When I ask people what they think they should store first for an emergency, they always say food. They are close – that’s the second thing to store, but the food you should store first is not the food most people are thinking of.
I bet when you think of food storage you probably envision silver #10 cans of wheat and big bags of dried beans. Those are called Long-Term Food Storage foods because they will store a long time. They are food staples or what you might call “ingredients”. They require preparation, and sometimes special preparation, to be able to use them for meals.
Long-term stored foods are. essential in long-term emergencies, and the next chapter will be devoted to them, but they are not what you need to have on hand for a short-term emergency or the start of an emergency.
The simple definition of an emergency is something that you haven’t planned for, and that involves some sort of immediate consequence or struggle. In an emergency situation, the last thing you need to be doing, day one, is trying to figure out how to use wheat and dried beans!
You will be hungry and stressed and need energy to get through the next little while. That is what short term food storage if for. It’s food you can use easily and with very little preparation for a short time (up to three months).
What are short-term foods? The foods you eat every day at home now. These may be packaged or canned foods, fresh or frozen items, and things you can make simply with what you have on hand. In an emergency you and your family will want foods that are familiar and filling to get through the first few days and weeks.
Watch a video about short term food storage here:
What should you store?
Baking chocolate squares Baking powder and soda Cocoa
Extracts (almond, vanilla) Flour
Nonstick cooking spray Nuts
Rice – quick cooking Oats
Salt and Pepper Shortening
Sugar - all kinds
Dry Milk Powder Evaporated Milk
Raisins and other dried fruits
Brownie mix Cake mix
Corn bread mix Muffin mix Frosting Pancake Mix Pudding, instant Quick bread mix
Canned or Bottled Foods
Chicken or Turkey Fruits
Green chilies Jam and Jelly Ketchup Mustard Meats
Olives Peanut butter
Prepared entrées (chile, ravioli, spaghetti, soups, stews, etc.)
Pumpkins or Yams Salsa
Sauces (Alfredo, cheese, picante, spaghetti, etc.)
BBQ Sauce Parmesan Cheese Spaghetti Sauce Apple or Fruit Juice Candy
Bouillon granules Hot pepper sauce Onion soup mix Soy sauce
Peanut or Almond Butter Teriyaki sauce Worcestershire sauce Powdered drink mix
Bread crumbs, dry
Pasta (noodles, macaroni, penne, spaghetti, etc.)
Packaged scalloped potatoes
Mac N Cheese
Cold or Instant Cereal
Dried beans (black, kidney, navy, pinto)
Nonfat dry milk powder
Oats (regular, Instant)
Potato (flakes, Pearls)
Rice (instant, long grain etc.) Wheat (red or white)
Multi-vitamins Baby food Formula Diapers
Bar or liquid bath soap Toilet paper rolls
Feminine items Deodorant/antiperspirant Razors
Shampoo & Conditioner Dental Floss
Lip balm Sunscreen
How much should you store?
You should store extra. It’s pretty simple. When you’re at the store, get a couple more cans of whatever you’re buying. Buy an extra box of garbage bags or get an extra bottle of salsa. If you get extra of everything, it will be enough to last for three months before you know it.
The long-term staples – beans, rice, wheat, oats – these can be the foundation for the meals and you can use the rest to make sure it’s familiar, filling, easy on your gut and easy to prepare.
How should you get prepared for these foods in an easy and economical way?
The best way to prepare is little by little. This month or while you are working on this section, buy extra of whatever you are able to afford. These are items that often have coupons. Buy one get one free, and other deals. And they are the items on case lot sales. Look for warehouse stores that sell things in bulk for less. You can find cases of things for much less per piece than in your regular grocery store.
Make a game out of it – how much can you get for the least amount of money? I think you will be surprised at how quickly you can get food stored that you and your family could live on for three months.
Pay attention to holidays and seasons. Everything will be less expensive when it’s in season and there are always great sales around holidays.