Let’s talk about your emergency food stash. You do have an emergency food supply for your home, right?
I’m not talking about hoarding buckets of grain in your basement in anticipation of the 2012 Mayan Apocalypse. I’m just talking about taking that extra step to have a 2-week supply of food and water for everyone in your house (pets included).
When I wrote about this earlier in the year, I referred to it as Food Insurance. That’s just another way of thinking about it: as an insurance policy for your family.
Being prepared for a 2-week period without electricity is not the behavior of a survivalist, conspiracy theorist or wacko. It is simply a smart thing to do. Anyone who tells you otherwise is an idiot.
A few years ago in Illinois we had ice storms that knocked out power in some parts of the state for two weeks or more. This scenario is not far-fetched fiction; it has happened before and it can happen again.
When the power is out, there are no grocery stores, no gas stations, and no ATMs. Even worse, if it is winter, there may be no way to safely drive your car for supplies even if they are available.
Earlier this year I took about $100 and made a trip to Aldi’s, our local discount grocery store, and bought emergency supply of food and water for my wife and two kids (we have no pets).
If you don’t have the extra cash to buy it all at one time, start buying a few extra items at each grocery trip, and stash them away until you have a good supply. Five extra cans and a gallon of water a few times each month is not going to break your budget.
When I started my slow carb diet earlier in the year, I think I raided the emergency stash for some beans on a few occasions. While I believe that I had my wife buy some more to replenish what I took, I can’t quite remember.
Anyway, it’s been about six months since I did this, so it’s the perfect time for an audit of our food insurance. And with winter around the corner, we are approaching the time of year for power outages.
Here's what I found:
- 20 gallons of water
- 10 cans of spinach
- 12 cans of spaghetti and meatballs
- 12 cans of chicken breast (9.75 oz, larger size)
- 12 cans of of potatoes
- 11 cans of mixed vegetables
- 11 cans of black beans
- 6 cans of tuna
- 3 cans of pinto beans, larger 29 oz size
- 1 box of dry milk, 26 oz size
- 1 bottle of bleach
My emergency food audit shows that I only have a week's worth of water for my family, using the 1 gallon per person, per day standard. I also only have a week's worth of food.
This is due to some raiding of the stash and an underestimating how much would be needed. I assumed (probably correctly) that we could stretch the stash for 2 weeks if absolutely necessary, though it wouldn't be fun or desirable.
Rather than plan to struggle, a smarter move would be to just bite the bullet and double the size of the emergency food supply. This would be one major thing that wouldn't have to become a worry in the event of an unplanned disaster.
Tips for Building an Emergency Food Supply
- Don’t tell anyone about it: people will think you are weird, and they will know who to call when they are caught unprepared. It’s okay to tell your extended family, but only if you are doing so in a way that encourages them to also get prepared.
- Use masking tape and a marker to label your food with purchase date and expiration date. Yes, it may be marked on the can, but why not make it easier to see and rotate out.
- Stick to items that have a long shelf life, like canned goods. If you are super-organized, mark your calendar in advance to remind you to rotate out.
- Rotate out old items: if you are concerned with cost, you can stock your emergency supply with types of food you already eat. That way if cans are close to expiring, you can just eat them, or donate them to a food pantry and buy more.
- Buy some comfort foods: your stash may contain a lot of items you don’t eat regularly, and if you are without power, this won’t really matter. However, it can be good to have some comfort foods like peanut butter or powdered milk to make things easier on the kids.
- Can you cook it? Try to buy things that can be eaten without being cooked, like canned beans and canned pasta. We have a camping stove with extra fuel that can be used to heat up canned goods. In a pinch, you could fire up the BBQ grill outside.
- If you drink coffee or tea, do yourself a favor and plan a way to have a hot cup of your favorite beverage.
- Keep it in a safe place: your attic might not be the best place for this, due to temperature extremes and the fact that a tornado could blow it away, Keep it in a cool, dry and safe place.
- To beef up your food supply, simply buy a few extra items each month and add them to the stash. You won’t notice the extra cost.