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The Essential Emergency Planning Guide for Food and Water

by Denis Korn

These guidelines, questions, suggestions, and facts are directed to issues concerning food and water planning during emergency situations, outdoor recreation, or any situation where proper food and water planning is appropriate. Study, reflect and answer the questions you find in the other articles that you will find in the category titled 15 Foundational Articles for Preparedness Planning. Go to Learn To Prepare - the blog of Denis Korn. Many of those articles have specific information regarding food and water issues and elaborate further on subjects covered in this article.

The obvious fact that quality food and water free of contaminants is essential, not only in the course of normal daily life, but also during emergencies and outdoor adventures, makes the following information vital for proper nutrition and survival during challenging circumstances. All of us at PrepareDirect hope you will take emergency preparedness and outdoor adventure planning seriously.

Where to Start

The first step is the acknowledgement that you have made a wise and sound decision and have chosen to take responsibility for you and your family and to be prepared in the event of unforeseen circumstances. A proper attitude during the preparedness planning process is essential and it is made more effective by exercising competent critical thinking skills. Reacting from fear or confusion can be an obstacle to efficient planning. After you have evaluated the questions and points in this guide, a helpful point of view may be the idea of an "extended pantry program," or what might be considered as a building and expansion of your normal food supplies. Start with a program that is compatible with your needs, assumptions, circumstances, and finances. You may want to start small and keep building. Once you have chosen to act:

    • Clearly answer the key questions given in the next "Important Issues" section.
    • Determine a realistic response for your unique economic and personal situation. Be careful to avoid reacting to and with the actions of others without first determining if these actions are appropriate for you. Don't get caught up in a "feeding frenzy" of buying.
    • Create an appropriate step by step plan of action on paper- sooner rather than later.
    • Continue to educate yourself using the vast resources of reliable information. Note: As with many events, there are those with limited experience and knowledge who have suddenly appeared in the marketplace to take advantage of the situation. Buyer beware!
    • Assemble a library, data files, and Internet bookmarks; subscribe to related magazines, get tapes.
    • Go to conferences, workshops, and church meetings and talk to responsible leaders who have researched the issues you are concerned about.
    • Make a list of items you will need during your anticipated emergency situation. Prioritize it. Determine what you have on hand, and begin to fill your list.
    • Create lists for differing locations, such as home, car, RV, or work.
    • Prepare an area where you live to store your supplies.
    • Make daily life in an emergency situation real to yourself and your family- Turn off your electricity, gas, water and phone for 3 days, and don't count on any local stores or services. Don't wait for a sunny, warm day to try this- emergencies can happen in the winter!
    • Think quality- as if your comfort and life depended on it! You must discern between economy and reliability. All too often the cheapest is the least dependable; especially in an emergency situation, and even more so if the emergency is long term.

Important Issues

Discovering then choosing the proper food reserves for your situation requires addressing seven key issues. Answering essential questions is of vital importance in the process of preparedness planning. Answer these questions as specifically as possible.


  • What circumstances or scenarios have you determined may exist that will cause you to use emergency preparedness foods? (This is not only the most important and first question to answer, it is often the question most overlooked, or not considered critically enough)
  • How long will your emergency scenario last, and what is the duration of time for which you will be preparing?
  • Will you need to be mobile?
  • What preparation facilities and supplies will be available?
  • How much outside assistance will be available to help supply your food and water needs?
  • How many people are you planning to provide with emergency food? Extended family? Friends? Church members? Community?
  • How much time will you have to prepare each meal?


