When you are new to prepping or even if you are somewhat practiced at it, you are probably still trying to figure out just how much food you should be storing. You will read about folks who have a year’s worth of food sitting in their basement or bunker. It seems like a far-fetched, nearly impossible goal to attain without spending hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars overnight to get that much food stored away. How did they do it? They have probably been at it for a while, years more likely. You can reach that goal by doing a little at a time.
For new preppers, your ultimate goal should be to get at least 30 days worth of food on hand right out of the gate. This is where your focus should be. Food and water will be your priorities assuming you are going to be hunkering down in your home. If you have plans to bug out to a secondary location, you will still want to have a minimum of a 30-day supply in your main home and the bulk of your other supplies in the retreat location.
Why 30 Days of Emergency Food?
When you are trying to plan a food storage, it is easiest to work with months. That is one reason. Another reason is the typical fallout from a major disaster will likely leave you holed up in your home for at least a couple of weeks. The government recommends a minimum of 3 days of food and water, but in the grand scheme of things, that is nothing. What if it takes at least a few days before your area can be accessed by rescue services? Will they bring enough food and water? Will there be riots, pushing and shoving as people try to get the minimal supplies that were brought in? It could be another week before adequate supplies are brought into the area or you are able to leave and find food elsewhere. It is simply too risky to leave it up to hoping for the best.
The key is to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. When you have 30 days of food on hand, you don’t have to spend time and energy trying to take care of that very important need. You can focus on taking care of the injured, finding information about what happened and when you can expect things to be set right again. Things will be tough enough as it is, you don’t need to add to your stress level worrying about where you will find your next meal and what you will feed your children. You need time to get your head on straight and possibly heal from any wounds. If it becomes apparent that the disaster is going to cause a major interruption in the food supply chain for longer than 30 days, you can start scouting for food without panicking that you are not going to be able to eat tomorrow. You have a cushion.
What Food Should You Store?
You need to store food that isn’t going to spoil. Ideally, items with long shelf lives are your best bet. Canned food is often a food of choice for preppers because it can store for years without spoiling and it is inexpensive. However, there is still the risk of it going bad or botulism developing if it hasn’t been stored correctly or the cans have become dented or dinged in any way. Canned food can also be heavy, requiring you to have sturdy shelves to hold a 30-day supply. Another downside to canned food is the salt content in many of the foods. At a time when water is in short supply, you need to manage your salt intake to avoid dehydration.
Freeze-dried food is certainly a favorite for preppers. The variety of meals that are available is astonishing. It requires only a little water to re-hydrate and actually holds quite a bit of flavor. You will find food options like spaghetti and meatballs, chili, chicken soup with veggies and even pork chops! No, the food doesn’t taste exactly as it would should you make it fresh in your kitchen today, but it is pretty close. One suggestion is to have a variety of spices on hand to help add some flavor to the pre-packaged meals.
One of the downsides to the freeze-dried meals is the cost. They can be extremely expensive, especially if you are buying individual packages. However, you can save a great deal of money buy buying in bulk. The foods are regularly sold in 10 pound cans that store for 30 years or more in the right conditions. If you or someone in the family has dietary restrictions, you can find freeze-dried meals that are designed to follow those guidelines, like gluten free, low sodium or even vegetarian options.
It is important you read the serving size details on each can. A 30-day supply for a woman is going to look a lot different than a 30-day supply for a man who is burning thousands of calories every day doing manual labor. Your best option is to focus on calorie content and not pay attention to how long the cans should last you. A single serving is probably not going to be enough for any adult. Factor that in when you are deciding how much to store for 30 days.