Emergency Food Supply

There are certain staples everyone should include in their emergency food supply. The key is knowing what exactly to store and how to store it.

If you were encouraged to ‘be sure you have enough canned tuna on hand for every family member’ that may or may not be good advice since not everyone likes, or will even eat tuna.

A more efficient approach is to build your food pantry with items that have long shelf life, (the longer the better), that provide adequate nutrition, and that you and your family will actually eat.

The 5 pound box of generic stuff you thought would be a great item to add to the pantry was really just a waste of money since nobody will eat it and it took up valuable space in your emergency food supply area. Now that we see our food prices soaring with some experts warning of continued price increases ahead, it's more important than ever to plan first then shop wisely.

We’ll talk about having survival foods, dehydrated food, canned foods, frozen foods, freeze dried foods, food safety and more but first let’s consider the actual area where you will locate your food supplies.

The best location for storing food is one that is cool, dark, dry, and pest free. The size of the area will be determined by how many supplies you need based on the number of people in your home, and of course how much actual space you have available.

Many people consider the basement to be the best area in the home to keep an emergency food supply. If you have room, buy a sturdy shelving unit that can hold all your survival foods and other emergency essentials. Remember you’ll also want some space for the bathroom tissue, first aid supplies, batteries and other items.

Other spaces such as an interior closet can also be used for storing food. Just remember whatever area you choose, the ideal conditions are that it will not be exposed to high heat or humidity, that it can be kept dark or at least away from direct sunlight at all times, that there are no pests such as mice or ants, and that it’s large enough so you can organize it efficiently and see what you have on hand at all times.

Some other things to keep in mind;

• Only buy items that your family will actually eat or use. Dont be tempted to buy items that you dont need just because they are on sale.

• Always check expiration dates when shopping for emergency food supplies. Don’t buy any item if it has a short shelf life.

• Get in the habit of rotating the food in your emergency food supply regularly. Use the items with the nearest expiration dates first.

• Keep a notepad or grocery list in the pantry area and every time you remove something, write it on the shopping list to replace it.

• Try to plan ahead seasonally. This means stocking up on items when they are plentiful and less expensive and also, storing items in advance of the different seasons since different weather can mean we have different needs.

Use our convienent Supply Guide to help you make sure that you have what your family needs on hand at all times.

Check out our Guide here:

Emergency Supply Guide

Have a helpful suggestion about keeping a pantry and emergency food supply? Help our community by sharing your suggestions!

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Jan 17, 2011 > Good reminder to have a pantry! This snow is ridiculous- we couldn't get out to the market for anything, they probably weren't open anyway. Thanks! Debbie L. - New York

Feb 1, 2011 > Holy Cr_p! a foot of snow on my street today in Oklahoma City! Hello, Oklahoma City? Wish I would have found your website before now. Mike – Oklahoma City, OK

Feb 1, 2011 > This storm is supposed to be bigger than the 1967 blizzard WOW! The largest snow storm since 1967!!! Weather dudes saying to stay home and don’t travel. DUH!! Glad I have plenty of food and water and electric blankets… brrrr... Derek – Chicago

Feb 1, 2011 > One thing you definitely need to do is rotate your food regularly. I just looked in my pantry and noticed several items have expired. I forgot to use them first. Learned my lesson. Julie – CO

Feb 24 , 2011 > My family cans lots of fruits and vegetables from our farm. If you can grow your own or buy them cheaply at farmers markets you might want to check that out as another excellent way to store food. We have always had an emergency food supply and then some:) Thx. Mary Jo - NE

Mar 6, 2011 > I watched that program Prophets of Doom on the History Channel and now I am determined to have some water stored and ways to filter it. I am looking online today for some of those water filters you talked about. I think the water thing is really important because we only have so much of it and most of it is already polluted to some extent. Cheers! Ray – New Orleans, LA

Mar 6, 2011 > What the heck is up with all these earthquakes?? I went to the USGS website and the map of recent quakes is scary! John - CA

Mar 19, 2011 > We have 2 freezers and always have plenty of meat, bread, orange juice, cheese and other basics. Buy a good vacuum sealer. They are terrific and its the air in packaging that causes the freezer burn. You must get all the air out then things last forever and the quality is great. Steve - OK

Mar 22, 2011 > I cant think of anything more important than having an emergency food supply. What would you do without one when doomsday eventually comes? Seriously folks, disasters happen and just look at the panic that sets in. Last power outage our grocery shelves were emptied in 3 hours. Mark - MN

Mar 30, 2011 > I always stock up when things are on sale and not just food but things like shampoo and other toiletries too. When you have a dedicated pantry space you can keep tons of stuff on hand so you'll never run out of anything. Kathy - CA

