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Chowish emergency supplies?

We live in California. Earthquakes happen; it's a fact of life here. Eventually, God forbid, there will be a big enough earthquake to disrupt life for several days.

You're supposed to have tinned food on hand to survive three days, but I hate, hate, hate tinned food (other than tuna in oil). Nevertheless, if it's tinned food or starvation, the choice is obvious. (Starvation, of course... just kidding.) Obviously we aren't going to starve if we don't eat for three days, but you get the idea.

Besides the obvious -- bottled water, an opener, and Sterno -- what does a Chowhound need in his emergency food supply to be able to eat well even after (cholilleh) the Big One hits?

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  1. it's not food, but i would have to have my favorite bottle of wine and a corkscrew.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ericalloyd

      That reminds me of the Earthquake preparedness billboards they have in San Francisco. Nice to have (bottle of wine, plate of sushi). Must have (bottle of water, can of tuna). Hehe.

      I Just know that in the event of an emergency so big I have to eat out of a can for three days, I'm not going ot realy care what I'm eating. When stressed out that much, I'll eat anything. But I do foresee getting a lot of use out of my $10 propane gas grill and $1 canisters. Boiled water and the ability to heat whatever comes out of those cans would be nice.

      1. re: ericalloyd

        of course, one has to be sure to store the wine so the bottle doesn't break in the quake....

        In a Christmas gift exchange I received a particularly unappealing box of wine....but I didn't regift it (didn't think that any of my friends would want it)...but put it with the earthquake supplies...I figure if the bottles break and I get really desperate...alcohol is alcohol, after all...

        I tolerate canned veges (actually, I secretly sort of like canned corn, )and they have extra liquid one can drink out of the can, which isn't a bad thing. Peanut butter is a good idea. Like Pei, I am glad to have several camp stoves and hope I will be able to get to them in the garagae!

        for some other practical suggestions, not necessarily from a Chowish perspective, check out:


      2. At Surfas, I like their canned tuna, and if you splurge on the olive oil pack, you are getting that much more nutrition. Also they carry coffee concentrate in little packs that I have used for camping and it's pretty good in a pinch. Canned fruit. Middle eastern stores for things that might appeal : Canned olives. Dolmas. Halva. And though not canned, some instant noodle bowls seems like a good idea, a warm meal with very little fuel use. Asian markets for the noodle bowls in more variety, and maybe some canned curry to mix with that tuna. Also not canned, but good emergency food, dark chocolate bars, nuts , nut butters, dried fruits, and never can have too much water.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ciaolette

          Wonderful topic. Just wanted to put in a good word here for the canned dolmas (stuffed grape leaves) at Trader Joe's... I believe they're the classic 'can opener not required' variety... they're by the tuna, soup, etc.

          1. re: Cinnamon


            They are far better than the more expensive ones they sell in the refrigerator case.

            I squeeze some fresh lemon on top and serve them all the time for guests.

        2. On the morning of 9/11, our Manhattan office was evacuated. When I stopped in at home I figured there might eventually be water or gas lines broken as a result of the fire (nobody knew what exactly was going on), so I filled the sinks & bathtub in case I might be able to come back while I filled a backpack with my passport, a change of clothes, etc. As I hoofed it north, I did stop at a corner store and picked up just two things: Gatorade and a package of vaccuum-sealed ham. And I don't even really like ham. I was trying to be practical.

          In retrospect, I like the wine & olives idea much better! To which I would add a tin of smoked almonds.

          4 Replies
          1. re: vicki_vale

            I would like to create an emergency stock of food, but how long will canned items last? Also, if one is after nutirtion vs. enjoyment (or along with enjoyment, if possible) what cannned items are nutrition-packed?

            1. re: Siobhan

              I replace mine every four to six months. Canned dolmas (above) is a great idea. Beans or chili are good for nutrition, though eating cold chili doesn't sound too yummy. I also get the little boxed chocolate milks, mostly for my son. Also nutrition bars and dried fruit. After a few months I buy more and put the old ones in his lunch. Also, if you have a pet, don't forget a few cans of cat or dog food.

              1. re: Glencora

                Its nice to see a Chowhound that's sensitive to our four footed friends. They have needs too.

              2. re: Siobhan

                One of the pieces of advice that I've gleaned from reading websites about food rotation (mostly written by Mormon women, since that's a big thing for them), and which seems utterly obvious, yet isn't something that most people do with their emergency supplies:

                Store what you eat and eat what you store.

                So whatever canned items you use (and we almost all use some of them, some of the time) are the kind you should most likely store. When you buy new stock of an item, put that new stock in your emergency supply, and take the stuff that's in there out to be used. Thus, your emergency supply is always full of stuff that's relatively "fresh" (in canned terms). Plus, if it's stuff you eat anyway, you're less likely to hate it if you ever have to eat it in an emergency.

            2. Good quality canned tuna. Canned beans of all sorts (black, cannenelli, especially). Jars of kalamata olives. Canned tomatoes. Cans of anchoives (and with the garlic and red pepper flakes that I always have on hand, there's puttenesca, this is assuming that we can make a fire somewhere). Powdered milk. Instead of the coffee concentrate, the Italian brand of instant espresso powder.

              Basically, Trader Joes is excellent for emergency supplies.

              1 Reply
              1. re: JasmineG

                I like Progresso Cannellini (white beans) - this goes great with water pack white tuna, a little olive oil and lemon, red peppers (you could probably substitute some kind of jarred red pepper).

              2. I plan to live out of our freezer and grill chicken, pork, and beef. The deep freeze is good for about 2 to 3 days without power. Also peanut butter, canned soup that doesn't need water or a can opener is part of the plan. Lots of wine and Bourbon will help too. Then there is the Village Market down the hill. I plan to loot and raid.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Janet

                  Not to be too morbid (but considering the thread...) what if your house isn't inabitable? I thought part of the reason you store an earthquake kit in sturdy containers is if you have to take them with you when you evacuate. Seems the frozen food won't be the best plan, you wouldn't be able to take the freezer w/you if you have to evacuate (god forbid.)

