The Ant & The Grasshopper: Stockpiling For Emergencies

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The Ant And The GrasshopperYesterday I was reading my children the classic story of the grasshopper and the ant. For those that may be unfamiliar with the story it is about a hard working ant who is busy all summer long stockpiling food for the hard winter ahead while the other character in the story, the grasshopper, spends his days playing his fiddle and dancing. Then the cold harsh reality of winter arrives and the grasshopper finds himself cold and hungry while the smart little ant is warm and snug in her nest with her stockpile of food set aside to feed her (and here fellow ants) the winter through.

It is amazing to me that there is actually a children’s story centered around stockpiling. With all of the negative connotations that have been floating around there in the media about stockpiling and couponing it was refreshing to pull this story out from the bookcase and use it as a teaching moment to my children on being a hard worker and being prepared. Having a reasonable stockpile is not hoarding, not if you are going to use it. It is not foolish. It is not greedy or selfish. It is not glutinous. No indeed it it is smart!

In the wake of Hurricane Irene I am reminded just how important and convenient it is to have a stockpile. After speaking with some of my couponing friends one of the common threads has been “I am so glad I have a stockpile!” Unlike other natural disasters like tornadoes and earthquakes, hurricanes usually come with a few days notice. People then rush to the store to stock-up on water, bread and canned goods because they are not already prepared. While the stockpiler is pretty much set and may only need to run to the store for a few items to get them through. But what about those of us that live in an area where a natural disaster can strike without warning, we are left at the mercy of nature and many find themselves unprepared! When a tornado touches down, like we saw recently in Joplin Missouri, grocery stores were destroyed, so there was no running to the market to pick up supplies after it happens.

I am not a doomsday, oh woe is me, the sky is falling, it is Armageddon, rapture or what have you type person. I try to live life in the moment and enjoy and count the many blessings I have. However I also strive to be more like the ant in the story, and be prepared for the things I know are coming (like the harsh Wyoming winters) or the things I know are a real possibility like tornadoes. Heck some unfortunate soul could hit a power line with their car and we could be without power for a day or two. You just never know. I started couponing because it was an economically sound thing to do, but I have learned that the side benefit of having a stockpile it that I am prepared for the unexpected. My stockpile for the most part could allow my family to survive for at least a month if we had to. However after talking to my coupon buddies in the last few days I have been inspired to take stock of my stockpile and focus on some of things missing in my own stockpile that would be necessary if we were were hit with a power outage for an extended period of time.

My own list includes:

  • Water – Outside of two 24-packs and a few bottles and containers stashed in my freezer I don’t have nearly enough water to support my family of 6 plus 6 pets.
  • First aid supplies – My band-aid stockpile is pitifully low. With two 6 year olds who love band-aids more than their Pillow Pets and think nothing of applying a Hello Kitty or Batman band-aid on a freckle or because it matches their outfits, I need to re-stock. I also could use a few other supplies in my kit too, summer is hard on the first aid kit.
  • Powdered milk – Not something I drink a lot of (I am lactose intolerant) but it sure is nice to have on hand just in case. There are hardly any coupons for this stuff but I am willing to pay full price (gasp) to have a few boxes on the shelf. And I know from experience that this is just nice to have on hand. Just last week I ran out of milk and needed 3/4 of a cup for a batch of cookies I was baking, it was late at night, I was in my PJ’s and I really did not want to go to the store for a gallon of milk, so I meandered out to the stockpile and pulled out some powdered milk and I was good to go!
  • Pet food – I am set on human food, but I usually just buy my pet food these days by the bag. I tried stockpiling it but I just found that it wasn’t worth it as my cats tore into the bags, or the food got moldy or what have you. Now I do have a small stash of canned food that could do us OK in an emergency but I would like to store at least one extra bag of dry food just in case. During a disaster is not the time to be changing your pets diet…vomiting or diarrhea is not what you want to be dealing with when you are rationing water.
  • Propane – When we moved into our house 1 1/2 years ago, we were blessed that the previous owner hooked us up with a natural gas line for our outdoor grill. We love this, so very handy to not run out of propane mid grill. Or have to buy it at all. But if there was a tornado our gas line might get broken, so I think it is time to dig out our two propane tanks and get them filled and stored safely so we have a way to cook and heat water.

