15 Top Foods You Need in Any Emergency

15 Top Foods You Need in Any Emergency

Unless you prepared in advance and stocked up on these shelf-stable supplies, natural disasters, power outages, and other unforeseen events could leave you scrambling for food.

If you choose wisely, shelf-stable foods can be just as healthy as fresh ones.

When you ran out of breadcrumbs midway through making chicken Parmesan, that was a dinner emergency. But over the past few years, the majority of us have caught a glimpse of situations that are a little more dire: power outages, natural disasters, and damaging weather events that have forced us to reevaluate our standard practices in the kitchen.

If there is one thing to take away from it all, it's that preparation pays off. You'll never go hungry if you fill your pantry with wholesome, shelf-stable foods, and you'll always have a reliable meal plan in place. And that may also be useful for typical, everyday emergencies that arise during the workweek.


Here are 15 Top Foods You Need in Any Emergency


1. Bottled Water

15 Top Foods You Need in Any Emergency

The No. 1 concern is clean water. Getting enough water each day is crucial for maintaining good health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), making it a necessity when it comes to emergency preparedness. In order to have some spring water on hand, store a few gallons of it in the basement or the back of the pantry. This is crucial if you use well water because if the electricity goes out and the electric pumps break, you might not be able to access your water. Have enough water on hand to keep your family well-hydrated for at least a few days, as the average adult woman should consume about 9 cups of water daily and the average adult man should consume about 13 cups.


2. Low-Sodium Canned Beans and Other Legumes

15 Top Foods You Need in Any Emergency

Don't limit yourself to beans alone; research shows that the entire group of legumes, which also includes lentils and dried peas, is a top plant-based source of fiber and protein. Legume recipes come together quickly and require little preparation or additional ingredients, from classic red beans and rice to homemade hummus.

Additionally, when you combine foods like brown rice with beans, you produce what is known as a complete protein. According to Cleveland Clinic, complete proteins contain all the essential amino acids that your body requires for good health. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Other complete proteins are typically derived from animal sources, which are more transient.

The only caution regarding canned foods in general is that they frequently have high sodium content. The American Heart Association estimates that canned black beans, for instance, contain 400 milligrams (mg) of sodium per half-cup serving, or 17% of the daily recommended limit. To avoid this, choose a low- or no-sodium brand at the store. If you buy low-sodium, thoroughly rinse it before using; according to Today's Dietitian, doing so will cut the amount of sodium by more than 40%. If you're without power, you can simply open a can of beans and eat them since they don't need to be cooked.


3. Dry Whole Grains

15 Top Foods You Need in Any Emergency

Whether you're in an emergency or not, whole grains are a very nutritious component of any meal. According to one study, eating more whole grain foods lowers your risk of developing coronary heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and some gastrointestinal disorders. To keep things interesting, there are numerous whole-grain choices available.

Most often, whole grains are used in savory dishes, but they are equally delicious and healthy in sweet dishes as well. Examples of delectable breakfast options include quinoa, steel-cut oats, and old-fashioned rolled oats. Instead of being ground, they will store better when they are whole. According to the Oldways Whole Grains Council, grains like barley, brown rice, popcorn (yes, it counts!), farro, spelt, oats, and quinoa have the tendency to last the longest.


4. Natural Nut and Seed Butters

15 Top Foods You Need in Any Emergency

These are spreadable and contain all the health benefits of nuts and seeds, allowing you to flavor toast, smoothies, and sandwiches the old-fashioned way. You should avoid processed varieties that include salt and sugar in their jars; instead, look for a list of ingredients that only includes nuts or seeds, along with perhaps a little salt. You should omit any additional ingredients because they are extra additives.


5. Tinned Low-Mercury Fish Packed in Water

15 Top Foods You Need in Any Emergency

While canned goods are known to be durable, canned meats frequently get a bad rap (looking at you, canned ham!) because they are frequently highly processed and laden with sodium, according to research. To reduce calorie intake, stock your pantry with fish in water-packaged cans or pouches, such as salmon and tuna. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) advises choosing chunk light tuna over white or albacore because it contains less mercury. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), too much mercury in the diet can have an adverse effect on the nervous system, particularly in young children.

