What food your family should have on hand for an emergency depends on the tools you have. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that you have a manual can opener and serving utensils but no other items, such as a propane burner. Check out these items for cheap and easy hurricane—or other disaster—prep.
For breakfast for 72 hours, check out these three ideas. For day one, get individual boxes or bowls of cereal ($.25-$1 each). Then get a quart of shelf-stable milk, such as soy milk. You can eat this breakfast in the cereal box or bowl with a plastic spoon and toss everything.
A second breakfast is “frosted pastries,” or Pop-Tarts if you are going brand-name. A pastry, along with a handful of nuts, is a good second-day breakfast. For the third day, a good fruit bar or two will make for a decent meal. Pick up two fruit bars per person for a day three breakfast. Also pick up a quart of shelf-stable milk so everyone can have at least four ounces.
day one is simple. Pick up a deluxe tuna or chicken kit for everyone in the family. It has the basics, including the meat, crackers, and fruit, and you just need to add a small bag of dehydrated peas for everyone to share. For day two, have some peanut butter on apple slices and pretzels for a quick and easy lunch that includes healthy fats and carbs. Finally, make a lunch out of a handful of nuts, dried berries, and crackers. These simple lunches include all of the major food groups, and are easy to access during emergencies.
Make it simple for the first night without electricity. Vienna sausages are cheap and tasty—if not healthy!—and adding sealed bags of popcorn, dehydrated peas, and fruit cups will make a decent, filling meal. For day two, try out individual packets of nut butters (Justin’s is a great brand) and spread them on banana chips and crackers for a decent meal option. Add in some garlic chips for a little shelf-stable variety. Finally, having a night of MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) may not be the tastiest, but is a good option.
When you are hunkering down for a hurricane or other natural disaster, having two to three snacks per day is important. A basic snack is a strip of beef jerky, a half cup of pistachios, or a container of salted peanuts for a morning snack. For the mid-afternoon, go for a cup of pudding, a cup of applesauce, and a half cup of dried fruits. Finally, for post-dinner snacks, consider mixtures like trail mix; peanut butter and dried apples; and Nutella & pretzels.
After 24 hours without electricity, you’ll be bored! While you can have plenty of fun stuff to do, some good treats can be good, too! Pick up a bag of hard candy or candied nuts; both are good choices to have around during an emergency situation.
While these options will get you through having three days’ worth of meals, they won’t address the need for liquids. You should aim to have one gallon of water per day per person in your family. For example, a family of four should have 12 gallons of water (one gallon x four people x three days). Also consider adding in a six ounce soft drink per day per person, a small electrolyte drink per person, and a juice box per person.
The goal when preparing a three day stash of food is to have items your family will eat and that can be prepared with no refrigeration or cooking. As you expand your options, because a week should be the goal for most families, you may need to consider cook stoves or other options, but try to keep three days’ worth of shelf-stable food on hand to start.