Starting an emergency food supply is something you probably have on your list of things to do. With your busy schedule, it’s understandable if you haven’t gotten around to it. However, accounting for a rainy day is simple to do by taking the right steps.
Accounting for storable food is like saving a percentage of your paycheck. It builds your sense of responsibility and motivates you to be more organized in your daily life. With a third of Americans having less than $1000 in savings, you can imagine that the percentage of people with an emergency food supply is quite small.
Quick Emergency Food Supply Kit Navigation
What Is Food Storage?
Food storage is the act of preserving food in a way that allows you to consume it at a later time. The process may involve growing your own food, purchasing it from a supplier as well as storage and logistics.
Storing food is more than buying a few cans of non-perishables and throwing them in a pantry. You need to determine the length of time for which you are storing food as well as keeping track of stock. A First In, First Out, or FIFO system is probably what you will be applying to your storage. This means that the food stored first should be the first to be consumed to prolong the lifespan of your stock.
Modern methods of food preservation include freezing, canning, pasteurization, irradiation and chemicals. Advances in food packaging materials play an important part in food preservation.
Why You Should Consider Food Storage for You and Your Family
In the age of the internet and big grocery stores, people have become detached from the practical aspects of food. Much like mobile devices make us less reliant on our memories, easy access to food is something most people take for granted.
Food storage allows you and your family to regain some of the valuable lessons that the Earth provides. Knowing how to preserve and store food is a great way to bond with your loved ones while learning the secrets of nutrition and food preservation. Children that participate in your food storage efforts are likely to be more responsible and better understand the workings of the world around them.
Furthermore, food storage is a great way to reduce the anxiety that comes with living in a busy world. Just like having some cash saved gives you the peace of mind that you can deal with an unexpected expenditure, food storage allows you to take comfort in the fact that your food supply runs beyond what’s in your fridge and cupboards.
Ready to Eat Foods
Ready to eat food refers to anything that you can consume without cooking or extensive preparation. This includes food that you have cooked in advance and can be stored to be eaten in the future. Cold sandwiches, salads and smoked fish are examples of ready-to-eat foods.
Prepacked food is any food that you put into packaging for future consumption. The packaging can fully encapsulate the food item or be partly open to allow for airflow, depending on what you are storing. Deciding on prepacked foods for your emergency food supply has to do as much with the type of food you’ll be storing as well as the packaging.
If you store prepacked food in meal portions, cartons and other types of packaging can create extra bulk that reduces your storage space. On the other hand, canned goods are convenient and easy to stack in a garage, pantry or other storage space.
The Meal, Ready-To-Eat, or MRE, is a self-contained full meal packed in a special meal bag. The MRE is a concept that comes from the military and has the history and know-how of actual military operations supporting it. MREs are lightweight enough to fit into a pocket and are ready to eat upon opening.
Military MREs can last for up to three years and in temperatures of up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold storage may extend shelf life if it occurs before distribution.
Account for Water Storage
No food storage effort is complete without the appropriate amount of clean water to match. The CDC recommends storing at least one gallon of clean water per day for each person in your household. If you have pets, you should store an additional gallon per day for each one.
If you’ll be relying on water you buy from a store, make sure to replace it every few months. For this, you’ll need to keep track of the expiration dates on the bottles.
A water filtration system will prolong the amount of time you can last without access to fresh bottled water. There are different types of filtration systems for any contingency. A system you attach to your faucet can provide clean water for as long as you have filters you can replace.
Buying a gravity-fed water filtration device is a great backup for your main filter. Some gravity-fed filtration systems are portable, giving you the flexibility to filter water from any source.
If you have time to spare, you can prepare and package your emergency food supply yourself. There is a bit of a learning curve involved but it may be worth the effort to learn the processes behind the preparation of many of the products you buy at the local store.
Dehydrating food allows for a lengthier preservation window than their fresh counterparts. You can dehydrate milk, meats, soups and many other basic foods. Dehydrating food causes most bacteria to die or become inactive. This makes dehydrating food and placing it in air-tight containers a safe option.
Freeze-drying foods removes moisture while allowing the food to maintain more of its taste than dehydration. The food is frozen and placed in a vacuum so that air cannot cause it to spoil. Fruit and coffee are among the most commonly freeze-dried items. Keep in mind that freeze-frying food may cause some nutrients such as vitamins to be depleted.
Other DIY Methods
Other ways of preserving food for your emergency food supply include canning, pickling, pasteurizing, fermenting and addition of chemicals. The three categories of chemicals used to preserve foods are nitrites, benzoates and sulfites. Scanning a few labels from food purchased at the supermarket will reveal a number of these chemicals in some of your favorite products.
Emergency Food Supply Kits
If you don’t have the spare time to prepare your food supply, some options can eliminate the hassle. Emergency food supply kits are a convenient alternative for people that want to create an emergency food supply but lack the time and experience.
If you want the best of both worlds, you can complement your DIY efforts with emergency food supply kits.
Best Practices and Tips
Maximizing efficiency should be a priority when building an emergency food supply. Knowing a few simple tips can ensure the sustainability and cost-effectiveness of your efforts.
Consider Buying a Generator
Food can last up to 48 hours in a freezer if the power goes out. However, you may need to open your freezer to remove some of its contents. Opening a freezer or refrigerator will cause the temperature to rise within the appliance. A generator can be a valuable way of extending the time your frozen foods can remain safely stored if the power goes out. A functioning freezer will expand the list of food items you can store long-term to include meats and fish.
Store Food With High Caloric and Nutrient Content
When planning your emergency food supply, caloric density and nutrients should be a top concern. Try to choose energy-rich foods that don’t occupy large amounts of space per unit.
For example, beans, rice and oats are foods that contain protein and carbohydrates. Uncooked quinoa can last for nearly eight years while providing you with a high-quality source of vitamin E, amino acids, calcium, lysine and iron.
Stock up on Multi-Purpose Foods
The greater the number of types of meals your stored items can be used to create, the more useful they are. Emphasize storing foods that can serve many purposes and with which you can create different meals.
Herbs and spices have lengthy shelf lives while allowing you to season different dishes. Make sure you store important staples like flour, dehydrated eggs and salt. You can use these ingredients to make bread or sauces.
Raw honey is a multipurpose food that can be consumed on its own, can accompany a healthy breakfast or be used for tea. Honey is a natural disinfectant with antibacterial properties. Its high sugar content makes it an ideal multi-purpose food for your food supply.
Buy in Bulk
Whether you are going the DIY route or investing in emergency food supply kits, buying in bulk is the way to go. In the first case, purchasing sufficient quantities of grains, rice, beans, nuts and flour will drive down your cost per unit. You can then place these items in appropriate containers for long-term preservation and storage.
If, on the other hand, you are considering a done-for-you solution, you can select between two-day, one-week, two-week, and four-week emergency food supplies. Most emergency food supply kits can last for 25 years and are packaged in durable containers. They offer a fixed daily calorie intake so you don’t have to worry about getting your day’s worth of energy and nutrients.
Start Your Emergency Food Storage Today
An emergency food supply is an exercise in responsible planning and logistics. Luckily, the process is not that complex. Storing nutritious food and clean water is worth the effort and gives you peace of mind for years to come.