How Much Food Should I Store?
When facing an imminent emergency, many people find that they are
unprepared. While we, as humans, tend to think ‘it will never happen to
me’, the plain truth is that emergencies can and do occur. It’s far
better to be prepared than to find yourself out of time. When preparing
for an emergency, the first thing to stock is your pantry.
The question then becomes ‘how much food should I have?’ Opinions, even
among government officials, vary on this topic. The general rule of
thumb, however, is that every home should have at least a 72 hour
emergency supply of food for each member of the household, including
pets. You should also store at least one half gallon of water per day
for each person in your family.
The foods you choose to keep in your emergency supply should be those
that are non-perishable, are readily prepared with a minimal amount of
effort, if at all, and are low in sodium. Why low in sodium? Because
salt makes you thirsty and you may not have access to a large supply of
Your foods should be stored in a container that can easily be grabbed
and carried, if need be, or placed in the trunk of your car. Rubbermaid
type totes or even rolling, air tight suitcases make excellent storage
bins for emergency food stashes. Don’t forget to add a package of water
purification tablets to your tote. You may find that you need them in
the event of an emergency tainting your water supply.
While tornadoes, hurricanes and flash floods are a real possibility, if
you live in a cold weather climate, being snowed in is an emergency of
its own type. When winter weather begins to approach, it is suggested
that people maintain a stock of at least two weeks worth of food and
water in their pantry. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency,
calls this supply a ‘sheltering need’.
Again, avoid foods that will make you thirsty and stock your cupboards,
instead, with dried fruits, canned goods, cereals, crackers, energy bars
and granola. Be sure to have a manual can opener in the event of a
power shortage and be sure to keep at least seven gallons of water per
person on hand.
When buying your food, be sure to check the expiration dates. Foods like
dried fruit and crackers generally have a shelf life of about six
months. Canned foods and cereal are safe to keep for about a year and
bulk dried foods like pasta, beans and corn, if stored properly, will
keep indefinitely. Some foods will need to be replenished periodically
so plan on taking stock of your emergency kit at least once every six
To determine exactly how much food you should keep on hand for your
family, use a Food Storage Calculator. Simply input the number of people
you have in your home and the calculator will tell you exactly how much
food you should have on hand. You don’t want to find yourself
unprepared should an emergency occur. Stocking your pantry and creating
an emergency food kit is just one simple thing that you can do now to
save time later.