When was the last time you looked at your food supply…I mean, really looked? As in, opened up some containers to check out what’s going on inside?
In recent years, some of the major manufacturers in the preparedness industry have put out foods with all types of problems:
- Early spoilage
- Misleading serving counts
- Poor nutritional value
- And more
There could be lots of hidden issues with your food that you don’t want to discover in the middle of an emergency. Now’s the time to re-evaluate the state of your emergency food supply and give it a much-needed upgrade.
To help, I consulted some of our prepping pros for the most essential, easy-to-accomplish upgrades you can complete right away.
1. Add Some Much-Needed Protein
Purchasing just a few cans of freeze-dried meat will instantly upgrade your supply to 40-plus grams of protein per day.
When we say that many—even most—emergency supplies are dangerously low on protein, what we’re really saying is that they’re low on energy, because that’s what protein provides. The reason is simple: complete proteins are expensive, so lots of manufacturers skimp on them.
How to upgrade – Luckily, this is an easy fix. Purchasing just a can or more of freeze-dried meat will instantly upgrade your supply to 40-plus grams per day. And meat integrates so well into most meals, it’s as simple as rehydrating and tossing into your food.
2. Sprinkle in Some Fruits and Veggies
Toss freeze-dried fruits and/or veggies into your 72-hour kit and longer-term stockpile.
We’ve all heard about the long-term benefits of fruits and vegetables, from an “apple a day keeps the doctor away,” to “eat your greens to grow big and strong.”
But fruits and veggies also have some important short-term benefits that you need in disaster scenarios, which is why it’s notable that they’re absent in so many emergency foods kits. Fruits and veggies keep your digestive system regular, your blood sugar in check (which regulates hunger), and your blood pressure down.
How to upgrade – We recommend freeze-dried fruits and veggies as a perfect addition to any supply. Toss a pouch of them into your 72-hour kit or a #10 can into your long-term stockpile. They’re easy to integrate into your supply and don’t even require re-hydration in most cases.
3. Forget About Serving Size
When planning emergency meals, forget about servings and focus instead on calories and macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbs).
It’s funny that “servings” are one of the most popular metrics for communicating how much food is in a package, because they’re pretty lousy at it!
What does a “serving” even mean to everyday people? One serving is definitely not an adult-sized meal. It usually doesn’t even represent a real portion.
Counting on “servings” to tell you how much is in your emergency supply can leave you feeling like you’ve got more food than you actually do.
How to upgrade – When you’re planning emergency meals, forget about servings and focus instead on calories and macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbs). Most adults will need (give or take) 2,000 calories per day, 40 to 60 grams of protein, 40 to 70 grams fat, and 225 to 325 grams of carbohydrates.
4. Bring in Some Micronutrients
While it’s best to get micronutrients through your food, there are awesome nutritional supplements available that are specially made for emergencies.
Most of us know that there are certain nutrients our bodies require every day—fats, carbs, and protein, for example. But did you know that there are 30 vitamins and minerals your body needs but doesn’t make, and that some of these are difficult to get through diet alone? Go without them for too long and your heart, kidneys, bones, and brain will start giving you problems.
How to upgrade – This is one of the easiest fixes on our list. While it’s best to get micronutrients through your food, there’s an awesome nutritional supplement by Ready Hour called the "Survival Shot" that’s designed to give you the nutrients you need in an emergency. It’s our first recommendation for getting micronutrients into your supply.
5. Add Water—You Need More Than You Think!
Take a multi-layered approach to upgrading your water storage. Add portable water first, then more filtration capacity, then more volume to your storage barrels.
You can go weeks without food and survive (not that we recommend it). But go three days without water and you’re done for.
That said, you’d be surprised at how many experienced preppers list water as the biggest weakness in their supply. It doesn’t cost near as much as food, but it requires regular work, space, and time to maintain.
How to upgrade – The first thing in properly stocking water is knowing exactly how much you need. As a general rule, plan on keeping one gallon per person, per day. It sounds like a lot, but it’s easy to overlook how often you’ll actually need it. There’s drinking, food rehydration, basic body hygiene, dish washing, toilet flushing, around the house cleaning, and more to cover.
