When disaster strikes, all food with a long shelf-life often goes flying off the shelves at the grocery stores. You never know when you might have to stay in your house for a while or when you need to leave your house very quickly, and you don't want to be caught without survival food storage or without a plan.
Many Americans in the country, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, are looking into long-term preparedness for disasters. Unfortunately, having a solid collection of emergency food is not as simple as stuffing your freezer with bread and pasta or creating a stockpile of canned goods like in the movies. What if there's a power outage? What if you need your food supplies to last for years?We've put together the ultimate survivalist food storage guide so that you and your family can be well fed and safe during emergencies.
Types of Emergency Kits
Keep in mind that since there are different types of emergencies, there are different types of emergency kits. For instance, you'll need more supplies for large groups of people than a single person party. And, you may need different emergency supplies for planning for a hurricane versus a snowstorm versus a trip in the wilderness. In case of evacuation, there is something called a go-bag, which is a bag full of supplies that are essential in any survival situation.
The go-bag would contain clothes, first aid, food, and other supplies. You can prepare these bags for multiple days and multiple people. Both FEMA and the CDC have recommendations for how to create emergency preparedness kits as well as what these kits should contain. FEMA suggests that you keep three different kits in the car, the office, and at home because you never know where you'll be when disaster happens.
Consider our list of popular one-person meal services for quick meals to have at any time.
Types of Emergency Foods - How to Start an Emergency Food Supply
Whether you are creating an emergency kit or a full-fledged supply of long-lasting survival foods, you need to know the right items to have. Most times, emergency food options include freeze-dried foods, Ready-to-Eat meals, and convenient things such as what's sold for hiking and camping.
While you can purchase your emergency food supply kit from a retailer, you may want to make your own to make sure that you have what you need and that you can cater to everyone in your group. You want to have a supply of pantry food such as canned meat beans and soups, as well as snacks that you like to eat such as can nuts and dried fruits.
Naturally, what you keep depends on how long you expect your emergency supply to last. Canned foods can last for up to six years, while freeze-dried foods last you much longer.
If you have a short-term emergency, you may want to include comfort foods that will make you and your family feel better about the situation such as chocolate, popcorn, oatmeal, and cereal. Finally, you don't want to forget to bring pet food or store formula for a small child.
Here are a couple of options that you can select for your emergency food supply in each category. In these categories, you want your inventory to have at least two items per person per day.
Some snack options include:
For comfort, you may want to include a number of hot beverages such as instant coffee, tea, or hot cocoa mix; dried macaroni and cheese; condiments such as ketchup, mustard, ranch, and mayo; candy, cookies, or even chips. Additionally, you may want to have some crackers such as Rye crisps or Triscuit, and Dry Cereal. It's a good idea to have shelf-stable milk that does not need refrigeration for drinking and for cereal.
Fruit and Juice
Some fruit and juice options include two ounces of dried fruit such as mango, apricots, or plums; two box juices or a bottle of juice; and a half a can of canned fruit such as oranges, pineapples, pears, or a fruit cocktail.
For vegetable food storage, you have the option of canned or dried veggies or veggie soups. One serving of vegetables would be a can of ready-to-eat veggie soup such as potato, tomato, or minestrone. Or, you may have regular cans of vegetables such as green beans, corn, peas, carrots, or mixed veggies.
Finally, you want some canned meat, beans, or fish for your protein. These items could include baked beans, black beans, pinto beans, sardines, tuna, salmon, chicken, or corned beef. You may even have a hearty soup that is full of protein such as chowder or chili.
Basic Survival Principles
According to Ready.gov, you want to consider these things when gathering emergency food: "Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Choose foods your family will eat. Remember any special dietary needs. Avoid foods that will make you thirsty." (1)
Some other basic principles that you want to follow are:
Figure out the calorie intake for each of your family members per day. Then, you can calculate how much food storage you need.
Store your food in a place that is dry and cool and away from rodents.
Buy processed food because it has a longer shelf-life than organic.
Buy non-perishable items in bulk for long-term storage.
Importantly, you should still have a variety of options, because you don't want to eat the same thing over and over again. It will help you keep your spirits up, and it can be a good escape from what's happening in the world.
