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Item of the Week: Food

Apr 16, 2019

What food should you keep in your emergency kit? And how much?

For each person, you’ll want to have at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food items. Ideally, you should have foods that don’t make people thirsty (i.e., low sodium foods) and foods that are specific to individual dietary restrictions (i.e., no beef jerky for your vegetarian son).

Food List 

  • Ready-to-eat canned/pouched foods

Did you know that some meat products, beans, fruits, and vegetables are sold in cans and/or pouches? Note: If you’re adding canned goods to your kit, don’t forget to pack a can opener or a multi-purpose tool. If you think you’ll want to heat up canned or pouched foods, add camping cookware to your kit.

  • Protein or fruit bars

These bars pack a punch -- of protein and/or whole grains -- and will help fill you up.

  • Dry cereal or granola

Cereal and granola are great sources for dietary fiber, as well as B vitamins, iron, and other important nutrients. Note: Since these are dry, you’ll want to drink extra fluids to stay hydrated.

  • Peanut or other nut butters or products

Nut butters are chock-full of protein and heart-healthy unsaturated fats, so are mixed nut and other nut-based mixes. Bonus: They’ll help you feel full longer. Just select the lower sodium versions, so you’re not guzzling your water supply.

  • Dried or freeze-dried fruit and vegetables

Mango, apricots, cranberries, blueberries, bananas and edamame are just some of the fruits and vegetables that are sold dried in stores. Dried fruits last longer than fresh fruits, and contain more fiber and nutrients per unit. Note: Fruits and vegetables are also sold freeze-dried. Fruits and vegetables that have been freeze-dried have lost almost all of their water, so be sure to stay hydrated if you choose to eat the freeze-dried options.

  • Canned/bottled/boxed drinks

Water is the best option to stay hydrated. However, juices, especially 100% fruit or vegetable juices, can be a great source of vitamins and minerals. Low-sugar energy or sports drinks can help restore electrolytes. And low-fat evaporated, canned or dry milk are non-perishable dairy options. Avoid soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages, if possible.

Food Safety

Check your kit to make sure your food items aren’t close to their expiration dates. Replace things as needed.

During an emergency, if food packaging looks damaged or if the food could be contaminated, don’t eat it. If your food seems off (it has a weird smell, color, or texture), don’t eat it. Disinfect food packaging, cookware, and utensils before use. Keep waste secure and separate from your food, cookware, and utensils.

Lastly, ALWAYS wash your hands (or use hand sanitizer) before preparing and eating the foods in your kit. Contaminated hands are a main route of transmission for foodborne illnesses.

Additional Resources