The next thing to think about is the actual storage of water—this can be tough. Your best solution is to pick up at least two blue barrels—the bigger the better. Smaller containers work too, if space is an issue. Get creative with where you store them!
And then layer your water supply. Don’t just rely on barrels; stockpile filters too, with lots and lots of spare cartridges. Also, put away fresh, portable water you can toss in a bug out bag and run.
6. Spice Things up with a Little Variety
Variety takes planning. Divide your supply between pre-made entrées, fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs and dairy, and baking goods.
Have you ever gone a few days eating the same thing over and over? Remember how you felt down, low-energy, even nauseous after a while?
That’s not just a psychological phenomenon. When your body is deprived of the wide variety of nutrients it needs, it starts misbehaving surprisingly quickly.
How to upgrade – This simply takes some planning. We recommend stocking your supply with a mix of pre-made entrées fruits, veggies, and sides, as well as ingredients you can easily use to make foods from scratch.
And don’t forget dessert! No matter how old you are, nothing keeps your spirits up like the promise of a treat at the end of the day.
7. Customize to Your Tastes—Try Before You Buy
Stock more of the meals you love to eat! Start by buying a few new foods and strategically sampling (some items come in sample pouches).
You’d never buy a car without giving it a test drive. Heck, most of us won’t buy an ice cream cone without sampling a few varieties first. But lots of amazing preppers will spend hundreds if not thousands or tens of thousands of dollars on food that they never try.
How to upgrade – The easiest way to customize your supply to fit your personal tastes is to sample the goods ahead of time. If an emergency food sample isn’t available for what you want, buy some #10 cans with foods you’re curious about but not totally sure of. For instance, you may not feel like you need to sample freeze-dried fruits, but an entrée like mac and cheese...you might want to give that a try before you invest in a bunch of cans.
8. Upgrade Your Shelf Life
To monitor the shelf life of your supply, pick one can for each type of food—one fruit or veggie, one meat, one entrée, one grain, etc.—and open it.
There’s a lot of emergency food from well-known manufacturers that’s at risk of going bad years before the “best by” date. These products lack the basics of long shelf life—from reliable sealing to proper oxygen absorption and more.
How to upgrade – The first thing to do if you’re afraid your food’s at risk of spoiling is to check it. This doesn’t require you to open everything. Just pick one can for each type of food—one fruit or veggie, one meat, one entrée, one grain, etc. If you see mold, contact the manufacturer.
Make sure to replace your moldy cans with a brand you can trust, like Emergency Essentials. We perfected the formula for extra-long shelf life before most other companies were even in business and have a decades-long track record of trust. The same goes for all the products on our website—we have vetted them ourselves and stand by their quality.
9. Quit Wasting Space
One of the best storage containers for saving space are #10 cans—they give you the stack-ability of pails but with more options for height.
In 30 years we’ve seen some pretty strange tactics for fitting emergency food into small living spaces: everything from crates buried in the yard to garbage bags full of raw food stuffed under the sink.
How to upgrade – There are easier, safer ways to organize your supply in limited space!
If they’re not there already, we recommend transferring your food to containers like square pails that have flat tops and stack easily. Even better are #10 cans—they give you the stack-ability of pails but with more options for height. Both pails and cans can be placed in closets or under beds or tables.
10. Up Your Drink Game
Some survivors say drinks mixes are the one item they wish they’d had more of during their disasters.
Lots of pre-prepped food kits come with drink mixes, but they’re treated as an afterthought. This is a problem—you don’t stop craving yummy drinks just because a hurricane swept through town! In fact, some survivors say drinks mixes are the one item they wish they’d had more of during their disasters.
How to upgrade – Picking up drink mixes is easy, but you might need more than you think. The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is about 124 ounces of fluids a day for men and 92 ounces for women. Your math may vary based on what you’re drinking, but we’re willing to bet even half of that will require a lot more drink mix than most of us currently have.
And by the way, if you purchase a drink mix with an emergency food manufacturer, they’ll last a lot longer—up to 30 years.
Did We Miss Anything?
Those are our top ten easiest food supply upgrades—but there could be dozens more. Sound off in the comments and let us know what we missed!
"A very small serving of fruit" by qcom is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/