by Denise Nowack, RD

When emergencies strike access to food, water, and power can be compromised for days.  Experts recommend that we all be prepared with a three-day supply of water and food.  Follow these simple tips to help you build an emergency stockpile of the foods you’ll need.







What Does a 3-Day Supply Look Like?

A healthy food supply is more than just packing up a few snack foods in a box.  Based on the Food Pyramid, here’s what a basic 3-day reserve should consist of for each adult in your household:

  • Bread, Cereal, Rice, Pasta – 9-12 servings
  • Fruit – 6 servings
  • Vegetables – 7-9 servings
  • Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Nuts – 16-19 oz
  • Milk, yogurt, cheese – 3-9 servings

Serving sizes will vary by age, gender, activity level and physical condition.

Choosing the “Right” Foods

  • Look for foods you like to eat.  You don’t need to buy unfamiliar items for your emergency supply—in fact familiar foods can help provide a sense of comfort in stressful times.
  • Look for foods that are “shelf-stable.”  These include canned foods, dried mixes and other items that require no refrigeration for storage.  As long as they remained sealed, they could last from 6-12 months. 
  • Look for foods that require little preparation.  Should you lose power, choose items that are ready to eat.  As a rule of thumb, canned foods don’t require cooking before eating.  Consider small can sizes or individual servings that provide just the amount you might consume at one time.

When the Power Goes Out

In the case of a loss of power, a charcoal or propane grill or camp stove can be used for emergency cooking.  (Be sure to use these outdoors.)  Additionally, candle warmers, chafing dishes and fondue pots can also heat foods.  If you don’t have an alternate way to heat water, do not include instant foods in your supplies.

Storage Tips

Pack your food supply up in a covered box or container that can be easily carried out of your home in case of an emergency.  Store these in a cool, dry place that is free from insects and rodents.  Date your foods with a marker and be sure to rotate with a fresh supply every 6-12 months.  Seal cookies and crackers in a plastic container or plastic bag to preserve freshness.

Don’t Forget Water

At least one gallon per person per day should be stored away for drinking, food preparation and hygiene.  Just like your other food, date and rotate your water supplies every six months.

Stock up for Success

Let the Food Pyramid be your guide for your emergency food supply.  (The items with a * require heated water for preparation

  •  Bread, Cereal, Grains—Crackers, pretzels, ready-to-eat cereals, granola bars, rice or popcorn cakes, cookies, instant cereal*, boxed couscous*, noodles in a cup or packaged ramen*
  • Fruits—Canned fruit, fruit roll-ups, applesauce, dried fruits, jelly, canned or bottled fruit juices, powdered juice drinks, or juice concentrates
  • Vegetables—Canned vegetables, canned vegetable soups, canned or bottled vegetable juice, instant vegetable soups,* instant potatoes*
  • Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dried Beans & Nuts—Canned tuna/salmon, tuna lunch packets, sardines, canned chicken/turkey, canned lentil/bean soups, canned chili, canned ham/pork, Vienna sausages, canned stew, canned beans, shelf-stable tofu,  beef/turkey jerky, peanut butter, canned nuts
  • Milk, Yogurt, Cheese—Powdered dried milk or canned evaporated milk, boxed rice or soy milk, process cheese, snack cup pudding, instant cocoa*
  • Other Important Items—Manual can/bottle opener, resealable plastic bags, paper plates, disposable eating utensils, trash bags, waterproof matches or fire starter

 Don’t forget about your pets too!