming everyone except his bad leadership. The shortage are real and we are in deep trouble. thank you so much for posting this. I have been trying to prepare for some time now and I get scared because you just can’t seem to save enough. this helps so much. I have been concerned about storage of flour and cornmeal. I have the gamma lids and food safe buckets, how do we keep from getting weevils? Can’t seem to find anything on this. God Bless and again thank you so much. I love your channel and blog:)

theseasonalhomestead May 15, 2022 - 2:39 am

Hi Lynn! Freeze your grains before you put them in the buckets. Most times the grains get weevils before they are in your house. Then they hatch and you see them later. Freeze the grains right away when you bring them home for at least 48 hours. Then take them out of the freezer let them come to room temperature and put them in the buckets. That should solve the problem. If your buckets had weevils in the past, clean and then freeze the bucket too. Hopefully you have a big enough freezer to do so 🙂

Paula May 25, 2022 - 12:40 am

Excellent article, great photos, great suggestions. You are very talented and this is very helpful.

Thank you!

theseasonalhomestead May 26, 2022 - 11:25 pm

Thanks Paula, I really appreciate the positive feedback 🙂


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