Having an emergency plan is more important than ever in today’s world. Among the ways to accomplish this is by stockpiling food. In other words, you should have food on hand if there is a shortage or disruption of the food supply.
Why would you want to stockpile food? There are a number of reasons for this, including:
- Natural disasters. There are many natural disasters that can disrupt the food supply, including hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and wildfires. During these times, you may need a stockpile of food to survive.
- Pandemics. Food supplies can also be disrupted by pandemics, like we experienced during COVID-19. Stockpiling food can ensure your safety and health during these times.
- Economic instability. Food shortages can occur as a result of economic instability, such as a recession. Stockpiling food during these times can help you weather the storm.
Based on your individual needs and circumstances, you will be able to determine the best way to stockpile food. However, to get started here are a few general tips.
1. Determine your needs.
Identifying your specific needs is the first step. How much food should you stockpile? Several factors will determine this, including:
- How many people live in your household?
- Dietary requirements.
- How long do you expect to be self-sufficient?
After you’ve determined your needs, you can begin stockpiling your food. However, according to the CDC, all Americans should keep at least a three-day supply of food and water in their homes, and at least one gallon of water per person per day. Keeping food and water on hand for a week is a good idea if you have the space.
2. Choose the right food.
It is also important to understand that not all food is created equal. There are some foods that are better suited for stockpiling than others. As such, the following factors should be considered when deciding what food to stockpile:
- Shelf life. The shelf life of some foods is longer than others. The shelf life of canned goods is several years, while the shelf life of fresh fruits and vegetables is only a couple of days.
- Nutritional value. Choosing foods that are nutritious will give you the energy and nutrients you need.
- Personal preferences. You should also choose foods you and/or your family enjoy.
You should eat nutritious foods that will help you maintain your health if the emergency is caused by a disease. Moreover, since you’ll only have a limited supply of foods in your emergency preparedness kit, you should choose higher-quality foods and consume fewer of them.
“In a disaster or an emergency you want those calories,” Barry Swanson, professor emeritus of food science at Washington State University, told Real Simple. “You want some nutrients and some fiber—something to keep your diet normal.”
“In an emergency, generally you tend to think of meeting more basic needs than preferences and flavors,” says Elizabeth Andress, professor emerita and extension food safety specialist at the University of Georgia. “But if you plan right, you can have a great variety of foods and nutrients.”
3. Store your food properly.
After choosing the right food, make sure it is stored properly. By doing so, you can extend the shelf life of your food and prevent it from spoiling.
In general, food should be stored in a cool, dry place, even though there are a number of different ways to do so. In addition, 40° to 70°F is the ideal temperature.
When storing food, it’s also recommended that you:
- Avoid storing foods near ranges or refrigerator exhausts. Foods that are exposed to heat spoil more quickly.
- Make sure food is stored away from petroleum products, which include gasoline, oil, paints, and solvents. It is possible for some food products to absorb their smell.
- Ensure that food is protected from rodents and insects. A box or paper carton that is heavily wrapped or stored in a waterproof, airtight container will keep items longer.
- Various methods, such as canning, drying, and freezing, can be used to preserve food.
Depending on how long you plan to store the food and what type of food you are storing, you will need to store it differently.
4. Rotate your stock.
A regular rotation of your food stock is essential. You can keep your food fresh and ensure that nothing goes to waste by doing this.
It is recommended that you rotate your canned food stockpile every two to four years and your dried food stockpile every two to three years.
First-in, First-Out (FIFO) is an effective way of rotating your food. By using this method, the oldest inventory will be used first, and the newest inventory will be used last. In addition to frozen and refrigerated items, dry storage items can also be sorted by the FIFO method.
Rotating your food stockpile also involves:
- In order to maintain the best quality, canned goods should be used within a year of purchase.
- Ensure that dried foods such as beans, flour, sugar, and oats are rotated every two to three years.
- Dry foods should be stored in large waterproof containers and used as soon as possible after they have been opened.
- Inspect display and storage areas for damaged stock and remove it.
5. Be prepared to use your stock.
Having food on hand when you need it is the entire point of stockpiling food. Therefore, it is crucial to prepare your stock for use.
Having an emergency plan for how you will use your food is one way to do this. If you have stockpiled food, you may want to have a list of recipes you can use.
You can also prepare yourself to use your stock by practicing cooking with the foods you have stocked up. As a result, you will become familiar with the food and how to use it.
Also, make sure you have the right equipment to prepare and cook the food. For example, to open your canned goods, you’ll need a can opener.
Additional food stockpiling tips:
- Start small. Don’t stockpile too much food overnight. Each week, stockpile a small amount of food. For example, purchasing canned beans when they’re on sale or you have coupons. As time passes, your stockpile will increase.
- Buy in bulk. You can save money by buying in bulk. Be sure, however, to only buy foods that you will have space to store and that you can consume before they expire.
- Use a food storage calendar. With a food storage calendar, you can keep track of your stockpile and rotate your stock regularly.
- Label your food stockpile with the date that you purchased it. This will make it easier to rotate your food stockpile.
- Let your family know about your food stockpile. It is important to inform your family if you have a food stockpile. Having this information will help them to know what to do in the event of an emergency or disaster.
Stockpiling food can help you be prepared for natural disasters, economic collapses, and food shortages. With the tips above, you can stockpile food safely, efficiently, and affordably.
What food should I stockpile?
Stockpiling food should include nonperishable, nutrient-rich foods. Ideally, this means foods that are high in nutrients and last a long time.
The following foods are good to stockpile:
- Canned goods. For stockpiling, canned fruits, vegetables, meats, and fish are all good options.
- Dried goods. You can also stockpile nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and vegetables.
- Grains. Rice, quinoa, and oats are also good options for stockpiling grains.
- Beans and lentils. Among the best sources of protein and fiber are beans and lentils.
- Hardtack. Hardtacks are biscuits made from flour, water, and salt. The material is very dense and can last for a long time.
- Water. Having a water supply on hand is crucial in the event of a shortage. It is possible to stockpile water either by purchasing bottled water or by filling up jugs with water from the tap.
How much food should I stockpile?
Depending on the size of your household and the amount of time you expect to be without food, you will need to stockpile food.
During an emergency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends that each household have at least a three-day supply of food and water. If you live in a disaster-prone area or have special dietary requirements, you may want to stockpile more food.
If you have the ability, stockpile enough food to last seven days or more. As a result, you will have more flexibility if an emergency lasts for a long time.
How do you store your food stockpile?
Make sure your stockpile is stored in a cool, dry place. Do not store your stockpile in an area that is prone to flooding or other damage. Additionally, keep your stockpile from direct sunlight or heat sources. A food’s shelf life can be shortened by heat and light.
What is the best way to rotate your stockpile?
Regular rotation of your stockpile is essential. To accomplish this, you should eat the oldest food in your stockpile first and then replace it with new food. As a result, your food will always be fresh and safe to consume.