With the increase of natural disasters in recent years, you never know when an emergency might hit the food supply, leaving supermarket shelves empty for days or even weeks. When this happens, you can be sure that panic buying, profiteering, and fights over food will break out. Stockpiling a small selection of basics can help you to not be part of the problem when this happens. You can help to promote calm as well as insulating yourself from the crisis.
In the case of a more long term interruption to the food supply, you're going to have much bigger problems. We won't go into that too much here, but the best thing you can do now is to build up a community of friends, family and neighbours so you can be ready to support each other if and when the time comes. You should also learn to fish, hunt, and find edible weeds now while times are good. You can also work to dry and preserve some food.
In World War 2, more than 20 million people died of starvation - more than any other reason during the war. In a disaster, agriculture is vulnerable, so being able to survive without it will be an essential skill.
However, for short emergencies, having a small stock pile of long life foods will hopefully see you through. Most people only have enough food for a few days. You should work to build up at least 2 months worth of the foods below, more if possible, and rotate them as you use them. Just a couple of extra tins or bags of pasta every time you go to the supermarket won't add much to your bill and could make all the difference when the time comes.
The following is a list of essentials for your pantry that will be helpful in an emergency. But forget spaceman packets. This is not your usual "preppers" list of powdered eggs and energy bars. This is a list of good food that you can use to create delicious meals while you ride the storm. This list is not really for long term survival, although everything has all been chosen for its long life. This is a list of things you can have in your pantry anyway, using in your day to day meals. The difference is that you can hold enough to see you through a tough few months if necessary.
As well as potatoes (which won't last as long) these can form a good energy foundation for most meals. Work to build up a good stock of each, for variety and resilience.
- Rice (Brown rice is preferred)
- Long Life Noodles
- Dry Pasta
- Lentils and other dried legumes and beans
Stock up on tins and rotate them as you use them. Look for low salt varieties of stuff as this will make you thirsty. If you can stand tinned meat, this will be pretty handy for energy, but I don't think this could be counted as "quality food".
- Tomatoes (Loads of these!)
- Mixed Beans
- Kidney Beans
- Tuna/salmon/sardines etc
- Tinned meat; spam, chicken (if you usually eat this)
- Soups (just for the occasional lunch, look for low salt varieties)
- Milk - Evaporated, condensed, coconut etc
Anything you can preserve yourself will come in handy of course, but if this isn't feasible, stock up on a few "gourmet" pickled foods to spice up any meal or snack.
- Tomato paste
- Minced ginger
- Pickled onions
- Pickled artichokes
- Sun dried tomatoes
- Roasted peppers
You'll probably have a few vegetables in your fridge and hopefully some in your garden. But these won't last long so you'll probably have to resort to your tins/pulses quite quickly. There are a few vegetables however, that will keep for a good few weeks or more, and they're good to have in your kitchen anyway, so to be prepared for an emergency, just increase the volume you keep.
- Dried garlic
- Pumpkins and Squashes
- Also frozen veg, such as peas
Frozen or Dried Herbs
The following herbs are probably the most commonly used and are also not too bad in a dried or frozen form. Obviously if you have a fresh herb garden to pick from, you won't need these but you never know when that supply might disappear, due to flooding, bush fire, or it just stops growing. So it's good to have a backup of long lasting herbs.
- Mixed Herbs
With just a handful of spices, you can make a vast array of meals. Think curries, chillies, pasta sauces and stir fries. Most spices last a while anyway, but make sure you have a good stock of the following.
- Coriander Seeds
- Chili powder
- Sea Salt
- Garlic Powder
Sauces and Oils
Keep larger bottles and fill up smaller ones to use day to day - and you won't have to sacrifice taste in a crisis.
- Olive Oil
- Soy Sauce (essential!)
- Vinegar (white or red wine vinegar are good)
- Mustard (surprisingly nutritious)
Snacks, Breakfasts and Deserts
Here are some examples of long lasting foods ready for quick and easy snacks at any time.
- Frozen raspberries
- Whole wheat crackers
- Rice cakes
- Peanut butter
- Nuts such as almonds
- Cereals and cereal bars
- Corn kernels for popcorn (just add sea salt)
- Jam and other spreads - for the crackers and rice cakes
Here are some essentials to keep in your cupboard that will go towards a whole host of meals.
- Powdered stock
- Long Life Milk
- Instant coffee
- And of course, powdered eggs...
Most of these foods can be kept for quite a long time but remember to rotate stock as you use it. Learn recipes that you can make with these ingredients - all the foods mentioned here can be used in combination with each other to make some delicious and healthy meals!
On top of all the food, make sure you have a spare can opener or two!
Do you have any other suggestions? If so, please leave a comment!