When storing food for natural disasters and catastrophes, consider that there is a pretty good chance you won’t have electricity or running water. Canned foods have a good shelf-life of 1 to 5 years, are ready-to-eat, and don’t require refrigeration before being opened. On top of that, you don’t need water for preparation; many dry foods require a substantial amount of water to prepare.
Food for a natural disaster should be composed primarily of canned foods. Canned fruit, vegetables, and meat are ready-to-eat without additional resources like electricity, water, or special preparation; critical during a natural disaster.
When storing food for a natural disaster, try to focus on high-calorie foods. There won’t be a lot of sitting around, so you will expend more calories than usual.
For example, In the case of a hurricane, you might be running a chain-saw and generally spending more time prepping food, staying cool, and fixing property damage. Here is a list of foods good to store for a natural disaster.
28 Foods For A Natural Disaster
You want the bulk of your emergency foods to be canned, but you can also use dried foods, powders, and non-perishables like peanut butter if you plan.
In case of groundwater or flooding, you’ll want to have your food supplies stored up off the floor and, if possible, stored in watertight bins or containers.
- Canned Fruit
- Canned Vegetables
- Canned Meat: Tuna, Salmon, Chicken And Beef
- Retort Pouch Meats (Tuna in a bag)
- Canned fruit juices
- Canned Soups & Stews
- Canned Meals (Chef Boyardee Beefaroni, spaghetti and meatballs, Annie’s Organic canned pasta)
- Canned Broth
- Sugar, salt, and pepper
- Food for infants and special needs diets
- Bottled Water (commercially bottled, 5-gallon jug(s) with hand pump)
- Water Purification Method (large backpacker’s water filter, boiling, bleach)
- Powdered drink mixes
- Snack Foods like potatoe chips
- High energy food like peanut butter, honey and other nut butters
- jams, jellies and honey
- Crackers to take the place of bread
- Dried Granola Bars & Survival Bars
- Nuts and Seeds such as peanuts, almonds, cashews and sunflower seeds
- Tail Mix (Planters)
- Morale boosters: Hard Candy, Cookies, Sweet Cereals, instant coffee, tea
- Dehydrated Fruit: Banana chips, cranberries, mango
- Mineral supplement
- Protein supplments/Protein Powder
- Dried Foods require extra water, consider this when storing water for emergencies
- Ramen Noodles
- Knorr noodle and rice side-dishes
- Minute Rice
- Beef Jerky
- Dried Bouillon powder and cubes (meat and vegetable)
Emergency Food Storage Tip: Store canned foods you eat in your normal diet and rotate through them with First In First Out (FIFO). That way, you will always have a fresh supply of canned and dry packaged goods for natural disasters.
Food Groups For A Natural Disaster
When storing food for a natural disaster, make sure to store foods in all food groups, so you’re eating a well-rounded diet. Shoot for eating at least one full meal a day and supplement with a multi-vitamin. Here are some examples of specific foods to store by food group.
- Canned peaches, pineapple, fruit medley, mandarin oranges
- Dried apricots, apples, bananna chips
- Apple and Fruit Sauces
- Canned or powdered fruit juices
- Canned green beans, corn, asparagus
- Lachoy Stir Fry Vegetables
- Canned Turnip Greens
- Canned Beets
- Canned pickles
- Canned olives
- Canned Ocra
- Canned Spinach
- Canned Peas
- Canned Artichoke Heart
- Low-fat Milk Powder
- Canned condensed milk
- Evaporated milk
- Canned Cheese, cheese spreads and sauces
- Butter Powder
- Instant Rice
- Rolled Oats
- Granola Bars
- Trail Mix
- Canned beans
- Canned meat (Turkey, Chicken, Salmon, Tuna, Beef)
- Mixed soups and stews with beans and or meat
- Nuts and Seeds and
- Trail Mix
- Peanut Butter
Water For Natural Disasters
You can’t talk about emergency food without mentioning water. Water is actually more important than food. You can last weeks without food and only 3 or 4 days without drinking water.
When planning for a natural disaster or emergency, make sure you have enough water for every person in your group, including your pets.
According to FEMA, you should store at least 1 gallon of water per day per person, but they suggest 2 weeks or more if you can.
- FEMA minimum water storage: 1 gallon per person, per day, for a 3 day supply
- FEMA suggested water storage: 1 gallon per person, per day, for 2 weeks
Water may be scarce or dirty during a disaster
Flooding and groundwater surges can bring in chemicals that contaminate groundwater and treatment plants. Many chemicals can’t be filtered, boiled away, or treated with bleach. For this reason, it is a good idea to have a supply of commercially bottled water, 5-gallon jugs, or a 55-gallon food-grade barrel filled with water before a disaster.
