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Food Tips and Recipes for Your Emergency Kit

May 3, 2016 by Dean Simmons, Registered Dietitian

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Non-perishable food for emergency kit and recipe ideas

With any luck you’ve already packed your emergency supply kit and have enough food, water and other supplies to carry your family through three days in an emergency situation. If not, use this guide to help you get started. When it comes to managing the top ten risks in B.C., chance favours the prepared.

Not sure how much water you’ll need, what foods to pack, or what meals you can make with non-perishable food items? Read on to get a shopping list and recipes.

Water and Your Emergency Kit

You’ll need four liters of water per person per day—enough for drinking, cooking and cleaning. That means you’ll need 12 litres per person in order to last three days. Children, women who are breastfeeding, and people who are sick may need more water. If you have pets you’ll need to add more for them too.

Foods to Pack in Your Emergency Kit

Stock your emergency kit with enough non-perishable foods to feed everyone for three days. Choose foods that are familiar to you and your family; and include foods that you don’t have to cook, since there may be power outages. If you want to expand your meal possibilities, pack a camp stove (just be sure to include fuel and a pot).

What are non-perishable foods? These are foods that will last a long time at room temperature without spoiling. Examples include canned or jarred foods, shelf stable beverages, and dry foods like rice, pasta, lentils, dried fruit and vegetables, and crackers.

Choose foods and drinks that are lower in salt, as salty foods can make you thirsty. Look at the Nutrition Facts table on food packages and choose products with less than 15% of the Daily Value for sodium. Instead, pack low sodium non-perishable foods with a high liquid content like canned fruit, soups or stews to help keep you hydrated.

Since the foods in your kit are only meant for a short period of time you needn’t worry about perfect nutrition when choosing what foods to pack. However, having nutritious foods in your kit will help keep everyone’s energy levels and spirits up during an emergency situation.

  • Vegetables and Fruit: dried fruit and vegetables are light and versatile; low sodium canned vegetables and canned fruit packed in juice or water offer both hydration and nourishment; 100% juice boxes help with hydration; low sodium tomato sauce makes grain-based meals more appetizing.
  • Grain Products: unsalted whole grain crackers are a good substitute for bread; instant or quick oats and chia seeds only require soaking; cous cous and bulgur just needs a quick soak in hot water, whole grain breakfast cereals can be eaten dry or with shelf stable fortified soy beverage or milk, and granola bars or energy bars make easy snacks. Pasta and rice require cooking but can really stretch out a meal, helping to satisfy hungry family members.
  • Milk and Alternatives: evaporated milk, powdered milk, shelf stable milk or fortified soy beverage
  • Meat and Alternative: nut butters, unsalted nuts and seeds pack a lot of energy; canned tuna, salmon, sardines, chicken, low sodium stews and baked beans are convenient high protein foods; and dried split red lentils cook in just 15 minutes.
  • Other Food Supplies: cooking oil, spices and herbs, instant coffee, tea, and foods that bring comfort in times of stress such as chocolate. Remember to pack a manual can opener and eating utensils.

Pick up a few of these non-perishable items every time you go grocery shopping and you’ll be able to build a well-balanced emergency kit without breaking the bank.

Replace the food and water in your emergency kit each year to keep your supplies from spoiling. Also, keep in mind that emergency situations present special food safety challenges – check out this list of food safety tips during emergencies.

Emergency Kit Meals

Believe it or not, you can turn your collection of non-perishable foods into some tasty meals. Camping cook books, emergency preparedness (also known as “Prepper’s”) books and websites can be a good place to look for recipe ideas.

Here are two simple no-cook breakfast ideas that will provide nutrition and comfort in times of emergency. For additional recipe ideas check out the resources section below.

Nutty No-Cook Oatmeal

This no-cook oatmeal (also known as muesli) recipe can be adjusted to suit your tastes and the ingredients you have in your kit. Mix together the following ingredients and let stand at least 10 minutes, until thick.
2 cups (500 ml) minute or instant oats
¼ cup (60 ml) nuts or seeds
¼ cup (60 ml) dried fruit
2 cups (250 ml) evaporated milk, shelf stable fortified soy beverage or milk or water

Chia Seed No-Cook Pudding

This pudding has a texture similar to tapioca. Mix together the following ingredients and let stand at least 10 minutes, until thick. Top with dried fruit or nuts if desired.
2 cups (500 ml) evaporated milk, shelf stable fortified soy beverage or milk
½ cup (125 ml) chia seeds
1 to 2 tbsp (15 to 30 ml) honey, maple syrup or brown sugar

If you have great recipe ideas using emergency kit food ingredients please share them in the comments section below.


Related blogs

Emergency Mommy: Disaster Dining

Recommended resources

HealthLink BC: Preparing for an Emergency - A Focus on Water and Food
BC Government: Emergency Preparedness, Response & Recovery
Government of Canada: Get Prepared and Emergency Kits
US Department of Homeland Security: Food
Florida International University: The Healthy Hurricane/Disaster Cookbook

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