20 Ways to live with food shortages

by Jun 6, 2022Survival




The gaps on the shop shelves are becoming more apparent and with more talk of food shortages, each day people are looking for ways to live with food shortages.  There are solutions out there some you have to think outside the box. 

Preparing for food shortages

Being prepared is the key to getting through most disasters without too many hassles.  There will still be problems and some setbacks but these setbacks will be much greater if you don’t prepare at all.

 Assess your current situation, create a disaster plan and implement the plan.  Planning well ahead gives you time to slowly build your emergency kit without blowing the budget. 

Develop a plan on how to live with food shortages in the short and long term.


Long term pantry

 When anyone thinks of disaster prepping they think of a survival pantry with preserved foods and survival ready to eat meals.  While this is a good plan in the short term it has problems in the long term – 

  • You can’t store enough food and water to last years.
  • Certain foods have expiry dates that reduce how long you can store them.
  • Ready to cook survival foods are expensive.
  • Long term preserved foods lose nutrition with time.

 Some foods are suitable for long term storage such as flour, sugar, rice, salt and the like.  For a long term food plan, you should also be looking at growing your own food.  And sourcing fresh food locally at either farmers’ markets or hunter-gathering.

 Have enough long term food to last you until you can start harvesting your vegetable garden.  Most vegetable crops take eight to twelve weeks to mature.

 For long term food storage, you will need to control rodents, vermin, mould and insects to prevent disease and food spoilage.





Emergency Kit

Grow your own food 

The most common way to live with food shortages is to have a vegetable garden or grow vegetables in pots

In larger famine conditions you will want to grow food where ever you can fit it.  Turn the lawn into a vegetable garden.

 Plant short growing fruits like berries.  Fruit trees are not a short term answer as they take two to five years to fruit after planting.  Just remember to protect the fruit from insects, birds and animals.

 Grow a range of vegetables to cover the various nutritional needs of the body.  Include – 

  • Leafy greens (spinach, kale, cabbage family, lettuce) for vitamins and minerals
  • Root crops (potatoes, carrots, yams, turnips) for carbohydrates and vitamins
  • Fruiting crops (tomatoes, eggplant, capsicum, pumpkins) for vitamins, minerals and flavour.
  • Herbs and spices
  • Mushrooms



Having a few chickens or ducks in your backyard will give you fresh eggs most days.  Eggs are very nutritious and a good source of protein.  Other poultry and game eggs can be eaten too, such as quail and goose.


 Stock up on animal food

 Your pets, chickens and other animals can eat some human food but they need their food to get the required nutrition.  The more human food you feed them the less you have for your family.

  • Chickens, poultry
  • Pets – Dogs, cats
  • Livestock


Develop local networks

You may not have a yard or it’s not big enough to supply all your needs.  Find some local people with similar goals and start a community network, with whom you can swap the harvests. 

 Any excess food can be –

  • Traded with other growers in your network
  • Swapped with local small businesses for their services if money is short
  • Sold at the markets or to local retailers


Reduce your debts

 As the price of food goes up, something else in the budget has to be sacrificed.  Reducing or putting off debts will allow more money to buy the basics.  If money is tight look for other ways to make money or trade the money you would make from employment for being more self-sufficient to cut costs.



Use food wisely



Ration might seem to be a harsh word but you can better manage your food situation.  Look at your current food usage – 

  • How much food goes off in the fridge because you hadn’t used it or forgotten it was there?
  • How much do you throw away at the end of the meal because someone didn’t eat it all?
  • When preparing a meal how much gets thrown out (peel, off-cuts)?

 Some of the scraps we throw away are edible sometimes called ‘secondary edibles’. These can be used to flavour stocks, and soups or just eat them (pumpkin and potato skins are edible.)

 Make sure the produce has been washed, free of waxes, dirt and chemicals.

Vegetable peels can add flavour to stocks, rice or eaten on their own.



 Slow down your meals

 Slow down the family meals by removing distractions.  Rushing while eating often causes you to become overfull as it takes time for your body to recognise your stomach is full.  Overeating is wasting food and can cause weight gain.


 Cut back on food served

 With a large percentage of the population overweight, we all could do with a few fewer calories.  Reduce the amount you serve up at a meal by half a spoonful.  In a large family that little saving with each plate will give you another serving for another meal.


