Here are some things to consider:
There are multiple approaches here:
1) This is fast & efficient – no more worries. “Set it & forget it” shelf stable, long term (>5 yrs) food storage. Large one-time purchase from a pre-packaged food dealer. Dehydrated (DH) or Freeze-dried (FD) retain nutritional value; military “meals-ready to eat” MRE’s do not.
2) Modified #1 – buy quality long term food storage (DH or FD) over time. Include store bought non-perishable canned & boxed goods.
3) Buy non-perishable canned & boxed good from the local store over time. These products are mostly shelf stable for <3 years, and contain very little nutritional value. Contents are usually cooked and preserved with sodium, chemicals, etc.
For a short term emergency scenario - a couple of weeks to months, I suggest that you track what your family eats for 30 days and create a list for every item you use, either a food item or ingredient, such as salt, sugar, canned corn, etc … just write it down and include everything. Include condiments and spices along with the main prepared food. This list will tell you what you & the family eat on a regular basis. Then based on the list calculate how many meals that you have on hand by inventorying you pantry, etc. Now each time you go to shop, you can buy extra of whatever item is needed until you acquire enough for short term preparedness. You should build your emergency supply, IN ADDITION to what you have already in your pantry.
Next make sure you are prepared to open, prepare and serve the goods in an emergency scenario.
Think - do you have a manual can opener, do you a camping stove and fuel source, do you have an outside grill and fuel.
· Remember to rotate your emergency supply.
· Eliminate convenience foods for the microwave, etc.
· Consider adding instant milk, drink mixes & beverages to the food storage (kool-aid, coffee, tea, etc)
· Keep some hard candy & granola bars on hand.
· Limited fresh foods, like meat, fruits, etc can be frozen, but make sure to include some prepared for a longer storage (e.g. canned tuna, ham, etc.) OR buy high protein meat substitute products.
· Purchase instant milk, powdered eggs & cheese.
· Know the differences in labeling – “expires”, “use by”, “sell by”, “best by” all mean something different.
· Buy staple items in bulk, consider a big warehouse store (Sam’s or Costco)
· Consider adding beans, legumes to the family diet, most people don’t use these regularly but they are rich in nutrition and store easily. They make a great meat substitute.
· Don’t forget your pets, if applicable.
· Most important – buy what you already eat, eat what you store.