Emergency Food Basics: What to Stock in Your Pantry

What you'll need to prep for a natural disaster

Woman in a grocery store aisle

The Spruce / Paul Burns

From hurricanes to blizzards to short-term power outages, natural disasters are a reality that the entire world deals with. During times of emergency, it's important to be prepared in the kitchen. Those who are used to severe weather may already have an emergency food plan in place. Find out what you can do to prepare your pantry for natural disasters or any state of emergency with the following tips.

Disaster Survival Food Pantry Basics

If you cook regularly, you probably already have most of the pantry basics needed to prep for a disaster. Canned foods immediately come to mind, whether you purchase them from the supermarket or can them at home. Recent studies have found that modern canning methods can produce a product that is often even more nutritious than their fresh counterpart. Vegetables canned in a liquid are excellent to have on hand in case of a water shortage, as the liquid can be used in place of fresh water in cooking. A variety of herbs and spices, as well as salt, are a necessity to doctor up shelf-stable foods. Salt is also a nutritional necessity.

Cooking oil will be needed for frying foods or making a roux to thicken sauces and stews. Olive oil will be fine unrefrigerated for a few months, indefinitely in cool weather. Jarred mayonnaise is also shelf stable. You might want to stock up on small jars that can be used quickly. Although it has preservatives, it will separate after opening if not refrigerated or kept on ice.

Flour and baking mix will last for up to 1 year on the shelf, while sugar, salt, and honey are everlasting as long as they are properly stored in sealed packages or waterproof containers.

Pastas, rice, and dried legumes have long shelf lives, but if your water supply is limited, they will do you no good. Dry cereals can be eaten without milk or with canned juice as a snack or a meal on the run. Pasteurized milk is now available in boxes that will keep in your cupboards up to 6 months and come in handy for making a quick sauce. Stock up on powdered and evaporated canned milk as further backups.

Dehydrated onions and mushrooms, along with canned vegetable juices, are great for soups, stews, and dutch oven meals with the additional benefit of reducing the need for added salt due to the concentrated flavor. Dry soup bases and gravy mixes can also serve as a basis for soups and stews.

Canned meats and seafood can be used in cold or hot dishes. Processed cheese such as dry grated Parmesan and Romano cheeses are shelf-stable and can easily add flavor.

Article Sources
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  1. Comerford KB. Frequent Canned Food Use is Positively Associated with Nutrient-Dense Food Group Consumption and Higher Nutrient Intakes in US Children and Adults. Nutrients. 2015;7(7):5586-600.  doi:10.3390/nu7075240