  • What are the ages and/or special nutritional and caloric requirements for those you are providing for?
  • Does anyone have food allergies? Many children and adults have minor or severe reactions to such foods as: milk, gluten (wheat), oats, corn, soy, peanuts, sugar, artificial colors, and MSG
  • Do you want foods that are natural or those with artificial ingredients and excessive sugar?
  • Do you want a vegetarian food plan, or one which contains real meat products and ingredients?
  • Many food reserve programs contain large amounts of wheat, grains and beans. This could put a great deal of stress on your digestive system, and you will not be able to obtain the proper nutritional value from the foods you eat. Are you willing to slowly add these foods to your family's current menu plan so that your system will more readily accept a radical change in diet?
  • Be aware that some emergency food guidelines and plans recommend consuming one to three pounds of wheat a day. How much wheat do you want to eat per day?
  • How much total food intake per day do you expect to eat to obtain adequate nutritional value?
  • Have you compared the foods you now rely on with the foods available for emergencies?
  • The interest in emergency preparedness has significantly increased in the past few years with the uncertainty surrounding economic, political and weather scenarios that have become so evident. With this increase in awareness has come fraud, misinformation and inferior quality food products. I can't emphasize enough the need for due diligence in researching your food and water needs. Please don't take the advertising on popular radio talk shows and personality internet sites as anything more than slick marketing. Most of these commentators, while having some valuable insights, have no knowledge at all concerning adequate food reserves. Many of the posts on this site address this issue with practical advice.


  • How important is convenience in preparing your storage foods?
  • Are you willing to learn how to prepare your own foods for storage?
  • Do you have a library of appropriate books dealing with storing and preparing a variety of shelf stable foods?
  • Are you familiar with the diversity of different food products available with a long storage life?
  • Do you know the proper methods, containers, and conditions in which to store foods for an extended period of time?


  • How much money have you allocated for emergency food reserve insurance?
  • Although many people will invest in a food storage program that will require savings, sacrifice and creative budgeting, you can be adequately prepared for a relatively small amount of money. Options available include:

o Preparing your own foods for reserves.

o Co-op buying.

o Learn to identify wild edible foods in your local area.

o Taking advantage of sales, closeouts, food banks, and food ministries.

o Working with a church or organization that has group preparedness programs.

o Buy foods when the harvest is at its peak and prices are low.

o Trade on barter services or products for food.

o Learn the most value for the least cost- such as grains and beans, and learn to prepare these foods with creativity and menu diversity.

  • If you have the means to purchase what you want, provide for as many others as possible with as diverse a selection of food types as you can afford.
  • Many folks are purchasing larger quantities of shelf-stable foods as a hedge against inflation and as an insurance policy for family, friends, and community in uncertain times.


  • How much and what kind of fuel is available in your local area?
  • If you want hot meals, boiling water or hot water for clean up you must have a fuel source. If the foods you store require cooking to make them digestible (grains, beans, etc.) you must have fuel to boil water. Sources include:

o Wood, pellets, pine cones, plants.

o Paper, trash, cardboard, cloth.

o Propane, butane-bulk and in small canisters.

o Natural gas.

o Heating oil.

o Kerosene, gasoline, diesel.

o Candles, paraffin, fuel gel.

o Coal, charcoal.

o Rice hulls, corn cobs.

o Electricity.

o The sun- solar ovens, cookers.

  • Of course, many of these sources will not be available in an emergency situation. Some fuel is very flammable- use caution when storing these fuels.


  • An essential question that must be thoughtfully answered is; what length of time am I preparing for? 3 days? 2 weeks? One month? 3 months? Or more? Each time frame will require different food and water products. As you study your options and choices, time will be one of the most difficult conclusions to reach. It is the pivotal decision on which all choices are made. It requires a careful examination of the severity of many scenarios that might occur in an emergency situation. The uniqueness, uncertainty, and widely differing opinions on current problems in our lives, makes your scenarios more difficult to form than any other you have ever considered. As time concerns increase, so does the potential catastrophic impact on society and daily life.
  • Obviously emergencies of just a few days are the easiest in which to prepare. Emergencies of a few weeks take some careful thought. When you plan for months it is imperative that you seriously study you options and costs. For those who plan for a year or more a complete detailed assessment of all aspects of your daily life and balanced diversity of all types of food and water sourcing is essential. Long term reliance on emergency preparedness supplies requires a serious life style alteration.
  • Don't spend time and money buying garden seeds and wheat grinders if you truly believe there will be only limited problems in your emergency scenario. Start with the short term needs and proceed logically to the long term.


