How To Build An Emergency Food Supply.

Access to safe food is a major concern in any emergency or natural disaster. When preparing an emergency food supply keep these helpful tips in mind to help reduce stress and ensure you and your family have access to safe and healthful foods. Read our free tip sheet on building an emergency food supply.

How Much Food Do I Need?  

Make a plan to store enough food for each person in the household to last between 14 to 30 days. This can be as easy as increasing the amount of staples and non-perishable foods you normally have on hand. 

If you or other members of your household typically eat certain meals away from the home, such as a child eating school lunch or a spouse eating out on their lunch break, factor those meals into your food supply list. 

Be intentional when selecting items for your emergency food supply:

  • Non-perishable items that can be stored safely at room temperature.
  • Meat and other perishable items can be frozen.
  • Choose foods high in nutrient value and low in sodium and added sugar. Be sure they are high in vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates. 
  • Foods that make great leftovers 
  • Foods from all five food groups and in different forms: canned, frozen, fresh, and dried.
  • Foods that fit the special diets, allergies, or medical needs of your family.
  • Foods you like and are familiar to your family.
  • Infant formula and baby food if needed.
  • Food for pets.
  • Manual can opener, disposable utensils, paper products, plastic containers.
  • Foods are labeled and put away for emergency use only.

Keep your supply fresh by rotating non-perishable staple items. Keep a list of staple foods on your shelves and in your freezer. Indicate amount available, date purchased, date opened, and use by/replace date if known. 

Storage Tips 

  • Keep non-perishable items in a cool, dry location. Canned foods should be stored between 50 and 70 degrees. Store canned goods away from sunlight, damp areas, or spots near vents, pipes, or furnaces to avoid temperature fluctuations. 
  • Place open packages of sugar, flour, dried fruits, and nuts in airtight containers. 
  • Keep your supply fresh by rotating non-perishable staple items. Date items with a marker to see easily which items should be used first or discarded. 
  • When opening packages, do so carefully so packaging can be resealed and tightly closed after use. 

Emergency Foods 

Pack your emergency food pantry with these foods. 

  • Protein: Canned meats and fish (chicken, tuna, salmon), Dried of canned beans, peas and lentils, nut butter, nuts and seeds, eggs, fresh meats and fish that can be frozen, dried meat 
  • Vegetables: Canned vegetables low in sodium, frozen vegetables, fresh vegetables with a longer shelf-life (beets, carrots, onions, potatoes, winter squash)
  • Grains: Rice and pasta, breads (English muffins, bagels), cereal and oats/oatmeal, tortillas, flour, baking mixes (muffins, pancakes, cornbread), granola bars, popcorn 
  • Dairy: Fresh Milk, shelf-stable milk (aseptic or powdered), yogurt, kefir, cheese 
  • Fruits: Canned fruits packed in juice, dried fruit, frozen fruit, fresh fruit with a longer shelf-life (apples, citrus) 
  • Other as needed: Pet food, infant formula, baby food, bottled water (1 gallon/person/day), other bottled beverages or drink mixes, canned soup, broth, dried herbs, and spices