Creating a food storage program for your family is a great idea. But if you are just starting to do this, you may have some questions. Here are some things to take into account when you are considering storing food.
In an emergency situation, if your activity is reduced, a healthy person can survive on half their usual food intake for an extended period. Unlike water, food can be rationed safely, except for children and pregnant women. However, it is best to be well prepared for an emergency and have adequate food and water, rather to be on a rationed diet. In emergencies, your psychological state has a lot to do with how you fare, and having adequate food and water will go a long way in making a difficult situation a whole lot easier.
You can use store-bought canned foods, freeze dried foods, and bulk foods. Each of these food storage types have pros and cons, but in general it is best to have a variety of food storage types.
It is best to store foods you are familiar with. Again this will help to give you and your family a feeling of security in times of stress. As you begin to store food, you need to take several things into account:
- Try to include foods that your family will enjoy and that are also high in calories and nutrition.
- Individuals with special diets and allergies need special attention, as will babies, toddlers, and elderly people. Nursing mothers may need liquid formula, in case they are unable to nurse. Canned dietetic foods, juices, and soups may be helpful for ill or elderly people.
- Make sure you have a manual can opener. Some people prefer disposable utensils. However, that depends on you. I personally do not like to eat with disposable utensils.
- Remember to store nonperishable food for your pets.
- If you or any member of your family takes prescription medicines, then you need to store some medication for such an emergency.
For emergency cooking when there is no electricity, you can use a fireplace. You can also use a charcoal grill or camping stove IF you use them outdoors. Under no circumstances should you use them in a closed space with poor ventilation.
Here are some food storage tips:
- Keep food in a cool, dry, and dark space if possible.
- Keep food covered at all times, preferably in storage containers.
- Open food boxes or cans carefully so you can close them tightly after each use.
- Wrap cookies and crackers in plastic bags and keep them in tight containers.
- Empty opened packages of sugar, dried foods, and nuts into screw-top jars or air-tight cans to protect them from pests.
- Inspect all foods for spoilage before use.
- Use foods before they go bad, and replace them with fresh supplies, dated with ink or marker. Place new items at the back of the storage area and older ones in front.
- Consider building a special storage unit for your supplies. There are numerous DIY prefabricated garage kits available that are sturdy and would work well.
During and right after a disaster, it is vital that you maintain your strength. Here are some things to remember:
- Eat at least one well-balanced meal each day.
- Drink enough liquid to enable your body to function properly (at least two quarts a day. Storing a gallon of water for each person per day is much better).
- Take in enough calories to enable you to do any necessary work.
- Include vitamin, mineral, and protein supplements in your stockpile to assure adequate nutrition.
Try to avoid foods that are high in fat and protein. Remember that familiar foods can lift morale and give security in a time of stress. Canned foods and freeze dried foods require no lengthy preparation.
In general, if you are only going to store food for a short period of time, say a couple of weeks, then it might be best to select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation, or cooking.
If you are planning to store food for several months, then you can include bulk items such as wheat, flour, sugar, powered milk, beans, and other grains. Just make sure you have adequate water for preparation and cooking, and make sure you aren’t relying on electricity for cooking. You may not have it during a disaster.
Freeze dried foods have several advantages. They only require water for preparation and do not require cooking. If you don’t mind eating cold food, then you can just add cold water and let the food set for several minutes before eating. If you want a hot meal, then you would have to use hot water to reconstitute the freeze dried food. It’s up to you. However, freeze dried foods can be prepared with cold water and are very palatable. Another advantage of freeze dried foods are they are lightweight and require less storage space than canned foods and bulk food items.
Keep all these things in mind when you are creating a food storage program for your family.