September is National Preparedness Month, and if there’s anything that the recent spate of re-devastating hurricanes has shown us, it’s that we live in a world of uncertainty. The tagline for Ready.gov, a go-to site for how to be ready for anything, says it best: “Disasters don’t plan. But you can.”
While we never know what life will bring our way, we can stockpile a few household grocery items and create an emergency food stash that would make any Boy Scout proud. With the threat of winter ice storms around the bend, building a solid cache of foodstuffs could spare you cruising the emptied aisles of your local supermarket as the nasty weather closes in.
Ready.gov says you should plan for power outages with several days’ worth of food. According to the site, it’s wise to “stock canned foods, dry mixes and other staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water or special preparation.” Oh, and don’t forget a manual can opener and eating utensils.
Take a look at this list of seventeen things you should add to your next shopping list. After all, hurricane season lasts until November 30th.
1. Bottled Water – This is the most important item of all for your emergency kit. Just how much should you have? Consider that one person needs one gallon of water per day, and calculate from there. It’s always smart to have at least a three-day supply.
2. Canned Fruits and Vegetables – In a pinch, these foods can be eaten straight from the can (provided you have remembered the can opener!), and they are jam-packed with all the same essential nutrients of their fresh counterparts.
3. Crackers – These everyday snacks work double duty in survival kits. Use them to replace bread for sandwiches or snack on them alone. Opt for whole-wheat or whole-grain varieties, which have the most fiber. Vacuum sealing crackers will prolong their shelf life.
4. Canned Fish/Meat – Did you know canned meats and fish typically stay fresh for over two years? An essential source of protein, these little tins are perfect for your stash.
5. Peanut Butter – This one is a sheer necessity for any survival kit. Peanut butter is loaded with healthy fats and protein, and serves as a substantial source of energy. Remember, peanut butter doesn’t require refrigeration, so it’s a must-have for your emergency food stash.
6. Dried Fruit – A great replacement for fresh fruit, dried fruit keeps for a long time and is packed with potassium and fiber. You get a win-win here with a fair number of calories and nutrients, and a tasty, sweet snack.
7. Canned Juice – When you won’t have access to fresh fruit, canned juice (along with dried fruit) is the next best thing.
8. Nuts/Trail Mix – These little nuggets are a perfect source of healthy, convenient energy. Look for nuts and trail mixes that are individually sealed into servings, or you can get vacuum-sealed packages. Both stay fresh longer.
9. Multivitamins – Vitamin supplements can help your body replenish any nutrients you’re missing. Since you never know how long it might be before you have access to fresh food or before the power kicks back on, it’s important to put good multivitamins in your kit.
10. Sports Drinks – Stay hydrated with sports drinks in addition to your water. These drinks also have the added benefit of electrolytes and carbohydrates, which give you energy while you rehydrate.
11. Pasteurized/Powdered Milk – Good sources of calcium and vitamin D when you don’t have access to fresh milk, non-perishable pasteurized milk and powdered milk get the job done. Since they don’t require refrigeration, they’re essential for your food survival kit.
12. Whole Grain Cereal – Cereals with whole grains boast enough fiber to be filling, and are a great snack for munching. If you can find a whole grain cereal that comes in individually-packaged servings, even better – the whole lot won’t go stale after you open it
13. Granola/Power Bars – Often used by athletes as quick bites of energy, granola and power bars are good source of carbohydrates and protein, making for great snacks that will stay fresh for a long time.
14. Canned Soup/Chili – Canned soups and chilis are first on people’s list for food survival kits – and for good reason. Filling and healthy (so long as you choose low-sodium varieties) these foods can serve as entire meals and can be eaten straight from can.
15. Beef Jerky – Where’s the beef? With jerky, you’ve got a great protein source at your fingertips in case of a power outage or other emergency. A 4oz package of beef jerky is packed with 39 grams of protein, some sugar, a low amount of fats, a fair amount of salt, and about 360 calories. Plus, it just tastes good.
16. Baby Food and Formula – It goes without saying, but if you have an infant, you need baby food and/or formula on hand. No babies? You may be surprised to learn that adults can eat baby food for a quick nutrient boost. The average baby food jar contains 20 to 90 calories, making it a perfect snack to tide you over. (Pureed peas, anyone?)
17. Sugar, Salt, and Pepper – In the case of an emergency where you have access to a grill or propane stove, cooking will be a treat. Make it all the more enjoyable by flavoring your meals and making the situation just a pinch more comforting.