By now, you’ve probably read that scary article in the New Yorker explaining how Seattle has a 1 in 3 chance of getting hit with a big earthquake in the next 50 years.
It’s why we did an earthquake survival infographic recently to help you get ready for that, including having plan in place and storing key supplies like emergency food.
But it doesn’t take a big earthquake to create a serious situation. A bad windstorm could just as easily knock out the power grid and close roads for days.
To get ready for the next crisis, some important things you are going to need to put away are drinking water, medication, and food.
We’ll follow up in the days ahead with an article in case you want to invest some extra money in commercial emergency food.
DIY Emergency Food On a Budget
Assuming you already have a way to get drinkable water, your next priority is food.
Here are a few ways you can make sure you get the most out of your money when it comes to being ready for a disaster.
1. Your refrigerator and freezer
If you lose power after an emergency (and assuming you don’t need to evacuate), you probably have up to a week’s worth of food in your freezer and refrigerator combined.
But the clock is ticking, because food starts to go bad above 40 deg F for 2 hours or more.
If you leave your refrigerator and freezer shut the whole time, you may be able to buy yourself some time, maybe up to 24-48 hours. The fuller each compartment was before a power outage, the longer the food will keep.
More details here.
Before the time runs up for each, get the food out and consume what you can immediately.
If your stove still works, or you have a grill or campstove, cook raw foods right away and store them in Ziploc bags so you can eat them later.
Note that some items like meats and seafood can go bad sooner – find out more here.
2. Turn Your Pantry Into An Emergency Food Bank
Once you have emptied out the food in your refrigerator and freezer, the next source of emergency food is your pantry.
A good way to stretch your dollar as you prepare for a disaster is to turn this pantry into your own emergency food bank by stocking up on food that keeps a long time.
But pick only those things that you know your family likes, so that you aren’t left with food that you don’t want to eat unless something bad happens.
Rotate the food by first eating those that are going to expire soon. That way you are not actually spending extra on emergency food that hopefully you never use.
What would be good items to store?
Dry food items like cereal, Top Ramen, Rice-a-Roni, Pasta Roni and other dried pasta would make great candidates.
The other item is canned food – fruits, meats, vegetables, and soups. Have can openers handy!
If you have someone with specific diet requirements, the emergency food pantry is the most cost-effective way to prepare for an emergency because a lot of the commercial emergency food may contain allergens.
One thing I’d like to note about “used by”, “sell by”, or “expiration” dates: just because the date is past doesn’t mean the food is bad. Check out this great segment by John Oliver on Last Week Tonight to learn why your food will probably still be good.
3. Canning: DIY Food Storage
Are you into canning? I tried it once but didn’t really get into it. But I know many people who love it and do this as a family activity.
Canning is a form of cooking, except it is not for immediate consumption. The objective is to apply heat to food in a closed glass jar to give the food an extended shelf life.
You can find out more about canning from people who actually know what they are doing, like this one here.
4. Comfortable Calories
Nature’s temper tantrums are almost always exhausting high stress events.
Your family – maybe even you – might need some comfort food. If they come packed with calories, even better.
Tad-dah! We’ve just found a great reason to hoard all that Halloween candy.
Remember to stay hydrated to help with the breaking down of all that sugar.
So there you go – 4 ways to have emergency food ready to go without taking a huge hit in the wallet.
Have a few bucks but little time to spare? Commercially prepared emergency foods might be just the thing.