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Survival Tips – The Best Emergency Food Kit
Who needs the best fast food set?
Who knows what the future holds? If only we knew from day to day what challenges would arise, we would never be caught off guard. Unfortunately, life just doesn’t work that way. Those who prefer to wait and prepare for “just in case” scenarios are often painted as borderline lunatics and doomsday preppers. However, putting together the best emergency food kit for yourself or your family should be something that every responsible adult takes seriously. Just a few of the “normal” situations that might arise when it would make sense to provide emergency care for your family include: job loss, layoffs, extended storm damage, or a power outage that leaves your family trapped in your home. Or you’d just like to be in a position to help a family in need should the opportunity arise. Then there are the Armageddon-type scenarios that plague the minds of some, and there’s no better way to assuage those fears than to look ahead and prepare for the worst. Whatever your reasons for facing the tough times ahead and preparing emergency supplies, we’re here to help you create the best emergency food kit for your family.
Identifying your needs
First, make your preparation strategy. If you’re just starting to prepare for an emergency, you may not have more than a day or two’s worth of food in your pantry. If this is the case, a thirty day supply of food is a good place to start. If you already have a 30-day emergency plan, the next step might be to prepare a six-month or year-long emergency food kit. It’s important to start somewhere and stock up until you’ve put together the best emergency food kit possible.
Who are you feeding?
Do you have children in the house? Teenagers? Parents or elderly adults? Babies require special feeding options, such as milk or formula, while the elderly may also have unique nutritional needs. Map out on paper who you are stocking up on and any special items you need to prepare for them or yourself. Then think about what it takes to feed that person for one day.
Once you have written down how much it takes to feed one person for one day, you need to multiply it by the number of people and the number of days you are preparing for.
What do they like to eat?
No need to live on rice and beans for a month. You don’t want to stock up on three months worth of food that your family won’t touch with a six-foot pole just because it was cheap. It may keep you alive, but you want to enjoy it while you can. So consider the likes and dislikes when planning. Don’t forget to consider food allergies as well. In an emergency, you don’t want to face an allergic reaction from cross-contamination, so it’s best to avoid the problem foods altogether if possible.
Types of emergencies
There are dozens of ways to create a great emergency food kit. The easiest, though certainly not the most expensive, is to invest in commercially made emergency kits offered by various companies. These kits are available as individual servings or as one month’s worth of food for one person. There are dozens of options to choose from.
Another method that requires a bit of planning and management is to simply take what you buy and use each week and start accumulating a supply that will last. If you typically use three cans of beans and two boxes of mac ‘n’ cheese and a jar of peanut butter each week, start by buying double the amount and set aside for your emergency kit. Then manage your inventory by rotating it to keep your food as fresh as possible. Freshness would be a significant advantage in the event of a long-term disaster when you rely on your emergency food for months or even years.
Once you’ve stocked up on food for a few months, organize your cans and boxes with the earliest expiration date at the front and the furthest at the back. Then, when grocery shopping, put the new items in the back and use the front. This will keep your supplies fresh and ready to go if and when the need arises.
Home canning is another less expensive way to make an emergency food kit. Canning is becoming a lost art, so if you’re unfamiliar with it, you’re not alone. Canning food in glass jars takes a little learning and effort, but it allows you to preserve delicious homemade food for years. Be sure to research which foods require pressure cooking versus water bath canning methods. Properly canned goods store best in a cool, dark place at 50-70 *F (10-21°C) and are safe to eat for years after canning.
For bulk solids intended for long-term storage, wheat, beans, rice, sugar, and other dry products can be vacuum sealed and stored in five-gallon buckets with O2 absorbers to last thirty years or more. For the truly prepared minded, a couple of buckets of wheat and corn will help with peace of mind.
A vacuum sealer is a good investment for anyone who is serious about paying attention to their emergencies. Sealing food in smaller quantities not only preserves them longer, but also allows you to use them little by little, rather than having to quickly use up a large container after opening.
If you’re worried about the expiration date on store-bought canned goods, keep this story in mind. A steamboat named Bertrand was trying to reach Montana in 1865 when it sank to the bottom of the Missouri River. A hundred years later, canned goods were found in this wreck. In 1974, 109 years after the accident, chemists tested the food and found it safe to eat. You should use common sense when eating canned food that has passed its expiration date. If it looks, smells, or tastes weird, don’t eat it!
