Today’s action step, as part of the disaster preparation series, is to start building a stockpile of food.
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
- Tinned vegetables
- Tinned beans
- Tinned fruit
- Tinned fish
- Condiments like vinegar
- Herbs and Spices
- Sugar and salt
- Peanut butter
- Cooking oil like coconut oil
- Nuts and seeds
- Sprouting seeds
- Comfort foods
For more ideas on stocking the pantry for emergencies, check out these great resources:
- Building a stockpile of food
- Common Sense Homesteading – Food Storage without Electricity
- The Rebel Prepper Network – A Chef’s Guide to Stocking Food Preps
- Food and Water in an Emergency (Red Cross)
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:
- Preparing your freezer for Hurricane Sandy or any Power Outage (with tips on what to do during and after a power outage – whether that meat be cooked and refrozen, for instance).
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?