General Question

talljasperman's avatar

What kinds of food should I save for an emergency?

Asked by talljasperman (19166 points ) May 14th, 2014

Any emergency from an extended power outage to a boil water advisory, to civil unrest.

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37 Answers

MarvinPowell's avatar

Non-perishables. Anything in a sealed aluminum can. Corn, beans, spinach, etc. They can be heated inside the can using a fire, or eaten cold. Also, crackers and dry snack foods tend to work well, too. They really don’t get stale/bad very easily. And their starch is good for energy. A giant bag of rice is one possible option, but unless its sealed well, bugs can get into it, and you don’t want that. And obviously, water. One gallon per person per day. If you have four people in your home, eight gallons is enough for two days. One option is to also have flavored powder packets, as well. Like Splenda or Minute Maid powder pouches to go. That’s if you want some non-sugary fruit juice to drink.

But mainly, Non-perishable canned foods are your best option. A minimum of three a day per person. And a can-opener, of course.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Canadian Bacon canned and it is yummy good. So when you’re eating your last meal before your ultimate demise you can enjoy some forbidden meat!

LuckyGuy's avatar

Oh have you come to the right place!

First, you need to stand back and decide a few things: how long do you want to last, will you have power, and if you are going to be moving or sitting still.
I will assume 2 weeks, no power , hunkered down.
No power means you need to buy food or calories that can be stored and eaten at room temperature. Think items on a shelf pantry.
Will you be sedentary or active? If you are hunkered down you can survive easily on 1800 calories per day. If you are going to be active you might need as much as 4400. Let’s call it 2000 calories per day. Now how long do yo want to last. 2 weeks means you need 14 days x 2000 calories per day = 28000 calories of food in your apt.
How can you get those? Any way you can. Old fruitcake lasts forever and is cheap. It is good for 3000 calories. A bottle of olive oil or even cheap canola is about 6 calories /ml. A 1 liter bottle is good for 6000 calories! Check the label. Have cans of tuna, spam, canned vegetables to mix it up a bit. You will not have a perfect diet but you will have enough to get by for 2 weeks and will outlast the lazy people who did not prepare.

You will need water. The standard recommendation is 1 gallon per person per day. Water is cheap, $0.89 for a gallon, and it does not expire. EVERY home should have at least 2 days worth on the shelf or in the basement. I recommend 3x that if you live in a dry climate.

Don’t forget gasoline, heating oil or wood, ..... and ammo.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

You need to be used to eating what you store. The meals I take backpacking are inexpensive, just need water and have a shelf life of over a quarter century. A week or two of those would be the easiest thing to do. Storing more than a few weeks of food is a little overkill. A good water filter is a very smart thing to have around. I use a sawyer squeeze in combination with a UV pen for long outings and they are also inexpensive and effective. If you don’t have a sterilizer simply placing the water in a clear jug in the sun for a day will sterilize it after it has been filtered.

We could start a “prepping” thread here but I’m operating on the assumption that this is basic emergency preparedness. I love the technical challenge of this so I could rant for quite a while here…

johnpowell's avatar

This is my Earthquake stash. Mostly soup and pasta. I have about 40 gallons of bottled water. I figure that should last me a few weeks.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I am also making the assumption you do not have a lot of money to spend.
A 48 oz bottle 1.4 liters) of WalMart brand Canola oil costs $2.80 and contains 11,520 calories. In an emergency it can serve many purposes besides being a source of cheap calories. It can be burned in the proper lamp, it can lubricate metals, it can be used as a source of heat, it can replace low engine oil and…. it can be weaponized.
It also has a long shelf life.

johnpowell's avatar

I wish I was joking about this. I have a canister of catnip for if I really need protein.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Flashlights and batteries will be a big deal. One thing people seldom think about is helping their neighbors. Putting back a little for them is not a bad idea if you have the space and can afford it. We can’t be selfish in times of emergency.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me We should only help the nice ones. The jerks get eaten. :-)

LuckyGuy's avatar

@johnpowell I like your stash. Do you rotate it? That is important. And your catnip idea is genius.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@LuckyGuy Of course there are multiple caveats to that and it will be highly situational. If it is a short-term emergency you don’t want them to remember what a stingy A-hole you were. That said you still have to think of yourself first. If it is really bad then all bets are off.

johnpowell's avatar

@LuckyGuy :: I rotate. It is stuff I normally eat so I pull the oldest from the stash to eat and plug in with new stuff.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@johnpowell Perfect. I do the same with tuna, peanut butter…. and olive oil. The stuff I eat is always a year + old. :-)

johnpowell's avatar

Shit… Tuna. I can tolerate that and it lasts for a while in a can. I should buy 24 or so cans so the local cats can sleep at night.

