For experienced preppers or survivalists, this is a no brainer, but for those just getting started down the road of preparing for worst case scenarios, this may be all new stuff. Really, it is not rocket science, but for some it could be overwhelming or intimidating. Let’s try to simplify things for you. I am amazed though at the frequency that inquiries come in about what foods to stock up for a bug in situation plan or to larder up a pantry at a secondary bug out location. Emergency foods are important. It is crucial to stock up on these materials. How long are you going to be able to sustain yourself from gathered materials?
There are plenty of choices and considerations to make with emergency foods. This is part of the challenge in prepping. If you have limited space at a bug out site, then sheer volume limitations might dictate to have these foods as a primary option instead of canned goods. You decide what works best for you.
Stock What You’ll Eat
Right now if I go through my own bug in pantry, I am going to find some items in there that either we decided we did not like or they just got shoved to the back of the drawer for one reason or the other. I see three cans of black beans. Black beans are OK, but not a favorite. If I were hungry or starving that would be different. I probably will not buy any more any time soon.
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So, look through your cabinets and take a poll of the family likes to decide what you eat most regularly. That is a starting place. Common sense then tells you to stock up on items that the family will consume without picky issues. Things will be stressful enough without hearing, “yuk, I don’t want that junk.” Do yourself a favor ahead of time and avoid those arguments.
Remember, too, the power grid may be down. You may lose everything in the fridge and freezer. Cook what you can of meats and such, but plan on not having fresh or frozen foods for a while.
One of the more common food stocks mistakes is going heavy on carbohydrates. You need some, but balance the pasta and such with foods high in energy sustainable proteins. These can be meats, fish, and even protein bars for in between meals or snacks.
Some or many of the prepared canned meat products are very high in fats and salt. Try to avoid those if these give you other troubles. It just goes with the territory of most canned foods these days. If you can find more healthy alternatives, then go for it. Try to balance any SHTF diet with fish such as canned tuna or salmon. These are good sources of nutrients and would be easy to prepare or easily eat in a hurry. I know there are many other options, so shop around.
I am not a nutritionist, but I know what my family and I will eat. My plan is to not add on extra stress by having to eat some foods we simply don’t like or may avoid. That would be a waste of time and money, both crucial during a SHTF event.
By all means plan to add a whole selection of vegetables to your SHTF diet. Mostly these will be canned items. If you have access to a fresh garden, then great. Variety is indeed the spice of life. Nobody wants green beans five days in a row and there is no need to do that. Selection at the grocery is wide. Beans of endless kinds, greens, corn, tomatoes, asparagus, beets, mushrooms, hominy, and so much more. It would be cheaper of course to buy by the case, but be sure to monitor the expiration dates carefully on all foods.
Fruits and Desserts
Be sure to add canned or dried fruits to your stores. Fruit can add a tremendous variety food and can be eaten almost like a dessert or snack. Select a wide variety from peaches, pineapple, apple sauce, fruit cocktail, pears, strawberries, and cherries for example. Fruits are a bonus. Think about some snacks too that have some shelf life. We like puddings and the little fruit cups as well. Some candy bars might be OK, but also have a selection of snack bars with nuts, chocolate, and caramel or whatever. Bags of hard candy make occasional special treats. Boxed crackers and cheese sandwiches can last for a while.
Quick and Easy
Sure, I like my share of the easy to pop open items that can be quickly heated or eaten right out of the can. There is a wide selection here, too. Such items include all types of pasta with or without some kind of meat, along with a tomato sauce. There is canned mac’n’cheese and other cheese concoctions. Then there are hordes of canned soups, and chili. Just shop the grocery aisles to supplement other foods with these items knowing their nutritional value is dubious, but then you likely already eat some of these items anyway now.
Canned or Pouch
If you have the space at either your bug in or out locations, then canned goods are long lasting, durable to handle, and easy to utilize. Ironically, the empty cans have many other uses as well, and the paper labels can be removed and used as fire starter materials. Make sure you have a manual can opener.
Of course the down side on cans is the weight and volume, so they are not easily transportable in an emergency. That is why pre-event stocking is good planning at home or at an alternative evacuation site. Clearly it is best to have these tasks done ahead of time for the most part. Keep rotating and resupplying as time goes on. Pouches, foil bags, and other such food containers have many advantages for storage and long term use. Rip off the top, and eat or pour into a pan for heating if you want. They are simple and most of the packaging can be consumed in a fire and not a waste dump. The overall food variety is not that great with items in this type of packaging compared to conventional cans.
Now, if you are lucky enough to have electric power that can change a lot of things, but don’t plan to count on it. That is why I skipped baking, breads, and such on purpose, but there are other cooking options, too. Again, variety is best, maximize shelf life, and buy items that could be eaten without adding water or having to cook or heat it. Stock up enough for at least a month at a bare minimum. More is better.