emergency food storage {Disaster Prep Day 8}

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Today’s action step, as part of the disaster preparation series, is to start building a stockpile of food.

Are You Ready You’ve probably heard it said that the industrial world is just nine meals away from anarchy.

Because it is now common for people to shop week to week and because supermarkets use a ‘just in time’ delivery system, if anything disrupts that system, we’d all get hungry pretty quickly.

I’ve mentioned how supermarkets across Queensland were stripped bare in the floods a couple of years ago. Other occasions where food supply was vulnerable include the 2000 UK lorry strike, where supermarkets came very close to running out of food and Hurricane Katrina in the US in 2005, where everyday people like you and I were looting just to feed themselves and their families.

The government suggests every household store at least 3 extra days worth of food for emergencies, while the Red Cross recommend at least 2 weeks worth of food.

You don’t need to think about cement bunkers and astronaut food. Instead aim for a well-stocked pantry, with foods you eat every day, along with a few extra emergency food items, like regular tinned soup, stockpiled.

the well stocked pantry

While you might be relying on protein bars and instant noodles in your grab and go bag, a well-stocked pantry of everyday foods is appropriate if you’re sitting out an emergency at home.

There are two rules for stockpiling food:

  • store what you eat and eat what you store
  • rotate, rotate rotate

Rather than only having a few day’s worth of food at home, buy items in bulk and store them either in the pantry or in a cool, dry place. Keep food in sealed containers to keep pests out and make sure you check it regularly – you don’t want it to go to waste.

And remember: rotate, rotate, rotate. Eat the food you’re stockpiling and replace it with new foods.

Because water may be in short supply after an emergency, include some foods in your stockpile that don’t require water (and a heat source) to prepare. Things like a few tinned casseroles and soups. In the same vain, avoid salty foods and foods that will make you thirsty.

What to foods to stock

Here’s an idea of what to stockpile, but really, it’s important to stockpile what you’re family already eat.

  • Dried goods like rice, pasta, cous cous etc. (Remember to store water – you can also recycle the cooking water over and over).
  • Dried beans
  • Flours
  • Tinned vegetables
  • Tinned beans
  • Tinned fruit
  • Tinned fish
  • Condiments like vinegar
  • Herbs and Spices
  • Sugar and salt
  • Honey
  • Peanut butter
  • Cooking oil like coconut oil
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Crackers
  • Sprouting seeds
  • Multi-vitamins
  • Comfort foods

For more ideas on stocking the pantry for emergencies, check out these great resources:

How to stockpile food without spending a fortune

Rather than going out and buying a whole heap of food for your pantry, spread the cost out over weeks and save money by getting extra items that you normally buy when they are on sale.

For example, if rice is on sale, get two bags and set one bag aside for your emergency stockpile.

Then, when you run out of rice, buy another bag, BUT put the new bag in your emergency stockpile and eat the older rice.

Remember: rotate, rotate, rotate.

eat from your garden

Growing some of your own food, particularly greens, will ensure you’re eating nutritious foods, even if the supermarket shelves are empty. Even an apartment dweller can grow a few pots of salad leaves on a balcony.

in the event of an emergency

In the event of an emergency, in which the power has gone out, eat through the contents of your fridge first, then frozen items from your freezer (which will only last about 2 days) and then eat the non-perishable items from your pantry.

Keep the doors to your fridge and freezer closed as much as possible to minimise heat gain.

Make sure you practice food safety – you don’t want to get food poisoning in an emergency (actually, I don’t want to get food poisoning any time, but you know what I mean).

For more information see:

Of course, stockpiling everyday pantry food is not going to be much good if you can’t cook it. So next week I’ll look at options for cooking during an emergency and when there is a power outage.

What foods are you stockpiling?


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  1. I wonder about reusing cooking water – doesn’t it get too starchy etc from cooking rice or pasta? I also thought it weird they were listed first, as you said rightly they need water too… ANyhow. I don’t store any fruit in tins in my current pantry, so that’s one way I could be more disaster ready. Otherwise, with all the variety in grains I reckon I could stay out of hunger, though it might not be tasty or have enough fruit/vege/protein but in an emergency I think that’s ok. I do have all the spices, and vinegars/shelf stable sauces, so I’m sure I could make it flavourful.

    It’s the storage of the water that’s the hardest. I did buy a 5 or 10L canteen but it wouldn’t go far, given I drink upwards of 2L a day normally, and that’s before cooking, washing etc.

    1. Hi Sarah,

      You’re absolutely right! Storing water is the hardest. I’ve got about 45 liters stored so far, but that wouldn’t get very far. And you don’t want to be wasting too much on cooking a whole heap of grains. Although there are certainly ways to minimise the use of water when cooking. I put them first just because they store easily and for long periods.

      Water would get starchy when cooking grains, but if you’re cooking pasta, and then more pasta, I think it would be fine to reuse.

      I have some tinned food stored, like tinned casserole, but it tastes gross – I wouldn’t want to rely on only that in an emergency.

      I guess what I’m trying to say is that there are different types of emergencies. Some won’t stop normal water supply but may stop food supply (the floods that cut off parts of SE Queensland is one example; the trucker’s strike in the UK is another) in which case a well stocked pantry will see you through – at least much better than an empty pantry!

      On the other hand, in a total SHTF scenario, well, that would be totally different, which is why preppers recommend storing ‘space food’ and learning survival skills like how to procure water and hunt etc.

      It’s up to you each of us how far you want to go, but I think most people would benefit from stocking a little more and being a little more prepared.

  2. How do you keep your water fresh? Do you end up using bottled water for everyday?

    I’m reluctant to store water because it isn’t something we usually buy (unlike your rice example)

    1. Hi Katy, thanks for your comment! :)

      Tap water stays fresh for six months. So if you fill up containers with tap water, you need to use it and refill it every six months. Bottled water lasts until the used by date at which point you need to use it and either fill the bottle up with tap water or buy more bottled water.

      I’m like you, I don’t buy water either (unless you count tap water, which we pay for, so technically we do buy water). But I bought a few 15L bottles of water just to store for emergencies. When they get close to their used by date, we’ll drink the water (assuming we haven’t had to use it) and then refill the bottles with tap water. The previous post talks about water storage.