September is National Preparedness Month. It comes around every year, but most peoplemaybe including youare still surprised when some kind of disaster strikes and they find themselves totally UNprepared to deal with the situationespecially when it comes to food. Here’s what you should have in your pantry in the event you lose power or can’t get to a grocery store for a while.
Water – The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) encourages people to store one gallon of water per person for at least three days. You’ll still have to ration that amount, since you’ll use it for drinking, maybe cooking and personal hygiene. Plus, children, nursing mothers and the sick may need a little more. Living in a hot climate might also affect how much water you need to drink. And don’t forget that your pets will need water to drink, as well.
FEMA recommends that you buy commercially bottled water that you keep in its original container in a cool, dark place. If you want to store water from your own tap, you can get food-grade water storage containers online or from a camping supplies store. Just make sure to wash them well with hot soapy water and rinse well so there is no residue left when you fill them. Don’t reuse old milk jugs or soda bottles. They’re hard to clean thoroughly and may leak. Also, keep a water filter on hand in the event that you can get water, which might not be safe to drink.
Dried Food – Rice, lentils, peas, kidney beans, chickpeas, black beans, pasta and quinoa are among the dried foods you can store, as long as you have water to reconstitute them. The benefit is that they don’t need refrigeration, last a very long time in their dried state, provide a lot of good nutrition and can be cooked in a pot over a camping cookstove if you don’t have gas or electricity coming into your kitchen.
Dried cereals, nuts, raisins, cranberries and other dried fruits– These are also handy staples for the emergency-focused pantry. You can eat cereal for almost any meal and feel satisfied, and the nuts and dried fruits make a good substitute for a sweet snack when more perishable cookies and treats aren’t available.
Buy sealed bags of driedfoods, then store them in larger plastic containers with lids on them so they won’t be tempting to rodents or bugs that occasionally infiltrate a pantry. The jugs will also keep them dry in the event water gets into the house. It might be handy to have salt, pepper and other spices on hand, also in a sealed container, as well as a small cookbook to give you ideas for some delicious recipes so you won’t be reduced to eating just rice and beans.
Food in Cans or Glass Jars – The advantage of preparedfood like soups, fruits, pasta sauces, juices, olives, condiments and tuna is that they contain liquid, which might be in short supply in a true emergency. Plus, they last a very long time, usually far past the designated expiration or “use by” date on the packaging. Cans are easier to stack than jars, so if space is limited, cans might be the best option. If possible, choose cans whose linings don’t contain the chemical BPA, which can leach into food and have toxic consequences.
Freeze Dried Food – The advantage of freeze dried food is that it takes up so little space. The disadvantage is that it needs to be reconstituted with water, which might not be available. But it might take less water to reconstitute some freeze dried foods than to say, make a big pot of pasta or soak a few cups of beans. Here are some organic freeze dried foods you could add to your pantry for variety in the event disaster strikes.
Aseptically Packaged Drinks – You can get milk, juice, protein drinks and power drinks in aseptic packages, which are essentially cartons that are sealed in such a way that they don’t require refrigeration. This is particularly important where dairy products are concerned. If you love milk with your morning coffee, tea or cereal, stock up on some single serving size cartons. Don’t aim for larger cartons, since once they’re opened they can’t be stored without refrigeration.
Powder for Drinks – Powdered milk is terrific to have in an emergency pantry; you can reconstitute it with as much or as little water as you want, or add the powder to something else you’re cooking to get the calcium and protein it contributes. Many powdered “juice” mixes contain more sugar than anything else, so read the label carefully before you buy. Whey powder and other protein powders are another option.
Don’t stock your emergency pantry willy nilly. Think about the foods you and your family like to eat, so if needed, the meals you make can provide comfort as well as nourishment. Keep a list by category of the foods you stock; an emergency throws people into a state of confusion, but being organized will help you stay calm and reassure the people around you. Pull together some recipes in advance so you’re sure you have the ingredients you need to produce a meal.
Also, keep some traps on hand in case rats, mice, roaches or flour moths, also known as pantry moths, show up. The last thing you want to do is have your food supply spoiled by vermin!
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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.
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What Will You Eat if Disaster Strikes?