The next step in our discussion on the basics of emergency preparedness is food storage. When I was young, we didn’t have a whole lot of options as far as food storage.
Growing up, my parents liked to keep a food storage in case of hard times, but our only options were basic ingredients like wheat, rice, beans, powdered milk, etc. We were always worried that, one day, we would have to live off of this stored up food that we hated. Nowadays, we have some amazing options available to us.
The Initial 72 Hours
For example, several companies have sprung up over the last several years offering varieties of freeze dried meals. Depending on where you live, you can walk into a Costco and see buckets of freeze dried meals, packed and ready to grab in the event of an emergency. And these aren’t just a bowl of rice, or MREs that people are used to. We’re talking about Teriyaki Chicken, Lasagna, Biscuits and Gravy, you name it.
While the sealed buckets are a really great option for mobility – if you ever had to leave your home in the event of an emergency, grabbing a “go bag” and a bucket of food would certainly make things easy – we have really liked the variety boxes of Mountain House because they’re much easier to cycle through because I can just grab a few packs for a camping trip here and there. The packaging and setup is super simple. It’s flat enough to just toss into a pack, and then tear open the top, pour in boiling water, and then seal up the zipper lock for a few minutes.
If you decide to go this route, remember to pay attention to the shelf life. Some freeze dried meals will only last a few years, with others boasting a 20 year shelf life. This all comes down to ingredients and the way they were packaged.
Once you have a 72 hour supply of food on hand, then you can easily start focusing on groceries. When you find a sale, or a good coupon, buy a few extra of items here and there and start building out a pantry. The key is finding items that your family will eat. And don’t just think about the plain stuff, look at comfort foods. We stock extra containers of Nesquik and Brownie Mix. They last a long time, and they would be ideal comfort foods in a time of disaster, not only keeping blood sugar up, but also providing some normalcy for psychological effect.
When you get a good system going, the key considerations are storage space and rotation. When we run out of Nesquik in the kitchen, we bring one up from the pantry and my wife writes it on the grocery list for next time. That way, we’re always a few ahead, and we constantly rotate our stock so nothing goes bad.
When you start looking long term, you want to focus on the staple items like fats, protein, and grains – think canned meat, peanut butter, cans of stew, etc. It would be unhealthy to try living for any extended period of time just on rice and beans. And before we start trying to stock an item in any real quantity, we try it out on our kids to make sure they would actually eat it (this way I don’t have to battle zombies AND try getting my kids to eat something new)
The cool thing is, there are SO many more options available now to add variety to any food storage project. Any number of items are available now in freeze dried packaging. Full meals that include everything from Mac & Cheese to Thai Chicken, and even individual ingredients like orange slices, blueberries, and even limes. Even meal options for special diets like gluten free! The options are out there, it’s just a matter of planning some meals, and slowly building your stockpile.
Suggested Shopping List
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- Mountain House – Freeze Dried Food
- Backpackers Pantry – Freeze Dried Food
- Emergency Essentials – 1 Month Dinner Bucket
- Wise Food Company
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