The article has been generously contributed by Tess Pennington of Ready Nutrition. After joining the Dallas chapter of the American Red Cross in 1999 Tess worked as an Armed Forces Emergency Services Center specialist and is well versed in emergency and disaster management & response. You can follow her regular updates on Preparedness, Homesteading, and a host of other topics at www.readynutrition.com .
Those of you who plan to take the first steps toward preparing for emergencies may feel a bit overwhelmed at where to begin. After all, there is a lot of food to choose from at the grocery stores. Many websites, including this one encourage families to start buying small amounts of food related preparedness items each time they go shopping. This way, your budget is not dramatically affected.
Food storage calculators are a great tool to incorporate in your preparedness planning, and can help you understand how much food your family will need for a given emergency. The food storage calculations can also be printed out and used as an inventory list to keep you on track in terms of what preparedness supplies you have and will need.
To make the most of your emergency food supply, keep these essential food pantry rules in mind before purchasing:
- Caloric intake is an important factor in survival. In any disaster situation, you want to avoid malnutrition. Having foods stored to prevent this health issue will keep you at your optimum health. Stock up on foods that provide you with essential nutrients to maintain body functions, proteins and carbohydrates, fats for energy, as well as foods that are not high in salt (the more salty your food is, the more water you will drink). To calculate how many calories you will need in your diet, click here.
- Consider buying multifunctional food items. Items that can serve more than one purpose will help your finances, as well as save precious space in the food storage pantry. Items such as oats, pasta, rice, wheat and beans are some great low-cost foods will serve a variety of uses.
- Store high energy snacks to help boost energy levels. Eating snacks that are high in complex carbohydrates and protein will provide you with a guaranteed energy boost. High energy snacks such as nuts, peanut butter, crackers, granola bars and trail mix can be stored for up to 1 year and will help keep energy levels and spirits high in an emergency scenario.
- Bring on the protein! Protein is an essential ingredient in our daily diets and cannot be omitted out of a survival diet. Canned meat is a good source of protein and can also help you maintain your energy level. Meats such as tuna, ham, chicken and spam are great additions to the food pantry and are multifunctional. (Remember, the oil in canned meat can be used as an emergency candle.) Beans are another great source of protein, and when beans are accompanied with rice, it makes a complete protein which provides all the amino acids needed to survive. One serving of beans and rice provides 19.9 g, or 40 percent of your daily vitamins.
- Don’t forget the basics. Essential staples such as cooking oil, flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, spices, baking soda, baking powder and vinegar should not be overlooked. If they are present in your kitchen, they should likewise be present in the emergency food supply.
- Convenience helps in stressful situations. Many moms know that boxed dinners can be a lifesaver when you are in a time crunch. Having some pre-packaged dinners and meals-to-grab during emergency scenarios will help you begin acclimating yourself to cooking in a grid down scenario as well as can help provide some comfort at the same time. Personally speaking, my family has the “just add water” pancake mixes, corn breads and drink mixes that are a great convenience.
- Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all it’s pleasure. Variety in your food pantry is important and can prevent the monotony that comes with eating the same foods day in and day out. Having a well rounded food storage will cut down on culinary boredom, as well as balance your diet. Further, stocking up on a variety of spices will also enhance your food pantry.
- Find comfort in the little things. Have some comfort food items that provide enjoyment to the family. Items such as popcorn, sweet cereals, hard candy, juice boxes, pickles, applesauce, pudding, cookies could be a great way to provide a bit of normalcy to the emergency situation you may face.
- Have backs up for your backs ups. Compressed food bars are lightweight, taste good and are nutritious. Having food bars as a back up to your existing food supply can provide you with piece of mind knowing you have an alternative to turn to if you run out of food. Further, these are great additions to your 72-hour bag or bug out vehicle. A review of the different types of bars can be read here or you can practice your survival skills and make your own with this recipe. MRE’s are another alternative food choice to turn to if you happen to run out of food in your pantry. Although many have turned their nose up at MRE’s (due to their high amounts of preservatives), they will provide you with sufficient calories and nutrition when it counts. Note: These should not be the only items in your food supply. Over time, you could become nutrient and vitamin deficient.
- Rotate and resupply when needed. Any items bought for the food storage closet should be used, rotated and resupplied. This is the best way to have the freshest foods available in the event that a disaster occurs. When organizing food reserves place the item that has the earliest expiration date in the front so that it is used first. FIFO is a well known acronym used in the restaurant business that stands for, “First In, First Out,” and can be incorporated in your food storage endeavors. Do an inventory check every 6 months to make sure that canned goods, preserves and other storage items are within their expiration dates.
Keeping the above considerations in mind when purchasing your food supply will provide your family with a well rounded food pantry stocked with an array of foods that will assist in promoting a healthy diet. Not listed in the suggestions is water. You must have water to survive. To learn more about potable water, click here. It would be prudent to have a 2-week supply of water on hand, as well as a water filtration device to rely on for extended disasters.
Prepping is a passion for some. For others it is the most efficient way to keep their family as safe as possible. For further resources and a list of essential items for your emergency supply, click here.
This article has been contributed by Tess Pennington of Ready Nutrition. Subscribe to Tess’ Get Prepped Weekly Newsletter for more emergency preparedness tips, homesteading ideas, and insights. As a subscriber to her free newsletter you’ll receive the latest updates from her 52 Weeks to Preparedness Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Planning Series. It’s well worth your time, and oh, did we mention it’s totally free?
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