In the last article, we reviewed feeding difficulties and philosophies as they relate to both prepping and special needs. Today, we will examine some of the difficulties that come with storing food for the limited and special diets of persons on the Autism Spectrum.
All of the following advice comes from my own personal experience. I am not an expert on food storage, but I’m a concerned mom who has thought a lot about how to provide food for my two special needs children during “Grid Down” due to a potential hurricane.
I suggested that you make some lists in my last article. Lets review:
First, work with your loved one to make a list of foods they feel safe eating.
Next, go down the list and highlight those foods that are shelf-stable.
Congratulations! This is the start of your 72-hour emergency food kit!
What is a “shelf-stable” food? This is a food that does not require refrigeration and can sit on a shelf in your pantry, ready to eat. I like to store shelf-stable foods that are “open and eat” without the need to cook them. Preferably, I want these foods to be stable for at least 6 months. They are great for a 72 hour emergency kit.
What is a 72 Hour Emergency Kit?
The purpose of a 72 Hour Emergency Kit is to get your family through the first 3 days of a disaster. These kits usually have a lot more than just food. They can be quite extensive. There are several articles, books, and YouTube videos that provide exhaustive information on how to create a full kit, but this article will focus on food to store for special needs individuals. I included more resources at the end of this article.
Here are some examples of shelf-stable food storage for my oldest child:
*Ritz Crackers Low Salt – plain
Prepackaged Peanut Butter Crackers
*Breakfast Cereal Bars
*Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal – dry
I starred the items above that my youngest child also eats. Additional food items that my youngest eats are listed below:
Chips Ahoy cookies
Is this enough food?
As you can see, this is not a large list of foods. However, in addition to these foods, they both eat semi-stable foods that would last on the counter for a few days like bananas, peaches, and apples. Fresh fruit will last about 72 hours, so I’ll include that on my list here.
My youngest will also occasionally eat canned chicken and rice and canned Spaghettios with meatballs. However, these two foods are not reliable “safe foods.”
Considering the small number of shelf-stable safe foods listed here, you can imagine how challenging it is to stock up for even a three-day emergency. Protein is a particular challenge.
What about protein?
There’s very little protein on my children’s lists. However, I store shelf-stable ingredients to make more protein-rich foods. I’ll be covering this in another article where we review how to store more perishable foods in their shelf-stable ingredient forms.
My oldest does eat peanut butter which is a great source of protein. My youngest will occasionally eat canned foods with protein in them. We’re working on introducing more shelf-stable proteins.
What about new foods?
We are consistent in our efforts to introduce new foods to our children. Sometimes they try them; sometimes they don’t. Rarely, they will eat new foods. 99% of the time, they do not eat the new food. That’s the way it goes. We have come a long way. Now, they will tolerate new foods on their plates without a meltdown!
In addition to our efforts as parents to introduce a new food, both children have feeding therapy incorporated into their overall therapy plans.
We continue to introduce new foods, especially ones that I can add to their list of shelf-stable foods. We are trying to introduce shelf-stable proteins and are having some success. We are trying packaged pepperonis and Vienna sausages. You never know until you try! The keys are kindness, patience, and gentleness. We put it on their plates, but they choose whether or not to eat it.
How do I keep a 3 day supply?
The same principle that we talked about last time, “store what you eat, eat what you store,” is still the same here. Buy the same food items, but keep a back stock of at least three days worth of shelf-stable items.
That’s your 72 hour food supply!
You’ll have to do some calculations here. Observe how much of each item your loved one consumes per day and then make notes. This way, you are able to calculate how many packages/servings make up a 72 hour back stock.
Can I afford to do this?
Some of the foods my children eat are very specific brands and therefore a bit pricey. It gets even more expensive if you’re buying the small packages like ones labeled “lunch box” size versus the larger containers. I take larger sized containers and break them down into smaller mason jars to keep things like crackers from going stale. Sometimes I do buy lunch box sizes, but those are specifically for my Bug Out Bags. I’ll cover more about that later, but if you’re interested here’s an article on how to evacuate with a nice checklist included: Emergency Evacuation Checklist: Are You Prepared to Bug Out Fast?
My family has a very limited income. Most of our income is spent paying for my children’s full-time therapy. Not much is left over for food, much less stocking up our pantry.
Believe it or not, this is where stocking up can actually SAVE you money!
Yes, you read that right.
If you buy more than one of an item when it’s on sale, over the next couple of weeks, the money you would have spent on paying full price is saved!
Let me give you an example:
My child eats goldfish as a safe food. I watch for sales and specials on this item. I know what is a good price and a rock bottom sale price because I watch the sales papers and my receipts each week.
A regular price for a medium size bag of the crackers in my area is about $2.50. Overpriced is anything $3.00 and above. Rock bottom is anything $0.99 or below.
You can do this too! Just make a list of the prices on that SAME list you already made with your loved one and compare as you shop each week. Add coupons to the sale prices and you’re in business!
If you’re interested in saving more money this way, this is called “couponing.” Yes. I have been and still am an extreme couponer. I love it! It saves me so much money.
If you’re interested in learning more about coupons, check here: Money Saving Mom
Also, check out The Organic Prepper’s tips on how to save money here: 30 Frugal Living Tips: Small Changes That Result in Big Savings
Be sure to track your inventory.
Keeping track of what you have on hand is important. I write the expiration dates on each of the items that I put back for storage. I use a large black marker. I put the oldest items in the front, the newer items in the back. I do this especially for my boxes of Ritz Crackers because I buy in large quantities when they are on sale.
I’ll include more on how I’ve started storing away ingredients to make the more perishable “safe foods” for my children in my next article. Stay tuned and keep prepping!
Here are some additional resources that will help you build a kit.
“How to Survive a Hurricane” by City Prepping:
“How to Build an Emergency Two Week Food Supply” by City Prepping:
What do you think?
Do you prep for someone who has special needs? Do you have any tips to share to make prepping easier? Do you have a family member with difficulty eating a variety of foods? What are your loved one’s safe foods and how do you plan to store them? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
About Jenny Jayne
Jenny Jayne is the mother of two wonderful boys on the Autism spectrum and is passionate about Autism Advocacy. She is a novelist who writes Post-apocalyptic fiction and a freelance writer. Her first novel is coming soon to Kindle eBooks near you. Her guilty pleasures are preparing for hurricanes, drinking hot coffee, eating milk chocolate, reading romances, and watching The Office for the 50th time. Her website: https://jennyjayneauthor.wordpress.com/