In recent years, the United States has experienced several serious natural disasters. Tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, floods and other events have left people without electricity or clean drinking water, sometimes for days or weeks. If you suffered a natural disaster that left you without electricity, would you be prepared with enough food and water? With a well-stocked emergency food kit, you'll be ready to weather the storm. And when your medicine cabinet contains these 10 essential and healthy foods, waiting for disaster to happen is much easier (and tastier).
Our meals have the added benefit of an extended shelf life, which is 10 years in most cases. When storing an emergency kit, it's important to remember that certain edible items, such as crackers, jerky and non-perishable beverages, usually have a shelf life of 18 months (at best). That's why it's so important to check expiration dates at least once a year. Foods that are close to the date should be eaten, composted, or discarded.
A 3- to 5-day supply of food and water can be stored in a relatively small area to provide some security in the event of a disaster and the resulting loss of water, gas and electricity. One way to develop a two-week emergency supply is to increase the amount of basic food items that are normally kept on the shelves. The following is a one-day menu with emergency food supplies that meets the recommended number of servings. Military and camping supply stores are good sources of some compact, well-preserved foods, which are good options such as emergency preparedness kits.
If you include canned food in your emergency food supply, inspect your supply periodically to ensure that there are no rusty, leaking, bulging, or heavily dented containers and that there are no broken seals. Improper handling of fresh food can also change the safe storage time of food, regardless of packaging dates. Dispose of homemade canned food or food in glass jars, open or not, that have become soiled by flood waters. While most emergencies are unlikely to interrupt the food supply for two weeks, some people choose to consider a short-term supply as one that will last so long.
When planning your emergency food supply, consider the need to refrigerate leftover canned food. In my experience as a public health nutritionist, I've found that most people want to go to emergency food stores, but aren't sure what or how much they need. Use leftover canned foods after 3 or 4 days of refrigeration, unless they contain meat; canned foods containing meat, poultry, or fish should be used within 2 days. Food found in cans or jars may appear intact, but the heat of the fire may have activated bacteria that spoil food.
This food supply must not be perishable; choose foods that do not require refrigeration, little or no preparation or cooking, and little or no water. Consider storing plastic food bags or zippered food freezers in your emergency supplies. Treat food exposed to firefighting water the same way you would treat food exposed to flood waters.