Emergency Food and Supplies

Emergency food supply

Image Credit: Pinterest

Reading through the library has landed me in the Food and Drink (641) section.  There are so many interesting food related topics that it’s going to be difficult for me to narrow this section down to just a few posts. Given the recent pandemic due to the COVID 19 virus, I felt this topic was worth revisiting. Dewey Hop previously touched on emergency food in an earlier post called Natural Disasters. It’s not just natural disasters though that present the need for emergency food.

Food and supplies were sometimes difficult to obtain for many people and forced some families to go hungry during the pandemic lockdown. Others had emergency stockpiles and had no food or supply worries whatsoever. Many people fell somewhere in the middle of these extremes. The good news is that it’s never too late to start an emergency stockpile for your family or just yourself if you live alone. If nothing else the pandemic should have highlighted the need to plan ahead. It will be an investment but you don’t have to do it all at once. Start now. Anything is better than nothing.

The first step in establishing an emergency food supply is deciding where you will keep it. While it should be out of the way it should also be easily accessible. Some popular storage areas are basements,

Basement Food Supply

Image Credit: http://mcmackinsnewgroove.blogspot.com/

garages (although consider this carefully if there are extreme climate changes in your area),

Garage food supply

Image Credit: Pinterest

and spare rooms.

Spare Room Storage

Image Credit: The Prepper Journal

If you don’t have that kind of space, don’t worry. There are still plenty of things you can do to store your food and supply stash although you may have to spread it out to various locations around your home. Consider using furniture storage pieces. For example, you could use an ottoman or coffee table that has storage space in which food could be easily stored.

coffee table storage

Image Credit: Pinterest

Hide food and supplies under furniture such as beds, couches, and mattresses. This can be accomplished by using a slider as shown below or even small totes that are easily accessible.

Food under bed

Image Credit: Survivalist Prepper

Under Couch Food Storage

Image Credit: Skilled Survivor

Couch Storage

Image Credit: Pinterest

Mattress storage

Image Credit: Addicted to DIY

It is possible to store enough food for one year under a twin bed. Storing food under every bed means having enough food for your entire family for a year.

Look around your home at furniture you already have to see if it can be repurposed for emergency food storage.

Small closets make great storage spaces.

Small Food Prep Closet

Image Credit: Pinterest

Decorative baskets or containers can be used above kitchen or laundry room cabinets and filled with food and supplies. Find creative ways to store food up to ceiling height. For example some people collect cookie jars. Those jars could be displayed over cabinets –or where ever-but contain items like freeze dried meals, dehydrated flavor packets, spice bottles, and any other nonperishable food items that will fit inside them. This works best for cookie jars that conceal their contents.

Storage above kitchen cabinets

Image Credit: Pinterest

Some people who have small homes invest in a shed where they can store emergency food supplies (again consider carefully if there are extreme climate changes in your area). Others rent climate controlled storage units to store their emergency food supply. These two methods have both pros and cons to them. Unless you actually have a shed on your property you may have difficulty reaching your food source if you are unable to leave your home. Some survivalists recommend having both a food stash at home and offsite which can double your chances of survival depending on the circumstances. Still another option is to store at least a 72 hour food supply in your vehicle in a small tote. Freeze dried meals lend themselves well to this situation.

Knowing where you will store extra food  and being organized makes it easier to start building your stockpile. It’s important to note that you will need different types of foods for different situations such as sheltering in place (as during the pandemic) or bug out situations which may be caused by natural disasters or some other situation forcing you to leave your home. Bug out situations are covered in depth in the Natural Disasters blog post. For now I will just briefly mention that you need to  have 72 hours worth of food (per family member including pets) for your bug out plan. It is suggested that you use Mylar water bags  and freeze dried meals along with protein survival bars (light weight and easier to carry). An additional benefit of freeze dried meals is that you won’t have to remember to check expiration dates every 6 months since they can last up to 20 years.

For sheltering in place scenarios you will need to have at least a 3 month supply of extra food. Many survivalists recommend having a year’s supply of extra food.

The next step in creating an emergency food stock pile is knowing how you will store it in your designated area or areas. For the larger areas use industrial strength shelving which is bolted in place if at all possible. You don’t want flimsy shelving that may come crashing down after you’ve added a lot of weight. Not only  could you ruin your food but it’s a safety issue. Having heavy cans fall on you or a member of your family could have disastrous consequences.

