An emergency can happen at any time. Hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, or other disasters can temporarily disrupt access to food stores, clean water, and electricity for days, or even longer. These stressful situations are made even worse if you and your family are worried about how you are going to eat. Putting together an emergency food supply now can help your family in the event of a disaster.
Experts suggest that the following non-perishable items are some of the best foods to keep on hand. They do not require refrigeration and, if the need arises, most can be eaten without cooking or special preparation.
- Peanut butter – Protein-packed peanut butter is a smart food to have available in an emergency. It is a good source of potassium and healthy fats, and also has fiber to keep you fuller longer. An unopened jar of peanut butter has a storage life of about 1 year. An unrefrigerated open jar has a shelf life of 3-4 months.
- Granola bars and protein bars – Granola bars and protein bars can provide important carbohydrates and calories. These bars generally have a shelf life of about six months.
- Canned meat and fish – Foods like chicken, tuna fish, turkey, chili, sardines, and Vienna sausage can add protein and flavor to soups, salads, and sandwiches.
- Crackers – Keep salt-free, whole grain crackers in an unopened box and place the box in tightly closed containers to protect them from bugs and excessive moisture.
- Canned beans and vegetables – Black beans, chick peas, corn, green beans and other canned beans and vegetables are good sources of vitamins and nutrients.
- Powdered milk – With a shelf life of 1-5 years, powdered milk is a versatile staple to have in your emergency food storage arsenal. Just add water and you’ll have milk suitable for drinking or cooking.
- Canned soups – Buy large cans of hearty, ready-to-eat soups (not condensed soups). Chicken with noodles, split pea with ham, lentil, creamy chowders, or vegetable soups are great choices. Many of these can be eaten cold if you are without a stove for some time.
- Vitamins – If you are in a long-term food shortage situation, vitamins can supplement your nutrition. Vitamins C and A are particularly important since they are found in fruits and vegetables, which may be in limited supply during an emergency.
- Nuts – Stock up on vacuum-packaged walnuts, cashews, almonds and other nuts. They are loaded with protein and can give you an energy boost.
- Canned prepared foods – Prepared foods like stews, chili, corned beef hash, and ravioli provide a meal in a can. These foods can be eaten right out of the can cold if needed, or heated in the can if no pots are available – be sure to open the can and remove the label first.
Other Essential Supplies
Bottled water – In an emergency, it may be difficult to access clean water, so one of the most important things you should keep in your emergency supply storage is bottled water. Estimate that you will need one gallon of water per person per day. Remember you’ll need water not only for drinking, but also cooking, brushing your teeth, washing, etc. Do not open the water until you are ready to use it.
Pet supplies – Don’t forget about your pets! Keep enough water and pet food in your emergency storage to take care of all your pets.
Can opener and utensils – Purchase a quality manual can opener and a supply of disposable plates and utensils.
- Select familiar foods that you and your family typically eat and enjoy. During stressful times, it is best to consume foods that you are used to eating.
- Avoid foods that that will make you thirsty since water supply might be limited.
- Stock enough food to last approximately two weeks.
- You don’t have to build your emergency food storage stock all at one time. Buy a couple of items when they are on sale and grow your supply gradually.
- Preferably the food should be kept in a cool, dry, and dark location.
- Periodically check on your food supply to make sure items have not reached their shelf life. Any food that is close to its expiration date should be used and any expired food should be thrown out. Replenish your supply as needed.