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Emergency food supplies: need suggestions for ono foods that keep well

  • h

Tropical Storm Flossie caused me to look through my emergency food supplies, and the result was I tossed out a lot of outdated canned goods.
Since I'm needing to resupply, I thought I'd ask for suggestions for ready-to-eat foods that can handle long storage. What are you stashing?

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  1. dinty moor beef stew
    dried fruits

    1. I would probably stick to the canned good to be honest. They are easy to store, have a long shelf life (must check dates before buying) and are relatively inexpensive. Of course water. Dry fruits are also decent and Jerky. I personally would avoid nuts, I do believe the oils can go rancid eventually. Please correct me if I'm wrong anyone.

      But what we usually do is replace the stockpile once a year anyways, and eat the food to keep things semi fresh.

      The reality is though if you have a decent size kitchen and are a cook/foodie like me if there was an emergency we could last a couple weeks just on what we have around. When we had a 3 day power outage I ended up having to share with the neighbors. They had an empty fridge and I had 80 or so bananas and just cooked a 20 lb turkey. Yes I over cook.

      1 Reply
      1. re: NekoNekoFancyPants

        you're right about the nuts. I was thinking just for the duration of the storm, but reread honu's post.

      2. I always have that 6 pack of canned chicken on hand from Costco, granola, cereal bars, illy ground coffee (I make it on the burner of the grill - boil water use a plunge pot/French press, Classico spaghetti sauce, matches in a tin, I could very easily go for a few days with what we have always in house. My pool would supply the water for toilet flushing and the dog would eat as well as any other day. I hoard empty 1.75 litre vodka bottles to fill with water and always have Perrier on hand anyway.

        6 Replies
        1. re: manomin

          Good point on the coffee. A few years ago when we had the 'big' earthquake one of my friends was an absolute wreck until we finally tracked down some coffee for him. He refused to drink instant, refused to drink cola, oi what a pain.

          I always have spam on hand, most of the time canned chicken, tuna, chili, pork and beans. I'm afraid I'm not a canned stew or canned corned beef guy, but they are both good suggestions. For vegetables I do usually have canned corn on hand, don't like most other canned vegetables, although I can deal with canned green beans. I don't exactly keep these for emergencies, they are just part of what I have in the pantry most of the time. Even if they are past their prime, most is still edible, maybe just not as flavorful. And of course I always have both brown and white rice in the house (in the fridge to keep the bugs away).

              1. re: indelibledotink

                most canned chicken is in cans slightly larger than tuna cans, although I have seen whole canned chicken, but I have never bought it that way. The canned chicken is great for a quick chicken salad sandwich, or maybe included in some stir fry or fried rice.

                1. re: indelibledotink

                  Here is a link to some images, the whole canned chickens seem to be not as dry as just the canned white meat.

                  1. re: indelibledotink

                    We had a Campbell's Soup plant in my hometown where all they made was canned Swanson's chicken and canned Swanson's Chick Broth.

                2. I got tired of rotating canned foods, jerky etc, and ended up wasting a lot because by the time I looked, everything was expired. I bought a bucket of food,packets rom Costco,that has a 20 or 25 year shelf life

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: LisaN

                    are these available from Oahu costcos as well as online>?

                      1. FWIW, outdated canned goods are still safe to eat. The "best by" date generally refers to the storage window for optimal quality. (check stilltasty.com for more on that topic)
                        When I last considered inventory for emergency food supplies, I decided to only keep items which we would conceivably eat, and then made a point of using said items on a regular basis. The only "non-typical" item in the pantry for emergency use is bottled water. The tap water in our region is mighty fine, and so buying water (other than the fizzy sort) seems so wrong to me :) YMMV.
                        So, our pantry inventory currently includes: tinned fish, small packets of soy sauce, various dried fruits and nuts, including some granola and meal replacement bars, sugars, syrups, small juice boxes (I occasionally use "1 cup" for recipes), assorted rices and legumes, many many jars of pickles and preserved fruits. Plus, several home-cooked "ready to eat" meals in the freezer. I have a butane burner, and canisters of fuel.
                        We would be ok if we needed to batten down and stay at home for several days to weeks. Maybe even ok without power for a short period of time (sad to lose the freezer inventory, though). But if we had to evacuate and take food with, well, all those glass containers would get heavy, mighty soon.