There are all types of can racks.

Can Rack

Image Credit: Amazon

Can Rack 3

Image Credit: Amazon

Can bank

Image Credit: Pinterest

You might try racks like the ones above or some other system. The most important thing is that however you store your food you will want to easily be able to put the freshest food in the back and have food rotate forward if you remove a can.  You could take wire shelving units and hang them at an angle upside down to create the same effect. Be aware of weight limits on this type of system and be sure the shelves are properly reinforced.

Upside Down Wire Shelving

Image Credit: From House to Home

Additionally you will need areas of shelving for all the other types of foods and supplies you will want to store.

Prepper Shelving

Image Credit: Pinterest

Food Shelving

Image Credit: Pinterest

If your long term storage will include totes or 5 gallon buckets you can also create reliable shelving by filling buckets and totes of the same size with heavy staples and laying a board over the top of them to create storage. This is a good option if you have no woodworking skills. Items in these buckets would need to have duplicates elsewhere since by piling things on top of them they won’t be immediately accessible.

Some books that I checked out that will help you with your long term food storage planning are:

Store This Not That

Image Credit: Amazon

Food Storage for Self Sufficiency and Survival

Image Credit: Amazon

The DIY Pantry

Image Credit: Amazon

For this post I have drawn heavily on these three books summarizing much of the information they contain, but I highly recommend reading these books in order to prepare for your long term food storage needs. These books go into so much more detail than I can in one post.

Sheltering at home lends itself well to heat and eat meals, canned and prepackaged meals can include things like soup, chili, stew, ravioli, fruits, cup o’ noodles, canned chicken salad, crackers, soup mixes, complete meals in a box or a jar (which you can make yourself and just add liquid ingredients),

Meals in Jars

Image Credit: Pinterest

oatmeal, cereal, and snacks. For a three month supply you will need 55 gallons of water for each family member including pets.

If you still have running water and electricity you will be able to cook as normal. However if you are unable to cook with your appliances you will need another heat/cooking source. Charcoal grills lend themselves to this task quite nicely. You will need to store charcoal, lighter fluid, lighters, and matches as some of your supplies. Propane gas grills will also work as long as you’ve stored plenty of propane canisters.

For sheltering at home, don’t neglect your freezer as a long term food storage source. This works great as long as there is electricity. It’s a good idea to invest in a generator to protect your frozen investments. Some people keep extra freezers either in their basements or garages to help with the frozen food storage.  Freezers can be bought second hand fairly inexpensively and work great for this sort of preparedness.

The third step in prepping for your emergency food supply is knowing what you actually need. There are commercially prepared emergency food supplies that can be purchased. Some are better than others. Do your research. From what I’ve read many nutritionists recommend against these types of products. Their serving sizes are not always true representatives of how much food you actually need in a meal. Many of them must be combined with other items in order to meet nutritional necessities for you to remain healthy. The need to combine ingredients to get one healthy meal means you cannot rely on their serving size information to plan the number of meals you can create with your supplies. My personal recommendation is for you to use food items as close to the original source as possible. The following are recommendations gleaned from books listed above.

Start with the basics:

Five Gallon Grains

Image Credit: Pinterest

400 lbs combination of grains:  wheat, rice (of various types), corn, barley,  whole grain pasta (all types), cornmeal, and popcorn. Some recommended amounts follow:

60 lbs of dry beans – any kind but it’s best to have a variety

60 lbs each of sugar and honey

12 lbs non-instant powdered milk and egg powder

23 quarts each of oil, shortening, and peanut butter

5 lbs of salt

1 lb  each of baking powder and baking soda

2 lbs of yeast

Then add 6.5 – 7.5 lbs  of:

Vegetables: potatoes, corn, onions, celery, carrots, tomatoes, any other type you can find

Fruits: any kind

Meats – Freeze dried and canned (pepperoni, ham, chicken, tuna, bacon, diced ham, and sausage)

Dairy: Eggs, Cheese, etc as needed (this assumes you will have electrity) or you can use egg and cheese powders. If you live on a farm you may be able to get your eggs from your chickens.

Baking needs: yeast, sugar and/or molasses, honey, flour, and lots of vanilla

Treat mixes (these can be homemade in a jar or store bought mixes), prepackaged snacks such as chips, cookies, puddings, cakes, etc.

