If a natural disaster leaves you without power or access to the grocery store, how do you keep yourself and your family from going hungry? What if you have to go days before you can leave the house due to unsafe conditions in the wake of an emergency?
These situations may be anxiety-provoking to think about, but there is a way to navigate them well, keeping yourself and the people you love safe, fed, and hydrated. One of the best ways to maximize your emergency preparedness is to have a supply of emergency food.
Don’t Let An Emergency Leave You Without Food.
This post is all about your emergency food supply – what to put in it, how long it needs to last, and where to store it. These are some of the most important questions that you might have about stocking up on non-perishable food to eat in an emergency, and we’re here to give you the information you need. We want to make sure that you are prepared with the knowledge and resources to navigate a natural disaster or other crisis with minimal stress, fear, and anxiety.
If you do not already have a supply of emergency food, now is the time to stock up. Over 60% of Americans have no plan of action for an emergency, and we want you to be one of the few who do. We also want to do everything we can to change that statistic, giving families the resources and information they need to keep their heads above water in a crisis.
If you want to know more about emergency preparedness in general, visit our blog page for helpful guides and further information about how to respond to different types of emergencies.
First Things First: What Is An Emergency Food Supply?
An emergency food supply is any food you have on backup as a last resort, only to be eaten in a crisis that cuts off your access to other food. This is the food you and your family would eat if a natural disaster cut off your power, blocking your access to the grocery store and causing the food in your fridge to go bad. Emergency food needs to be non-perishable, meaning it does not need refrigeration. This way, it will not become unsafe to eat if a power outage turns off your fridge.
Your emergency food supply should contain enough items to feed you and your family for at least 72 hours without access to anything else. These foods may not be what you would eat for your day-to-day meals, but they can save your life in a worst-case-scenario situation.
If you are eating to survive, your highest priorities when it comes to food are convenience, calories, and carriability. You need food that you can eat quickly in a crisis, rich enough in calories and macronutrients to keep you full for as long as possible. In addition, you need something that you can carry with you if you need to evacuate your home.
The most important first consideration to make when planning out your emergency food supply is whether a food is non-perishable. Food that needs refrigeration can quickly become inedible if your power goes out, and many natural disasters and other emergencies can leave you without a working fridge. That’s why every food item we will cover is shelf-stable and does not need to be refrigerated.
What Do I Put In My Emergency Food Supply?
Now that you know the importance of your emergency food being non-perishable, you know what foods not to include in your emergency food supply. Fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh meat, dairy products, and anything else that needs refrigeration or cooking to be edible are out of the question in most emergency situations. While a crisis does not always leave you without power, the most versatile sources of emergency food can all be eaten without being cooked or refrigerated.
So, what are these ideal emergency foods? At the top of our list is non-perishable energy bars. These are quick and easy to eat, taste great, and provide a lot of calories, especially considering how portable they are. Energy bars are a great option for nourishment in an emergency because they take just a few seconds to eat but are designed to replace an entire meal.
In addition to energy bars, we highly recommend staying stocked up on canned goods. Canning makes foods that would otherwise need to be refrigerated shelf-stable. It is a game-changer when you want to store food for long periods to keep it ready for use in an emergency. Canned goods can often last years and stay good, making them ideal for emergency preparedness. Eating cold food out of a can is not always a great experience, but when it is a matter of life or death, the slight discomfort is well worth it.
At your local grocery store, you can find a multitude of foods in cans. Fish, chicken, beans, lentils, fruits, vegetables, soup, and more are all widely available in canned form. Just make sure you keep a can opener in your house. Otherwise, you might be in for a big disappointment next time you need food during a power outage.
With canned food, it is always important to stick to some basic safety practices. If a can is badly dented, bulging, or has come unsealed, the food inside may be harmful to eat.
Canned goods and energy bars are some of the most reliable sources of emergency nutrition out there, but there are plenty more options for eating in an emergency. Nut butter, jerky, granola, cereal, crackers, and many more foods are shelf-stable and can sit for long periods of time without expiring.
Remember to routinely check up on your emergency food supply, making sure everything is still fresh. Non-perishable foods may be shelf-stable, but they still expire eventually. Make note of expiration dates, even if they are years away. That way, you can be ready to switch out some of your last resort food if it goes bad.
What About Water?
You can’t make it long without being properly hydrated. To keep yourself and your family healthy in an emergency, you don’t just need food – you need water, too. Because many crises can cut off your access to running water or force you to evacuate your home, it is a good idea to keep portable sources of water stored with your emergency food.
Our number one recommendation for emergency hydration is non-perishable water pouches. These highly portable drinking pouches have a longer shelf life than plastic bottles of water and are easier to store and carry. Make sure you have enough water in your emergency supplies to keep you and your family hydrated for up to 72 hours.
Storage For Your Emergency Food
To keep your emergency food supply easily accessible and safe from damage, store it somewhere dry, clean, and as temperature-controlled as possible. While slight changes in temperature will not usually affect shelf-stable foods, consistent ups and downs from hot to cold can mess with the freshness and quality of food, even causing some items like granola bars to melt together. Find a cool, dry place to stash your emergency supply where there is a low risk of water damage or any other potential threat to the food.
If you have an emergency go bag – which we highly recommend you do – some of your emergency food and water will need to be stored in it. An emergency go bag should contain enough non-perishable food and water to sustain you and your family for up to 72 hours. Our go bags are stocked with energy bars and water pouches for maximum portability. If you need to evacuate your home due to an emergency, these are some of the best means of staying hydrated and fed. They are lightweight, small, and easy to transport, making them a better option than lugging cans of food and bottled water with you when you are making a quick evacuation to get to safety.
If you have additional questions, send them our way!