Emergency Food Supply

Emergency Food Types The Essential Checklist for Your Emergency Kit


When disaster strikes, a lack of food can cause major stress. It's important to prepare for this. Have the right food ready in an emergency kit. Get both non-perishable and perishable items. Non-perishables can be stored for long periods. Perishables can still be edible without electricity or a fridge.

This guide will help you pick the essential food for your emergency kit. Look for items that provide nutrition and have different flavors. Stock up ahead of time so the food is ready when you need it.

Here are some items to consider for your emergency kit:

  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Canned meats and fish
  • Dried fruits and nuts
  • Granola bars
  • Rice, pasta, and grains
  • Powdered milk and juice
  • Protein bars
  • Peanut butter
  • Instant coffee and tea
  • Crackers and cookies

Non-Perishable Foods

When getting ready for an emergency, it is smart to pick non-perishable food items. These foods can survive in less than ideal circumstances and can last a while. Examples include canned goods, freeze dried items and more.

Let's check out the different non-perishable food options for your emergency kit:

Canned Foods

Canned foods are a must-have for emergency kits! They're light, easy to store, and last long without needing refrigeration. When picking items for your kit, aim for foods that can last for days to months.

Consider veggies like corn, carrots, and green beans. Fruits like pineapple and peaches are also good options. Additionally, stock up on canned meats like ham, chicken, and tuna. Make sure you have extra canned items in case of an emergency.

  • To maximize shelf life, buy cans with the least amount of sodium.
  • Rotate items, so nothing gets too old while stored.
  • Have a manual can opener ready, in case the electricity goes out.

Canned foods are great for snacks or meals if you experience an extended power outage or severe weather. Be prepared, and have an ample food supply ready when needed!

Dehydrated Foods

Dehydrated foods are great for emergency kits! Removing water increases shelf life without extra processing. Store in airtight containers.

Types of dehydrated food:

  • Fruits
  • Veggies
  • Instant meals
  • Kits with ingredients
  • Freeze-dried proteins
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Milk powder

Add hot water and cook as per package instructions – 5-20 minutes, depending on rehydration. Dehydration is a convenient way to be ready for emergencies.

Freeze-Dried Foods

Freeze-dried foods are a great emergency kit addition. They have a long shelf life and only need water to rehydrate. This process dehydrates food using temperatures below the freezing point. Taste, texture, minerals and vitamins can remain intact for years if stored in a cool, dry place, away from moisture.

Common freeze-dried food options include:

  • Fruits such as strawberries and bananas;
  • Veggies like broccoli and corn;
  • Dairy products like cheese and yogurt;
  • Herbs, spices, powders, seeds;
  • Grains (rice);
  • Legumes (beans);
  • Proteins (meat, eggs);
  • Even meals like macaroni & cheese.

Freeze-dried food is space-saving and doesn't need refrigeration or freezing. You can find pre-made buckets or create your own based on needs. Popular brands of freeze-dried food are: AlpineAire Foods, Augason Farms, Legacy Premium Food Storage, and Mountain House Prepared Foods.

Remember: all freeze-dried food must be rehydrated before eating, to get full nutritional value.


Grains are an essential item in any emergency kit. Varieties such as barley, corn, millet, oats, quinoa, rice (brown and white), rye, spelt and wheat, provide energy and key vitamins.

Grains come in various forms:

  • Dried grains: Flours like rye flour and oat flour are great energy sources. You can buy pre-prepared buckwheat groats or cracked wheat berries, or use rolled grains like oats and barley flakes for porridge.
  • Pasta: Noodles such as spaghetti, macaroni and lasagna sheets can be stored for a long time.
  • Rice: White and brown rices last three years in airtight containers. Brown rice is more nutrient dense than white. Combine with other foods to make stews or casseroles.
  • Cereals: Granola bars, pancake mixes and muesli are great sources of energy.

Grain products are perfect for emergency kits. They don't need heating, so they're easy to eat on the go or while sheltering. Try new combinations of whole grains, such as wild rice with quinoa or wheat berries with barley flakes. This adds texture while providing carbohydrates.


