Author of Be Ready for Anything and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course
In this day of paychecks that are stretched to the limit, it can be difficult to imagine taking on anything else that will cost money. Despite that, if you are interested in preparedness, you know that it’s wise to have a food supply on hand that will see you through a basic emergency.
I always recommend that you get started by planning for a two-week emergency. What kind of emergency, you may be asking?
Well, the best kind of prepping will be so versatile that it will see you through a personal financial issue, an extended power outage, or being confined to your home for a period of time due to a blizzard or civil unrest. None of these things makes you a “doomsday prepper” of the National Geographic variety. I’m not asking you to filter your pee and drink it. Just have the basics on hand to ride out a variety of situations in comfort.
One of the most frequent requests I get is for specific recommendations, so here’s a healthy emergency food list for beginning preppers.
Shopping for an emergency food supply isn’t like regular grocery shopping. Here are a few things to think about when planning your emergency food list.
Buy good quality food. While it’s easy to get sucked into the “something cheap is better than nothing” mentality, that’s not 100% true. It’s very important that you nourish yourself well during a crisis. This provides you with the energy you need to get through the emergency and it keeps you healthy. What could add more insult to injury than a lowered immune system allowing you to become sick during some sort of crisis? Focus on getting the best quality of food that you can afford.
Think about how you’ll prepare it. Some people have numerous off-grid ways to cook. Perhaps their propane kitchen stove works when the power is out. Maybe they plan to use the outdoor grill or the fireplace. Maybe none of these is an option. Base your food list on the resources you currently have available, not the ones you hope to have one of these days. There’s a lot you can do with boiling water, so consider adding a rocket stove to your supply list. (The Kelly Kettle is amazing and worth every penny.) Another great option is the Volcano 3 in 1, which will burn just about anything for fuel.) If you live in a place with absolutely no off-grid way to cook, then purchase foods that can be eaten without being cooked or warmed up. (I have ideas for this in my PDF, The Prepper’s Book of Lists.
Think about the special needs of your family. Maybe you have a person with a severe peanut allergy – scratch peanut butter off the list. Maybe someone is gluten intolerant or has extremely high blood pressure. Perhaps your children are extremely picky eaters. Whatever the case, try to create a food supply that will be similar to your everyday fare. No one needs added stress in the midst of an emergency. (This article has more information on prepping for those with dietary restrictions.)
Plan ahead. Don’t just run to the store and buy a whole bunch of stuff and consider yourself prepped. You need to break this down and analyze it. Otherwise, you’ll leave out something very important or you’ll blow your budget without getting all you need. Trust me.
Hide your stash. If your house is anything like mine, your family will hoover up the easy pickings. Since we rarely have any type of prepared food sitting around the house, things like granola bars are novelty items that will be eaten right away, leaving you without emergency food supplies.
Let me preface this list by saying that it’s really more of a guideline. If you are following the suggestions above, you understand that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all way to do this. Most of the choices are high-quality organics. If you can’t afford the organic versions, you can still use this list as the basis of an emergency food stockpile with conventional products.
If you’re new to prepping, you probably won’t have an elaborate off-grid cooking system. That’s why these foods only need a little boiling water or to be heated up, at the most. Sure, dried beans are cheaper than canned. But they take hours to cook and will use your precious (and probably limited) fuel.
The links are to Amazon, so that you can order it in your desired quantities and forget it if these exact foods work for you. The list assumes that you have the ability to boil water during an emergency.
- Canned fruit
- Trail mix
- Dry cereal (repackage for longer shelf life)
- Dry milk (We prefer this dry whole milk to non-fat dry milk)
- Canned beans
- Baked beans
- Pudding cups (a nice treat)
- Pre-cooked rice
- Granola bars
- Dried Fruit
- Peanut butter
- Dry pasta (be sure to repackage this in mylar bags)
- Dry vegetable soup mix (can be added to all sorts of dishes for some extra veggies)
- Canned soup
- Canned pasta in sauce
- Instant oatmeal (the kids will probably want some syrup or brown sugar on the plain packets.)
- Canned chicken
- Tomato sauce
This list totals about $300 and would feed a family of 3-4 for a couple of weeks, give or take a little. Keep in mind that the items I chose were very high quality. You may be able to duplicate the list at your grocery store. Adjust the quantities and items based on your budget, your family’s preferences, and the number of people you’ll be feeding.
Another emergency food option is freeze-dried buckets. Here’s an article about building a 30-day food supply with freeze dried foods.
For the long-term…
Of course, the emergency food list above is the bare minimum you should have on hand for those unexpected emergencies that could happen to anyone. I really want to see people get started so they can handle those short-term crises with aplomb.
A far more budget-friendly way to deal with potential emergencies is to build a pantry stockpile of high-quality food over a period of time. If you’d like to learn more about that, please check out my book, Prepper’s Pantry, and my course, Build a Better Pantry on a Budget.
However you opt to get started, I urge you not to wait. The prices of food are going up, the economy is shaky, and there’s always the potential for something unexpected. Build a pantry that gives you one less thing to be concerned about.
fyi… Dry cereal (repackage for longer shelf life) is “currently unavailable” on Amazon
But it is available at Wal-Mart!
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And thanks again for more great info. Just to let you and your followers know, I checked out the Kelly kettle and volcano 3in1 links only to find that they’re both out of stock and Amazon are not sure if/when they’ll be back in again. I did see the campmaid and thought it looked quite good. Good luck with all you do ✌????
