All agencies recommend a 3 day kit of emergency supplies, as simple as water and a stash of energy bars. When you consider a 3 week to 3 month cache for long-term disaster you need an assortment of nutritious foods. Learn which foods contain the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals you need to keep yourself healthy. For instance, canned fruits and vegetables still contain vitamins A and C, and B12 is in canned meats and jerky.
Buying in bulk and/or gardening and preserving your own food stretches your food dollar and proper food storage preserves flavor, texture, and nutrients. Basically, commercial or home canned or dehydrated foods, spices and baking essentials, dry goods such as beans, rice, pasta, flour and cornmeal, a garden or few containers planted with herbs and greens can keep you going in the hardest of times.
Do you have salt, pepper, sugar and baking powder? Powdered or canned milk? How about catsup and mustard? Peanut butter? Chili powder and salsa? Soy and BBQ sauce? Food can be pretty boring without seasonings. Think about what you could make yourself if the store wasn't available.
Instead of bottled water consider getting a pitcher-type water filter and just use your tap water. Just as good and a whole lot less storage space or trash.
And once you have food on hand, know how to store it so it will last. The three important considerations when storing food are: initial quality; shelf life; and environmental needs. Storage methods include: cupboard; pantry; refrigerator; freezer; and cellar.
A storage cupboard or pantry should be dry, cool, and dark. Ideally, the temperature should be 50 to 70 °F. Higher temperatures speed up deterioration as does direct sunlight. Store foods in the coolest cabinets farthest from the range, oven, water heater, dishwasher or any hot pipes. Pantries are the perfect place to store canned goods, packaged goods, grains, beans and more.
Foods such as onions and garlic, need dry, well-ventilated storage. Hanging them in netted sacks or placing them on open wire or slatted shelves often works best. Not as picky about temperature as some foods, but don't let them cook or freeze.
Cellars are a cool, dark, and moist environment that is great for home canned goods, apples and root crops, such as potatoes.
Refrigerators and freezers are excellent for storing foods, as long as you have power. If your power goes off temporarily you can prolong the life of these foods by insulating your appliances with blankets and taking out a supply for a few days and otherwise leaving them closed. It is a good practice to fill any extra space in a freezer with jugs of water (remember to leave space for the water to expand as it freezes). Not only does a freezer take less power to run when it is full, but these are great for keeping coolers or even your refrigerator cooler when needed.
Refrigerators prolong the life of fresh meats, vegetables, dairy products, and unsealed canned or prepared foods. Make sure the temperature is 40° Fahrenheit or less. Check the temperature in various points of the refrigerator and store the most perishable items in the coldest sections. Place foods in airtight containers to prevent drying out, transfer of odors, and leakage of fluids.
Freezers stop or prevent bacteria from growing without killing them. While foods thaw bacteria can grow, so it's best to thaw them in the refrigerator. Keep your freezer at 0° F. Above that food quality goes down. If your ice cream is not brick-solid, the freezer is not cold enough!
No matter where you store food, you should have a ‘first in, first out' policy, rotating foods so you eat the oldest first. Make sure to clearly label and date foods so you can keep track. It's handy to note how many servings, or the weight, on packages in the freezer. Try to buy amounts you can use within that food's optimum storage time. Old food loses flavor and quality and often becomes waste. With some foods, such as dry beans, you can extend their shelf life by canning them (recipes online or in the Ball Blue Book).
Find links to charts of foods storage times online at:
Back in the day, having a year's worth of food on hand was the norm. Preparedness always pays off in hard times.