When a hurricane, earthquake, winter storm or other disaster strikes, you may not have access to electricity, food and water for several days. But that doesn’t mean you have to be taken by surprise when disaster comes (and it can do so at any time). Be prepared with some form of survival food, and you can protect your loved ones from the fallout, and maybe even help under-prepared neighbors.
FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) recommends that you should have at least three days’ worth of non-perishable food stored at all times, for your whole family. That is the minimum requirement you should bear in mind when stocking up your supply cupboard. It also doesn’t hurt to prepare for longer emergencies. Here is a look at some of the foods that can keep and take you through the hard times.
Plan Your Emergency Food Supply
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Let’s start with what you shouldn’t have in the cupboard. One of the most important things to remember when stocking up on emergency food is: keep away from foods that will make you thirsty. This means you should avoid salted crackers and other foods that are likely to parch your throat. Also stay away from salty cereals and canned foods. Instead, look for canned food that has a high liquid content.
An emergency is also the one time you can eat calorie-rich food without feeling guilty. In fact, you should go out of your way to look for high-calorie, high-nutrition food. Protein-rich canned meats can keep for as long as two years and provide the calories and nutrients you will need to keep warm and healthy. Canned vegetables and fruits (don’t forget the can opener!) are also essentials.
But remember to have a supply of dry foods that don’t need refrigeration, cooking or water. These should take you through the initial days when you may not have electricity. During a power-outage you should also get rid of any perishable fish, meat, eggs and leftovers that have been in a fridge (at over 40 degrees) for more than two hours.
- protein bars and fruit bars
- granola or dry cereal
- peanut butter (which you may already have)
- dried fruits and nuts
- canned juices
- comfort foods to deal with stress
- high energy food
- pasteurized non-perishable milk
Store all the food in covered, clean containers. Also keep your utensils and cutlery clean. Discard cans that are swollen, corroded or dented, even if the food in it looks okay. You can use alternate cooking sources in times of emergency, such as fondue pots, chafing dishes, candle warmers etc. Don’t use charcoal grills indoors. You can, of course, eat canned food straight from the can without warming it.
Other Tips – Choosing The Right Emergency Food
As FEMA recommends, here are a few important tips.
It’s better to store food that your family will actually eat. Just because it is an emergency, you don’t have to force yourself to eat like a prisoner. Thanks to a number of emergency food suppliers today, you can actually enjoy a Chicken Alfredo Pizza, variety meats and even butter powder freeze dried for safe storage.
Also, don’t forget the special needs of family members. Stock up on baby food for the newborn and gluten-free food, lactose-free foods etc. for those that are allergic.
If you want to be extra prepared with very little hassle, you can buy emergency food kits that include prepared recipes and water pouches to give you the calories and water that you will need. Plan well in advance and you will never have to face a crisis while you wait for normalcy to return. Good luck!
What Food Should You Include?
Disaster can strike any time, leaving you in a situation where you are forced to survive with only a few items you have. Natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and tornadoes, may force you to live on items that you stored away sometime back. Therefore, it’s very important to stock up on suitable items in order to be prepared properly for such events.
Getting together your food is not a complex task. You only need to have the best emergency foods that won’t spoil and offer good nutrition for these unpredictable situations. There are however, a few considerations such as medical needs nutritional concerns of a family member, storage space and shelf life that you should keep in mind.
Quality Prepper Food
- Food bars: These packs can offer up to 3600 calories/day. Though they don’t have the best taste, they can be stored for quite some time and provide sufficient calories. You can also consider storing a backpacker and bicyclist’s bars that contain enough amounts of calories and need no preparation.
- Freeze dried food: Freeze dried and dehydrated foods are those that have had their moisture removed and undergone vacuum sealing. They are ready to eat meals and can be stored for longer periods of time. The packaging factors of freeze dried foods enable them to be stored at any temperature in any location. You only need to have portable water, preferably distilled, to reconstitute soups, casseroles and stews that have been freeze dried.
- Canned Foods: These are a classic example of emergency foods. They are not only cost effective, but easy to store and simple to prepare. It is recommended that you store canned foods in a cool, dry and dark place like a basement to keep them in good condition. Canned meats like chicken, ham and tuna are an excellent choice to store. Typically, they can last for up to 10 years and provide excellent amounts of proteins.
Storing your food
Food storage is going to be one of the biggest obstacle to planning your food survival kit. To help you figure out where to store your food and how much space you will need, here are a few tips.
-Space: It is highly recommended that every family has a 3-day supply of food and water. Proper storage of these foods will ensure that they last as long as possible. A basement is one of the best places to store survival food as long as it remains dry. If you expose to minimal light and keep it dry, then they will deteriorate less quickly.
-Shelf life: Foods tend to spoil faster when they have high moisture content. This is the reason why freeze dried and dehydrated foods are the best choices. Some have a shelf life of even up to 25 years. Snack foods and those high in fat tend to spoil quickly, and also need to be rotated. Such foods that need to be rotated should be stored in easily accessible areas. Food items that are not airtight should also be stored in containers that are airtight.
How to Freeze Dry Your Food?
Since World War II, freeze dried food products have remained with us. It is during the terrible global war that freeze-drying emerged as a crucial technique for preserving perishable materials and making them more convenient for transportation. The first forms of freeze drying were performed on serum, enabling the blood product to be chemically stable and viable without the use of refrigeration techniques. Soon after, freeze drying was extended to bones and penicillin, pharmaceutical products, diagnostic kits, ceramics, reclaimed boat hulls, sulfur-coated vials, and food.
The Process of Freeze Drying
Freeze drying occurs in four stages:
Pre-treatment refers to all the processes of treating food materials before they are frozen. The food may be concentrated and the ingredient contents may be revised. Besides, the surface area may be increased or the amount of high pressure solvent may be decreased. The pre-treatment procedures are used to stabilize the reactive elements of the food material and to preserve it for long periods of time.
Freezing refers to placing the food material into a rotating freeze-drying flask, in a bath known as a shell freezer. The freezing conditions ensure that the food material can exist as solid or liquid, and ensure that the food material converts into gas directly (sublimation), when subsequent steps are followed.
3. Primary drying
During primary drying, the pressure on the food material is usually lowered and just the right amount of heat is applied so that water may sublime. The heat helps to eliminate up to 95% of the water content of the food material without altering the food material.
4. Secondary drying
The secondary drying stage helps to remove all the remaining and unfrozen water molecules from the food material. The temperature is raised above that of the primary drying phase in order to break down any strong interactions between the water molecules and the frozen food material. Secondary drying ensures that the final water content of the freeze dried food is between 1-4%.
Advantages of Freeze Drying
- Freeze dried food is usually free from micro-organisms and enzymes that may cause food spoilage. This is due to the low moisture content of the food. Since the freeze-dried food is usually sealed and may not be contaminated by airborne germs, the food is preserved for several years without spoilage.
- During freeze drying, less damage occurs to the constituents of the food. Therefore, the smell, flavor, texture, color, and nutritional content of the food will usually remain unchanged. Nonetheless, care must be taken to ensure that volatile compounds of the food material, such as alcohols and acetic acid, do not sublime during the preservation process.
- Freeze dried food can be reconstituted or rehydrated easily and quickly.
- Freeze-dried food allows those who like snacking on the go to have a lot of options. The foods are also suitable for astronauts.
- Freeze-dried foods are highly concentrated and provide more calories than the original forms of the foods. In fact, this is why some nutritionists recommend the foods as supplements in various dietary plans.