Public health emergencies or inclement weather can spiral out of control rather quickly. Emergency situations have the potential to derail shipping or delivery schedules or impede shoppers ability to get to the store for necessary supplies. Individuals should keep a stock of emergency provisions just in case weather or another adverse situation compromises their ability to get the items they need to survive.
Different types of foods spoil at different rates depending on how they are stored. While there is no such thing as an entirely nonperishable food, packaging foods in air-tight containers can increase their life expectancy. Here’s a look at which nonperishable foods to keep on hand for emergencies.
Protein can provide sustained nutrition and energy, but many protein sources in raw forms require refrigeration to prevent spoilage. However, canned and freeze-dried meats, seafood and poultry have extended shelf life. Freeze-drying, also known as lyophilization, is a water-removal process typically used to preserve perishable materials, according to Millrock Technology, a company that produces freeze dryers.
Canned or freeze-dried chicken, tuna, salmon, and beans are durable protein sources. Vegetarians will find that navy beans are high in protein. Freeze-dried items are more common in pre-packaged, bulk emergency food supply kits sold at popular retailers, including Costco. However, they also can be purchased at camping retailers or Army/Navy stores.
Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are necessary to ensure your body gets essential vitamins and minerals. Fresh items will spoil in a matter of days, so canned varieties are better for stocking up. Canned vegetables and fruits come in many varieties. The healthiest canned fruit options are those packed in their own juices rather than heavy syrups. Root vegetables like potatoes, turnips and parsnips can endure in cool areas of a home, but canned equivalents may be more practical.
Whole grains and other carbohydrates
A balanced diet consists of a healthy mix of proteins, fruits and vegetables, and carbohydrates. According to Kelly Jones, MS, RD, a board-certified sports dietitian, whole grains are vital sources of carbohydrates and fiber, and most come in dried, non-perishable forms. Oats, rice, quinoa, barley, and whole-grain dried pastas can be used in emergency food kits. Packaged granola or trail mix bars also are good to have on hand.
FEMA and the American Red Cross advise keeping food in a dry, cool, dark spot. Carefully open resealable containers so they can be closed tightly after each use. Nuts, dried fruits and sugar packets can be put into air-tight canisters for protection from pests. Inspect cans for bulging, denting or corrosion before use. During a disaster, it is wise to eat at least one well-balanced meal every day. Remember to also stock bottled water with emergency foods supplies.