GloPro's avatar

I think Emergency Food Kits are a great idea. Compact, waterproof, 25 year shelf life, and a nice variety. The one I linked is enough for 1 person to eat 2,000 calories a day for two weeks.
Store it with a couple of 5 gallon water bottles and food is covered.
I have a backpack prepacked with other emergency items as well. You don’t ask about those, though.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@GloPro That is a nice kit but it costs $185.00. And they forgot the canola oil!
Nice selection.

GloPro's avatar

@talljasperman has told us in the past that his food budget is $900 a month. At $185 for two weeks of well balanced food selection, he would be wise to invest.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@GloPro Those kits are very similar to what I have put back. Serving per serving they are actually cheap. A day of meals 2500–4000 calories is about 20 bucks. I don’t mind eating them either.

GloPro's avatar

Yeah, I’m lazy and like the sealable waterproof container. You mentioned a water filter as well, so I’ll mention the Lifestraw as a cheap and effective (and very portable) filter.

RocketGuy's avatar

We have canned soups and canned stew for emergency protein. We are counting on our water heater for 50 gal of water. We have backpacking water filters just in case the 50 gal gets contaminated.

Crazydawg's avatar

I would add spare cash and OTC, prescription meds and a well stocked first aid kit to all of the above good answers. Having a fall back or bug out spot is also a good idea if you can set one up.

GloPro's avatar

@Crazydawg How much cash? I personally have never had this thing you call “spare cash,” but I could see myself grabbing my piggy bank.
I keep a little plastic recipe box of travel sized OTC meds and things in my bathroom. I use it all the time, but replace what I need. I store them this way for easy portablility.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

$500—$1000 you never know when it will be a life saver

Crazydawg's avatar

If I had to put an amount down I would say $2,500 or more. If we experience an TEOTWAWKI event things will get expensive very quickly. Cash, foodstuffs and bullets will be the currency you will need to survive. But for a few days power or storm outage a couple hundred dollars would probably suffice. Remember no power no ATM’s.

GloPro's avatar

You think money would have meaning if TEOTWAWKI occurs? I don’t.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

At first it will just before everyone realizes food, water and ammo are the real currency.

Crazydawg's avatar

I would add water purification to your prep list. If power goes out, well pumps won’t work so a hand pump filter could be a life saver.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Throw in a few cartons of cigarettes. They will be serious currency in the bleak yet distant future.
So will chocolate of all types and candy bars. Especially for the ladies.
And gold and semiprecious stones will be barter too.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

^^Liquor miniatures also.

Paradox25's avatar

Things like ramon noodles, and canned goods. You can always find a way to generate heat without electrical power, and many canned goods meant to be cooked can be eaten cold if necessary. You should always keep some type of gas burner handy, but if you have a yard you can always make your own fire by gathering wood.

Jarring your own food, like vegetables and pickled foods, are a good option too. Make sure you boil the jar first before putting on the lid so there’s no bacteria that survives inside the jar if not refrigerated.

RocketGuy's avatar

Good point – we have a BBQ, a camping stove, and 2 backpacking stoves for emergency cooking.

GloPro's avatar

Remember that dried pastas, beans and rice are worthless without water. Do you have a plan for water, and is it enough?

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I remember how secure it made me feel as a kid to know that we had a room in the basement full of home canned goodies. So, as soon as I could have a house exactly like I wanted, a priority was to put in a food storage room. It contains canned goods and my home-canned stuff, that I rotate. I also have two 5-gallon water storage jugs, 5-gallon food-safe containers – one with sugar, one with rice. have a 3-drawer cart, one has gravy mix, soup mix, those flavored rice and noodle side dishes in packets. The second has pasta, dried beans, peas, lentils, and bouillon cubes. I also have a deep freezer in there that I keep stocked with meat, poultry and fish. The top shelf has cleaning supplies, toothpaste, toilet paper, paper towels, garbage bags, etc. I have cooking oil, coffee, salt, tea, peanut butter and drinking water on the bottom shelf.

The mistake that I made at first was to buy canned goods by the case. Some of them got to be about 5 years expired, so had to chuck them. Now, when I stock this room, I try to have enough of everything I use all the time to last a year, or two at the most. I have learned from experience how much of what item I use.

I tried keeping MRE’s, but we don’t normally eat them, so even they expired before we used them.

Coloma's avatar

Nuts, beef jerky, dried fruits, raisins, apricots, cherries, etc. etc.
Dry cereals powdered milk, hard cheeses and salami, canned goods, beans, veggies, canned meats, tuna fish, chicken and what @GloPro asked. Gotta have water for any dehydrated foods like pasta, oatmeal, rice, etc.
Don’t even look at my cat. lol

GloPro's avatar

@Coloma Don’t forget cat food!

Coloma's avatar

@GloPro Aaaaagh…..100’s of lbs. of Taste of the Wild. Hell, maybe I’ll eat some too. crucnh, crunch. lol

Paradox25's avatar

I’d recommend keeping a few gallons of bottled water on hand, since they’re sealed and can last a while without refrigeration. You can have your ramon noodles then, and eat them too.

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