How prepared are you to face an emergency?
There are many options for obtaining and storing emergency food rations. My family uses some of our tax refund to purchase food to help us avoid pinching the budget. Others give food storage and survival items as gifts or use money from a vacation budget and enjoy a staycation. Another way to make your dollar stretch is to check the clearance aisle at the grocery store and buy day-old bread which freezes well.
Please don't expect to be fed by government or charitable agencies, their resources will be stretched to the limit. Wouldn't your family prefer foods they are accustomed to anyway? If you choose to utilize your resources and invest in preparedness, you do not need to worry or feel like you are taking away from others; actually your self-reliance reduces the burden on other groups. In a time of need, you will be in more of a position to help relieve the suffering of others, starting with those you value most. Remember, "The Lord helps those who help themselves."
Let's consider the wisdom of a centuries-old nursery rhyme as we learn about being prepared.
"This little piggy went to market"
One expert likes freeze-dried foods for the quality and shelf life. Many of us eat predominantly fresh foods such as produce, which doesn't store well long term. Freeze-dried foods provide a reasonably similar option, are light weight and portable if you need to relocate. Many manufacturers offer selections of hundreds of servings of produce, meats, dairy and basic foods.
Some families choose military-style MREs (meals ready to eat) because they keep for a long time, are convenient, lightweight, nutritious and portable. Others use bulk food purchases to keep costs low. You can discover hacks like easily sprouting seeds for fresh vegetables and using dried fruits on the website below and social media sites. And let's not forget adequate water; at least two gallons per person per day to stay alive and somewhat clean.
"This little piggy stayed home"
Did you know that you can freeze-dry foods yourself? Also, vacuum pouching foods for long-term storage is a good alternative. Chocolate chips will supposedly last for 11 years, unfortunately none of ours have stayed around long enough to test that. We found that shipped vacuum-pouched chocolate chip cookies and homemade treats arrived fresh and delicious for deployed soldier and missionary sons. During difficult times, it is nice to have some of the comforts you are accustomed to.
And what if fuel supplies are cut off? My son experienced the aftermath of tornadoes in the south. Natural gas lines were severed and other power was unavailable. We had hurricane-force winds knock out our power one December. On the drive to work the next day, we passed 16 overturned semis on the freeway. I have never been so cold in my life. We were not as prepared as our neighbors who had emergency generators to run heating systems. We did have lanterns and candles to provide light at night and were able to enjoy hot meals using our camp stove until the power was restored several days later.
"This little piggy had roast beef"
One of our neighbors is a canning expert. When she finds special prices on meats, she buys them in bulk and cans them in a pressure canner. She says that meats are one of the easiest foods to process and when purchased on sale, not terribly expensive. We don't eat a lot of meat, but it will be nice to have a little bit now and then as an ingredient in soups and casserole-type dishes. She also cans butter in a water bath process and maintains that after three years, hers is still fresh and tasty. Of course you would need butter for those chocolate chip cookies.
"This little piggy had none"
You CAN go from zero to hero with preparation. One friend shared a method of planning 10 dinners, breakfasts and lunches that her family likes. She multiplied the ingredients by 10, then purchased and stored each meal in a bag with cooking instructions. Voila - three months' worth of complete meals! She knows she has the necessary ingredients, spices and everything to feed her family for 100 days with her food storage and fuel. This is also good if you experience unemployment, have a sick child or get stranded and can't get to the market for some reason. You will need to use and rotate these meals every so often to maintain freshness, but they are things your family likes, so it shouldn't be too hard.
Another hack I like, is making and freezing homemade soups and casseroles. You can double or triple a recipe (or more) and make a lot of food at once for about the same amount of time and only one mess. This is a good idea for singles, small families, empty-nesters and busy people who don't want to cook every day but still want variety.
"And this little piggy cried "wee, wee, wee all the way home."
Don't cry. There are lots of things you can do to be prepared. Check your local government website for other important instructions, including 72-hour kits, survival supplies and collecting important papers and documents. My husband works in a hospital that is telling their employees to have 96-hour survival supplies and a first aid kit at home and in the car. Here is another source for intelligent planning and preparedness.
The more you can do for yourself, the less you will have to worry about facing long lines, food and supply shortages, hunger and distress. And you may just be able to be a hero to others who are not so fortunate. Remember, when Noah built the ark it wasn't raining.