Is Your Pantry Ready For An Emergency?

As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the US, North America, and the world, it’s hard not to worry about coronavirus surfacing in your community. While there’s no need to panic or hoard, you should prepare your home. And that means making sure your pantry is well-stocked and ready for any emergency.

A two-week supply is essential

Due to the current pandemic plaguing Americans, you may experience periods of isolation and find yourself unable to shop and restock. While it’s unlikely that an emergency would cut off food and supplies, The department of homeland security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)  recommends two weeks’ worth of supplies.

Don’t stock up on things that you and your family won’t eat. Choose items that appeal to all family members, instead. Comfort foods lift morale and provide a feeling of security, which is imperative in a time of crisis. So be sure to keep everyone’s unique needs and tastes in mind. In addition, take into account each family member’s individual diet needs and any allergies they may have. Next, survey your pantry to see how much more is needed for a two-week supply.

Canned fruits and veggies

Canned or jarred goods are a great choice for the pantry simply because of their longevity. Most homemade unopened jarred foods have a shelf life of one year and should be used before two years. Canned foods purchased at the grocery store are best used before their expiry date — located on the can. This date is usually two to five years from the manufacture date. 

Canned fruits and vegetables are a safe alternative to fresh and frozen foods and can help meet dietary needs. Storing in a cool dry area can greatly increase the shelf life, and quality of canned foods, according to research from Utah State University. If you choose to jar fruits and vegetables yourself, make sure to follow The USDA Complete Guide To Home Canning guidelines.

More canned and dried foods

Apart from canned fruits and veggies, you’ll also want to include proteins such as canned tuna, fish, salmon, sardines, and chicken. Vegans and vegetarians may want to stock up on organic, gluten-free protein bars. You may also want to include dried meats such as beef, chicken, or fish jerky. Additionally, dried fruit, nuts, energy bars, whole grain, and gluten-free crackers are all excellent pantry staples.

Most dried goods have a shelf life of six months. Peanut butter, nut/seed butter, shelf-stable tofu, jelly, and canned nuts have a shelf life of about one year. Dried pasta, rice, popcorn kernels, coffee, tea, and cocoa can be stored indefinitely. Don’t forget to include your family’s favorite gluten-free snacks, cookies, and organic dark chocolate to help keep spirits high.

Fresh fruits and veggies

Canned fruits and vegetables that require no cooking or refrigeration are essential when planning for an emergency. But that doesn’t mean you have to forgo fresh produce. Some fruits and vegetables just naturally stay fresher longer – even without refrigeration.  

Root vegetables such as carrots, turnips, cabbage, sweet potatoes, potatoes, beets, radishes, garlic, and onions can stay fresh for weeks and even months if stored in a cool, dry area. Additionally, hearty fruits such as apples, oranges, lemons, limes, and pomegranates have a hefty shelf life as well.

And while organic produce is always a better choice, it doesn’t have as long of a shelf life as its non-organic counterparts. That’s because organic fruits and vegetables are not treated with the same waxes and preservatives used on non-organic fruits and vegetables. Organic producers often do use pesticides; they’re just derived from natural sources so they may spoil faster.

Liquid nourishment

Based on data from the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, the daily water intake for an adult male is one gallon. An adult woman requires three quarters a gallon of water per day. However, excess physical exercise and heat stress can significantly increase daily water intake for both men and women. Therefore, it’s recommended to store one gallon of water per person per day. In addition, you may want to include shelf-stable packaged dairy or nondairy alternatives.

Other foods to consider

If you’re a nursing mother, you may need to include a liquid formula in your pantry in case you are unable to nurse. If you have elderly members in your household, canned diabetic foods, juices, and soups may also be helpful. In fact, good quality canned soups are ideal for anyone who is ill. Additionally, make sure you have a manual can opener and disposable utensils. 

Your pets are part of the family too, and they’ll also need emergency stock. So, make sure to keep a two-week supply of wet and dry food on hand; any meds they require, plus a supply of litter for the kitty.    

Beyond the pantry

Make sure to check your medicine cabinet for any prescriptions you may be running low on. The American Red Cross recommends having a 30 day supply of meds on hand. They also recommend keeping one month’s supply of over-the-counter meds such as pain relievers, cough and cold medicines, throat lozenges, and stomach remedies. 

You may never need an emergency stock in your pantry. But in case you do, a little preparedness goes a long way to help keep your family content, safe and secure in these uncertain times.

-Katherine Marko 

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