You’ve probably already heard the advice to have an emergency food supply and stock up on other essential items in case of an emergency.
The Department of Homeland Security recommends having enough food, water and other basic items (e.g. medicine, pet food) that can last you 2 weeks.
It’s best to start to stock up as soon as possible so that shops have time to restock in case you run out of certain supplies. The important thing to remember isn’t to bulk buy during emergencies as this leads to panic buying and shortages when there doesn’t need to be.
What Should I Buy For My Emergency Food Supply?
Long lasting, shelf stable foods are your smartest buy for your emergency food supply.
These non perishable foods can be stored safely at room temperature and stay edible for weeks, months or even years (depending on the items). That’s because they’ve been treated with heat and/or dried to kill microorganisms.
Ideally, you will want canned foods, foods that don’t require refrigeration, cooking, water or any special preparation.
You’ll want foods high in calories, explains Barry Swanson, a food scientist at Washington University. ”In a disaster, or emergency, you’ll want those extra calories. You’ll also want to pick foods with fiber and nutrients”.
Pro Tip: Make sure to include a manual can opener and eating utensils on your shopping list if you don’t already have them!
Not sure what to actually buy for your emergency food supply? We’ve put together a handy list of 21 long lasting foods that are nutritious and super convenient.
Best Long Lasting, Non Perishable Foods
1. Canned Tuna, Salmon, Turkey & Chicken
High in protein, canned meats typically last up to two years in the pantry, and make a great addition to any meal.
2. High Energy Granola Bars
Granola and power bars can be a great snack, as they are packed with calories, sugar and other essential nutrients to keep your energy high. These often last many months.
3. Nut & Trail Mixes
Nuts are always a good option to add to your emergency food supply. They are high in essential nutrients you wouldn’t necessarily get in other foods such as selenium. They’re great snacks too.
4. Whole Wheat Crackers
Whole wheat crackers make a great substitute for bread. Due to their high fat content, whole wheat or whole grain crackers have a shorter shelf life, but their higher fiber content will keep you feeling fuller for longer.
5. Dry Pasta & Pasta Sauces
A firm favourite, dry pasta is convenient, and only requires boiling water to cook. Whilst pasta is carb-heavy and gluten-laden food, it can last a long time on pantry shelves. Most sauces will last months when unopened.
6. Canned Vegetables
To cram in as many minerals, nutrients and vitamins as possible, grab some cans of mixed vegetables.
7. Canned Soups
Canned soups are a great option to keep in your pantry. Try to pick some with vegetables, so as to keep minerals and essential nutrients in your diet. Soup can also keep you hydrated due its high liquid content. Plus, they can be consumed hot or cold.
8. Dried Fruits
Whilst not as good as the real deal, dried fruits such as apricots and raisins provide a quick energy boost, and make perfect snacks.
Choose multigrain and/or sugary cereals that come in individual packages so they don’t become stale after opening.
10. Sports Drinks
Whilst not the healthiest option, sports drinks such as Lucozade and Gatorade provide much needed sugar boosts when in an emergency. Use these sparingly.
11. Powdered Milk
In some emergencies, fresh milk may either not be viable or may be in short supply. Stocking up on powdered milk is always a good idea. If you have babies, you might want to add their special formula milk to your grocery list too.
12. Sugar, Salt & Pepper
Whilst not essential to add to your emergency supply list, if you’re able to cook, you might want to add sugar, salt and pepper to your grocery list. These basic food stuffs can turn a bland meal into something more edible.
13. Multi Vitamins
Always a good idea to purchase some multi-vitamins, especially if you’re eating a less balanced, and healthy diet.
Filling and delicious, simply add hot water or powdered milk and you’ve got a quick emergency breakfast. If you’re in a better position when you can cook, you can make some oat pancakes.
15. Boil in the Bag Rice
Rice is a healthy carb that can make any meal instantly more filling, which is perfect for emergencies. Simply pair with a protein e.g. canned tuna, and some veggies and you’ve got a well-rounded, balanced and nutritious meal.
Popcorn has a long expiry date, and makes a great snack during an emergency. Simply buy ready-made bags of individually wrapped popcorn. Fun size bags is better so that it doesn’t go stale when opened.
Great protein option, Jerky lasts a long time. Just make sure not to eat too much of it, due to its high sodium content.
Beans are a perfect high protein food to add to your emergency food supply. Beans can provide a portion of our five a day, and are packed with essential nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Magnesium.
Best Foods To Buy Right Before An Emergency
Been given notice that an emergency is heading your way? If you still have time to visit a supermarket, you can pick up some nutritious fresh produce.
Most of these products will last at least a week after they’ve been purchased and will provide a much needed nutrient boost.
If you can visit a farmer’s market, the produce will be fresher, and therefore will add a few days to your food’s life span.
Apples can last up to three months when stored in a cool, dry area away from perishable fruits e.g. bananas.
2. Citrus Fruits (E.g. Oranges, Grapefruits)
Packed with Vitamin C and other nutrients, citrus fruits are great to add to your pantry. Due to their high acid content and hardy, waxy skins, citrus fruits often last longer than most fruits.
With tomatoes, it’s best to buy them unripe (i.e. when the skin is green) so that they will last longer in a pantry.
4. Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes
Potatoes can last up to three weeks when stored properly. Place them in a dark, dry, cool area, and you can have a delicious meal during an emergency.
5. Hard Packaged Meats
Some meats such as salami can last up to six weeks in a pantry. Perfect for when you’re sick and tired of eating canned tuna.
Fresh bread typically doesn’t last very long and so is best eaten within the week it is bought, however, if you are able to freeze it, it will last up to three weeks. Simply thaw when needed.
7. Cookies, Treats, Snacks
Cookies, treats and snacks provide a great comfort during an emergency, and fortunately can last a few months when unopened. Make sure to check the expiry date before purchasing.
8. Frozen Meals
If you have access to a freezer and microwave, ready-made meals are a perfect option for emergency situations when you can’t cook or don’t have the ingredients to cook.