Reduce food waste 

Having less on the plate will reduce food waste in the end.  If someone is still hungry, they can have another small serving.  Excess food left in the pan can be used for another meal.

 Don’t throw out any waste as it can go to the chickens, worms or compost.


Bulk out meals with cheaper food

 Have a mixture of protein, vegetables and carbs to give a balanced diet.  If you have hungry kids you can bulk out the meal with the foods they love such as –

  • Pasta, rice, noodles
  • Legumes
  • Stems of cauliflower and broccoli cut to look like potato or rice
  • Seasonal vegetables


Buy bulk when the price is low 

When building your pantry buy excess when the prices are cheaper.

  • Food prices are affected by –
  • Local growing seasons, some crops are available more at certain times
  • Import and export movements
  • Availability of foods

 So, your diet will change with the seasons.  Meat and more expensive foods can be in the diet but to save money bulk out the meal with whatever is cheapest at the time.


Plan your weekly meals

 After checking what is cheap at the moment or readily available, look in your pantry and fridge and plan your weekly menu.  When checking the fridge and pantry look for –

  •  Foods that are about to expire
  • Fresh food that needs to be eaten in the next few days
  • Foods that you have a lot of and are easy to acquire

Shops may be limiting the amount of a product you can buy so having an idea of what you actually need helps with the rationing.  Having an idea of the food type you need can help with finding alternatives if the shop is sold out.



Expose kids to different foods early

 We are already seeing issues with the supply of baby formula.  And with the reduced supply, the price will go up dramatically.

 Start your plan early, exposing babies and toddlers to different foods while they are still experimenting with the world saves you from trying to get a picky eater to eat something new later in life. 

When the shop-bought baby food is not available you can rely on home-cooked foods and breast milk.

 Ask your grandparents what they did before commercially available factory processed baby food and formula were available.  For example, fruit and vegetable purees, breast milk, and wet nurse.


How to live with food shortages?


Change location

 If you can’t afford to live in an area or it is not providing for your needs you can move to another area with a cheaper cost of living and more resources.  This can be for a short or permanent time frame. 

 The move may mean getting a lower-paying job but if the cost of living is less and you can be more self-sufficient you could be better off.


Look for alternatives to regular foods

 Can’t get your regular menu items, time to get creative.  There are a lot of different foods from all over the planet in corner stores everywhere.  If one product is sold out experiment with another.

  • Look online for companies selling seeds and see just how many varieties there are for the common tomato. 
  • Various milk alternatives
  • Ethnic foods
  • Different recipes with different ingredients.


Rationing with food shortages

 As you may have seen on the Survival TV shows catching a fish and making it last for the next three days meals is not a great survival strategy as you are not getting your daily calorie and nutrient needs.  

 If you are overweight this may work in the short term but you don’t want to become underweight as it will affect your health and life span. 

Shops may ration how much you can buy but you can supplement your diet in other ways.



 Don’t waste any food by-products from cooking or if it is getting old.  Recycle them back into the garden to fertilise the soil for your next crop.

  • Chickens can eat most scraps (exclude fat, salt, onions and citrus). Chickens are even happy to eat cooked meat leftovers for protein.
  • Compost or worm farm to create organic matter for the garden
  • Meat scraps and bones can be buried in the garden to feed the organisms in the soil.  Ensure it is deep enough to prevent predators from digging them up. 
  • Cooked meat without the bones can be given to the pets. 

Uncooked bones can be given to the pets as they won’t splinter like cooked bones which can damage the animal’s intestines.



Collect seeds

 As the foods start to dry up the seeds and seedlings go fast as people start to plant their food gardens.  Seeds can be bought in nurseries, major retailers and online.  But there are other places you can find seeds –

  • Local gardening clubs
  • Other growers
  • Saving the seeds of the healthiest plants in your garden

Some grocery vegetable seeds can be grown but they must be ripe and not GMO or hybrid.

 A hybrid vegetable seed will not produce the same crop as the parent vegetable


A prime survival strategy is to adapt to the changes in their local environment.  Limited food in your regular locations requires you to expand your thinking and become more resourceful and develop new ways to live with food shortages.

 We don’t know how long this shortage will last but we need to learn how to live with food shortages in the meantime.  It is a time to work together as a community and not hoard food at the expense of others who may choose to come to your aid one day or not.


Further reading

Food Security Update


FAO official warns some countries will definitely face food shortages







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