  • Clean water of course is essential for survival. While it is possible to go for weeks without food, after 3 days survival is at great risk without water. Make absolutely sure you answer the following questions.

o How much water do you have available to you in an emergency?

o Will you have enough to clean foods you have stored?

o Will you have enough to cook foods that require lengthy boiling (beans, grains, pasta)?

o What quantities will you need to reconstitute "no cooking required" freeze-dried and dehydrated foods?

o Will you want to wash pots and utensils?

o Do you know how to obtain, store and/or purify water?

o Will you have enough water for sprouting and/or gardening?

  • Plan on at least 1/2 gallon a day per person to survive. One gallon a day per person is considered minimum for drinking, basic food preparation, and basic hygiene. Two gallons for basic bathing, laundry, and cleaning.

Water Sources - Storage - Treatment


  • Natural
    • Ponds, lakes, streams, springs, rivers, ocean (use desalinators or distillers only for salt water)
    • Know all local locations before an emergency and check quality.
  • Wells
    • Have non-electric collection options available- hand pumps, special buckets, and solar pumps.
  • Bottled , commercial
    • 6 months to two-year shelf life- Rotate.
  • Around the house
    • Pools, spas, waterbeds, hot water heater, toilet tank, hoses, pipes - purify before drinking.
  • Collection ideas
    • Snow, rainwater, dew, plastic tarps for collection.
  • Survival techniques
    • Plants, underground sources, moisture collection - get a good survival manual.


  • Specially packaged purified water
    • Water in small foil pouches or fruit juice like boxes - 5-year shelf life.
  • Large containers
    • Food grade plastic, concrete, water bladders, cisterns - above or below ground. Treat with chlorine dioxide if necessary.
  • Small containers
    • Food grade plastic - new is best, numerous types available (If previously filled with food or beverage, used containers can impact tastes and odors), glass. Never use container that held chemicals or cleaners. WaterBrick® BPA free, 3.5 and 1.6 gal size, stackable and rugged water containers.


  • Devices
    • Portable hand operated purifiers- when rated as a "purifier" the device will kill viruses and filter bacteria and protozoa. Limited types available.
    • Portable hand operated filters- will filter out most bacteria and protozoa. Many types available.
    • Drip filters- counter top transportable units that filter (with the Berkey also purify) water slowly by gravity.
    • Bottle purifiers- Easy to use, just fill and drink from bottle.
    • Pen like devices- Insert in a glass of water. Utilizes ultra-violet light as a purifier.
    • Desalinators- manual and electric. Removes salt from seawater.
    • Distillers- electric and non-electric available. Steam distills and purifies any contaminated and salt water.
    • Kitchen units- usually requires water pressure and uses carbon filter element. Some units can be modified to manual use.
    • Boiling- kills viruses and bacteria after 6 - 10 minutes (add one minute for every 1000 feet above sea level). May not however kill cysts such as Giardia.
  • Additives
    • Liquid chlorine bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite- only ingredient) - 6-8 drops (1/8 teaspoon) per gallon of clean water, double for cloudy water. For 5 gallons-1/2 teaspoon for clean water, 1 teaspoon for cloudy water.
    • Iodine (2%)- 12 drops per gallon for clean water, double for cloudy water. Has distinctive odor and taste. Not for pregnant or nursing women or those with thyroid problems.
    • Purification tablets- Iodine or Chlorine- Follow instructions on package. Some brands may not kill Giardia.
    • Stabilized oxygen- A relatively new method of purification. Many swear by it, do your research.
    • Katadyn Micropur (Chlorine Dioxide)- Effective against all microorganisms. Meets EPA purification guidelines.
    • Colloidal Silver- New and becoming more widely available. Worth investigating. Reported to eliminate numerous harmful elements.
    • BioFilm drops - water additive - for 5 year water storage.