                        1. Canned soups
                          Canned Roast Beef Hash
                          Canned Tuna
                          Canned Green Beans
                          Canned Shoestring Beets
                          Canned Corn
                          Individual packets of mustard, mayonnaise
                          A manual can opener
                          Peanut Butter
                          Canned fruit (applesauce, pears, pineapple chunks)
                          Bottled Water
                          Juice Boxes

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: laliz

                            I agree with everything here (except beets - Blech!). But I do most anything canned. However, I also set up a yearly alarm on my phone/computer to inspect yearly. Swap out older for new. DH is a fanatic on this. Hey, fine by me.

                          2. I'd go read up on some doomesday prepper forums if you're looking for long-term food solutions. Those are hardcore crazies that have this stuff down to a science.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Bunson

                              Or go to an LDS site, they aren't "hardcore crazies" yet have plans for food storage.
                              I've also noticed that in our area, WalMart now has an aisle dedicated to foods that are packaged for this, as well as storage systems. They have a great selection of freeze-dried as well as just regular dried foods and mixes.

                              1. re: wyogal

                                Some LDS folks ("hardcore crazies" or not) keep a standard level of "one year's supply" of staples such as rice, flour, sugar, dried beans etc. My late husband called himself a backslid Mormon, and referred to my well stocked pantry as "The Relief Society".

                                The current spouse gets excited about MREs - Meals Ready to Eat. We have a few of these in the pantry too, but Im not really crazy about them. I guess he's more interested in having them around than actually eating them -- occasionally we are short of ingredients for a meal, and when I point to the MREs and suggest he have one instead of complaining, he usually grabs the car keys and we're off to the local sushi joint.

                                We've survived hurricane Ike and gone a week without power. Our standard items since then have always been canned tuna, peanut butter, jam, crackers, dried fruit, and French press coffee. We have a gas stove and a gas grill so we were able to cook from the freezer as things thawed.

                                1. re: Cheflambo

                                  During my last four day power failure, a daily trip was made to Walmart for five pounds of dry ice. It goes on the top shelf of the big freezer and as much as possible, based on replacement cost, is moved from the side-by-side to the big freezer. After that, the big freezer is opened once a day to get what is needed for the next 24 hours and the dry ice is restocked at the same time. The dry ice is a heck of a lot cheaper than replacing all of that food!

                            2. When I moved to Dallas nine years ago next month, I stupidly failed to research the weather first. To my great chagrin, after moving here I found out Dallas is right in the heart of Tornado Alley." WHAT was I thinking!!! So of course I set about following the warnings to put in a supply of EMERGENCY FOOD! Ummm. NO! The next time I looked into the box of emergency rations, emergency flashlights, emergency toilet paper, and emergency matches, I got to throw ALL of the food away. What a waste! So now I operate on the premise of "If I'm starving and the whole community is starving with me, we can always raid the Arabian horse farm across my back fence and have horse steaks to tide us through." Hey, I've eaten horse meat before, and the French say Arabians are the Kobe beef of horsedom! So there are always options. '-)

                              But not to worry. I do have a few bags of "forever" chili con carne on hand that you simply pour into a pan and add a quart or so of water and boil for 40 minutes to an hour and voila! Chile con carne with beans! And if I want to lay in more variety, Sam's Club offers a pretty wide selection of "survival packs" of food guaranteed to be fresh for decades! Most varieties of ramen also are pretty stable for the long term. And you can always buy a few bags of freeze dried strawberries, corn, peas, whatever... And freeze dried veggies also make good snack food.

                              And then for food that really lasts forever without decay, there are always Twinkies!

                              1. Depending on how long you think you would have to do without the local grocery, you might think about places like Mountain House, (www.mountainhouse.com) who have freeze dried food in gallon cans. There are a lot of varieties, including mixtures (chicken stew, beef stroganoff) and individual items (sweet corn, green beans, pork chops).

                                It will last for a decade if properly stored, is easy to use, and with a few added spices, not terrible. I exist on it for about 30 days each year while on photographic trips where light weight is a blessing.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: akachochin

                                  what an interesting career.

                                  manomin mentioned Costco, they seem to have similar foods. guess i'll have to ask my sis to see if the local stores carry such supplies.

                                  1. re: indelibledotink

                                    They don't. It's online as "emergency kits and supplies"-there's no aisle with these items in the store. Almost all the online item prices include shipping.


