The Top Food Items to Have in an Emergency Supply Kit

by William McCoy

If some form of emergency, whether a natural disaster or an event caused by humans, happens in your area, it is important to be prepared with an emergency supply kit. This kit should include items such as flashlights, candles, blankets and basic tools, but also an assortment of food to last several days. The food you buy should be nonperishable so that it can be stored unspoiled up until you may need it.


Water is important to have in any emergency kit, and you should keep one gallon per person, per day. It’s impossible to predict the length of the emergency, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says to have at least three days’ worth per person. Remember that this water is used not only for drinking, but also for washing. Buy large bottles of water and be aware of each bottle’s expiration date. When each bottle expires, use it for something such as watering your plants and buy new bottles for your emergency supply kit.

Canned Foods

In an emergency, you may not have access to power to cook foods. Your emergency supply kit should contain canned foods that are already cooked and can be eaten out of the can. Foods can include baked beans, soups, chili and canned fruits and vegetables. Avoid cans of food with a high levels of sodium, as they’ll make you thirsty faster and cause you to go through more water than usual. Remember to pack a manual can opener.

Dried Foods

Like canned foods, some dried foods are nonperishable and will last for a substantial amount of time in your emergency supply kit. Examples of dried foods include dried fruit, dried fruit bars, granola and dry cereal. These foods typically have a lengthy shelf life, which makes them ideal for storing in an emergency kit. Just as you should avoid excess salt, you should also avoid excessively sugary foods, which will dehydrate your body and make you crave water. The fruit bars, granola and cereal should be sugar free.


If you find yourself in an emergency, you probably won’t be too picky an eater. In addition to canned and dried items, make sure your emergency supply kit contains a variety of other foods that can be stored for a long time. This list should include crackers, nuts, energy bars and peanut butter. If you have children, ensure your kit includes foods suitable for them, such as cereal, and keep any necessary vitamins stored in the kit, too.

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About the Author

Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.

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