The first item to go into the stash is the first item to be used up, and then when you head out shopping or running errands you replace the used quantity in the stash. So after eating a can of chili out of your emergency stash, for instance, you would replace the can with another one bought at the grocery. The next oldest can of chili would be the one you draw next time you need chili, and so on. This is known as “rotating” your supplies.
Contrary to what a lot of people think, the most important thing you need to survive a disaster is water. The body can go weeks without food but only a few days without water. And once you start getting dehydrated, there goes your energy levels, your clear-headedness, and your ability to make rational decisions. You will need this gear to ensure your supply of water:
Another best practice is to store a variety of foods in a single bucket. So, for example, instead of creating a bucket filled with a single food type, create a bucket that include a variety of foods plus appropriate condiments. If you are ever forced to use your food storage, you can pull a single bucket with everything you need to get by instead of riffling through a dozen or more buckets to gather what you need for meal-preparation.
With that goal in mind, let me say this: this is not a list of items intended for deep storage. Nor is it a list of items packaged so that they have a 25 year shelf life. (And in reality, do you really need your stored food to last that long?) I am also not going to list items that might be foreign to your palate, difficult to find, or too costly to absorb into your weekly shopping budget.
After three days eating very little vegetable matter, I was thrilled to dig into Thrive Life’s Tuscan Quinoa Bowl, which included a ratatouille-like sauté combining asparagus, zucchini, and diced tomatoes. The cooking process felt kind of like a science experiment— you fry dehydrated garlic bits in oil, then pour in the dehydrated vegetables and seasoning along with a cup of water—but the result actually tasted like something I might cook at home, minus the strangely firm consistency of the vegetables. The following night, I prepared a Chicken Cranberry Pot Pie, rolling out the dough for the pastry, cooking the filling in a slow cooker, and carefully sealing the pie with the prongs of a fork.
Buckets are great! We have some with regular lids. Some, that we would open frequently have the Gamma Seal lids. (These lids allow you to have a screw-on, airtight lid on the opened bucket, rather than having to pry off the bucket lid every time you need to access the food.) #10 cans are also good. Go to www.providentliving.org and look up food storage, then find information on the LDS Home Storage Centers. BTW, you do not need to be LDS to buy food there.
But this is a situation where we can achieve a lot through a simple ranking system. If we prepare for the far most likely disaster to strike us (for me it’s a tornado or extended power outage during winter time since I live in Alabama in the infamous “Dixie Alley”), we will find a pleasing truth…we will generally be prepared for many of the other types of disasters on our list by default, already.