Top 10 Must-haves for Food Storage

It can be morbid to think about, but in the event of a disaster most households only have enough food for two to three days of survival. Remember, in the event of a real disaster, there is no electricity and all the food in your fridge will go bad very quickly. If faced with that prospect, could you live off the food in your pantry for a day? 3 days? A week? In addition, do you have water to sustain you in case you are cut off from a fresh, clean supply? These are questions you need to start thinking about as you begin to prepare a food-storage plan in case of a disaster.

Trying to fill your basement or attic with enough food and water to sustain your for a month can seem like a big project—not to mention expensive—but if you can break down your needs into small chunks you can attack it little by little, each week, until you have the supplies you need. To make it easier, here are 10 major areas that you need to concentrate on to prepare a functional and useful emergency food storage.


1. Water

Plan on 1 gallon per person, per day at a minimum. However, to be more comfortable, you might want to plan on 3-5 gallons per person per day.


2. Canned vegetables and meats

Tomatoes, veggies, tuna, and other canned foods are cheaper than spagettti-o’s and canned soups and generally have more nutrients—and don’t forget the can opener!


3. Rice

Rice is great because it’s cheap; it stores forever, and takes up very little space. Plus it’s packed full of vitamins and can add needed substance to any meal.


4. Dry beans

Like rice, if stored correctly, they can last a long time and they are packed with lots of good nutrients like protein and fiber.


5. Pasta and ramen

Again, cheap and easy to prepare, pasta provides lots of sustenance and is full of energy-storing carbohydrates.


6. Vegetable oil

A gallon or two will last a long time and is essential for most cooking.


7. MREs/energy bars

For a quick way to replenish your energy, make sure to store some MREs (meals ready to eat) and energy bars (power bars, cliff bars, etc.). These are great right after a disaster because they don’t require any special preparation and provide you with much needed energy.


8. Flour

Used in a number of recipes, keep 10-20 lbs around at all times. Don’t get suckered into believing you can buy whole wheat and a hand grinder and be set. The last thing you want to do in the case of an emergency is sit around all day grinding whole wheat by hand.


9. Something to cook on

I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but you wouldn’t believe the number of people who have an attic full of food storage and no way to cook if the electricity and gas are out. Large or small camping stoves are great. You decide what will be best for your family’s needs. Likewise, make sure you have access to cooking utensils like spatulas, wooden spoons, pots and pans, etc., as well as plates, forks, spoons, knives, and cups.


10. Other cooking essentials

You may not think sugar, salt, baking soda, and a little oregano are necessary, but when you are in survival mode, a little bit of salt or pepper on your rice and beans can keep you happy and mentally healthy.


As a general rule, most people need about 2,000 calories a day to survive, but having more than that is always a plus. In fact, the more food you have during a disaster the better. Knowing that you have the essentials to survive in the event of a disaster will lessen your stress during the aftermath and help you to stay focused on other important matters, like the health and safety of your family and providing assistance to others.

Gunter Jameson writes about several topics including travel, minimalism and online classes.

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