Essential Steps for Your Emergency Food Kit

Food products for long-term storage, need for emergency, with copy space

Prepare for emergencies by creating a robust emergency food supply.

This guide covers essential steps, including selecting non-perishable foods, storing water, assembling an emergency kit, managing shelf life, and addressing special dietary needs, ensuring you’re well-prepared for unexpected events.

Step 1. Non-Perishable Food Options

Dried fruits packaged in eco-friendly paper bags. Healthy desserts concept. Natural substitutes for sugar in the diet.

Non-perishable foods are an excellent choice for emergency food supplies because they do not require refrigeration and have a longer shelf life.

Some popular non-perishable food options include:

Canned goods are a popular choice for emergency food supplies because they are readily available, affordable, and offer a long shelf life.

When selecting canned goods, it is essential to inspect the containers for damage or bulging. Damaged or bulging cans can indicate bacterial growth or spoilage.

Freeze-dried and dehydrated foods are lightweight, take up minimal space, and have a long shelf life. They are also easy to prepare, requiring only water to rehydrate them.

MREs are a self-contained meal that comes with everything you need to eat.

They are ideal for emergencies because they are easy to prepare, require no refrigeration, and have a long shelf life.

Step 2. Water Storage

Large blue water bottles in a food storage area. Bottles have temporary fabric lids.

In addition to food, having access to clean drinking water is crucial during emergencies. It is recommended that you store at least one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days.

However, this amount may vary depending on your location and the type of disaster you are preparing for.

There are several ways to store water for emergencies:

It is essential to inspect water containers periodically to ensure they are clean and free from damage. If using a water filtration system, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Step 3. Emergency Kit

Preparation for natural disasters concept

An emergency kit is a collection of essential items that can help you survive during disasters and emergencies.

It is recommended that you have an emergency kit in your home, car, and workplace.

Some essential items to include in an emergency kit are:

  • First aid kit
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust masks to filter contaminated air
  • Personal hygiene items such as soap, toothbrush, and toothpaste
  • Copies of important documents such as identification and insurance policies
  • Cash or traveler’s checks

Step 4. Shelf Life and Food Rotation

Finger pointing at the expiry date on canned food

It is vital to keep track of the shelf life of your emergency food supply and rotate it regularly to ensure that it remains fresh and safe to eat.

Eating expired or spoiled food can lead to illness and other health issues.

You can rotate your emergency food supply by using the first-in, first-out method.

This involves using the oldest items in your stockpile first and replacing them with newer items.

This ensures that your emergency food supply remains fresh and safe to consume.

When storing emergency food, it is important to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Store food in a cool, dry location away from direct sunlight and extreme temperature fluctuations.
  • Keep an inventory of your emergency food supply and regularly check for expired or damaged items.
  • Label and date all food containers, so you know when they were added to your stockpile.

Step 5. Emergency Cooking and Water Filtration

A man's hand turns on a portable gas stove on a wooden table. An alternative source for cooking at home during a power outage.

During emergencies, you might not have access to your regular cooking appliances or clean drinking water.

Therefore, it is essential to have alternative methods for cooking and filtering water.

Some emergency cooking methods include:

  • Portable propane stoves
  • Solar ovens
  • Charcoal grills
  • Wood-burning stoves

It is crucial to use these cooking methods in well-ventilated areas to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

Water filtration systems can help purify water during emergency situations. Some popular water filtration options include:

  • Portable water filters
  • Gravity-fed water filters
  • Ultraviolet (UV) water purifiers
  • Boiling water for at least 3 minutes to kill any pathogens

Step 6. Emergency Food for Special Needs

baby milk bottle and powdered milk on blue background

When building your emergency food supply, it is essential to consider the needs of pets, infants, and elderly family members.

They may require specific types of food or additional resources during emergencies.

Some emergency food options for special needs include:

  • Infant formula and baby food
  • Pet food and supplies
  • Special dietary foods for those with allergies, diabetes, or other health conditions
  • Soft, easy-to-chew foods for elderly individuals who may have difficulty with hard or crunchy items

Step 7. Budget and Stockpile Planning

Building an emergency food supply can be expensive, especially if you are trying to prepare for a large household.

It is essential to plan and budget accordingly, so you can gradually build your stockpile without breaking the bank. Here are a few tips from A Place To Nest –

  • Know the average and sale prices of items you regularly buy so you can stock up at the best prices. Track prices in a notebook or on your phone.
  • Shop at warehouse clubs as a guest with a friend’s membership to access bulk items. But compare per ounce prices to make sure it’s a good deal.
  • Buy cheaper versions of convenience foods, like jars instead of pouches, for your stockpile. Compare unit prices to find the most budget-friendly options.
  • Invest in a vacuum sealer to extend shelf life of bulk and frozen foods. This prevents waste so your deals last longer.
  • Use free apps like Fetch Rewards to earn points and gift cards on normal purchases. You can then redeem rewards to offset stockpile costs.
A Place To Nest

Here are some tips to help you plan and budget for your emergency food supply:

  • Create a list of essential non-perishable food items and their respective costs.
  • Set a monthly budget for purchasing emergency food supplies.
  • Take advantage of sales, discounts, and bulk purchase options when possible.
  • Gradually build your stockpile over time, focusing on acquiring items with the longest shelf life first.

By Anita Brown

Anita Brown is our go-to contributor to our emergency preparedness website. Anita brings a wealth of personal experience and professional expertise to the table, having weathered several awful natural disasters. Anita is currently working towards obtaining her Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) certification.