Water Storage Tips

  • Store water in a cool, dry, and dark location.
  • Store away from odors, waste products, and petroleum based products (if using plastics - plastic containers can absorb odors).
  • Periodically check containers (6-12 months) and add additional additives if necessary.
  • Rotate containers if possible with new water.
  • Don't use metal containers for long term storage.
  • Use water filters on water stored for long periods of time.

Types and Sources of Foods Available in Emergency Planning


  • There is an abundance of free, fresh and nutritious foods available in all areas and in all seasons.
    • Obtain books about wild foods in you area.
    • Go to nature classes and herb walks that identify edibles in your area.
    • Contact the local agricultural department in you area.
    • Take classes given at local colleges


  • Identify good local fishing spots both inland and ocean.
  • Have quality-fishing equipment available and know how to use it.
  • Many insects are edible; know those in your area.
  • If you approve of hunting, have equipment and supplies handy for a diversity of trapping methods for small and large game.


  • It is always a good idea to know basic gardening techniques. If you have a long term planning strategy, gardening is a must for a continuing supply of fresh and nutritional foods.
    • Identify the best foods for your local growing zone.
    • Consider building a green house.
    • Learn how to compost.
    • Use non-hybrid- open pollinated seeds. You can then harvest seeds for the next season.
    • Learn how to save seeds properly. Store seeds in as cool and dry a location as possible.
    • Each variety of seed have different viability and germination rates when stored. Know these rates if you are going to store seeds for any length of time.
    • In an emergency situation emphasize "whole plant varieties". These are plant varieties that can be eaten whole at any point in the growing process. Examples include:

- Carrots - Cauliflower
- Beets - Chard
- Lettuce - Dandelion
- Cabbage - Kale
- Broccoli - Celery
- Radishes - Herbs
- Spinach
- Save seeds of wild edibles.

    • Using shallow trays with a thin layer of rich soil, learn how to grow wheat and barley grass from unhulled barley for juice (highly nutritious!), and unhulled sunflower and unhulled buckwheat for fresh salad greens.


  • Focus on low cost and low maintenance animals; such as chickens, rabbits and goats.


  • With an abundance of fresh foods always available, canning and drying your own is very cost effective.
    • Obtain books and literature on canning and drying.
    • Take classes and talk to experienced individuals.
    • Get the proper equipment or learn how to build you own.
    • Know how to properly store canned and dried foods.
    • Canning supplies can be scarce in an emergency. Stock up on jars and lids.


  • It is not only a good idea to eat fresh sprouts normally; it is an essential during any prolonged emergency where fresh vegetables are not available. Sprouts are live, highly nutritious foods that contain essential elements for healthy living. They contain enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and much more. In an emergency it can be your only source for important nutrients. They are easy to grow and cost very little for so much value. You can sprout grains, beans, seeds and nuts.
    • Get a good book on sprouting.
    • If possible, use only non-sprayed, pesticide free seeds- preferably organically grown.
    • Sprouting equipment is easily assembled with household items such as glass jars, screening, cheesecloth, or you can buy a number of different sprouting kits.
    • Sprouts are usually eaten raw, and some sprouts can be lightly cooked like beans or used in baking like wheat and rye.
    • Many of the whole grains and beans people have in their food storage supplies can easily be sprouted.


