Laura from Waverly, Alabama knows what it means to cook under tough circumstances. In 1995, category 4 Hurricane Opal hit the southern coast the United States. The night it hit, as Laura and her family huddled in their basement listening to trees crashing around their home, she had no idea she was about to experience three weeks without power.
Have you ever considered what it would take to live without power for three weeks? Laura remembers how her family quickly adapted and learned to bathe in cold water, live by candlelight, and cook using charcoal and propane. She also remembers the frustrations and panic that led to shopping frenzies, causing depletions of ice, charcoal, propane, batteries, gasoline, water, generators, and chainsaws.
Those who have lived in times of great stress such as Laura know the importance of preparing for emergencies. They also know that just because it has not happened to you before is no excuse.
This May, here at Ready Set Go Kits, we’ll be focusing on a much discussed element of emergency preparedness: long term emergency food storage. We’ll cover what exactly is long term emergency food storage, how to start a food storage quickly and affordably, how to make food storage rotation easy and finish off with a few recommended long term food storage recipes.
As we build the basics of an emergency food storage, I’d love to hear from you about your progress. Do you have a favorite recipe or tips and tricks to share with your fellow readers? Please leave them as a comment under each blog post or if you’d like, send it to me as an email for discussion on the next blog post.
What is Long Term Emergency Food Storage?
You have a pantry full of food, that’s long term emergency food storage, right? Well, it’s a start.
Long term emergency food storage is a food supply dedicated for times of need, emergencies such as natural disasters or job loss. Ideally, your food storage should be composed of foods that can be cooked without the use of your microwave, stove or oven a la camping or BBQ-style.
Foods that qualify for long-term storage are those that are low in moisture content and can be stored at room temperature. They have long shelf lives so you can store it without worrying about the food rotting or molding. Foods that do not require refrigeration or freezing are ideal for food storage, especially for emergencies where you lose power for extended periods of time, just as Laura experienced.
Some food items examples and their expected shelf life include:
- White rice (3-4 years)
- White flour (5 years)
- Dried beans and peas (6-8 years)
- Non-fat dry milk (2-3 years)
- Non-egg pasta products (6-8 years)
- Rolled Oats (4-5 years)
- Salt, baking soda (3-5 years)
- White granulated sugar (20 years)
- Beef and chicken bouillon (2-3 years)
- Properly processed canned goods (check labels - generally 2 years)
- Fruit flavored drink mix (8 years)
- Dehydrated and freeze dried foods (3-5 years)
Your food storage will also require a few others basics:
- Matches, charcoal, lighter fluid, butane lighters (seal matches in Zip-Lock bags)
- Flashlights, candles, radio and batteries (batteries have a shelf life)
- Propane camp stove or grill and multiple propane cylinders
- Toilet paper, dishwashing liquid
- Coolers for ice storage
- Emergency Cash (when the power goes out, stores cannot process debit or credit cards but they can always take cash).
How Much Food Should You Store
The actual amount of emergency food storage you have is dependent on many things: space in your home, budget, what type of disaster you are preparing for and even religious beliefs. At the low end, a three day supply is the absolute minimum. At the high end, a 1-year food supply is recommended. Most families serious about emergency food storage start with a goal of 3 months of food.
My goal for you this May is to have you finish this month’s blog series with a three day supply of emergency food storage for your family. The reason for this is that a three day supply can fit in even the smallest of apartments and just by building a food storage for three days you will have learnt all the tools necessary to build a 3-month emergency supply. At the end of May I’ll challenge you to build a 1-month’s supply by the end of June.
Step 1: In preparation for building your emergency food storage, start by deciding where you will store it. A 3-month food storage is not a small matter. Most families find it is easiest to store their food supply on shelves in their garage, but that may not be the best option for your home. Your three day supply that we will work on together this month can easily fit in a pantry, but make sure to clear out space to keep this food supply in its own separate section.
Step 2: Pull out a few of your family’s favorite recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We’ll use those in calculating your first three days of emergency food storage.
Read on for How to Start a Long Term Emergency Food Storage
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