Food storage for emergency use

Similar to putting away money for retirement, one does not or seldom can put away all the money one will need in one weekend; so take your time, but do start to build up your food supplies.

First, you will want to sit down and look at how you will store extra food and what foods best suit your lifestyle and personal situation. Having two large freezers of food is fine so long as you have power to preserve it. Buying large amounts of food with short shelf lives is not good either; so for your long term benefit, it is important to examine the food preferences of those who will consume it, how it will be cooked ( or not), best before dates and buy accordingly. Do not forget your pet’s water, food and medical needs!

If you have a generator (preferably two for breakdown purposes/ one primary and perhaps a smaller one to act as back up to primary unit) and plenty of fuel, then cooking and keeping food cold is relatively simple. If you cannot fit that into your plans, then you need to focus on stocking up on canned goods and foods such as rice or pasta. Remember to always keep in mind how it will be cooked and any water requirements

Costs and time to organise need to be factored in and to be honest, some will feel less overwhelmed if it is done over a few weeks or even months. The point is to start and complete the process. Maybe add an extra $20-40 a week to your shopping trip and in as little as 3 months you will have accumulated a nice pantry full of food. If done right, that could be a six month food supply for you and yours.

While you think of the food you will want to have but may not be able to use up before it goes bad, consider donating this food to local food banks etc. Maybe you have 48 cans of canned soup and fruit cocktail and it is not really your thing but are ok with it during an emergency. Put a reminder in your calendar on its best before date and donate a month or so before and then go and buy some more.

In addition to foods, you will want to have spices, salt, pepper and sugar. These backup items store for years and should only be used for emergencies.
MRE’s (meals ready to eat) are good to have for the car, boat, plane etc and even have their place in a one’s home. They do not taste all that great but they do provide calories and they will keep one alive. Our soldiers run on them for days and weeks so do not underrate them.

“Mountain House” makes some excellent dehydrated meals and have been keeping campers happy for decades. Its more expensive than buying bulk pasta, rice etc but they can store for 25 years and have a wide variety of pre made meals that should keep people fairly happy. They are a “purchase and forget” item and are sold in boxes so are easy to store under the bed, in a closet or cupboard. How many you purchase is a question of budget, storage space and options for storing and cooking of other foods. So you really do have many options and being prepared for one or more months of food is not all that big of a project.
So when you make your list, consider the below items;

Pasta and rice dishes are a good item to consider. Simple ingredients and require very little cooking. They can be added to canned or packaged soups, stews or pasta sauces. Oatmeal is an often over looked item that stores for a long time and takes little space.
Peanut butter, powdered milk, honey, powdered soup mixes, beef and chicken broths, canned tuna, salmon, beans, corn, peas, carrots, pasta sauces, chicken or turkey meats may not be your typical family fare but you can make do with them. The below photos show a mixed bag of goods that can be eaten alone or used to spice things up. Lots of mix and match possibilities when adding in pasta or rice. Take two cans of soup, add some additional rice and water and you have a meal for four people. Use the canned shrimp and make a stir fry with the rice. You will also want to have aluminum foil, zip lock bags and waxed paper for cooking and storing of leftovers.

Different Foods and their storage requirements:
Rice can store for 20 years, so if you decided to buy a large 20 Lbs bag, you will want to get it out of its original bag and store it in Mylar bags and keep in a hard plastic container in a cool dark and dry location. A great many of the bags that are used in stores; will over time, leach chemicals into the food and leave your bag of rice smelling and tasting like kerosene.
Water:

You need it for drinking, to cook with and for hygiene purposes. Having enough at home or procuring it takes some planning and is under normal circumstances as easy as turning on the tap. So, you need to consider where you will obtain or store enough water to meet all your drinking cooking and hygiene needs. Clean, running water in the tap is not guaranteed during a large scale emergency.
Here is some info from ready.gov “Store at least one gallon of water per person for three days, for drinking and sanitation. A normally active person needs about three quarters of a gallon of fluid daily, from water and other beverages. However, individual needs vary, depending on age, health, physical condition, activity, diet and climate.

Take the following into account:
• Children, nursing mothers and sick people may need more water.
• A medical emergency might require additional water.
• If you live in a warm weather climate more water may be necessary. In very hot temperatures, water needs can double.”

So if you have canned goods with some liquids in them, then that helps but if you are making rice, pasta or rehydrating that Mountain house food we also recommend you have on hand, then you will need water. Don’t forget, no water in the home, means no water for washing and the bathroom / restroom facilities!
If it’s raining or snowing out, you can collect water and use that for cooking (once treated), or use as is for bathroom needs. If you live near a river or creek, that’s another source of unclean water. Even a ditch is a source for water. Unless you have the means of treating it, you should never drink untreated water coming from any source in a city or suburb. You should boil it, treat with bleach or other camping water treatment “tablets” or the water filters we highly recommend you have. Regardless of how you treat it, you need to have it in the first place, so think long and hard on how and where you will store or treat it and how much you need.

Here is a link from the Gov with other good background info on treating with bleach etc https://www.ready.gov/water
Large or small bottles are not hard to store and they should be stored in as cool (not freezing) and dark a location as possible. You may also wish to purchase a small pump so you do not have to lift the larger containers to pour what you need. Follow expiry date recommendations and even if you do store enough water, make sure you have the means to filter or treat other sources of water. You may need to travel and not be able to bring all that water with you!

Speaking of traveling. Make sure you have the back packs and the contents we recommend you have. You should also have large bags to bring as much food and cooking capability as possible with you and is another reason we find the dehydrated food from Mountain House to be a good buy for your preparations.

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