Emergency Food Supplies

Winter Weather is coming! It might snow!

snow covered trees
Photo by Jasmine Coro on Unsplash

We might get laughed at for our reaction to frozen precipitation (but seriously guys, ice is no joke!), but it does pay to be prepared in case of an emergency. Plan to be prepared for not just ice or snow, but any other occasion that might mean having to live without power for a few days, or even to have to evacuate to a shelter until conditions are safe again. For short-term situations, you don’t want to stock a bunch of dried beans and potato flakes because you may not be able to cook. Ready-to-eat or easily prepared emergency food supplies will be your best bets. Water is important, and securing clean drinking water or stocking up on it should be top of your list.

Speaking of lists, the American Red Cross publishes a list of emergency supplies that should be assembled for each member of your family. I’ve created a complementary list below of the types of foods you want to keep on hand for the same immediate needs.

American Red Cross Disaster Supplies Kit

Keep enough supplies in your home to meet your needs for at least three days. Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit with items you may need in an evacuation. Store these supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers such as backpacks, duffle bags or covered trash containers.  (I keep mine in a piece of rolling luggage.  If I’m evacuating, I don’t want to have to carry everything!)


  • A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and food that won’t spoil.
  • One change of clothing and footwear per person
  • One blanket or sleeping bag per person.
  • A first aid kit that includes your family’s prescription medications.
  • Emergency tools including a battery- powered radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries.
  • An extra set of car keys
  • A credit card, cash or traveler’s checks.
  • Sanitation supplies.
  • Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members.
  • An extra pair of glasses.
  • Keep important family documents in a waterproof container.
  • Keep a smaller kit in the trunk of your car.

Foods for Short-Term Emergency Stores

glass of cool water
Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

In a short-term emergency such as a quick evacuation due to a fire or natural disaster, the foods you will want to have on hand should be easy to eat. You may not have access to a kitchen and will need to rely on the foods ‘as is’. With luck, you’ll have access to clean drinking water and maybe even hot water. The standard rule of thumb is 1 gallon per person per day, so I keep a 2½ gallon water jug handy. It has a handle and when full of water I can carry it if I have to. Another way to ensure clean drinking water is to have a personal filtered water container for each person.

Spend a few more cents and get upscale, tasty versions of what you are storing.  During an emergency you will want to see some comfort foods, and when you end up having to eat your stores when you rotate them, you will feel like it is a treat!

Emergency Food Supplies

Canned food
Photo by Leio McLaren (@leiomclaren) on Unsplash
  • protein bars
  • canned fish or meat
  • ready-to-eat canned soup
  • dried meat, jerky, dried tofu
  • dried fruit
  • olives, pickles
  • small containers of mayo and relish (for canned tuna or chicken salad)
  • nuts
  • instant cereal cups (can be made with milk or water with or without heat)
  • peanut butter and/or sunbutter
  • whole fruit preserves
  • crackers
  • ramen packs
  • shelf-stable cooked rice
  • rice noodles (the type that require no cooking, only soaking in hot water)
  • granola
  • instant coffee, tea bags, hot chocolate mixes
  • powdered drink mixes (look for real ingredients and not just chemicals and sugar)
  • V-8, bottled fruit juice
  • shelf-stable milk or dairy alternative
  • hard candy
  • MREs
  • Nutritional Shakes or Meal Replacements
  • EmergenC packets
  • individual condiment packets, including S&P
  • food and water for your pets

Add some non-perishible items to the food supplies:

  • Scissors
  • Knife and small cutting board
  • Dish sponge
  • All-purpose soap (I like Dr. Bronner’s for everything from dish soap to laundry to body soap)
  • disposable or thrift store flatware
  • plates and bowls
  • cups with lids
  • paper towels
  • packaged wet wipes
  • Clorox wipes for surfaces
  • Small dish pan (I have found the ones that come from a hospital stay are ideal for this!)
  • Storage containers with tight lids (store unopened soft packages in them, then use them to store opened goods.)
  • Plastic storage bags

If you pack canned goods, make sure the cans are either easy open, or that you have a can opener packed as well. (And then check out CrazyRussianHacker’s video and their ingenious way of opening cans!)

Plan on rotating the food items out at least once a year. Add it to your seasonal list that includes changing the furnace filter, spring cleaning, and changing the batteries in the smoke detectors. Buy new stores and eat up the older ones (check everything for expiration dates!). Make sure the things you stock are things you and your family like and will eat.

With luck you will never need to fall back on your emergency prep, but if you do, you will be very glad you took the time to have a back-up plan in place.

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