Well, we have been warned to get ready for something big since 9-11, then Obama hit and everything went to total hell. Sure would hate to see a repeat of that but we were warned it will be worse because we are still recovering from the Obama years and now we lose our freedoms.
We were warned that the fallout from 20/20 would mean the starvation of over 3 million people in the USA. “Control the food, Control the people”.
If you are able, stock some canned meats away. Do it now. It never hurts to be ready. Store some water in case the power grid is taken down for a bit. Winter is a very hard time to be hit with something when you don’t have gardens growing. Good luck and keep the faith.
I garden, can, and sun dry much of our food. Milk we used gallons but always have a lot of dry on hand. Many other extras as well. Still seeking places to put more. In a small home storage space is a rare commodity. I use storage containers for end tables ect. A tiny shed for garden tools ect. now contains extra canning jars and the waterbath canners as well. The pressure canners are in a little pantry i built to divide the livingroom from the kitchen. We lived much of the past year one stored food because I was too weak to get out much after covid. I’m adding again and could easily do it again now.
I’ve trippled the garden but still mostly growing faster crops to supplement beans and rice. Some winter squash for long term storage. Summer squash, corn, greens, green beans, cucumbers. There are some cabbages, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. I added many wild edibles and medicinals to naturalized areas. Our native amaranth will grow hugh in rich soil with plenty of water. Big seed heads on every branch. I let then take over parts of the garden. We eat them daily till after the first few frosts. I can and dry the leaves as well and usually save 1/2 gallons of seed. The same with lambsquarters. I sprout seeds of both in winter for fresh greens.
I raise chickens, ducks, and rabbits for a supply of protein. Meat and eggs. I can ground beef, and ham or turkey left from holiday meals. I boil the bones for rich bone broth. I also can quarts of soup with lots of meat bits in the broth and an array of vegetables fresh from the garden. There are always garlic, onions, chives, celery, carrots green beans and peas. Any of those can end up in soups. Sometimes potatoes in the soups but not always. I often save leftover rice to add into the soup the next day when planning meals. Or soups and stews may be thickened to eat over rice. White rice keeps well and is inexpensive. From main dishes to deserts it’s versitile. I do buy canned meats to keep handy on a shelf. A quick corned beef hash with leftover potatoes and some onion added makes a good quick meal. Fried spam sandwhiches or as breakfast meat with eggs is ok now and then. It’s actually quite good in a shepherds pie. I hate Vienna sausages but they are sort of edible stirred into a pot of Mac n cheese. I think Kids like it better than adults. My husband will eat it with a big side of amaranth greens. With a bit of real butter and some lemon juice. I keep jars of lemon juice on hand. I like it on any green vegetable, a squirt in cold water is refreshing on a hot day, and it keeps fruits from darkening so much when being dried in the sun.
Your comment made me come back and copy it for my husband to read. 😀
you mentioned lemon juice….can you “can” it? waterbath or pressure? I dont like the constituted lemon juice in bottles from store….but we dont eat enough lemons to warrant the price – so canning? thanks, sounds like you are “all set”, wish I could do all that – love to can, but seems silly for 2 old fogies…..also afraid of the pressure canners…(childhood thing). good luck
It’s high acid – you could definitely waterbath can it. 🙂
I noticed the adds on whether Biden’s doing a good job or not.
The price of gasoline has not hit $10.00 yet. The stock market has not crashed since he got elected. other than that; this is a good article.
“Sure, dried beans are cheaper than canned. But they take hours to cook and will use your precious (and probably limited) fuel.”
Page 174 in my 1996 edition of Country Beans by Rita Bingham has an excellent analysis of a superb super-quick way of cooking dried beans:
“When added to boiling water, bean flours thicken in only 1 minute, and in 3 minutes are ready to eat. Bean flours added to baked goods increase vitamins and minerals and provide a source of complete protein.
Modern equipment for the kitchen has revolutionized the use of beans! Dried beans can be ground to a fine flour using a hand grinder for small quantities, or electric mills for larger quantities. Bean flour stores for up to 6 months on the shelf, 1 year under refrigeration, and is great to have on hand for “instant” soups, sauces, dips, sandwich filling and gravies, and to add to almost everything you cook or bake.”
Later editions of that book are much longer so the page numbers where bean flours are discussed may be different. The best list of the various editions can be found by running a search on GetTextBooks.com
My Country Living kitchen grain mill (with its optional bean augur) can be hand cranked or motorized — although it would probably run past that beginner’s $300 budget a bit. There are several other brands of grain mills on the market today that a simple online search should turn up.
Another advantage of having a kitchen grain mill handy is that you can store dried beans almost indefinitely while only needing to mill the minimum quantity of beans into flour for your immediate needs. That way you don’t have to worry about the long term storage problem with bean flour.
Also consider the savings of your fuels whether stored or subscribed. The difference between hours of preparation of dried beans compared to mere skinny minutes is a huge benefit.
Another benefit of such a grain mill is the ability to mill all kinds of grains into flour. If you have someone allergic to wheat, eg., there are gluten-free grain types. One can mill one, or a mix of multiple, type(s) of grains into tasty flour.
Finally … such a mill can grind one, or multiple, kind(s) of nuts into nut butter(s). Yes, you have to clean up the gooey mess afterwards but the benefits are wonderful.