Preparing Your 3-Day Emergency Food Supply

Kimberly A. Evans  |  8/17/2009 6:47:15 PM

Food is a necessity for life, and as a result, a three-day emergency food supply is something you hear a lot about when hurricane season approaches.

Many people are not sure what makes up a three-day emergency food supply. It actually involves more than just the food.

People often stock up on the food they need and then forget to have a can opener on hand. Or they don’t think about how they’ll prepare foods that really need to be heated or store foods that ordinarily would need refrigeration.

Safely feeding yourself and your family after a storm means you also need to have some way to prepare the food or keep what you’re eating safe to consume – on top of having ample food and water on hand to last the first few days after a storm or other emergency.

When making your plans and storing what you may need, keep in mind you may be without power, which means you may not have a way to heat things up or refrigerate them. Make sure the foods you have on hand are adapted to those conditions.

Some of the potential foods you could include in your food supply for emergencies are:

  • Ready-to-eat canned or packaged meats, fruits and vegetables.
  • Canned or powdered juices, milk and soups (Be sure to store extra water if they’re powdered.).
  • Staples such as sugar, salt and pepper.
  • High-energy foods such as peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars and trail mix.
  • Foods for infants, elderly persons or persons on special diets (for example, people with diabetes or those with allergies).
  • Comfort foods or stress-relief foods such as cookies, hard candy, sweetened cereals, lollipops, instant coffee and tea bags.

You’re going to need at least two quarts – and preferably a gallon – of water for each person per day.

Choose commercially bottled water or store water from your household system in clean containers for brief time periods when you think you might need it.

Keep in mind these tips when choosing the foods for your emergency supply:

  • Choose nonperishable foods that require little or no cooking and no refrigeration.  
  • Can or jar sizes should be appropriate for one meal with no leftovers. Once opened or prepared, many foods lose their shelf-stable character and will go bad.  
  • Select foods you like and normally eat.  
  • If you don’t have a way to boil water when the power is off, do not include instant foods that will require hot water. Keep in mind foods that require water also will consume your water supply quickly. 
  • Keep a supply of disposable plates, bowls, cups and utensils on hand. Otherwise, you could use far too much of your water supply washing dishes. 
  • Don’t forget baby food, special dietary requirements and food for your pets.

Plan to buy – and practice using – a hand-crank can opener if you don’t have one already. You’ll need it to open that can of tuna when the power goes off.

As you assemble your food and other disaster supplies, keep them in a central location – above potential flood level.

You also want to store food in the coolest cabinets or a pantry away from appliances that produce heat. Store food in cardboard boxes, thin plastic or paper in metal, glass or rigid plastic containers to avoid insect and rodent damage.

Remember to acquire and store your three-day food supply early but you want to rotate and use food and water every six to 12 months – or as recommended on the food labels.

Rate This Article:

Have a question or comment about the information on this page?

Innovate . Educate . Improve Lives

The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture

Top