You still want your food to be convenient to eat and not have significant cooking time. For example, while dry beans may last a long time, they require a lot of prep work to prepare. Get a mixture of items, including some that you can open and eat straight out of the pack. (2)
The Best Freeze-Dried Foods
To prepare for an even longer survival period, you can look into freeze-dried food, which lasts at most 25 years. Freeze drying your own food is expensive, but it can be worth it so that you can have the meals that you prefer to eat.
The best fruits to freeze-dry include ice cream, meat, eggs, vegetables, and fruits such as bananas, blueberries, and strawberries. With fruit, you don't have to add water to be able to consume them again. For meat, you can freeze dry meat that is pre-cooked or raw so that you can cook it later when you add water. Freeze-dried ice cream has a shelf-life of three years.
The Best Foods for Canning
Although your food won't last as long, canning is another way to store veggies, meat, and fruits. It's cheaper than freeze-drying, and these methods have been used for centuries to preserve food long-term. The best canned foods include pickles or pickled items such as vegetables and fruits; jellies and jams; and fermented or probiotic items such as yogurt, kimchi, or sauerkraut. Having a variety of product choices in your food storage will help you remain healthy and get everything that you need to live.
Building a 25-Year Emergency Food Supply
As we mentioned, most grocery store-bought food for only last about six years at the most. For extended survival supplies, you will need to look into a more intense storage process and preparation equipment. Here are ways to either buy long-term emergency food supplies yourself or make your own long-term food supply.
Emergency Food Supply Brands
The best way to keep things simple is to purchase food items from a company dedicated to long-term survival food. It can be expensive, but it's worth it to save time and give you peace of mind. Some of these companies are:
DIY Emergency Preparedness
If you want to create your own emergency food stock for taste and quality control, you will need mylar packages, at least one oxygen absorber in each bag, dehydrators, and a place for emergency food storage away from sunlight and heat such as food-grade plastic bins or buckets.
First, you will prepare your food items. You can make lots of meals or make separate ingredients to combine flavors later. Put these items on trays and put them inside a freeze dryer. When they are finished freeze-drying, put the food in the mylar bags along with the oxygen absorbers to remove air.
Now, you can seal it using a heating method such as a straightener, iron, or vacuum pump to make sure that you keep out moisture and water vapor and maintain a 25-year shelf-life. Lastly, you need to put your food into a safe and thick container (or bucket) that will not contaminate your food supply.
It is important to prolong the shelf-life of your items by keeping them in a cold and dark room such as a basement or garage. Importantly, you should label the containers and each mylar bag.
Red Cross and FEMA suggest that people have at least a 3-day emergency food supply at home. The CDC recommends that we extend our food supply to 14 days. You can measure your food storage by making sure you have at least one gallon of food per person every day. You also want to have a decent water supply that will last at least a couple of weeks.
Freeze-dried meats and foods have a lifespan of up to 25 years, while some food items will never spoil, such as rice, grains, dried beans, honey, dried lentils, and dry mixes.
To make your own survival food that will last through a disaster situation, you’ll need to freeze-dry plenty of your meals and store them in a vacuum-sealed bag in cool, dark storage conditions.
In general, you want to keep at least 3 to 14 days worth of emergency food on hand in case of a natural disaster. Across all the food groups such as protein, fruits, vegetables, and snacks, you want at least two servings of each group per person daily.
Food Emergency Final Thoughts
In conclusion, you don't want your food source to be a problem in a crisis and risk starvation. Using this information, you can develop a food storage solution for your home with hundreds of products. As a prepper, your emergency food supply should have a long storage life, be in sealed packaging, and contain content that requires simple preparations. By preparing for all situations and scenarios in advance, you will have the advantage in any critical event.
Rivera, M. P. A., & Jason, D. (2017). Preparing Your Family for Emergencies: An Informational Tool for Parents Living in the State of New York.
Katayama, N. (2018). 3-Day Menu Planning for Existing Commercial Disaster Food Supplies Using the Evaluation of Taste and The Blood Sugar Level. Recent Adv Food Sci Nutr Res 2018: 38-46. DOI: https://doi. org/10.29199/FSNR, 101015, 3.