  • This category includes dozens of varieties of grains, beans, legumes and seeds, and can be utilized in numerous forms such as; whole, cracked, flaked, instant, flour, pasta and sprouted.
  • Advantages:
    • Very economical- little cost for significant nutritional value.
    • Easily obtainable.
    • Stores well for long periods of time.
    • Versatility of preparation options and diversity of uses.
    • Historically relied upon during emergencies.
    • Reproducible.
    • If prepared and utilized properly, can fulfill total nutritional needs for some time.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Can require large quantities of fuel and water to prepare.
    • Requires significant preparation time to utilize all the diverse benefits.
    • Susceptible to infestation if not properly stored.
    • Requires preparation knowledge. Most people do not know how to prepare basic commodities.
    • If not prepared properly or suddenly introduced into the diet in quantity, grains and beans can cause significant digestive problems.
    • Heavy- Not easily transported if you need to be mobile.
    • Many people have allergic reactions to foods in this category.
    • If you rely on only grains and beans for nourishment for an extended length of time, you may have problems digesting these foods; especially if you don't normally incorporate them into your diet. Preparation diversity is critical.
  • It is essential that those who choose to rely on commodities know how to properly prepare and use them. It is important to obtain good cookbooks and product information before you buy. Do not count on only a few grains and beans- diversity is very important.
  • Tips:
    • Smaller grains (such as millet, amaranth, quinoa, and teff) and smaller beans and legumes (such as adzuki, lentils, split peas, mung, and small whites) will require less time, fuel and water to prepare.
    • Combine like sized grains and beans when cooking for a complete protein meal.
    • Pressure cookers and pre-soaking of most beans will significantly reduce the cooking time of grains and beans.
    • Newly "rediscovered" ancient grain varieties such as amaranth, quinoa, kamut, teff and spelt, are highly recommended because of their superior nutritional value, unique taste and preparation convenience- available at natural food stores.
    • To reduce cooking times for whole grains, try adding a handful to a thermos, or similar insulated container, add boiling water and let sit all day or overnight. (Use at a ratio of one part grain to one part water by volume). Add dried fruit, nuts, sweetener etc. and enjoy a no cook hot cereal.
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: After a few years, depending on storage conditions, the moisture content of beans will have been reduced to the point that no amount of cooking will reconstitute the bean for consumption. At this point only grinding the bean into flour will render it useable. Periodically check the viability of your stored beans by cooking them for a meal.
  • Uses for wheat:
    • Whole grain, cracked, flaked- cook for a hot cereal or side dish.
    • Flour- baking, pancakes, sauces.
    • Sprouting- eat raw or add to bread.
    • Soaked wheat (rejuvelac - a cultured sprouted wheat drink) - soak cleaned wheat in pure water 1-2 days. Drink water and eat wheat.
    • Gluten for protein source- rinse flour many times to produce gluten product. Cook in recipe.
    • Wheat grass juice- grow wheat in shallow trays with soil, cut at 6?-10?, juice wheat grass, mix small amount with fruit or vegetable juice.
    • Diastatic malt- ground and powdered dried wheat sprouts, a natural sweetener.


  • This is the category people are most familiar with and the one most will start with when beginning a storage program.
    • Store products you are familiar with.
    • Shelf life varies. If possible contact manufacturer. Generally canned items will last 1-3 years, glass jars 6 months- 2 years, boxes and packages 6 months- 1 year. Sardines up to 4 years.
    • Many people believe properly stored canned goods will last years after the 'best by' dates.
    • Buy extra each time you shop.
    • Buy case quantities.
    • Rotate supplies.
    • This category contains items that will complement and supplement other food reserve programs.
    • Write the date purchased on boxes, bags and cans.


  • The items in this category are wet packed in foil or special plastic "flexible" packaging. MRE is a military term that stands for "Meals Ready to Eat" and was designed as combat rations for the military. Retort (available in many grocery stores and catalog companies) refers to the heating process, which give these products a longer shelf life. Self-heating meals are packaged entrees that contain everything necessary to have a hot meal anywhere. The individual flameless heaters were developed for the military.
    • MRE's are complete meals- entrees, side dish, dessert, drink, and condiments- all in one large pouch.
    • All items in this category require no refrigeration and have a shelf life of 18 months to 2 years. MRE's can last 4- 6 years if stored in cooler temperatures - even longer if you live above the Arctic circle.
    • MRE's were designed by the military to be eaten for no longer than one month at a time. Extended reliance on MRE's exclusively could cause digestion issues.
    • Items are excellent for immediate use and easy preparation of familiar foods.