The EDF advises consuming tuna only once a week and substituting other healthy fish, like salmon, for the remainder of the time. According to the National Institutes of Health, salmon and tuna are both fantastic sources of protein and good fats, especially heart-healthy omega-3s. And like the best emergency foods, you can eat them straight from the can. If you have the time and resources, prepare a quick but delicious salmon or tuna salad by combining the fish with some olive oil, vinegar, and pepper (more on these ingredients later in the list).


6. Nuts and Seeds Without Salt

15 Top Foods You Need in Any Emergency

Research shows that nuts and seeds are a fantastic calorie-dense staple that is high in fiber, plant-based protein, and healthy fats. They are also remarkably adaptable. A handful can be eaten as a snack, some can be sprinkled on top of salads, oatmeal, and yogurt, and they can even be used in place of breadcrumbs when baking fish, poultry, or meat. According to the aforementioned study, regular nut consumption is linked to lower cholesterol levels as well as a decreased risk of gallstones, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. In fact, a different study found a connection between daily nut consumption and a longer, healthier life.

They can be added to any dish and require no cooking, making them ideal for a last-minute situation. Go nuts if you don't have power, and don't forget your seeds: according to research, chia, flax, sesame, and sunflower seeds all contain those good fats and fiber. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for the heart, are also found in chia and ground flaxseeds.


7. Dried Herbs and Spices

15 Top Foods You Need in Any Emergency

You may already have a lot of these on hand, but it's important to remember that herbs and spices are an essential component of any preparedness pantry, especially if you're preparing meals without power using the shelf-stable ingredients listed above. When combined with simple ingredients, herbs and spices will give food a depth of flavor that it might otherwise lack. Herbs are also a great addition to any healthy diet because, according to a study, they are a rich source of antioxidants.

No matter how you decide to stock your pantry, make sure to have at least a few wholesome ingredients on hand so that you are prepared in the event of an emergency. You'll have a fully stocked pantry with a wide variety of wholesome options to eat well even if no emergency occurs, which is something we hope doesn't.


8. Canned Fruits and Veggies

15 Top Foods You Need in Any Emergency

Fruits and vegetables can have added sodium, just like other canned foods, but a study discovered that these foods do not constitute a significant source of sodium in the American diet and that consuming canned foods frequently was actually associated with a higher intake of total nutrients. Choosing fruits and vegetables with their natural juices is always an option, or you can drain and rinse these foods.

Some people believe that canned produce has less nutritional value than its fresh or frozen counterparts, but research suggests otherwise, according to Produce for Better Health. In fact, after the canning process, some nutrients are more easily absorbed by the body, and the convenience in or out of an emergency situation is unbeatable.

According to USDA data, canned tomatoes, which are technically a fruit, can be added to a variety of dishes to add color, flavor, and boosts of fiber, vitamin C, and lycopene, which research has shown is better absorbed by your body when the tomatoes are cooked.


9. Shelf-Stable Milk

15 Top Foods You Need in Any Emergency

In recent years, particularly during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, powdered milk has seen a slight increase in popularity after declining for a few decades. You only need to mix the powder with water if you don't have power.

Additionally, liquid milk that has undergone ultra-high temperature processing (UHT) to make it shelf-stable can be stocked on your shelves. This type of milk is sold by companies like Horizon in cardboard Tetra Pak packaging, but a study found that storage temperatures may still have an impact on milk quality, so it's best to keep it at 68 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. According to the USDA, UHT milk has essentially the same nutritional profile as other cow's milk: It contains over 8 g of protein, is a good source of vitamins A and D, as well as an excellent source of calcium. Look for a Tetra Pak dairy-free milk that closely matches the nutritional profile of dairy milk if you're lactose intolerant or a vegan. For example, a great substitute is unsweetened soy milk.


