It isn’t difficult to imagine circumstances in which a few days of non-perishable food storage would be valuable: you want to be prepared for natural disasters such as floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes, but also for the possibility of terrorism or the devastating effects of warfare. A solid long-term cache of food is one of the first steps to being truly prepared for the unthinkable.
Though “long term” is relative, plan to stock a minimum of three days’ worth of food (at two meals per person per day); that food should last for a year on the shelf. A great place to begin is with 72 hours of portable food storage (keep it in an emergency “bug out bag”) in the event that you need to evacuate. After that you can begin to build a longer-term food cache, from a week’s worth to upwards of a year. To ensure that your food stores remain fresh, a great rule of thumb to follow is “first in, first out”: store the food with the earliest expiration date near the front of your stores, using and replacing it before it expires. Continuing to use and replace your stores ensures that you will not be caught unprepared with pounds of expired, inedible food.
The very first item to ensure is a part of your long term food storage kit is water. An average, healthy individual can easily survive two weeks without food, but just a few days without water will mean the end. Plan for one gallon of water per person, per day, for drinking as well as sanitation needs.
When planning your food stores, ensure that you keep only food your family can and will eat- keep in mind any food allergies or special dietary needs and restrictions. Stock up on non-perishable nutrient-dense foods, particularly those high in protein and complex carbohydrates such as nuts, nut butters, and jerkies. Canned foods should be ready to eat directly from the can, and it’s a good idea to select foods with a high water content to assist with hydration (and don’t forget your can opener).
One aspect of emergency food storage that is important not to overlook is the need for comfort/morale boosting foods and beverages. While you don’t want them to take up too much space and crowd out more nutritious foods, the inclusion of a favorite candy or beverage (especially coffee or tea if you are used to drinking them) can do wonders for your outlook and your family’s morale. Reducing stress in an emergency situation is not only good for your mind, it’s good for your body.
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