Legumes are packed with proteins, carbs and vitamins. They can last up to 25 years! When shopping for legumes for your emergency kit, opt for minimally processed varieties like dry beans and lentils. Store in airtight containers in dark, cool places.

Some common legumes to consider are:

  • Black beans
  • Red kidney beans
  • Pinto beans
  • White Navy beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Split peas
  • Lentils
  • Black-eyed peas

For best freshness, rotate these items yearly. This will ensure they last during an emergency.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are packed with nutrients. They're great sources of healthy fats and proteins. Eat them on their own, or mix them into trail mix/energy bites. Sprinkle them on salads and veggies, or turn them into nut butter.

Nuts and seeds last up to a year before their expiration date. Store them in dark, cool places, away from heat and light.

Almonds, cashews, and peanuts are popular. Sunflower and chia seeds add texture. Non-perishable nuts/seeds include:

  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Pistachios
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Chia Seeds
  • Flax Seeds

Powdered Milk

Powdered milk is a must-have in any emergency food kit. You can use it for drinking, baking, and making hot cereals. It has a long shelf life, so it's great for preparing for uncertain times.

There are different grades, types, and sizes of powdered milk. The most nutritious type is whole powdered milk. It contains all parts from cow's milk, including lactose (milk sugar).

  • Non-instant nonfat dry or skimmed powdered milks come from dried whole or nonfat cow's milk. It has about 14-17% water removed, and doesn't need refrigeration until mixed with water.
  • Instant dry nonfat or skimmed milks are usually made with modified nonfat cow's milk. They have added substances like whey/casein proteins, calcium caseinate, and calcium phosphate enriched low-fat skimmed cow's milk solids. These help the milk dissolve quickly in cool water, and result in a low fat profile. Look for “shelf stable,” “UHT,” or “ultra high temperature” on the label to guarantee safe storage without refrigeration.

Perishable Foods

Gather food for an emergency kit or stockpile? Remember: some are perishable. Dairy, meats, fresh produce – all need special storage to stay fresh and safe. Types of perishable foods for your kit? Let's take a closer look:

  • Dairy
  • Meats
  • Fresh produce


Cheese is a perishable item that can be stored in your emergency kit for a few weeks if kept cold. The shelf-life of different types of cheese vary:

  • Hard cheeses such as cheddar and gouda, can last up to 6 weeks with proper wrapping and refrigeration.
  • Cottage and ricotta cheese must be consumed within 3 days of opening.
  • Soft cheeses like brie and camembert can last only a day after opening.

Mozzarella, Parmesan, Provolone and Swiss are shelf-stable cheeses that come waxed or vacuum sealed. These types of cheeses can be stored without refrigeration for a long time. This provides an additional source of protein when other foods are not available in a disaster situation.

To protect cheese in your emergency kit, use an opaque container or wrap it in aluminum foil or plastic wrap before putting in a Ziploc bag. This helps preserve the taste and texture of the cheese and can help extend its shelf-life if power outages occur during an emergency.


Meat should be your last option for survival meals. It's hard to store and prepare safely and can cause food poisoning if it's not handled properly. Wild game, like deer or rabbit, can be a great addition to your emergency food supply, but it must be cooked right away.

For long-term storage, canned meats are the way to go. Most grocery stores carry tuna, salmon, chicken, turkey, beef, and pork in cans. Get brands with easy-open pull tabs, and avoid dented or rusty cans. The shelf life of canned meats ranges from 1-5 years, so check the label before buying. Make sure to store them in a cool, dry place between 50°F and 70°F. Don't leave them outside in winter. Check your canned meat stock regularly to make sure it's still safe to eat.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and veg can be a great source of vitamins and minerals in an emergency. Fresh options are perishable though, so choose things like apples, oranges, carrots, potatoes and onions that can last weeks with controlled storage.

Get canned items such as tomatoes, green beans, corn or peas for flavor. Pickled veg such as olives or pickles will add variety. Dried fruit and freeze-dried vegetables have longer shelf-life – check the expiration date carefully.

For freshness, rotate the food in your emergency kit regularly. This way, your kit will be full of nutritionally rich perishables.

