2 Week Emergency Food Supply for Beginners
If you have found your way to this article, then you probably have already considered the benefits of building a 2-week emergency food supply. If you are still on the fence about the prudence of having a food supply on hand read this article. In addition to this article, check out both the CDC’s and Ready.gov websites for further information.
For those who are completely new to food storage I hope to offer several points for you to consider before beginning on your food storage journey. Let’s begin with a few emergency food supply basics:
What is an emergency food supply?
Emergency food is food that will be used in the event of an emergency or disaster in which you/your family will be living at home with or without all the modern conveniences of which you are accustomed. In contrast, an emergency kit, go-bag, or bug-out bag may have similar items in it but in much smaller, portable quantities. Most instructions for these kinds of emergency kits include, water, food, medicine, cooking tools, etc. to last for 3 days (72 hours).
An emergency food supply is more comprehensive. I recommend starting with 2 weeks worth of food and building up more from there depending on your goals.
Start With Water
Although food is a necessity, it’s a no-brainer to first secure emergency water. Check out these guidelines about storing water (scroll halfway down the page). You will find a TON of great information on the CDC site about the dos and don’ts of storing water. Again, the recommendation is to begin with 3 days worth of water then increase to 2 weeks.
Consider Cooking Tools
You will also want to have on hand items that you can use to prepare food that do not require electricity and possibly running water. For example, make sure you have at least one manual can opener, a camp stove or gas/charcoal grill (with extra fuel) for heating water and food, paper plates, plastic eating utensils, towels, and a bottle opener. I cover this in more detail here (link to article or shop page).
Think About What You Might Be Faced With
When thinking through all the possibilities that you might need, consider a situation in which you cannot leave your house. What would that look like for you? What are the day-to-day requirements that you would like to have in place to make life during a tough situation seem as normal as possible? Each of us must think of our own environment and lifestyle to create the best emergency supply. For example, our electricity occasionally goes out for a day or two a couple of times a year. I think through all the necessary food, water, and tools that I might need for a worst-case scenario power outage in winter. For me, this would be food, water, cooking utensils, firewood, my outdoor grill, plenty of blankets, and a sanitary bathroom area.
Plan A Simple Menu
Start with what your family enjoys eating and go from there. Use my FREE sample menu plan (below) for my family as a guide. Write down a weeks worth of simple, nutritious meals that you are comfortable making for a week. They do not have to win any awards; they just need to be life-sustaining and shelf-stable! In my guide, I created 7 days worth of meals that I just double to equal 2 weeks worth of food. A word of caution, while my list is a good place to start, a little more reflection will create more peace of mind for you! Your list should be tailored to you and your family’s specific needs and tastes. Only you know what your family likes and how much time you enjoy preparing meals.
In the event that you might rely on this food, it will need to be something that you or another person in your household feels comfortable preparing. Another bonus of creating a more personalized emergency food supply is that you can stock it with items that you can use as your foods’ expiration date approaches. If creating a personalized emergency food plan seems like a daunting task, use the Emergency Food Meal Planner (shop below) to help you organize your meal ideas.
Fillable and Printable PDF – $3
Create a personalized emergency food plan for your own family!
Acquire Your Emergency Food Supply
After you know EXACTLY what food/supplies you plan to store, next you should plan for how you would like to acquire this extra food! There are a couple of ways to do this:
1) Plan to buy a little each week. For myself, I like to buy one day worth of extra food when I am buying my groceries each week. One advantage of this method is that you are not breaking the budget by much. A disadvantage is that it will take you a bit of time to acquire 2 weeks worth of food (14 weeks to be exact or about 3 months).
2) Another way to build up your food supply is to wait for sales and buy in bulk. Shopping at warehouse stores or keeping an eye on when your grocery store has a sale can be a great way to stock up for less money. A disadvantage of this method is that you might plunk down more money more sporadically.
3) Buy pre-made shelf-stable meals and freeze-dried foods. There are many companies that sell pre-packaged meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They consist of shelf-stable ingredients (often freeze-dried ingredients) and require minimal work to prepare (usually just add hot water) and many are designed to last a long time. A few downsides to this option include the cost of acquiring these foods and your family may not be accustomed to eating the flavors and textures of them.
4) Combination of all methods. For me, I have found that I do a combination of all three methods. I strive to make additional purchases each week based on my plan, but I also buy some items in bulk if I see that they are on sale. Additionally, I purchase and store some ingredients such as powdered milk, freeze-dried meats and cheeses that will last 25 years that I will tap into only when necessary.
Store Your Emergency Food Supply
Your food supply will be most affected by light, temperature, moisture, and oxygen. You will want to store most of your food in an environment where all these agents are at a minimum. Basements are a logical solution if you have one, although you never want to store your food in direct contact with the floor due to moisture and the possibility of rust developing on your cans. Basements tend to be cooler and darker, however, you will need to stay vigilante against unwanted pests and moisture. Use a dehumidifier if needed and make regular inspections of your food.
If a basement is not an option for you, choose an area or areas that you can store pantry items out of direct sunlight in a temperature-controlled environment. Closets and under beds and tables are great locations. Garages and outdoor sheds are not suitable due to fluctuations in temperature.
For all cases, it is a great idea to keep similar items together. For example, keep all tomato products together, fruit and vegetables together, grains, meats, etc.
It can be a bit overwhelming when planning an emergency food supply. Start small with buy purchasing or organizing something each week and look forward to the peace of mind that you will create! It’s an awesome feeling to have some food put away.
Please reach out and join me if you have any questions!