Even if you can’t be persuaded to stock up on disaster food, an accessible water supply is something no family should be without. Smaller bottles are great for when you’re out working and easier for kids and the elderly to manage. Also, larger bottles are more cost-effective. FEMA recommends at least 1 gallon of water per person per day—and you’ll want enough for at least three days—but you can never have too much on hand.
Most 'shelf-stable meals' are designed to be quick and easy meals that you can have on hand for when you’re short on time. However, the benefit of this type of packaging is a very long shelf life, no refrigeration needed, and the food is fully cooked. All you need is to find a small heat source to bring it up to temperature, or worse case scenario you can eat them cold. There are lots of options out there, from cooked grains and beans to meat in different sauces.
Packed with protein, fiber and healthy fats, nuts are an ideal snack to keep your blood sugar steady and hunger at bay. Nuts last about three months in a dry and cool place at room temperature, about six months in a sealed container in the refrigerator, and even longer in the freezer.
It’s hard enough to get in the recommended amount of produce on a normal day, in a natural disaster it’s all the harder. However, nutrient-packed fruits and vegetable are important, especially in times of stress, and dried options offer a fantastic fix. Think beyond raisins, like dried carrots, mangoes, tomatoes and peas -- just to name a few. Look for dried produce without added sugar, salt or additives.
You’ve probably seen UHT (or ultra-high temperature) milk at the grocery store, but those little “juice” boxes of milk aren’t just for lunches. This type of milk is treated at a high temperature so it has a shelf life far longer than traditional milk (from 6 to 9 months unopened) and provides a good source of protein, calcium and other nutrients.
Stock up on high-fiber cereals. Since most cereals are highly fortified with vitamins and minerals you get a lot of nutrition from just one food. For the most bang for your nutritional buck, look for cereals that are 100 percent whole grain and have no more than 10 grams of sugar and at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
If you don’t have water, it’s going to be difficult to wash your dishes. Leaving dirty dishes out or reusing dishes that were not properly cleaned is a health risk. Include disposable utensils, plates, bowls, cups and napkins, as well as antibacterial wipes, in your supply stock to tide you over until you can go back to your usual dinnerware.
While some energy bars are a great nutritional deal, many of these attractively packaged bars are little more than vitamin-fortified candy, with calories and taste coming from high fructose corn syrup and other forms of sugar. Your best bet is to look for bars with “whole” ingredients like whole soy, fruit, and nuts.
Jerky is probably not something you want to be eating every day, but it will do in a pinch. Drying out the meat removes the moisture that allows bacteria and fungi to grow, so jerky is one of the safest ways to get animal protein when you have limited access to refrigeration or heat. Jerky has come a long way -- you can now find jerky made of turkey, chicken or bison. Pick up a low-sodium variety without preservatives for a fast, high protein ready-to-eat snack.
Many natural disasters do not come with a warning. No matter where you live, you should have a disaster kit that will sustain you for three days. Patricia Bannan, registered dietitian and author of "Eat Right When Time Is Tight," suggests stocking up on these nutritious foods, which will keep your energy up in times of crisis