You’ll never know when an emergency can strike. Whether it’s a natural disaster, a flood, or even a pandemic, the important thing is to be prepared. Depending on the situation, you might not be able to go out of the house for days. There’s also a chance that you might lose electricity and even your water supply. Taking all these and more into account, prioritizing your emergency food storage is a must.
You don’t necessarily have to buy food for emergencies in one go. After all, you might not even have the chance to head to a grocery store once a disaster hits. The more prudent and responsible thing to do is to slowly build your stockpile. You can do this by buying three emergency food items each time you pick up your regular groceries.
What kind of food should you store for emergencies? Generally, you’d want to avoid those that spoil quickly and those that need refrigeration. At the same time, you don’t want to compromise your health, so you need to plan what goes in your stockpile. To guide you, here’s a list you can refer to when building your food storage for emergencies:
Canned meat, poultry, and fish are obvious choices for emergency food. Not only do they have a long shelf life, but they can provide you with enough protein and other nutrients such as zinc and omega-3 fatty acids if fresh alternatives aren’t available. Canned meat can include:
You can pair canned meat with crackers for a quick meal. If possible, choose low-sodium options. Of course, with canned meat, don’t forget to have a can opener ready.
Canned vegetables like beans, corn, or tomatoes can also make for quick but filling meals. There’s a lot you can do with canned vegetables such as turn them into soups, stews, purées, sauces, or dips. With canned vegetables, you can have your dose of fiber with a little bit of protein on the side. Vegetable purées can be especially helpful if you have toddlers or elderly people in your household.
Having canned soup in your emergency food supply will let you save on gas and water as they can be consumed straight out of the can. If you do have access to gas, heating up your canned soup can help you keep warm during colder nights.
Canned broth, on the other hand, can be a nutritious addition to many dishes like soups, stews, and sauces. If you’re able to cook rice, you can use canned broth instead of water to give your rice extra flavor. Try to get canned broth that’s low in sodium so you have more room to adjust the flavoring to your taste.
Protein and Fats
Nuts like almonds, walnuts, peanuts, hazelnuts, and cashews are a great alternative to meat if you need a protein boost. Along with trail mixes, nuts are also high-energy foods. These are essential during emergencies since you always need to be alert. Adrenaline consumes a lot of stamina, so snacking on these foods will help keep your strength up, especially if you need to quickly evacuate or move to another location.
However, do reconsider adding nuts to your emergency stockpile if you or your family members are allergic to them.
Peanut butter isn’t just a spread for kids. It’s also an easy source of protein and fats during emergencies. It’s also convenient to store and you can quickly prepare it with crackers or bread. Most peanut butter spreads don’t need refrigeration, but be sure to check the label anyway.
If you’re not too keen on peanut butter, there are other alternatives such as almond butter. You can add this to some of your dips or use it as a salad dressing if you want some extra flavor on your food supply.
Granola bars and cereals can make suitable breakfast meals regardless of an emergency situation. They’re packed with carbohydrates, as well as vitamins and minerals that can keep your energy levels up. During emergencies, you might have to skip eating cereals with milk, unless it’s the powdered kind. Granola bars and cereals are also pretty filling, allowing you to gain a lot of energy without having to consume too much. This can help save food and stretch your rations.
Whole-grain crackers have a longer shelf-life than bread, making them a better choice during emergencies. Unlike bread, which only lasts for a few days, packaged crackers can last for at least six months provided they’re stored in a cool, dry place. With crackers, you also don’t have to worry about mold, and you can pair them with many of your emergency food supplies such as peanut butter, canned meat, and soups.
Dried pasta and jarred sauce can stay in your pantry for months, making them a good choice for your emergency food storage. Not only is pasta delicious, but it’s also laden with carbs, which can help fuel you throughout the day. You can choose to serve it hot or cold, or add it as an ingredient in another dish.
Of course, if you or another family member has dietary restrictions, there are available alternatives to regular pasta such as the vegan or gluten-free variety.
On the other hand, jarred sauce is similar to other sauces that you can add as a base to other dishes. If you’re not into pasta, you can substitute it for rice or potatoes to give your jarred sauce the carb content you need.
Dried meat like beef, ham, or turkey jerky are another protein source that you don’t need to cook or store in a fridge. Take note, though, that dehydrated meats, while low in fat, can have a high sodium content. However, there are specialized shops and health stores that sell jerky without MSG and gluten. They’re a little bit on the pricier side compared to the convenience store kind, so take this into account if you want to include healthy jerky in your emergency food storage.
Fruits are difficult to include in your emergency food supply because they can spoil easily. Although there are fruits that can store well like pineapples, or apples, you generally have to keep them in the fridge, so they can last longer. The problem with emergency situations is that there’s always the possibility of a power outage. To make up for this, choose dried fruits instead.
Dried fruits are just as nutritious as fresh fruits, although some may have added sugars. If possible, pick dried fruits that don’t contain added sugars. A good selection of dried fruits can include raisins, apricots, figs, and cranberries.
Water is one of the most — if not the most — essential items in an emergency food storage. You can survive for a few days without food, but you won’t last a day or two without water.
When building your emergency stockpile, be sure to have at least a three-day supply of water. This is equivalent to at least one gallon per person per day. Half a gallon would be for drinking, and the other half can be for washing and food.
If you have kids, try to include an extra supply as they’re more active and energetic, which means they can get dehydrated much faster.
Alongside water, sports drinks can also come in handy during emergencies. They can replenish your fluids and keep you from dehydrating, especially on extremely hot days. Sports drinks contain electrolytes and carbohydrates, which your body can easily lose when you sweat. One thing you should remember, though, is that some sports drinks may include additives like sweeteners, so pick those that are low in sugars.
Emergency food storage don’t generally contain dairy products like milk, cream, and butter since they spoil easily without refrigeration. However, if milk is necessary in your diet, choose powdered milk as it can store for months in a tightly sealed container.
Emergencies can catch anyone off-guard. Before disaster strikes, it’s best to prepare and stock up on your essentials, especially food. This will ensure that you and your family will have enough resources to weather any unexpected event. Gradually build your emergency food storage just in case traveling to the grocery won’t be possible.