How-To & Advice

How To Make Disaster Food Kits – Determining What Goes Into Your Emergency Food Supply

The North American winter storm, the California Wildfires, and Maryland flooding are just a few natural disasters to hit the U.S. in recent times. Such disasters require you to know how to make disaster food kits for you and your family.

How to Determine What Goes into Disaster Food Kits

When determining what goes into your disaster food kit, and your emergency bag as a whole, there are several factors that you simply must take into consideration. These factors include:

  • The kinds of disasters that your region is prone to (floods, wildfires, tornadoes, and so on)
  • How many family members you have to care for during the disaster?
  • How long you want your family to be self-sufficient in case help doesn’t arrive in time

There are people who consider a 72-hour emergency food kit enough to see them through the worst while there are those who won’t even take note of anything that won’t last them for months. It all depends on how prepared you are for these emergencies and how long you think you are going to be cut off from the rest of the world.

Legacy Brand 72-Hour Disaster Food Kit

Legacy brand 72-Hour disaster food kit

For the sake of argument, let’s say that help could get to you in a matter of days (three days). What kind of things should you include in your emergency disaster food kit?

What to Include in Disaster Food Kits

The first thing you need to know is that when stockpiling emergency food supplies, you are not going to include only foods on that list. You will need other essentials such as:

  • Personal hygiene items
  • Blankets
  • Flashlight
Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Kit

Red Cross disaster preparedness kit

This short-term preparedness kit should, however, include food and a lot of drinking water. The food that you include on your list needs to meet certain criteria. It should be:

  • Non-perishable
  • Does not require refrigeration
  • Does not need a lot of preparation or cooking

Should you include food that will need heating or cooking before consumption, then you should also include a grill or a camping stove with fuel in your emergency disaster kit.

Which Food Should Be in Emergency Disaster Kits

In your short-term disaster kit, you need to include food that is both lightweight and compact. Here is a list that should help you get started:

  • A lot of bottled water for drinking (without this everything else is superfluous)
  • Ready-to-eat canned vegetables, fruits and meats
  • Canned juices, soup and milk (you can have these in powder form but if so, remember to store more water)
  • Seasonings such as salt, sugar and peppers
  • High energy foods such as crackers, trail mix, granola bars, peanut butter, and so on
  • Comfort foods such as hard candy, cookies, instant coffee and even tea bags (these might not be strictly essential, but they will keep you from going crazy)
Disaster Food Kit - High Energy Food Options

Disaster food kit – High energy food options

You also need to take into consideration a few special factors that apply to your family in particular. If you have diabetics or people with allergies to certain foods, then you should also include their specific diets in your disaster food stockpile.

How to Pack a Disaster Food Supply

Just making a list of what you need won’t do you much good unless you know how to pack these things so that they are not affected by whatever disaster has led to your needing to dip into your emergency food supply.

  • Keep all these foods packed in airtight plastic bags (Ziploc bags work just as well)
  • Keep a close eye on the expiry dates (this will help you determine when you need to rotate or replace some items on your supply list)

In case you have some of these foods stored in a freezer, be sure to use those first during the disaster as they might go bad fast. Also remember to have things like can openers, knives, scissors and plastic cups and plates handy for use during the disaster. All these items should also be stored in airtight plastic bags within your emergency food kit.

How to Make a Disaster Food Kit for a Longer Period (two weeks)

While it’s very unlikely that a natural disaster will keep you cut off from first responders for a whole two weeks, it’s often best to play the scenarios in your mind and see how you would survive those two weeks should the worst happen.

When it comes to longer hauls, you need to pay a lot more attention to details such as expiration dates and the nutritional value of your food. Of course, you need to start storing all the foods listed above for the three-day disasters in bulk. However, you will also need a bit more planning. Here is what you need to do:

  • Make a list of all the people in your family (be sure to include those with special needs)
  • Make a list of all the staple foods you will need/you already have and their expiration dates
  • Create a meal plan for the foods that are to be served and in what quantities from day 1 to day 14
  • Indicate where all these foods are to be found in your emergency store
  • Make a list of how much water will be needed per day for both drinking and preparation of these foods (for all 14 days)

In fact, if you have space and time, you can even portion all the food you will need separately for each day. Label the portions for each day to ensure that you stick to a strict diet and portion supply should disaster strike.

Where to Get Food for Your Disaster Kit

The best place to start looking when thinking of stockpiling food for a disaster includes camping, military supply stores, and online retailers like Amazon. These places often have excellent options when it comes to compact and well-preserved foods that are perfect for any emergency preparedness kit.

Typical Standard Issue U.S. Military MRE

Typical standard issue U.S. military MRE – In this case, boneless pork rib entree with a clam chowder side

Focus on buying as many MRE (Meals-Ready-to-Eat) options as possible. These require little to no preparation and can last for a long time without going bad.

Remember to keep an eye on the expiration dates of everything you stockpile and rotate them as often as necessary to ensure that your emergency disaster food kit remains constantly viable.


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