  • This is a general designation for all foods that have had water removed. It includes a number of different products and dehydrating techniques. Methods of drying include:
    • Air drying
    • Spray drying
    • Drum drying
    • Belt drying
  • Most commonly "dehydrated" refers to: vegetables, fruits, spices, and beans.
  • Spray dried items include- milk powder, dairy and cheese powders, fruit powders, vegetable powders, egg powders, and oil powders.
  • Most "dehydrated" vegetables and fruits are dried at high temperatures for short periods of time.
  • Advantages:
    • Reduced weight
    • Long shelf life
    • Lower cost
    • No waste- compact
    • Easy to use- large variety
    • Many suppliers
  • Disadvantages:
    • Many products like corn, peas, and green beans have to be cooked to reconstitute, resulting in increased time and loss of nutritional value.
    • High temperature drying of some items reduces nutritional value and taste.
    • Texture of some products is altered from original.


  • This is a specific technology that refers to foods which have been frozen and dried at low temperatures in a vacuum chamber.
  • Advantages:
    • Foods retain the highest nutritional value, taste, texture and appearance.
    • Foods do not "shrivel up", therefore retaining their original shape.
    • Foods reconstitute easily in hot or cold water- can be eaten dry if necessary- no cooking required in preparation.
    • The only method used to dry meat products for long term shelf life.
    • The chosen method of drying by the military, pharmaceutical companies, supplement manufacturers, and those concerned with nutrition and flavor.
    • The lowest moisture content obtainable- resulting in long shelf stability.
    • Excellent for fruits, vegetables, and meats.
    • Very lightweight.
  • The Benefits of Freeze-Drying - From a Major Processor's Site

  • Retains original characteristics of the product, including:
    • color
    • form
    • size
    • taste
    • texture
    • nutrients
  • Reconstitutes to original state when placed in water
  • Shelf stable at room temperature - cold storage not required
  • The weight of the freeze-dried products is reduced by 70 to 90 percent, with no change in volume
  • The product is light weight and easy to handle
  • Shipping costs are reduced because of the light weight and lack of refrigeration
  • Low water activity virtually eliminates microbiological concerns
  • Offers highest quality in a dry product compared to other drying methods
  • Virtually any type of food or ingredient, whether solid or liquid, can be freeze-dried
  • Disadvantages:
    • Energy intensive- requires special equipment.
    • Higher cost.
    • Limited number of processors.
  • Note: There are many newer technologies which can dry specialized foods such as grains, beans, pastas and some vegetables and still retain taste, nutrition and "no cooking required" reconstitution- at a low cost.


- Very important in emergency situations when a nutritional diet may not be

- Many products have 2 to 3 year shelf life.

    • See your natural food store for details.
    • Many products can prevent health problems and illness naturally.
    • Whole food concentrates are highly recommended. Also, multivitamins, green products, B-complex, vitamin C, and immune system strengtheners.


  • During emergencies it is important to have foods available which are special treats and personally satisfying. These include:
    • Fruit drinks- sodas (as natural as possible)
    • Candy- crackers- chips- cookies (reduced sugar)
    • Chocolate- drinks and bars
    • Popcorn
    • Puddings- cake and muffin mixes
    • Dried fruit and nut mixes
    • Teas- herb teas- coffee
    • Meat Jerky's


  • To create pleasing recipes and to add to nutritional value have your favorite seasonings available to enhance your food reserves, especially if your reserves consist of primarily individual ingredients and commodities. Suggestions include:
    • Spices- herbs - salt - pepper
    • Sweeteners
    • Catchup - tomato powder- salsa
    • Soy sauce - assorted sauces
    • Broths - bouillon
    • Baking supplies- thickeners
    • Vegetable oil - olive oil


