Food Supply

Food and water are the main priorities in preparing for an emergency. During an emergency, we could experience shortages or store closures. Make an extra effort to pick up extra cans or packages each time you go to the store.

Planning your Purchases

  • Choose foods that have a long shelf life, have a high water content, and can be stored at room temperature. Avoid foods packaged in syrup, those having a high salt (sodium) content, or that have alcohol or carbonation. Such foods tend to increase the body’s demand for water.
  • Build up your everyday stock of canned goods and other prepared foods until you have an adequate surplus.
  • Rotate it periodically to maintain a supply of common foods not requiring special preparation, water, or cooking. Canned foods last a year at full quality.
  • Buy a supply of bulk staples for longer term storage. Remember that dried foods will take extra water for cooking.

Consider Including

  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Canned juices, milk, soup (if powdered or concentrated, store extra water).
  • Sugar, honey.
  • Ready-to-eat cereals and uncooked instant cereals (store in metal containers).
  • Food for persons on special diets.
  • High energy foods (peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars, trail mix).
  • Vegetable oils.
  • Dried spices.
  • Non-carbonated soft drinks.
  • Bouillon products.


Choose a cook spot and use only food-grade containers. Plastic buckets with tight-fitting lids work well for bulk staples (restaurants often give these away).

Keep food covered at all times.

  • Inspect all food containers for signs of spoilage before use.
    Rotate the food stocks throughout the year by marking dates.
  • Use Food in the Following Order if the Power is Off:
    • First, use perishable foods from the refrigerator.
    • Second, use the foods from the freezer. To minimize the number of times you open the freezer door, post a list of freezer contents on it. In a well-filled, well-insulated freezer, foods will usually still have ice crystals in the center (meaning foods are safe to eat) for at least three days.
    • Finally, begin to use non-perishable foods and staples.
  • Once food has thawed, do not re-freeze after the power returns. Click herefor safe food handling.


  • Do not use propane and kerosene stoves or charcoal grills indoors at any time. Store all fuel outside of buildings.
  • Propane or kerosene stoves work fine for most stove top cooking.
  • An outdoor charcoal or propane grill can do double duty, and so can your fireplace (if it is wood burning).
  • You can also heat food with candle warmers, chafing dishes, and fondue pots.
  • Canned food can be eaten right out of the can. If you heat it in the can, be sure to open the can and remove the label first. Remember, the can will be HOT!
  • Camping supply stores have a variety of cooking devices, from solar to Sterno cans. Purchase products in advance as prices may rise, and availability may decrease.
  • Consider using a pressure cooker to save on fuel.