One of the biggest aspects of preparedness is food storage. Many people will argue that they won’t need any food stored because they can hunt, fish, garden and forage for food. I would argue that you don’t necessarily know the emergency situation that may arise which could limit or totally inhibit your ability to do any of those. Then what? Without any food stored away, you could be in dire trouble.
Forward thinking preppers always plan ahead for situations when you may need an emergency food supply. What you store and how much you’ll need will completely depend on your family’s needs and tastes.
A 72-hour emergency food supply will probably be enough for most situations you’ll encounter. You should always store non-perishable foods that require no refrigeration, minimal or no preparation or cooking, and little to no water. It’s also a good idea to select foods that are compact and lightweight just in case you have to pack it and run.
Include the following foods:
- Ready-to-eat canned foods (meats, fruits and vegetables)
- Soups (dried or canned)
- Smoked or dried meats (like beef jerky)
- Dried fruit (you can dry your own with a good dehydrator)
- Juices (powdered or canned)
- Milk (powdered, canned or shelf-stable brick pack)
- Staples (sugar, salt, pepper, instant potatoes, rice, coffee, tea, etc)
- Ready-to-eat and instant hot cereals
- High energy foods (like peanut butter, jelly, nuts, trail mix, granola bars)
- Cookies, candy, crackers, and other snacks
- Foods for infants, elderly people or those with special diet needs
In addition to your short-term food supply, store water personal hygiene items, flashlights, blankets and other supplies for emergency use. (…and if you can your own food, you get bonus preparedness points!)
Food Storage for Emergency Situations
Store what you eat, and eat what you store. What does that mean, exactly? It means you should store foods that the people in your household would normally eat, but keep in mind that food has an expiration date. In a post-apocalyptic world, those dates won’t necessarily be very important, but for now, it’s best to heed them just in case. Make sure you rotate your stored food so that none of it expires before you’re in an emergency situation. When the expiration date gets close, eat the food so it doesn’t go bad. For everything you eat in your preps, buy a new one to replace it. It may sound like a lot to keep up with, but there are some great sections in the Preparedness Planner that will help you stay on top of things.
Here are a few more tips:
- Don’t forget to store food for your animals.
- Avoid stocking foods high in salt that will increase thirst.
- Store single servings or one-meal sizes to avoid leftovers, since refrigeration may not be available.
- Store emergency food and supplies where they will be safe from insect and rodent pests, and possible flooding.
Other Items to Store
Complete your emergency food supply kit by including the following items:
- Chlorine bleach (for emergency water purification)
- Disposable plates, cups, tableware, plastic bags
- Can opener (not an electric one), other utensils, paper towels, packaged hand wipes (or baby wipes)
- Covered two-quart saucepan
- Canned heat burner, charcoal (or learn to build a rocket stove)
- First aid kit
- Flashlight and extra batteries, candles
- Matches in a waterproof container (you can also waterproof your matches)
- Radio with batteries
- Personal items: clothes, personal hygiene supplies
Two-Week Emergency Supply
Two weeks isn’t that long of a time, but when you’re eating “emergency food” it could seem like an eternity. To help you plan a two-week food supply, it’s time to make some lists. Make a list of all family members, noting any special dietary needs, then list all staple foods in cupboards and freezer. Make a meal planning chart indicating where food can be found each day. Add notes to each day’s list that indicate how much water and what utensils are needed for preparation. Also, keep track of cooking directions for products such as rice, instant cereals, dry potatoes, and dry milk. This stuff isn’t that big of a deal in your normal day-to-day life, but in an emergency situation, it may be the difference in eating and eating well.
Dry Food Storage
Many dry food items (such as rice, wheat, flour, corn meal, etc) can be stored for extended periods of time. Grains and other dry goods benefit from storage in a cool, dry location. Consider these items when planning your emergency food supply. Choose packaging that can be tightly sealed such as food storage bags, plastic containers with tight-fitting lids, and metal canisters, and store all your dry goods in a cool location, away from sunlight and heat. Basements or pantries off the kitchen are often a good choice for food storage. Unopened dry and canned goods will keep for at least six months if properly stored, however quality of the food may begin to decline after that. Many canned and packaged foods require refrigeration once opened – this includes canned foods, salad dressings, condiments and jams and jellies. Remember to take this into account when planning your food supply. If kept for more than one day, opened canned goods should be transferred to glass or plastic storage containers to avoid a metallic taste in the food.
Above all, be safe with your food storage. Follow best practices to ensure your preps do not become contaminated. Contaminated food will make you sick, and in an emergency situation that sickness could be life threatening. Always play it safe!