Tips for ensuring your family has the necessary meal supplies needed during an emergency situation

What’s for dinner when the power goes out? Stocking the pantry with nonperishable foods to prepare simple, no-cook meals is easy with a little planning. Gather supplies before they’re needed. Pick up a couple of extra items each time you shop for groceries or when items are on sale. It’s also important to take time to make sure your aging family members are prepared and have enough food and meal supplies.

Consider the following things when putting together emergency food supplies:

  • Store at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food
  • Choose foods you and your family will eat
  • Remember any special dietary needs
  • Avoid foods that will make you thirsty such as chips, pretzels, and salted nuts 

How much water do you need for your disaster supply?

Have a minimum of 1 gallon of water per person per day for at least three days for drinking and sanitation. If you can have 2 gallons per day, that would be better. That sounds like a lot of water to store in your home, but following are some tips to help.

  • Buy collapsible 5-gallon water containers.
  • Fill your bathtub with water for washing dishes, hands, and bathing.
  • Fill up re-usable water bottles and jugs. Don’t use milk jugs or refrigerated juice bottles as they may contain bacteria that could make you sick.
  • Fill up zip-lock bags and freeze them to use for drinking water and to keep food cold.
  • To purify water, add 1/8 teaspoon of bleach to every gallon of water you store.
  • It is a good idea to rotate out water every six months and have a mixture of container sizes. Have a large container to use for washing dishes, but if you have to leave, smaller bottles of water would be better.

How much food do you need for an emergency supply, and what types of foods are best? 

Store at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food. Following are suggestions, many of which you may already have on hand.


  • Low sodium canned beans
  • Canned tuna or salmon in water
  • Canned chicken
  • Canned chili
  • Tuna/chicken salad kits
  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts and/or seeds

Fruits and vegetables

  • Low sodium canned vegetables
  • Canned fruit in natural juice or water
  • Fresh fruit
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Apple sauce pouches
  • Raisins and other dried fruit


  • Peanut or cheese sandwich crackers
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Whole grain cereal
  • Granola bars or protein bars
  • Trail mix
  • Whole grain bread
  • Pretzels
  • Canned pasta


  • One gallon of water per person and pet per day
  • Water bottles, sports drinks, juice boxes, lemonade 
  • Water flavor enhancers
  • Shelf-stable milk

Emergency meal recipes

  • Peanut butter and banana sandwiches: Spread 2 tablespoons of peanut butter on a slice of bread and top with sliced bananas, drizzle with honey and top with the other slice of bread. 
  • Peanut butter with sliced apples or sliced carrots.
  • Overnight oats: Mix rolled oats with water and let sit overnight on a counter. In the morning, add peanut butter, raisins or other dried fruit, and a little cinnamon.
  • Chunky gazpacho: Combine a can of diced tomatoes with the juice, chopped onion, chopped cucumber, a little Tabasco sauce or cayenne pepper, and a dash of salt and pepper. Add chopped red or green peppers if you have them. Drizzle with olive oil and top with fresh parsley or cilantro if you have it. Make a heartier dish by adding a can of drained chickpeas.  
  • Corn salad: Combine drained canned corn with vegetables on hand, chopped. Add drained canned black beans. Toss with a dressing made of one part apple cider vinegar and one part olive oil, fresh or dried basil, and a little salt and pepper.
  • Grains and beans: Combine drained canned beans with a pouch of precooked grains, olive oil, and any herbs and spices you like. You can also add chopped veggies and nuts.
  • Apple and white bean salad: Toss a can of drained white beans with olive oil and apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Add chunks of apple, dried thyme, walnuts or other nuts, and a little salt and pepper. Gently mix into the beans. If you have celery or scallions, you can chop and add in, too, when you add the apples.
  • Salmon or tuna tacos with avocado: Combine chunks of canned salmon or tuna with cubed avocado, chopped tomato, and cucumber. Toss with a dressing of lemon juice or white vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Stuff it in taco shells or tortillas, or just eat straight if you don’t have them.
  • Smashed chickpea or white bean sandwich: Drain canned chickpeas or white beans, drizzle with olive oil, and mash coarsely with a fork. Mix in a little garlic powder, dried oregano or parsley, mint, or basil, and salt and pepper. Serve on bread or with whole wheat crackers for dipping.
  • Bean salad: Combine drained canned beans with chopped tomatoes, chopped spinach, and chopped onion. Toss with a dressing made with balsamic vinegar, whisked Dijon mustard, olive oil, honey, and a dash of salt and pepper. Add canned tuna or salmon if you like.
  • Carrots and chickpeas: Grate carrots and combine with drained canned chickpeas, raisins, nuts, and a little cinnamon. Toss with orange juice, lemon juice, or vinegar and olive oil. 
Last Modified: 6/5/2024, 2:07:22 PM

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