There are many different ideas about what foods should be stored in an emergency stockpile. That’s not surprising, considering that disaster preparedness ends up being different for everyone. We all have to find what works for us, which may not be the same things that work for others. At the same time, there have been people who have written things which have shown a lack of understanding about what it means to survive a disaster.
The food that we stockpile has to be able to provide adequate nutrition, especially energy, while being able to survive being stored a prolonged period of time. That includes being stored for a prolonged period of time in less than ideal circumstances. We can’t assume that everything will remain hunky-dory for the food we are storing. If we could, then why are we bothering to stockpile it?
There are actually lots of different foods which we don’t want to stockpile, because we can’t count on them in that time of crisis. Here are a few things that you absolutely want to avoid:
- Junk Food – We all love junk food, even if we all have our own particular favorites. But junk food is known for its lack of nutritional value. Yes, they are a great source of carbohydrates. But there are others which are better. On top of that, junk food tends to get stale fast, unless it is so filled with chemicals, that there’s really no food in it.
- Frozen Food – Chances are pretty high that the power will go out in pretty much any disaster. That means anything in our freezer will last two to three days, without cooking. Once cooked, it will last a few more, even without adequate refrigeration. But that’s far from being anything we could call “long-term.”
- Dry Foods that Haven’t Been Repackaged – Most dry foods are not packaged for long-term storage. About the only exception is snack foods that have been packaged in aluminized mylar bags, inside of the box. In order to ensure that those foods last, they must be repackaged, removing oxygen from the packaging and protecting them from moisture, insects and rodents.
- Foods that are Hard to Prepare – Our ability to cook will be severely limited during a time of crisis, where we don’t have electricity to run our appliances. Chances are, most of us will be cooking over an open fire, without an oven. Anything that requires complex preparation or very specific cooking methods is simply going to make survival more difficult.
- Foods with Low Nutritional Value – If you’re limited in what you can stockpile, then it only makes sense to stockpile foods that will give you more bang for the buck. While being high in carbohydrates and fats ensures that we’ll have plenty of energy, it’s best to go beyond that to foods that give you more.
- Foods Canned in Plastic Containers – Some “canned foods” are in plastic jars, rather than glass ones or metal cans. While there aren’t many, applesauce and fruit juices are commonly canned in this way. But the plastic doesn’t provide as good an environment as cans or glass jars does. Foods canned in plastic are likely to go bad after a year or two.
- Cured Meats – I once though I had found a great way of stockpiling meat, in buying summer sausage in the after Christmas sales. It’s designed to keep without refrigeration until opened. But the chemicals they use to cure the meat continue working on it, breaking it down. After a year, the summer sausage (or any other cured meat) may look the same, but it is not. While I never got sick from eating it, the texture and taste wasn’t right. Left longer, it probably would have gotten worse.
- Breakfast Cereals – While breakfast cereal is the most common breakfast food in our country, it doesn’t store good for long periods of time and is extremely bulky. While you can pack it in aluminized Mylar bags, with oxygen absorbers to keep it from getting stale, the nutrition you get by volume isn’t really all that great.
- Ground White Flour – White flour doesn’t keep for prolonged periods of time as well as whole grain flours do. Likewise, ground flour doesn’t keep as well as unground. Your best way to make sure you have flour for baking is to buy unground grains and a good quality mill to grind it yourself.