The number of natural disasters that have occurred in recent years, such as hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis, remind us that entire nobody is immune from catastrophic events. The effects of these disasters can include flooding, power outages lasting for days or weeks, and communities cut off from outside contact. Any household without a supply of emergency food is likely to face a desperate situation.
Why You Should Do It Now
In view of this, if you have not started building up emergency supplies, it is highly advisable to start now. Earthquakes can strike without any warning, and if you wait for a hurricane warning before stocking up, you will find supplies soon run out. The recommendation from FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) is to store sufficient water and food for three days, but this may not be enough. Most survival experts recommend 30 days at the absolute minimum, and 6-12 months will provide you with the confidence that you can survive any situation.
How Much Food?
If you decide on a year's supply, your first challenge is to work out how much food that actually entails. Your best plan is to type Food Storage Calculator into a search engine. Several sites provide these calculators, which enable you to work out the amount for each food category, based on the number of family members and their ages.
Where to Store?
When you are planning the actual food, your focus will be on balancing foods which are nutritious, remain edible for long periods, and occupy the minimum space. Concerning the last point, obviously what you decide to store will be limited by the amount of physical space you have available. A large closet is ideal, or a basement or garage is fine, provided it is rainproof and free of damp.
If you are completely cut off in your emergency situation, your number one requirement will be water, without which food is of little use. FEMA recommend a gallon per person per day, half for drinking and half for adding to food and maintaining hygiene. For a year, there is no way you can store this amount, so store as much water as you can in large water containers, and include purification tablets and portable water purifiers.
Include All Food Groups
When working out what foods to include, don't just think in terms of traditional emergency supplies like peanut butter and jerky, excellent as these are. You need to stock all food groups, including carbohydrates, protein and fats. Carbohydrates such as rice, pasta and grains should account for 50-60 percent of your stockpile, and these keep almost indefinitely.
For protein, which should make up about 25% of your supply, you should be looking at canned beans and meat, and protein bars are also excellent. Most canned goods will keep for at least 2 years, provided they have an expiry date, but in fact they can be eaten safely long after this time. Many food companies supply packages of dehydrated foods, and also of freeze-dried foods, which cost more, but taste better. You also need plenty of canned vegetables to provide vitamins.
An important element of your stockpile should be dry goods that need no cooking, including granola bars, cereals, nuts and crackers. You need dried milk, flour, essential fats such as cooking oils, and plenty of ingredients to enhance flavors, such as sugar or sugar substitute, pepper, salt, garlic powder, seasonings, herbs and spices. Don't forget chocolate, which is good for morale, and keeps well.
There are one or two other essential items you have to remember. Cans are no good without can-openers—manual, not electric ones, which are useless without power. Stock several, as they break easily. You need cooking utensils, eating utensils, and dishes to eat from—and, of course, something to cook with, such as camping stoves and cartridges.
Making decisions about food supplies for emergencies is far from easy. You will always be faced with a trade-off between taste and space, or taste and expense. What you come up with will probably not be perfect, but the important thing is that you take some action, before it is too late.
Agnes Jimenez is a professional blogger and writer. She writes for many online establishments and supports those ones that offer practical lifestyles to consumers. As a frugal living and emergency preparedness advocate, she recommends FoodInsurance.com for families, preppers and survivalists who are looking for food supplies for emergencies.