Emergency Food Kits – Homemade vs. Store-Bought

By on September 29, 2013


When disaster strikes, having emergency food kits for every member of the family can literally be the key to survival in a disaster situation.

A commercially-prepared emergency food kit like these, usually containing mostly freeze-dried meals, will run you anywhere from $30 – $50 or more. Buying a pre-made kit is quick and convenient, and offers almost unimaginable variety — freeze-dried chicken Kiev, anyone? The shelf life of freeze-dried food is usually several years, which will allow you to purchase it and then not have to worry about replenishing supplies on a regular basis.

But food kits can also be assembled at home quickly and inexpensively — usually for less than $10 per kit. Because you can customize a homemade kit, it can include more familiar, everyday foods, something that may come in handy during the stress of an emergency situation, especially if you’re providing meals for young children.

The American Red Cross recommends a three-day supply of food and water for an emergency evacuation situation, or a two-week supply for an at-home emergency. All that water should be stored in sturdy bottles. Because water is heavy, you’ll want the food to be light, in case you need to carry it to a new location. Dried and canned foods will last a while in storage, and will travel well if the time comes. Before you gather your food, think about what you like to eat, but also remember that food during an emergency is more about providing calories and sustaining life than providing dining pleasure.


A three day supply might look something like this:

– Instant oatmeal packets for breakfast.
– Packages of Ramen noodles for lunches.
– Cans of tuna fish or a jar of peanut butter and soda crackers for dinners.
– Energy bars or granola bars for snacks.
– Cold cereal in snack-sized packages for any meal. It’s got a long shelf life, is vitamin fortified and most people have a favorite variety.
– Milk in single-serving, shelf-stable (UHT) packaging. This can provide a familiar meal when combined with a favorite cereal.
– Chocolate bars for dessert. It’s not health food, but the sugar provides energy, and plain chocolate has a fairly long shelf life, so candy bars can be stored for long periods. Chocolate is also a comforting food for many people, something which may be important during a crisis.

Don’t forget a few essentials along with these supplies: a cup or mug for mixing oatmeal and noodles, a light-weight can opener if you have canned goods, and a spoon or fork.

A final word of advice for DIY kits — even foods that have a long shelf life don’t last forever. Twice a year, take a few moments to remove expired items from each of your emergency food kits and replace them with fresh food.


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