This is just my list of items needed, you can find a basic list of emergency preparedness supplies at

Are you a grasshopper or an ant? Or some where in between? What do you need to stockpile in case of an emergency?


  1. Inspiring, Thanks for writing! I am in between there somewhere, I find I stock up then use it then run out before stocking up again. Going to do better……. after this summer of 100+ degrees for over a month (in Texas), I have not shopped like I needed to, too blasted HOT! Hopefully I can get caught up…

    • Debi, that is funny because up where I am it is the opposite. I shop like mad in the summer and it tapers off a lot in the winter. I really dislike having to go shopping (or anywhere for that matter) when the temps are below freezing.

  2. I can honestly say, that at any time, I am prepared to go a month or longer with my stock pile in case of some unforseen disaster. It takes a good while to get one built up, but once I had, then if I used any item I would replace it the very next time I shopped. I really enjoyed this article and it’s good to remember not to put this sort of thing off. Three months ago my house was hit by a tornado and I shudder to think how it might have been had I not had my sotckpile! There was so much to deal with, I was only able to get out for basic staples for weeks on end.

    • I am sorry to hear aboutnthe tornado that hit your house fairygirl, but I am glad your stockpile was there to help you out afterwards! It really can be a life saver! I have never had a natural disaster hit (knock on wood) but have had other situations pop up that we relied heavily on the stockpile. After twins were born (they are almost 7 now) we ate mostly from the stockpile for a good 3 months and just bought fresh milk, veggies and the occasional item. I broke my ankle 2 months after they were born, and my husband was recovering from a serious work injury and it really was a life saver to us.

  3. The storm was coming and I knew that we didn’t need anything (except maybe milk for the two year old if the storm lasted that long). I opted for not getting anything which is a great feeling. I had a full house with my family of 3 and two parents and my cousin and the power went out. I made frozen waffles on the grill for breakfast, sausage and hash browns for lunch and grilled a frozen pizza for dinner. All in all I used creativity but I would certainly like a little more time perfecting those recipes before having to feed 6 people anytime soon. I missed my oven, dishwasher and washing machine and was so excited to have the power back on after 42 hours. During the time, my husband realized the freezer was really full so we are working on cleaning it out so that we can defrost. YEAH stockpile! I didn’t even get to the can goods or the pantry with the little time we were out of power 🙂

    • That is awesome Alison that your stockpile held you guys through! It really is nice to be able to rely on it when we have to. Of course we hope we don’t have to. What is that saying, pray for the best and prepare for the worse?

  4. What you might want to consider instead of powdered milk is the boxed milk which tastes better (you can even get lactose free milk such as soy/almond…) at a much cheaper rate at the dollar store (one liter is $1 at Dollar Tree). Hope this helps.

    • Great idea Peggy, I will look into that. I have a few of the single boxes of the flavored Horizon organic milks for the kids. I bet I could find a great deal on the larger boxes of milks too! Now why did I not think of of that!?

  5. This is a great post. Last year in Massachusetts, due to a water main break, most of the Eastern part of the state had a “boil water” order for three days. We have a young child and boiling water for his consumption was uncomfortable to us. Fortunately, we live in the city and many stores with bottled water were within walking distance. But it occurred to me – what if they weren’t? Or there was no water? Or we lacked the gas to boil our own?

    I am not a pessimist or a conspiracy-theorist or any of that either. But, after having that experience, it simply makes sense to me to have some bottled water in the basement. I don’t have much of a food stockpile yet, and in the event of a true emergency, I suppose that the tubes of toothpaste and bottles of body wash I have stockpiled will be only marginally useful.

    But I have been reading about some of this stuff, and couponing towards it. A lot of people complain that most coupons are not for fresh food – and yes, that is true. But shelf-stable food is exactly what you need in an emergency. Some blog article I read pointed out that while canned vegetables might be less than perfect, if you haven’t had access to fresh or frozen vegetables for several days, a can of carrots is AMAZING.

    I have been slowly couponing a bit towards some of this stuff and I think it’s an important aspect of the thing. Getting super cheap canned green beans now might be just a mild thrill, or the ability to make a quickie bean salad – but in the event of true emergency, they could be really awesome to have on hand.


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