*Fill water containers before contamination.
Water Storage Tip: Avoid using water containers made of glass. Instead, go for tough food-grade bottles, jugs, and barrels.
Chart 1 Emergency Water Storage By Gallon(s) and Weight
Following is a chart of how much emergency water to store for one person based on one or two gallons. If you have multiple people in your group, multiply the number of people by the number of days in the one or two-gallon column.
Consider water weight when determining the size of the water storage container you will use. The weight of your water storage will give you a chance to consider a storage location. You may want to store it a little at a time, depending on your physical ability. I use the commercial five-gallon jugs and a hand pump for all of my drinking water. At 41.7 pounds, these bottles are heavy.
|Emergency Water Storage Per Person||1-gallon per day+weight||2-gallon per day + weight|
|Day 1||1 (8.34 lb)||2 (16.68lb)|
|Day 2||2 (16.68 lb)||4 (33.36lb)|
|Day 3 (minimum Emergency O2 per person)||3 (25.02lb)||6 (50.04lb)|
|Day 4||4 (33.36lb)||8 (66.72lb)|
|Day 5||5 (41.7lb)||10 (83.41lb)|
|Day 6||6 (50.04lb)||12 (100.08lb)|
|Day 7||7 (58.38lb)||14 (116.76lb)|
|Day 8||8 (66.72lb)||16 (133.4lb)|
|Day 9||9 (75.06lb)||18 (150.12lb)|
|Day 10||10 (83.4lb)||20 (166.8lb)|
|Day 11||11 (91.74lb)||22 (183.48lb)|
|Day 12||12(100.08lb)||24 (200.16lb)|
|Day 13||13(108.42lb)||26 (216.84lb)|
|Day 14 (suggested Emergency O2 per person)||14 (116.76lb)||28 (233.52lb)|
Interesting Water Fact: In addition to the 5-gallon jugs and some small drinking bottles, I have a 55-gallon water drum that weighs a whopping 458.7 lbs when filled. If you go with water drums, carefully choose the space where you will put them. Once they are full, you are not moving them.
Using Your Own Emergency Water Containers: 2 Easy Steps
If you can’t purchase commercially bottled water, you have the option of bottling your own. See how to do your own water bottles down below. The Federal Emergency Management Agency provides the information.
Step # 1
Cleaning Water Containers
- Clean Bottles with dish soap and water, and rinse completely
- Sanitize the bottles by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart (1/4 gallon) of water. Swish the sanitizing solution in the bottle to touch all surfaces. After sanitizing the bottle, thoroughly rinse out the sanitizing solution with clean water.
Step # 2
Filling Water Containers
- Fill the bottle with tap water. (If your water utility company treats your tap water with chlorine, you don’t need to add anything else to the water to keep it clean.)
- If the water you are using comes from a well or water source that is not treated with chlorine, add two drops of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to each gallon of water.
- Tightly close the container using the original cap. Don’t contaminate the cap by touching the inside with your fingers.
- Write the date on the outside of the bottle so you will know when you stored it.
- Place bottles in a cool dry location and replace every 6 months
Information Provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, “Food and Water in an Emergency.” *, see link under Resources.
10 Cooking Tools For Natural Disasters
In case of a natural disaster, you’ll need food, water, and the tools to use them. Below is a basic list of tools to ensure you can eat, drink and stay clean during a disaster.
- Manual Can Opener
- Alternate Cooking Methods
- outdoor gas grill
- charcoal grill
- alcohol stove
- butane stove
- propane campers grill
- Nesbit stove and tablets
- canned heat
- To Keep Food Hot
- candle warmers
- chafing dishes
- fondue pots
- Paper plates, plastic utensils
- Cooking utensils: spatula and large spoon
- bleach for cleaning and disinfection
- contractor grade trash bags
- Large plastic buckets or wash basins
- Poo Bucket
Texas A&M Agrilife Extension: Fillable Form, Emergency Food and Water Supplies PDF
Food Safety and Inspection Service: U.S. Department of Agriculture: A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes link
College of Family and Consumer Sciences University of Georgia, Preparing an Emergency Food Supply, Short Term Food Storage link
Federal Emergency Management Agency, “Creating and Storing An Emergency Water Supply.” link
Ready.gov Food For Emergencies link
Federal Emergency Management Agency: Food and Water In An Emergency link