Signs that the food in your emergency food kit has gone bad
Signs that the canned food has gone bad: the jar is bulging or the lid has come off. Check the liquid for mold and fermentation bubbles. When food rushes out of a jar or jar when it is opened, there is pressure on the contents that was not there when the jar or jar was closed. This is a good indicator of bacterial activity causing a chemical reaction.
Once you’ve established a good base for emergencies, you might want to start thinking about adding some comfort foods to your grocery store. In stressful situations, we all turn to food for comfort, and in times of disaster, delicious food may not be available. Some things to record include:
- Chocolate – cocoa powder keeps best, but chocolate bars with more than 70% cocoa keep for several months and much longer when frozen. Hot chocolate mix has a shelf life of several years and can easily be added to your emergency food kit.
- Mac n’ cheese – Best stored dried by separating the noodles and cheese and then sealing them with vacuum sealed O2 absorbers. If you’re worried about cooking macaroni and cheese, it can be canned, but it won’t have the same texture as freshly made. If the noodles are boiled before canning, it will be less mushy.
- Dear – made with natural preservatives, the honey will last indefinitely as long as water does not come near it. Store in very clean, very dry glass jars. Once it crystallizes, you can return it to a liquid state with a little heat.
- Freeze dried fruits or dehydrated fruit can be a great energy booster and will keep well if stored properly.
- Hard candy – store with desiccants and vacuum sealing to provide me with much needed pick-me-up in stressful conditions.
- Coconut oilespecially virgin coconut oil keeps very long and provides extra fat for comforting recipes when butter is not available.
- Spices – when you get to the point where you have to cook all your meals with what you have, you’ll be more than happy to add spices to… well… spice things up.
- Alcohol – Obviously this is a comfort item, but it serves many purposes in a disaster scenario and holds up well. A high alcohol content (over 20%) will last the longest, and over 40% can be used as a disinfectant if necessary.
- Do – keeps well without special accommodations. Store in small quantities with an O2 absorber to keep very fresh.
- Coffee – For those who really need their cup to hold their chin, coffee is an essential part of the best emergency food kit. Roasted coffee can be stored in vacuum-sealed Mylar bags for up to two years. If you rotate it through emergency aeration, you will get good coffee for a while. For further preparation, you can store green coffee beans in Mylar bags with O2 absorbers, then roast and grind them as needed.
What to choose?
How do you decide what goes into the best emergency food kit? A good rule of thumb is six months to a year of food that you would eat every day. This is easy to manage through good buying and rotation. After this period of preparation, vacuum-sealed Mylar bags will keep dry for years. Many companies and even faith-based family cooking programs offer canned dry goods in #10 cans that last up to 30 years. With planning and forethought, it is possible to create an emergency food kit that can last for several years.
Water is critical to surviving certain types of disaster scenarios. One liter of water per person per day is a good starting point for emergency planning. You will also need additional equipment for sanitation and cooking. Make sure you have plenty of water on hand or a way to obtain and disinfect water. Sanitary tablets and filtration systems would be a key component of the best emergency food kit.
To be fully prepared, it is important to think ahead about how to prepare food in case of an emergency. If the power was out for three weeks, how would you cook that mac ‘n’ cheese you made sure to preserve? Even if you have a generator for emergencies, stoves and microwaves draw too much energy to use the generator for cooking. A propane or butane stove with plenty of fuel elements or a propane or charcoal grill are great options to have on hand. And don’t forget to include a manual can opener in your emergency food kit.
Where to store it?
Depending on your housing situation, storage can be difficult. Whenever possible, you should designate a properly organized space that is specifically designed for food storage. You label your shelves and keep things neatly stocked and rotated. Unless you live in such a fairytale situation, you may need to get a little more creative with how you store your emergency food kit. A lot of food can be stored beautifully, in cardboard boxes, under beds, at the bottom or on top of cupboards and under the stairs. You may need to reduce unnecessary clutter to make room for emergencies. The reward is worth the effort.
Be ready, don’t be afraid
Taking the necessary steps to create the best emergency food kit will pay off in peace of mind. Knowing that you are able to care for those you love and be able to connect with your loved ones in need puts you in a category that is reserved for only a few. You can rest easy at night knowing that whatever tomorrow brings, your family is taken care of.
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