Misc: Sauces (store bought or homemade and properly canned) like spaghetti, alfredo, gravies,  tomato (sauce and paste), broths, etc.

dehydrated mixes for gravy, taco seasoning, meatloaf seasonings, etc.

Spices: A wide variety is good and they should be protected in containers like totes or buckets.

LOTS of water: This can be water straight from your tap as long as you store it in properly sterilized containers. Soda and juice bottles are ok to reuse after proper sterilization (look up on the internet). Milk and juice jugs are not usually recommended as they can develop leaks pretty easily.

More water: Pre-bottled water with added electrolytes will help the body to maintain proper nutrients and help prevent diarrhea. If you like you can store flavored packets for water to help give some taste variety. Gator Aid is also a good bottled beverage to have on hand.

Pet Food: Cats need approximately 3 gallons of water per week  and stocked food. Small dogs will need 6 gallons of water per week and stocked food. Large dogs can use up to 18 gallons of water per week and stocked food.

Be sure to also stock supplies like paper and disposable products of all kinds including paper plates and napkins, plastic silverware, feminine supplies, medicines – prescription and over the counter, vitamins, personal hygiene products, hair products, soaps, laundry supplies, flea and tick medications, flea sprays, dog and cat shampoos, trash bags, baggies, etc. Just think about the products you and your family use on a regular basis and stock as many as you can.

Lastly, you will need to know about proper storage placement. Rule number one is get it up off the floor. Start with a pallet to begin building your bottom layer. Alternately shelving with “legs” that raises the bottom shelf will help you keep your food off the floor. If you absolutely must start at floor level, use waterproof containers such as 5 gallon buckets and totes. You don’t want to risk water damage either from flooding or something like a water heater leaking. Notice in stores how they keep food up off of the floor and copy those methods if possible. An added benefit to putting things in watertight containers is that it will keep insects and rodents out of your food. After determining the arrangement of your bottom layer you will be able to build up.

Dry pet food should be stored in  original bags inside totes or buckets with lids as well as anything else that is bagged. Buckets and totes can also be stacked up safely but try to stack by type of food item so that you have access to what you want and be sure to label everything. You can put multiple items in one container. For instance, you could put all the ingredients together in a tote for a particular meal. Write the contents on the inside of the lid to make sure you have everything you need and label the meal on the outside of the container (example: spaghetti meal). Some preppers like to put meal ingredients like this together so they can tell exactly how many meals they have. Another example is to put all sorts of spice bottles/containers together in a bucket.  Be imaginative and do what will work best for your cooking style.

Once you are ready to start building your stockpile, have fun! Accomplish your goals slowly and steadily with a lot of thoughtfulness. Try building a food supply for 30 days, then increase it to 3 months etc. until you reach up to at least a year’s supply. Take advantage of store sales, coupons, buy one get one deals, etc. and your supply will begin to grow. Buy items in bulk and store the extra things you don’t need right away. If you don’t live on a farm or can’t garden where you live, buy fresh fruits and veggies from your local produce store and learn to can them. You can reuse glass jars from pickles, relish, and other items to store smaller servings of grains, beans, legumes, prepared meals, etc. Just be sure that before reuse the jars are properly cleaned and completely dry before they are repurposed.

Do you need to start an emergency food supply or have you already started one? Do you have other ideas of how to accomplish the goal of long term food storage?

7 thoughts on “Emergency Food and Supplies

    1. I’m glad to hear you have a tiny extra supply. Anything is better than noting and the hardest part is getting started. It can be hard to get ahead of the curve. For the water, is there a way to purify your water to make it drinkable? That way you could bottle your own water in sterile bottles at little expense.

      There is a brief explanation about my “disappearance” in a postscript at the end of the Five and Dime post. https://wordpress.com/post/deweyhop.wordpress.com/8091

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      1. I’m not sure, probably is, ways to purify. I don’t like the pitchers, cuz then I run out of cold water. Oh, bottling my own water-?? Never even thought of that!! Ok, I’ll go read that. Thanks!

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  1. Great post! I liked all the creative ways to store food (sofa and bed emergency supply storage!) and emergency supplies. I have an inner prepper and I’ve always had emergency supplies. And I won’t tell you have much toilet paper we have stored right now – ha!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad to know you have preparations! I’m not a “doomsday” person but I do think it’s important to be prepared…just in case. Toilet paper is flying off the shelves again…so good thing you will have no worries!

      Liked by 1 person

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