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Food and Water Storage

When it comes to Emergency Planning, the hardest part comes down to food and water.  This happens for a variety of reasons from – “I already have food and water” to “I don’t have room” to “I don’t have the money”.  All these are valid reason but they prevent us from seeing the bigger picture.

The truth is most grocery stores carry enough food for three days.  There might be some eeking on the supply but why would you put yourself in that position.  I know that some months the food supply gets a little scarce in our house.  We could survive on what we have but we wouldn’t necessarily like it.

So what does one do?  Planning always helps.  Starting with a target helps as well.  Most emergency planning information mentions three time frames – 3 days, 14 days, 1 year.  Having a year’s supply is awesome but it’s something to work towards over time.  I recommend starting with 14 days but 3 days is just fine too.

Let’s talk water first.  For emergency planning purposes, you need to plan for 1 gallon of water per person per day.  For the three of us, that’s 42 gallons plus extra for our cat.

Saving your water bottles sounds economical but there are problems with using plastic water bottles.  They are not designed for long-term storage and the bottles will leach chemicals into the water if stored for years.  We do save 2 liter bottles when we have them.  They are filled with water and stored in the freezer.  I don’t know if they will leach chemicals.

Getting water in container designed for long-term storage is best.  Buying an extra gallon of water when you get your groceries will build a water supply.  Our plan is to purchase 5 gallons at a time.  That’s nine 5 gallon containers we have to store.

Not only is water bulky but it’s heavy so we’re thinking what’s best for us and our neighbors.  One emergency preparedness educator suggested storing water behind your couch if it’s up against the wall.  We’re going to try that since it does allow us to have some stored.  We’re also thinking under our bed would be another option.  As we get around to it, I’m sure we’ll find lots of places to tuck our storage into.

It won’t hurt to vary the type of water storage you have.  In our area, we have a soda plant.  They sell empty 50 gallon drums for very little.  That’s great, if you have a place to put it, we don’t but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great idea.  However, you can’t evacuate with a 50 gallon drum or even with 5 gallon bottles easily.  So having several 1 gallon containers gives you options.

We’ll be getting some Datrex pouches (they are basically mylar juice packs filled with water) for our car.  They are one of the few products that can hold up to the temperature changes a car trunk goes through over the year.

You can always fill containers from your sink but make a note of when you fill the bottles.  Florinated water can only be stored for two years.  My grandmother often filled empty bleach bottles with water to store them.  Bleach evaporates and keeps the water germ free.

As for food, there is no reason to buy anything you wouldn’t eat normally.  While the idea of MRE’s or emergency food kits sound like a simple solution – they are pricey and they don’t always taste good.

When planning your food storage, take time to think about what would life look like in your house if you didn’t have power for two weeks.  What would you be eating?  How would you cook?

We’re going to learn solar cooking but that would only benefit us on sunny days and most likely just during the summer.  We do have a butane stove and some camping/emergency alternatives.  We, also, own a small charcoal grill but we live on the third floor so we have to take that into consideration.  Later, I’ll put together a post on making a cookstove which will be so cool.

With all that in mind, the next thing is to think about what your family likes and what will help comfort them in a time of crisis.  I know my family loves pasta so spaghetti makes an easy choice.  I already shared my recipes for instant oatmeal and pancake mix.  I plan on making more packets of things like biscuit mix and raw energy bars.

Peanut butter and jelly on tortillas or on crackers or biscuits would make for an easy lunch.   Canned soups and beans would provide hearty and simple meals.

I’m considered something special like freeze-dried ice cream to throw in the kits.  They are pricey but would be worth it during an emergency.

How does one put together a food storage?  One meal at a time.  Next time you go to the store, buy an extra canned or dry good and tuck it away in a special emergency spot.  Remember to rotate the food (but replace after you use it).

14 days of food sounds like a lot of food but I will tell you that 14 days of breakfasts for 3 people has taken up the space of a shoebox in my house.