Other Considerations

Choosing the right emergency foods for your kit is key. Other things to consider are: shelf-life, dietary needs, and proper storage. Let's explore the other factors for stocking up on emergency food supplies:

  • Shelf-life
  • Dietary needs
  • Proper storage


Water is a must-have for an emergency food supply. Aim for one gallon of water per person, per day. This will cover basic drinking and hygiene needs. More water is needed if the climate is hot and/or if someone in your household has special medical needs.

Store-bought, treated water is best. If the water has not been treated, purify it with specific methods or by boiling it for at least five minutes. Check the expiration date on each container; use it within six months after opening, in a cool, dark place.

Also, keep track of any natural sources of water nearby. Storing containers outside during an emergency can come in handy. Make sure any open containers are sealed or covered with a filter. Test for contaminants before drinking. Boiling removes bacteria and other pathogens, but not all chemical contamination from certain industrial sites or agricultural run-off into rivers and lakes.

Vitamins and Minerals

When making an emergency food kit, vitamins and minerals should be taken into consideration. The goal is to have a balanced diet, just like in a normal daily diet. The National Academy of Sciences say that adults need 400 mg/day of magnesium, 90 mg/day of vitamin C and 6 to 11 mg/day of zinc.

When choosing items for the food kit, it is essential to get foods high in essential vitamins and minerals. Whole grains, leafy greens, nuts and seeds are great sources. Foods such as breakfast cereal or nutrition bars can also help meet the daily recommended intakes.

Your emergency food plan should include healthy fats like olive or avocado oil. These are full of monounsaturated fats which can help keep cholesterol levels in check. Eating a balanced diet with sources of healthy fat will ensure that all the important nutrients needed during an emergency situation are replenished.


When putting together your emergency preparedness kit, having the right supplies is a must. You need utensils for eating, particularly for canned food or anything else that needs a can opener or spoon. It's best to get utensils that are durable and dependable, like stainless steel ones, so they won't break when mishandled in an emergency. Disposable utensils like forks and spoons could be helpful for those who can't bring their own, too.

Each individual should have their own set of cutlery and drinking cups. People who require special cooking utensils for medical reasons should make sure to include those items in their kits as well.

Additional items you can include are:

  • Plates
  • Dish towels/rags
  • Table cloths
  • Garbage bags

Even though cooking outdoors in an emergency can seem fun, make sure you're equipped with the right supplies!

Storage Containers

It is necessary to correctly store food for the quality, nutrition, taste and safety of emergency food supplies. Store in containers that are well-sealed with minimum air. Type of food, location and storage time are factors to consider when selecting storage containers.

For long-term items such as dried fruit or grains, use airtight, water-tight containers which won't break or get ruined by the environment. Glass jars also work, but make sure to check seals and for signs of spoilage or insects.

For short-term items like fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy, freezer bags are ideal. They reduce air exposure and maintain freshness. Throw away expired foods immediately and check for spoilage before eating.


Having an emergency food kit is a great way to stay prepared. Stock up on non-perishables, shelf-stable milk, and other items. Check expiration dates often and rotate items. Make sure the diet is balanced. Ensure the kit is always accessible. Invest time and resources into constructing a plan. This will reduce stress and keep you safe.

  • Stock up on non-perishables, shelf-stable milk, and other items.
  • Check expiration dates often and rotate items.
  • Make sure the diet is balanced.
  • Ensure the kit is always accessible.
  • Invest time and resources into constructing a plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What types of food should I have in my emergency kit?

A1: It is important to have a variety of non-perishable foods in your emergency kit. This should include food items such as canned tuna, dried beans, canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, shelf-stable milk, energy or granola bars, and crackers. You should also have a few bottles of water and any other items that you may need in the event of an emergency.

Q2: How long can I keep food stored in an emergency kit?

A2: Non-perishable food items such as canned goods, energy bars, and dried beans can be stored for up to two years. It is important to make sure that the food is stored in a cool and dry place, and that it is regularly checked for any signs of spoilage.

Q3: What should I do if I cannot find the food items I need in my emergency kit?

A3: If you are unable to find the food items you need in your emergency kit, you can always purchase them from a store. It is important to make sure that the items you purchase are non-perishable and have a long shelf-life.

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