Having something like a survival food kit means you’re labeled a “prepper” because that’s a bad thing in a way. Preppers used to be ridiculed and called “conspiracy theorists” because they believed they and their families would be prepared for whatever impending hiccups life might throw at them. Yet since the pandemic, hackers shutting down gas lines and meat manufacturers, rising food costs, weather disasters and the threat of war, everyday people are starting to think that maybe they too should at least have a survival food kit ready.
Starting to build a survival food kit can seem overwhelming to many people at first. Which foods should be added to the kit for optimal nutrition? How long does the food last? How should I store the kit after installation? These are just some of the questions you might be asking yourself because you’re used to buying only what you like to eat and only the amount you’ll need for the next week or so each time you go to the grocery store. Building a survival food kit doesn’t have to be overly complicated if you go through the process one step at a time.
Step 1 – Determine what your survival food pack will be used for.
You need to ask yourself some questions in order to first determine the main purpose of your food package. Are you making food packs for emergencies or situations that confine you to your home, or for situations where you need to grab a food pack, hop in your car, and go? Is the kit designed to stay in the car in case you need it when you’re out and about? Anticipate that the kit will only be available to you and your family for a few days, weeks or even months?
Step 2 – Decide where to store your survival food kit.
Once you’ve figured out what your food pack will be used for, you’ll need to decide where to store the food in your home or car. You need to keep in mind your expected food supply, which directly depends on how long the food should be able to feed you and your family, as this will limit your storage options. Obviously, you have limited space in your car, so a 6 month supply of food may not be appropriate, and your car probably doesn’t need that much.
Where you store your survival food kit can greatly affect the shelf life, or lifespan, of the food in your kit. You’ll need to store your food in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight to ensure your food stays tasty for the longest period of time. Find a spot in your house that meets this criteria, and make sure there is enough room for the amount of food or the overall size of your kit.
Step 3 – Gather or buy food for your survival food pack.
As a general guideline, remember that you need to store food you’ve already eaten. There’s no point in stockpiling a bunch of canned tuna if you and your family aren’t fans of tuna. Even if you have the extra funds to buy long-term freeze-dried foods, you’ll want to choose the types of foods you and your family already eat in “fresh” form. Stick to your favorite foods, but try to add nutritional balance to your kit along the way.
That being said, some foods don’t store well, period. Foods that are high in fat or water usually don’t store well. Dried pasta, (white) rice, flour, sugar and oatmeal all store well if kept in proper airtight containers and under the right environmental conditions. Canned foods generally store well, however, you might consider choosing something like dried beans instead of canned beans for longer shelf life and lighter weight.
You can buy powdered substitutes for milk, eggs, butter, and even peanut butter. Powdered, dry foods are never quite the same as fresh, even when reconstituted, but they’re still pretty good in many recipes.
STEP 4 – If necessary, repack food for extended storage.
Many foods can be repackaged to provide a better shelf life. All your dry food can be stored nicely in a simple airtight container, but they can also be placed in a mylar bag with an oxygen absorber and/or desiccant pack to control moisture. You can then vacuum seal the mylar bag for ultimate protection of the food in your kit. Many long-term freeze-dried foods that can be purchased are already packaged in a similar fashion for optimal shelf life, so repackaging is usually not necessary.
Step 5 – Eat and rotate food from your survival food pack.
One of the key steps in making a survival food pack is remembering to rotate out foods that have expired or expired and replace them with fresh supplies. The easiest way to do this is to eat food from your kit every now and then and replace it in time. Again, that’s why you only want to stock your kit with the foods you and your family want to eat.
Always eat the oldest food in the kit first to ensure proper rotation. You may be tempted to choose specific items from your kit depending on your “mood”, but you should avoid this and choose items that are closest to end-of-life first.
As a bonus tip, you might want to include items like can openers, spice or seasoning packets, lighters, and cooking tools. Also in your survival food kit for convenience, especially if your kit is the carry-on type. Having these items in your kit saves time and reduces management stress should any disaster or situation ever require access to your food kit first.