It seems a day doesn’t go by I'm not propositioned to buy some type of insurance. Switch my car insurance and they promise I’ll save $500! Get your infant a life insurance policy, it’s not creepy we swear! But seriously, we insure our cars, computers, bodies, health and lives; why shouldn’t we get food insurance?
A few years ago in Illinois, some parts of the state were without power for two or more weeks after a crazy ice storm. This is when the reality that we are one bad weather event away from hunger hit me like a ton of bricks. Our nation’s “just in time” food delivery network is just too fragile to guarantee that your local grocery store can feed you in an emergency.
Before you roll your eyes, this post will not be about crazy conspiracies or life without electricity. It is simply about making sure you have at least a two-week emergency food and water supply on hand for your entire family. It is also not an advertisement for any company selling food insurance: this is something you can do on your own at your local grocery store.
Food insurance needs no middleman, but they are certainly out there if you don’t trust yourself to do it right.
What is Food Insurance?
For our purposes, food insurance is simply you planning to acquire and keep two weeks of food and water for your family, and following through. If you want, you can purchase ready-made kits of freeze dried food. But if you are on a budget like me, you can make your own food insurance.
Recently I took a trip to our local Aldi store. They sell mostly store-brand foods and their prices are really low. My goal was to acquire enough food and water for 2 weeks for two adults and two children.
I was able to do all of this for about $100, a solid investment in peace of mind if you ask me.
What Did I Buy?
Canned goods are your friends here. Your food insurance stash need not be things you eat every day, but it is helpful to have some familiar items to make a tough situation easier. The most important thing is that it will last (in a can), and is something you have the ability to prepare (buy a camping stove and fuel, but that’s a different article).
Many canned goods can be eaten straight from the can, especially canned beans (please check before doing this). While it would be nice to heat them up, just knowing that they can be eaten no matter what makes them the best choice. Plus, beans are high in protein and low in fat, making them a superfood.
Here is a rundown of what I bought:
- Large container of shortening (for emergency cooking)
- Cans of spinach
- Cans of mixed vegetables
- Cans of meat (tuna and chicken)
- Cans of beans (black and pinto)
- Canned spaghetti and meatballs
- Small bottles of water (for rationing)
- Box of powdered milk
- Peanut butter
- Large 2.5 gallon jugs of water (one gallon of water per day, per person)
- Gallon of bleach (water purification if needed)
Make sure your containers are conspicuously marked with the expiration date. It might not be a bad idea to mark on there when you bought them, as well.
Also, if you have pets, make sure you include them. The last thing you need in an already stressful situation is to be worried about a hungry pet, or even worse, trying to share your food with them.
Giving your family food insurance isn’t difficult. Most of the stuff I bought will last at least a year, (closer to two) so I really don’t have to think about this now that it’s done. I just need to remember to either eat it or donate it to a food pantry when the expiry date gets close.
Now that I have a good base of food and water, rather than forget about it, I plan to have us buy a couple items each trip to the store. Maybe grab a couple extra jugs of water and some canned goods every week until space runs out.
Keep It Simple
If you do any research on food storage, you can quickly become overwhelmed with options. Rather than getting caught up in the different storage methods, ground grains, which food is better, etc, I plan to take the easy way by simply taking action. If you spend months trying to figure out the best approach, you are no better off than doing nothing.
By starting with two weeks of food and water for your family, you can become better prepared for life’s emergencies. After that, you can either forget about or continue to build your food stash.
Like regular insurance, food insurance is something you hope you will never have to use. While it’s nice to be an eternal optimist and hope and pray that food insurance will never be needed, when it comes to my family’s well-being, this is not something I am willing to gamble on.