food for emergency

In addition to a First Aid Kit you will need enough water and food to supply each person in your family/group for at least three days. If you live in an area where long term loss of services is likely, or where disaster may wipe out sources of re-supply you may want to increase your emergency kit to include supplies to last as long as two weeks.

Remember to include some essential cooking equipment:

  • A manual can opener.
  • Paper cups, plates, eating utensils.
  • An all-purpose kitchen knife.
  • A small camp stove and fuel for items that require hot water or cooking.



Water is one of the heaviest items you will need, but also something you simply cannot do without. You will need at least one gallon of clean water per person per day. Buy commercially bottled water and keep it unopened in its original container until you need to use it. Note the Use By or Expiration date.


How To Bottle Your Own Water For Storage

If you want to store your own water, according to FEMA (the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency) you can do so using empty two-liter plastic soda (soft drink) bottles that have been washed completely and sanitized as follows. Be aware that you will need to re-wash and sterilize the bottles and replace the water every six months to ensure freshness.

green-buttonsWash – Wash empty plastic soda bottles and caps completely with dish soap and hot water, and rinse thoroughly to remove all traces of soap.

green-buttonsSanitize – To sanitize, add one teaspoon unscented household chlorine bleach to 1 quart of water. Pour this into the cleaned bottle, replace the cap, and swish the bleach-water mixture around the inside of the bottle so that it touches all interior surfaces.

green-buttonsRinse – Rinse thoroughly with fresh water.

green-buttonsFill – Now you can fill the bottle with tap water that has been commercially treated with chlorine. If the water from your tap has not been treated with chlorine, or if it is well water, you must add two drops of unscented household chlorine bleach to the water.

green-buttonsCap – Replace the original cleaned and sanitized cap tightly, being careful to avoid touching the inside of the cap or bottle.

green-buttonsDate – Write the date that you filled it on the bottle in black marker.

green-buttonsStore – Store in a cool, dark place.

green-buttonsReplace – Repeat the process and replace the water every six months.


Note: Used plastic milk or juice containers are NOT suitable for storing water. Despite washing and sanitizing some milk protein and fruit sugars will remain in the containers and provide a medium in which bacteria will grow when water is added.



Disaster conditions frequently mean that the electricity is out of service and food delivery to local markets may be suspended, so you will need to rely on dried and canned goods to a large extent.

food for emergencyYou can include heavier items in your home supplies than you can in your workplace or vehicle emergency kits, so for your home emergency supplies canned food may be the least expensive and most nutritious food source. Substitute canned or dried milk, canned fruits and vegetables for fresh milk and produce.
You may need to be more physically active following a disaster so be aware and prevent dehydration. Do not rely on thirst as an indicator; you can lose enough water to impair your performance and still not feel thirsty. By the time you feel thirsty you may already be dehydrated. Canned foods are usually packed with water or have high water content, which is another reason they are a good choice.

Your increased level of activity during and following a disaster means that you’ll need more food calories. Be sure to include whole grains and other starches (breads, cereals, pasta, fruits and vegetables) to gain much needed energy.

With all foods check for expiration and use by dates. Check over your stored foods every six months to be certain they are still within their fresh dates. Emergency and survival foods are available commercially that have extremely long shelf life. See below for examples.

Ideally you will want to have food:

  • That does not require refrigeration, cooking, or added water,
  • That can be stored long term without losing nutritional value,
  • That is salt-free or will not increase thirst.


Special Dietary Needs or Restrictions:

Remember to include food for anyone in your party who has special dietary requirements or restrictions, for example baby formula, gluten-free, lactose-free, or sugar-free foods; vegan or vegetarian preferences, etc. Check emergency food labels carefully to screen out any foods to which family members may be allergic or sensitive (for example: nuts, shell fish, soy, gluten, etc.)


Basic Foods:

Stock up on the basics such as:

  • Crackers, whole grain cereals, other dry staples without added salt,
  • Canned foods including ready-to-eat meat, fruit, and vegetables,
  • Peanut butter and jam or jelly,
  • Freeze-dried “camping foods” (Note: dehydrated foods will require water to prepare,)
  • Canned or boxed juice or milk,
  • Powdered milk,
  • Sugar, salt, pepper,
  • Formula and baby food for the little ones.



When things are grim a small treat can help to lift your spirits; this is especially true for children. For an energy boost or as a treat you may want to include some of the following, but be cautious of shelf-life and high-sugar/low-fiber content:

  • Energy bars, granola bars,
  • Canned or packaged nuts,
  • Dried fruits, trail mix,
  • Boxed cereals (can be eaten dry as a snack,)
  • Cookies,
  • Sugar-free drink mix or flavoring to add to water,
  • Tea bags, instant coffee, packs of instant hot chocolate.


Commercially Prepared Emergency and Survival Foods:

There is a large variety of commercially prepared and packaged emergency and survival foods available today. Foods run the gamut from emergency bars to complete meals such as chicken teriyaki and beef stroganoff. They are frequently packaged in easily carried and stored containers.

Shelf life is also greatly increased with some freeze-dried foods claiming anywhere from a seven to 25-year shelf life. Some of these foods are also prepared with dietary restrictions or preferences in mind, so check the labels.


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