There are numerous companies that have chosen to offer dried foods already combined into units. Most of these units consist of large quantities of traditional grains and beans and dehydrated vegetables. Some companies have specialized in freeze-dried and "no cooking required" units with complete entrees, breakfasts, soups and desserts. These units are primarily packaged in #10 (about 7/8 of a gallon) cans - the best packaging to insure the longest shelf life. Special note: Be very aware of the reputation, time in business, and reliability of food reserve companies before you invest large sums of money and wait long periods of time for your foods. Ask:

  • What is the quality of the ingredients in the various food units offered?
  • How soon do you expect to receive your food units after ordering?
  • What kind of service do you expect from your emergency food supplier?
  • What is the probability that they will be in business after any emergency is over if problems or questions should arise?
  • How did the company determine that its unit will feed someone in the time frame advertised?
    • Most reputable companies rely on total calories and divide by the number of days in the unit. Beware of companies that pack their long term food products in pouches, state number of servings only, and state a shelf life of 20 - 25 - 30 years. This is a red flag for fraud and an expensive cost for an inadequate amount of food and foods that are nutritionally questionable.
  • How many calories a day will their units provide?
  • Are a large number of calories derived from sugar (non-nutritional calories)? Wheat?
    • Be aware that a good general caloric range should be 1800-2200 calories per day per person.
    • Some companies figure on 600-1200 calories per day. This does not offer a good value to the customer.
    • What else is supplied with the unit in addition to food?
    • Get complete information about food units before you buy so you can be sure it is appropriate for your needs.

- Some food units consist of "core" products. You will need to compliment and supplement these units to achieve a balanced diet.


Although a common question, it is very difficult for anyone other than each individual to answer. Study and be aware of your current diet. Keep a detailed list of what you eat in a given period of time- say a week. Use this information to expand to a longer period of time. Take into account that more food is eaten under stress and in cold weather. Plan for as many people as you can afford. It is always better to have more to share than not quite enough.


Based on 1 adult for 1 year or more - approximately 2,450 calories per day.


Grains & cereals (dry)



Beans & legumes (dry)



Non-fat milk powder



Cheese powder



Beef (freeze-dried)



Poultry (freeze-dried)



Egg mix



Textured vegetable protein



Vegetables (freeze-dried/dehydrated)& vegetable powder



Sprouting seeds (dry)









Seasonings, sauces, oils 2,000 20

Items in the following column are for supplementing reserves and/or substitution in food reserve guidelines.


Evap. Milk (canned, unsweetened)


2-3yrs. +

Beef, turkey, chicken (canned)


2-3yrs. +

Tuna (canned in water)


2-3yrs. +



2-3yrs. +

Fruits (dried)


6 mos. +

Fruits (canned, no sugar)


2-3yrs. +



1-3yrs. +

Peanut butter


1-3yrs. +



2yrs. +

Gelatin (dry)


5yrs. +

Beans (cooked, canned)


2-3yrs. +

Almonds (shelled)


1yr. +

Calorie source USDA Handbook No. 8

NOTE: Teenage boys, some men to age 50, and pregnant or nursing women may require 10% to 20% more nutrition and food than the "average" adult. Young children and older men or women may require 10% to 40% less food.