                  1. re: writergirl

                    Sure, if you have to evacuate, you can't use your frozen food, but if you have to evacuate, you're usually not worrying about bringing your food supplies. Having lived through a number of the major natural disasters in the Bay Area, I'd say that in general the issue is no power and or water for a while.

                    1. re: JasmineG

                      I guess we act on our own experiences. I had friends in S. Cruz during the Loma Prieta earthquake who had to camp in their back yard for several days. They certainly weren't going in to get stuff out of their freezer. (They were renters, and their landlord wasn't able to get the foundation checked out for a bit, thank goodness it was fine and they could move back in.)

                2. Also might consider keeping gourds around (for those times when you're sure you'd otherwise be out of yours) and root veggies - these last unaided so long. Also, some dark chocolate chocolate bars from Trader Joe's. They last a long time and if things get really bad you can probably trade them for fuel.

                  A really really helpful thing I've found to lighten coffee is Nestle Media Crema Table Cream. It comes in little cans and I keep it around for the inevitable few times a year I run out of the real stuff. You can also cold brew coffee (see this: http://www.ineedcoffee.com/06/coldbrew/)... though I'd probably default to the 'coffee tea bags' from Folgers and just heat water over fire.

                  These two threads might be of help:

                  Fresh Foods That Keep A Long Time


                  How do you stock your pantry, and shop, to not run out or have things that expire?

                  1. Good topic... Lots and lots of canned sardines (in oil, in mustard, in tomato sauce). Beef and turkey jerky. Trader Joes trail mixes. Graham crackers. Salt.

                    1. It strikes me as a good idea to have things that you'd actually want to eat, just so you eat and restock them regularly. Good tinned tuna it is then . . . and regular staples like dried lentils, rice, etc

                      And ground coffee if you're a whole bean user. I had to go begging to a neighbor during our power outage...

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: pitu

                        For an earthquake, though, I'm assuming you might not be able to go into your house to cook anything. We keep our supplies in a shed outside. However, you're right about keeping things you'd actually want to eat.

                        1. Ah, a topic near to my heart and familiar to my brain: while I don't have to worry about earthquakes, the annual start of hurricane season in summer means that I stock the pantry a little differently. After Katrina last year, we got pretty creative with what we had on hand and managed not to starve while waiting for the supermarkets to reopen and having to throw out the entire contents of the fridge & freezer (which taught me that you can't depend on the contents of your fridge/freezer being edible at all). First, you need a gallon of water per person per day, and some paper plates/cups/hand sanitizer ('cause when you're conserving water or have to stand in a long, long relief line to get it, you don't want to waste water on sanitation).
                          --Canned beans are a good item, but I'd also stock some instant rice to go with those beans--you can get pre-cooked rice in a shelf-stable pouch.
                          --Canned tuna is pretty awful without mayo or condiments, so if you can find a supply of those individual packets of mayo, brown mustard, and/or relish, stash a few of those away, too (ketchup packets, too, but not for the tuna). Devilled canned ham and canned chicken are nice changes of pace, too.
                          --A jar of peanut butter and a jar of nutella are essential (and contain both protein & sugar). They require no cooking and can be licked off of a spoon or your finger if you really end up in dire circumstances. A box of processed crackers (whatever major brand, the kind WITH preservatives) will last quite a long time without going stale in the cupboard and will go well with the peanut butter/nutella.
                          --Parmalait, evaporated milk, condensed milk, or other shelf-stable milk and/or instant espresso or instant coffee. Trust in me when I tell you that a morning cup of (even instant) coffee will make you feel just a little normal despite your whole world being upended. Or teabags, if that's your caffeine of choice. If you're hard-core about the coffee, get yourself a camping coffeepot that you can heat on the gas grill or on an open fire.
                          --Granola bars virtually never go stale, make a decent breakfast, and the wrappers are waterproof & funny enough, the damn things float due to the air inside the wrappers!
                          --Instant miso soup in pouches, along with instant chicken noodle, onion, and other dry soups.
                          --of course, you can choose just to stock up on MREs. Never goes bad, the outer wrapper makes a nifty purse, and you can buy 'em by the case at army surplus stores.

                          One thing learned from last year: should you be required to evacuate or relocate in the aftermath of any disaster, take food & water with you. Fill up a tote bag, backpack, rolling suitcase, plastic rubbermaid container, whatever you've got: do not depend on any outside forces, agencies, etc. providing you with food or water.

                          1. Cereal


                            Mustard, Ketchup & Relish (in individual packets)

                            Smoked Salmon


                            Dried fruit


                            Case of single malts (works as a disinfectant also)

                            1. I think one thing people forget is something to eat out of. Unless you really want to scoop canned chili with your fingers, don't forget bowls and utensils (and bowls for Fido and Fifi as well!)

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: writergirl

                                Actually, I'm not so sure that's a proper consideration.

                                In the aftermath of an earthquake there is a good chance there will no running water (potable or otherwise), which would make washing those darn bowls, knives, forks, etc. quite difficult.

                                Better to just (assume you have to) eat with your hands and eat directly from the bottle/can/bag, etc.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  We have paper plates, plastic silverware, napkins etc. with our suplies outside.

                              2. I know this sounds gross but, after H. Isabelle and 5 days without power, started putting canned cheese on sliced apples. It was pretty good. I don't even know why I had that darned can.

                                By the way, since hurricane season ends mid Novermber, I usually donate my canned food supplies to whomever is collecting. Then I start stocking up for the nor'easters.