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Every household needs a stock of emergency foods. And while you may want to store some things in your freezer or fridge, if the power goes out for an extended period, you’ll need to make sure you have some non-perishable items on hand as well. Variety is a key component to staying healthy, so read up on these 13 different types of foods you’ll want to have on hand for emergencies.
In most cases, when storing any non-perishable food for the long-term, air, moisture, and light will cause your food to degrade faster. Most items need to be stored in a cool, dry, dark place, but some items need different storage conditions. You’ll want to rotate your supplies so you always have the freshest food on hand.
Keep reading to find out more about why you need these different foods in your emergency supplies and how to store them safely.
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Canned goods are inexpensive and easy to store. Many canned goods will last a long time, making them ideal to save for emergencies. Some canned goods can be eaten without being cooked, and they will help add variety and interest to your diet. Of course, you’ll want to keep an eye on your ‘best by’ dates, but many preppers believe canned goods will be safe to eat long after their packaging say they’ve expired.
Store your canned goods in a cool, dry place. Make sure the cans are in good condition because dents in the cans might allow air and germs to get in and contaminate the food.
Pantry items are ingredients you need to make other foods. This will help you keep some variety in your diet and allow you to be creative if you run out of certain foods. A few basic ingredients will give you the means to make everything from bread to cookies.
When possible, purchase these items packaged for long-term storage. If not possible, make sure you use them regularly and rotate your stock to always have the freshest ingredients possible.
Keep these items in sealed containers away from heat, light, and moisture. Check regularly to make sure that bugs have not taken up residence in your pantry items.
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda
- Bouillon Cubes
- Chia Seeds
- Chocolate Chips
- Dried Yeast
Prepackaged items are handy to have on hand, even if their shelf-life isn’t as long as individual ingredients. This way, you can grab a snack in a pinch or indulge in a sweet treat to boost morale. Keep these items in a cool, dark place, and make sure you rotate them often.
Different types of dried foods have different shelf lives, so keep an eye out for expiration dates. Dried lentils and beans will keep the longest. Nuts and raisins will last a long time, but they won’t keep forever because they have natural moisture content and oils that can go rancid. Store these items in their sealed containers and keep them away from humidity and sunlight.
Appetite fatigue is a real issue. When you don’t get enough variety in your diet, you can lose your appetite to eat. And of course, when you don’t take in enough calories, you won’t have enough energy to take care of daily tasks, and you might even get sick.
Having a variety of herbs and spices on hand will help you vary the flavors in your cooking. Many herbs also have some nutrients and even medicinal properties.
Many typical spices and extracts don’t have an expiration date. However, they do degrade over time and will lose flavor and potency. Dried spices must be kept away from moisture, while extracts will last because the alcohol content is a natural preservative.
- Black Pepper
- Cayenne Pepper
- Celery Salt
- Pumpkin Pie Spice
- Vanilla Extract
Whole grains provide carbohydrates, which give you energy and calories. In addition, whole grains can be stored longer in their unprocessed state. For example, wheat berries will last longer than white flour that is made from it. For some grains, you’ll need a grinder to turn wheat berries into flour.
Store these items in sealed containers with oxygen absorbers away from moisture.
Fats and Proteins
Fats are an essential source of calories and help you feel full longer, and they give you energy and help your body absorb vitamins better. Many fats are also a source of protein. If you don’t get enough protein in your diet, your muscles will weaken as your body sources its own protein.
Nut butters and oils have long shelf lives. You want to keep them in a dark location with a cool, stable temperature for best results. For example, peanut butter with preservatives in a sealed container should last a couple of years. Always check your oils and fats before consuming. You’ll know they’ve gone bad if they smell rancid, have an off odor, or just don’t taste right.
Freeze-dried foods are a favorite item among preppers. While you can purchase your own freeze-drying equipment, it is just as cost-effective to purchase prepackaged, freeze-dried foods. They often come in number 10 cans or large sealed buckets with a shelf life of 25 years or more.
Freeze-dried foods stored in buckets are pretty well-protected, but you always want to make sure they are in a cool, dry location away from light. Also, check regularly to make sure that rodents or insects have not invaded your investment.
Dehydrated foods are easy and inexpensive to make and store. One of the benefits of dehydrating food yourself is choosing what your family eats and storing it for the long term. You can dehydrate and store many different items that you grow or cook to vary your diet and have foods on hand that you love.
The key to storing dehydrated food is to ensure there is no moisture content in the food and that moisture cannot get to the food. So you’ll want to check that the food is entirely dehydrated when you take it out of the dehydrator or oven.
Store in glass jars or vacuum seal your items with oxygen absorbers. Rotate frequently, and always check to ensure that moisture has not reached the food and caused mold to grow.
Sauces and Condiments
Sauces and condiments are wonderful additions to liven up stale recipes. Never underestimate the value of ketchup to make your meal better. Soy sauce has a very long shelf life both in and out of the fridge due to its high salt content. Other condiments won’t last as long but keep them unopened and rotate them often.
- Soy Sauce
Storing some extra drink mixes will boost morale. Many drink mixes contain vitamins, minerals, salt, and sugar, which will help keep you healthier when you have limited access to fresh foods.
Like anything else, powdered beverage mixes don’t have moisture in them, extending their shelf life. So keep them dry and away from light.
Emergency / Prepper Foods
Prepackaged emergencies are always great to have on hand, even if you only have a few. MRE’s are easy to store and full of calories. Meal kits allow you to select the types of menus your family enjoys, and they arrive prepackaged in plastic buckets or bins, which are designed to keep moisture and light out.
Store these anywhere away from moisture and heat or light. You can even keep them under your bed or in a closet if needed.
You may not consider fresh food to be a good survival food, but it is. If you have a root cellar, you can store certain fruits and vegetables long-term. Some old farmhouses come with their own root cellars or spring house, but if not, you can build your own in the corner of your basement or dig one nearby.
A root cellar should be between 32˚ and 40˚ Fahrenheit, with a humidity range between 85 to 95 percent. Root cellars can store certain fresh vegetables for up to 6 months without any refrigeration.
If you don’t have a root cellar, vegetables such as carrots can be packed in damp sand. Winter squashes have a thick rind that lends themselves well to long-term storage in a cool, dry place. Better yet, learn to grow a survival garden. In many places, kale can stay in the ground year-round and remain edible all through the winter.
- Acorn Squash
- Butternut Squash
- Hubbard squash
- Sweet Potatoes
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