                                2. How 'outdated' were the canned goods? The date on the can does not indicate in any way how safe the food is on the inside.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: John E.

                                    I had some green beans that were about 30 months or so beyond the buy by date (what some people call the bye-bye date,) they were a little bit bitter, but quite edible and i did not get sick from eating them.

                                    And I agree with those who say just buy mostly things that you will use and continue to rotate it with new purchases.

                                  2. WATER

                                    at least 20 gallons - many more if possible.
                                    just recycle it regularly. We swap out 5 gallon Arrowhead bottles 6 or 8 times times/year.

                                    Anything pouched, tuna/crab/chicken/ etc. is better than canned, IMO. But we have many cans - tuna, salmon, chicken, and yes ! Spam - as well that we swap out semi-annually. Coffee, tea, rice and pasta [we have a gas grill], crackers, packaged ramen as mentioned here, drained canned chicken is great. We swap out dried fruit and nuts twice a year [and of course, we forget sometimes.]

                                    Also, it's OT, but please have some basic first aid stuff, you will definitely need the headache aid of your choice, and if you can wheedle extra prescriptions out of your insurance company to store, do it. We have had pretty good success with this.

                                    It's hard to keep up with all of this - we kept boxes of granola bars for years, and then realized that we really didn't like them. So, we swapped out some instant oatmeal. Helping my elderly mom with some cooking issues, I discovered that the shelf-stable microwave pasta and other foodstuff you can purchase [i.e. Barilla nuke meals] can be heated on a grill. Or in a toaster oven, if you have electricity.

                                    best regards from SoCal EQ country. !

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: nikkihwood

                                      don't keep instant oatmeal too long; when I was moving out of my apt, I found some instant quaker oatmeal pouches. the flavoring had absorbed moisture, but I thought no big deal. when I tried the cooked oatmeal, just a few bites, there was no sweet taste, and my throat closed up. the next day I tried another packet with just a taste, and same thing. they must have been 2 yrs old, though.

                                    2. For us, it isn't really a matter of what to store. It is a matter of not keeping much in the freezer. Where I live, the power company doesn't need tropical storms, hurricanes, or even big storms to throw us into the dark. Any slight breeze or even a sneeze will do. No, I do not live in war-torn Iraq. I live just outside Washington, D.C. I have tossed huge amounts of frozen food over the years. So keeping the freezer as empty as possible is a survival strategy here. No, I don't want a generator. They are incredibly noisy and when we have really bad storms (like Snowmaggedon) the gas stations are closed so you can't keep them running for long anyway.

                                      As for what to store, for us it is mostly canned or shelf-stable packaged soups, tuna, and so on. We are not survivalists but we do a lot of camping so we have a camping stove and can always make pasta, heat soup, and make coffee or tea.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Just Visiting

                                        That sounds disasterous! Even without a disaster! FYI, there are LP gas back-up generators that run on sources as small as a barbecue size tank to larger storage tanks.

                                        I also use gas in an emergency and in non-emergencies. I live in an all-electric development so I use a tabletop gas burner for tagines AND power failures. They are as cheap as $20 on amazon.com or in most Asian markets. They're a lot easier to manage than many camping stoves and provide me with the ability to keep on cooking when a power failure hits and my pressure cooker still has 40 minutes to go!

                                      2. COSTCO has an extensive collection of emergency food supplies with "up to 20 year shelf life" I believe this is on the COSTCO web site only. This plus plenty of cash, ammunition and fuel should get you through an extended period of non- functioning public services, both private businesses, (retail stores) and public, (governmental), electric and gas utilities, water service, police, and emergency service, etc.

                                        3 Replies
                                          1. re: ospreycove

                                            I remember seeing a big bucket of emergency freeze dried food for sale at Costco but I don't remember when.

                                            1. re: John E.

                                              After Christmas. I called it a "New Year Resolution" purchase. It was only the one item, not all items that are listed on the costco.com page.

                                          2. I guess I am pleased that where I live, we don't have a need for an emergency food supply. Our electricity almost never goes out and when it does, I can't remember it being out for more than an hour. In our immediate vicinity, all of the utility lines are underground. Even when tens of thousands of households are without power in other parts of the Twin Cities, sometimes for days at a time, we have power. The only thing we have to worry about is a snowstorm that might keep us from the store for a day.