10. Root Vegetables

15 Top Foods You Need in Any Emergency

Compared to other produce, root vegetables can keep for a long time. The Farmers' Almanac offers this cool (literally) tip: Store your root vegetables upright buried in sand between 32- and 40-degrees F, and they can last up to five months. If you believe that white-fleshed potatoes are "bad" for you and you avoid them, reconsider. According to USDA data, potatoes with the skin on are a good source of fiber, folate, niacin, and phosphorus when prepared whole (that is, not in the form of potato chips or french fries), as well as an excellent source of potassium and vitamins B6 and C. Additionally, according to the USDA, sweet potatoes, their orange-hued cousins, are excellent sources of vitamin A, providing more than 100% of the daily recommended value in just one 5-inch sweet potato.


11. Sodium-Free Stock or Broth

15 Top Foods You Need in Any Emergency

Stock and broth can be used in a wide range of recipes and as the foundation for a quick soup using some of the ingredients mentioned above, such as canned tomatoes and black beans, whether you prefer the flavor of beef, chicken, or vegetables. To better manage how much salt ends up in your final soup, choose brands that don't add any. Although they are technically distinct, the words "stock" and "broth" are frequently used interchangeably. While bones are used to make stock, meat or vegetables are used to make broth. According to Food and Wine, boiled bones transform broth into stock, a thicker liquid.

According to the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank, the shelf lives of dry bouillon are 12 to 24 months, unopened canned broth is 2 to 3 years, and aseptic broth is 3 years.


12. Jerky

15 Top Foods You Need in Any Emergency

According to the University of Kentucky, jerky is the epitome of a perfect emergency food because it has had enough water removed to stop microorganism growth at room temperature. Today, you can find variations made from anything, including beef, venison, alligator, and even mushrooms. It has long been a favorite of modern hikers and other people on the go. To remove the majority of the water from the primary ingredient, jerky is dehydrated similarly to how dried fruit is processed. According to USDA data, meat-based jerky is a high-protein snack because it contains 11 grams of protein per 1-ounce serving. This will assist in keeping you satisfied until your next meal.


13. Avocado Oil

15 Top Foods You Need in Any Emergency

Monounsaturated fats, which are good for the heart and are abundant in olive oil, may help reduce the risk of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. A mainstay for a reason is olive oil. It can be used in many different ways, including cooking and making your own heart-healthy dressing. To maximize its shelf life, just be sure to store it properly. 

According to research, oil will continue to taste good for longer when kept in a cool, opaque bottle. A nutritious diet should include olive oil as a staple. Indeed, one study listed olive oil as one of the key components of the Mediterranean diet, and regular use of olive oil has been linked to better heart health and a lower risk of developing certain types of cancer. What better way is there to stick to your dietary objectives in the face of difficulty.


14. Vinegar

15 Top Foods You Need in Any Emergency

Sure, it's shelf-stable, but oil is also incredibly adaptable and can be used to enhance the flavor of a variety of dishes. In addition, it has a shockingly low caloric count and adds a ton of flavor without changing your diet, according to Harvard T. H. the Chan School of Public Health. Olive oil and vinegar can be combined to make a delectably easy dressing for meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, or whole grains. Vinegar can also be added while cooking.


15. Dried Fruit

15 Top Foods You Need in Any Emergency

Fruit that is fresh or frozen is always the best source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. While much of this is still present in dried fruit, A Healthier Michigan notes that some vitamins can be lost during the drying process. Additionally, since most of the water has been removed, it is much simpler to eat a larger portion of dried fruit. As Harvard Health Publishing notes, the calories and sugar from dried fruit can add up quickly. However, dried fruit is a good fallback if fresh or frozen options aren't available.

Just a few of the numerous fruits that can be dried include apples, pineapples, and cranberries. A study found that eating dried fruit generally led to a higher-quality diet. Fruit that has had the majority of the water removed will keep for much longer in your pantry, and dried fruit is another ready-to-eat item that can be used any day of the week or in an emergency.

For a quick and simple trail mix, combine with a few nuts. Just be careful to select a dried fruit with as little added sugar as possible because you don't want to jeopardize your longer-term health goals or experience a sugar crash during an emergency. If possible, choose dried fruit with no added sugar listed in the ingredient list, but if you can't, portion control is even more crucial in this situation. When consuming dried fruit, limit your serving size to the American Heart Association's suggested 14 cup or less.

Post a Comment