What Food to Stock and How to Make It Last
An important part of your preparedness plan should be emergency survival food. No matter what else you may be facing, your family has to eat, right?
It is recommended that you have enough food on hand to feed your household for a minimum of three days. However, many agencies are suggesting that you aim for a fourteen day (two week) supply.
Unfortunately, in many disaster situations, you could be without electricity or running water. You may have to evacuate or live in a temporary shelter for a period of time. Even if you are able to stay in your own home, the food in your fridge will spoil quickly. And, chances are, the oven or microwave will not be an option. Without modern conveniences to depend on, your emergency supply is critical to survival.
There are a lot of options when it comes to food storage. You can purchase kits from companies that will do the work for you. But, this is very expensive. Assembling an emergency supply of food yourself is easy and cost effective – but, it does require some thought and planning.
First of all, survival food does not have to be boring and bland. Forget those images of dehydrated, vacuum sealed, military style packages that look – and taste – like plastic. It’s true, that in a crisis, you may not be able to put a gourmet meal on the table. However, there is no reason why it can’t still be delicious, nutritious, and satisfying. Of course, survival will be your main focus. So, you have to choose your items wisely. But, it’s nice if they taste good, too!
Stocking Up on Emergency Survival Food
So, what do you stock? Your emergency survival food kit should include:
1. Non-perishable items. Look for foods with a long shelf-life. Some of the most common are:
- canned goods
- dried fruit
- dry cereal and granola bars
2. Foods you and your family like. Take a look through your kitchen and make a note of non-perishable items that you purchase regularly. Stock your child’s favorite canned pasta. Buy a case of the energy bars you prefer. There is no point in stocking items that your family does not enjoy when there are so many other possibilities.
3. Foods that require minimal preparation. If you have access to a propane stove – or even a campfire – then things like oatmeal and pasta are wonderful options. Unfortunately, that may not always be the case. So, make sure that your supply includes several items that can be eaten straight out of the can or package.
4. Lots of variety. Aim for a good balance of protein, fruit, vegetables, and carbohydrates. Also try to choose foods that have some fiber and healthy fats. Eating beans for every meal may be fine for a couple of days, but two weeks is a little much, no?
5. Foods high in calories and nutrition. This is especially important if evacuation is a possibility. Since you will have to carry your food items, your selection will be a little more limited. In this case, you want to pack more nutrition in less space. So, choosing food that will give your family enough calories – and make them feel full longer – is important.
6. Water. This can also include other beverages such as juice boxes. However, if you need to evacuate, be careful that you don’t choose water over juice. It is important that you have at least 1-3 gallons of drinkable water per person per day.
7. Specialty items. This includes things like infant formula, baby food, meal supplements for seniors, and vitamins.
Emergency Survival Food Storage
Gathering your food is only part of the process. It must also be packed and stored properly to ensure the longest possible shelf life. When assembling your preparedness kit or stocking your emergency stores, keep in mind the six enemies of food storage. These are: heat, oxygen, moisture, light, pests, and time.
Make sure to keep your supplies in a cool, dry location away from bright light. Seal food in airtight containers. This will protect from oxygen exposure and prevent the pests from using your survival stores as…well….a means of survival.
Remember to rotate and replenish your food items regularly so they don’t reach their expiry date before you need them.
Emergency Food Storage Methods
There are several storage methods available, depending on your space and skill. After all, not everyone owns a food dehydrator or a vacuum seal machine. Canning vegetables and making your own beef jerky can require a certain amount of talent. And time. And patience. And willingness. Well, you get the point. Some suggestions include:
- Preserving food in jars
- Dehydrating and/or vacuum sealing food
- Freeze drying food
- Storing dry goods in buckets and mylar bags
- Purchasing pre-canned or sealed foods with a long shelf life
- Building shelving in a dark room such as a basement or cold cellar. You may want to use a dehumidifier if conditions are especially damp.
- Storing items in plastic bins.
Whatever method(s) of storage you choose, remember to have some options that are easy to carry in case you have to evacuate quickly. In fact, you should pack a portable emergency preparedness kit (in one or two backpacks or duffel bags) in case you ever have to leave your home. Yes, it may be hard to abandon those beautiful shelves of carefully prepared food, but at least your family will be provided for.
Oh, and don’t forget the can opener. Non-electric, of course. And maybe a couple of pots and some utensils.
Whether you are building a three day disaster survival kit or preparing for a two week “shelter-in”, planning ahead is the key. By gathering supplies now, you will ensure that you can provide for your family when an emergency arises.