  • Cooking pots/utensils
  • Solar oven
  • Alternative stoves- grills- grates
  • Fuel- gas/diesel/propane/wood/charcoal/fuel oil/kerosene/shelf stable additive for gasor diesel
  • Generator
  • Sprouting jar/rack
  • Mill/grinder
  • Wheat grass juicer
  • Canning equipment/supplies
  • Pressure cooker
  • Books
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Food containers- plastic/glass/plastic bags/foil
  • Package your own- equipment/supplies
  • Water-purifiers/filters/additives/distillers/containers
  • Camping equipment
  • Non electric can opener



  • Temperature- The cooler the better. 40 degrees-50 degrees would be great. Room temperature (65 degrees-72 degrees) or below is fine. Avoid above 90 degrees for extended periods of time.
  • Moisture- The lower the better. Have foods in moisture barrier containers (metal, glass) in high humidity areas. Note: Plastic buckets are not a long term (over 3 - 10 years - depending on location) moisture or oxygen barrier.
  • Oxygen causes oxidation, rancidity and the breakdown of nutritional value. It also allows insects to feed on dried food reserves. Without oxygen, insects cannot live. Whole grain and beans have natural oxygen barriers and can store for long periods of time in low humidity and infestation free. All other processed grains, vegetables, fruits, etc. must be in an oxygen free environment for long term storage.
  • Freezing grains or beans will NOT kill insect eggs - larvae and adults yes - eggs no.


Oxygen absorbers were available in the United States in the mid 1980's. Denis Korn (founder of AlpineAire Foods and PrepareDirect) was the first to use this technology in the Preparedness Food Industry in the early 1990's. They are an excellent way to virtually eliminate oxygen in proper storage containers. One study at Brigham Young University using #10 metal cans measured a 0.5 percent residual oxygen level using an oxygen absorber - military specifications require a 2 - 3 percent level.

The two reasons for eliminating oxygen for food storage are:

    1. To reduce oxidation, rancidity (spoilage) and loss of nutritional value in long term food reserves and
    2. To create an oxygen free environment in the event insect infestation should occur- primarily as a result of microscopic eggs hatching in some food products.

Oxygen absorbers are effective only when used in the proper storage container. A gas and moisture barrier must be maintained. Metal and glass are the best long-term materials. Maintaining a proper seal in any container is essential to prevent transference of oxygen. It is important to maintain a residual oxygen level in the container of less than 2 - 3% (military specifications). If you cannot achieve this level you defeat the purpose for eliminating oxygen in the first place. You must use the proper sized absorber. They are sized in cubic centimeters (cc). Use 200 to 400 cc absorbers per gallon of container volume. Remember, normal air consists of about 21% oxygen and 79% nitrogen, so with oxygen eliminated you have a nitrogen atmosphere (insert gas- no oxidation) and a slight vacuum (a reason for proper seal on your container).

  • Light: foods should not be exposed to light in storage conditions.
  • Infestation: prevent rodents and other animals from contact with food storage products. Guard against insects in dry foods.

* Important Note: Some companies are offering Mylar® and Metalized Mylar® bags for packaging in which to store foods. Mylar® without a foil layer is effective as a moisture/gas barrier for only a few months to a few years - depending on packaging quality and handling. These are packaging industry guidelines. All flexible storage pouches must have the proper thickness foil layer to be effective. Reputable industry standards for shelf life guidelines is 5 to 10/12 years depending on storage conditions and types of ingredients. New companies to the preparedness industry are marketing 20 and 25 year shelf lives for their pouched foods. Beware of these companies, they have fabricated these shelf lives for marketing purposes only.


  • How long can you subsist on the food you normally have on hand?
  • Use the foods you have stored, and rotate them into your normal menu planning- especially if you have stored primarily grains and beans. Your digestive system needs to adapt to a dramatic change in diet.
  • Organize your reserves so you know what you have and their shelf lives. Mark on the boxes or cans the date they were acquired.
  • Inspect food reserves periodically for damage or animal and insect infestation.
  • Know the shelf life of the foods you have on hand so you consume them accordingly in an emergency, start with perishables, and then refrigerated- frozen- bottled- canned- traditional commodities- long shelf life foods.
  • Develop basic cooking, food preserving and preparation skills now. Take classes, read books and magazines. Subscribe and get back issues of specialized magazines that feature self-reliant skills and information.

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