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.