How to Create a Food Stockpile for Emergencies

Canned food spells the word prep.

You can never anticipate when an emergency will strike, but you can plan for it. In addition to having an escape plan in place, contact information at the ready, and important documents easy to grab, you will want to create a food stockpile to see you through if you find yourself without power or running water. Here are some tips to stockpile food for an emergency.

Canned Goods

A woman and child look at canned food in a supermarket.

It’s always a good idea to have canned goods on hand. Although you should definitely have some store-bought options at the ready, home-canned goods are the perfect way to save money, lengthen access to fresh ingredients, and DIY your emergency stockpile. Studies recommend using home canned goods within the first year. If they were properly sealed during the canning process, the food can last longer. You may just see a decline in the quality of the food. If you find yourself in an emergency situation and have home-canned meats or produce on hand, just make sure that you hear the seal release when you open it, If it does, it’s likely that the contents are still safe for consumption, even if it has been a few years. Be sure to stockpile a variety of fruits and vegetables to help maintain a balanced diet and ensure good nutrition.

Dehydrated Foods

Dehydrated fruit on a table.

Dehydrating is a great way to stockpile a variety of foods and is something you can easily do yourself. Check out recipes for fruit leather, dehydrated fruits, and jerky as beginner options that will add interest and flavor to your emergency food options. You can also pick up pre-packaged dehydrated meals, which have a shelf life of up to 30 years.

Fermented Foods

Fermented food in jars.

Fermenting foods is easy and can provide a lot of flavorful options for what could otherwise be a very bland stockpile. Select a combination of vegetables and spices to create your own recipes. You can offer variety by slicing, chopping, shredding, or leaving the foods whole when you ferment them. Fermented vegetables should last up to one year. Fruits should be used within a few weeks. You can freeze your fermented foods too.


Water in jugs.

Storing water is a basic survival activity that many people overlook. In fact, it should be the very first thing on your list. There are several things you should keep in mind when storing water.

Although water does not expire, the container that you store it in will begin to break down, leaking chemicals into your once safe water. When using plastic jugs, use only those labeled for use with food and water. These are identified with the plastic codes 1, 2, 4, or 7 on the bottom of the container. Do not use containers that previously held other foods or liquids, such as milk containers.

If you use metal containers, make sure they are stainless steel. All other metals will break down over time and contaminate your water. Ensure your water container has a tight-sealing lid. Never store water in an open container.

Glass containers are safe, but you should protect them by wrapping them in fabric or newspaper. Store your water (and food) in a cool, dark place. Sunlight causes foods, drinks, and containers to break down quicker.

To decide how much water to store, you should plan for one gallon per person per day. Replace the water in your containers at least once each year, preferably every six months. The hot summer months are a great time to do this so that your stored water can be used for the flowers or lawn.

Take the time now to stockpile foods and you will have one less concern in the case of an emergency.