April 1, 2011 > Stocking up when stuff is on sale is great plus they are saying food is gonna get alot more expensive in the next few years so you're also saving lots of money! Polly - Silver Springs, MD

April 9, 2011 > On the food stocking up thing, that is really good advice. We went to the grocery today and I can't believe how much everything is going up. Chris - WY

April 11, 2011 > Thats for sure. Definitiely going to have to start using coupons. Must be the price of fuel again. I heard last week that we may see $5 gallon soon. We're already over $4.25 a gallon here in San Francisco. Cory - CA

April 18, 2011 > How long can you freeze food and have it be safe to use? We are thinking that a freezer would be a good way to stock up. Thank you. Mary - Tacoma WA

April 19, 2011 > Editor Reply: Mary, please see this page for more information on your question: Freezing Food

April 19, 2011 > Heads up - be sure you have water in your emergency food supply! You wont last long without it!. Ron - NV

April 23, 2011 > Word to the wise. Freeze dried food lasts forever but unless you have tried it before, and you can afford it, stick to the canned food, dry beans, etc. Most freeze dried food doesn't taste very good and it is very expensive. Lou - TX

May 10,2011 > I agree with the comment on freeze dried food. We bought a bunch of that stuff for Y2K and when we tried to eat some of it we ended up throwing most of it out cause it tasted terrible! John - UT

May 20, 2011 > There are some great resources on the web about canning and using home dehydrators to preserve food. I suggest taking the time to learn this now because you will need some food supplies on hand when you can't get it from the grocery store. Thanks for reminding everyone to be prepared. Lisa - Visalia, CA

June 12, 2011 > I think there is a real need for more of this kind of information. Times are changing and people need to take responsibility for themselves. Leona - TX

July 9, 2011 > Hi! We're stocking up our canning supplies for the fall and I wanted to share this USDA publication on home canning with your visitors. You can see it at: http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications/publications_usda.html
Sherie- NE

July 10, 2011 > Editor Reply: Thanks Sherie - this is a great resource for anyone who wants to learn about home canning!

August 2, 2011 > Hey have you guys seen those really expensive vacuum sealers for over $300? Are they really that much better than the cheaper ones? Thanks.
Don - Boise, ID

August 3, 2011 > Editor Reply: Hi Don! Yes, we sure have and even ones costing much more than $300! We recommend models typically costing below $160 for very efficient and reliable home use - the more expensive ones may be suitable for commercial use but we don't think are necessary for home use. Check out the FoodSaver brands and always read all consumer reviews before you buy! Thanks for visiting us!

September 9, 2011 > Just wanted to thank you guys for putting this information out there for free. It's quite refreshing to see someone really trying to help others - thank you. Gary - UT

September 13, 2011 >This is excellent information on your site!!! I work as a Public Education Specialist for my city and use this kind of info as I go around talking about prevention and safety. Do you have printed brochures and booklets I could have to pass on to the citizens, not everyone here has internet access either because they cannot afford the technology or they have no use for it in their age. The recent tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and power outages this year have really opened peoples' eyes to not only fire prevention, but to natural disasters as well. I really could use this in printed form. Thanks for the great site! Jennifer - VA

October 3, 2011 > I wanted to tell all your readers to be very careful with food safety. The deaths and sickness from listeria and all the other recent cases of salmonella are sure good reason to be very very careful. Wash your fruit and vegetables very well and check for food recalls at the United States Food & Drug Administration website. My Dad nearly died from salmonella in peanut butter in 2009 so be careful everyone!
Stacy - CT

October 21, 2011 > Like your water storage info. Please include some suggestions for filters. John - Wheatland, WY

November 24, 2011 > The vacuum sealers work great for all the Thanksgiving leftovers - will last a long time in the freezer!
Sue - CA

January 3, 2012 > We got a fantastic food dehydrator for Christmas that we can't wait to use. This one came from Cabelas and it has a big glass door to see through. We had another brand with cheap trays that eventually fell apart so just a word of caution; if you are going to get one and really intend to use it, buy a good one! You'll be glad you did several years down the road.
Mike - OH

January 29, 2012 > You guys should talk more about MRE's and stockpiling food for survival situations - where do I get the best deals on a small budget?? Josh - MN

March 7, 2012 > Okay this pink slime stuff in our hamburger is just wrong! We need to know what they are putting in our food! Seriously, we're grinding our own meat from now on.
Sarah - CO

April 17, 2012 > Hi, I just wanted to thank you for this information. I've seen some other websites with information but its not as common sense as you have here and you are not charging for it so thank you very much.
Paul - Palm Springs - CA

more to come on Emergency Food Supply

see Water Storage and Safety

Freezing Food