Your home is your first line of defense in an emergency. Depending on the emergency you may decide that the best course of action is to hunker down and stay in your home. In a Shelter-In-Place (SIP) scenario you should be prepared to live without utilities and have alternate ways to prepare food. Here are some basic tips for stay-at-home Pantry Preparedness:
- Accumulate items over time (spreads the cost and staggers expiration dates).
- Have some items that do not require cooking or refrigeration.
- Use older items first to ensure that your food does not expire.
- Have the ability to cook if there are no utilities available.
- Have powdered drinks and powdered milk, etc. for additional liquid options.
- Store items in pest proof containers.
- Have a variety of items: proteins, side dishes, grains, etc.
- Include items that are high in nutrients such as cereals, nut butters, canned meats, beans, vegetables, canned tuna, etc.
- Have a heavy duty manual can opener.
Try to have at least 14 days of food available. You can treat some of your preparedness food as an extended pantry. Buy a little extra when you do your normal grocery shopping and buy items that store well. Use the oldest items first to rotate your stock. You can take advantage of sales to increase your food supply. Some items such as noodles, canned foods, and rice have an extremely long shelf life. I do NOT recommend storing packaged (non-canned) foods outside of the living area of the house. Some people stored noodles, boxed foods, etc. in their garage only to have rodents and pests eat or contaminate those foods. If you are storing food in non-living areas of the house then be sure that those foods are in sealed, pest-proof containers.
What if you are not Prepared?
We should be prepared but what if you are caught off-guard and are not prepared? When the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic hit MANY people were completely unprepared. The uncertainty of the situation caused fear which led to panic which led to long lines, shortages, hoarding, increased exposure, etc. You could be stuck in your home for a variety of reasons including weather, quarantine, etc. While not being able to resupply is a scary proposition you may have more resources available than you think.
Most people (even the unprepared) already have supplies. Your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer may be all that you have. If you must shelter-in-place first check your existing supplies, take inventory of what you have (either written or mental), and estimate how long those supplies might last. If you are careful with your existing supplies you might be able to eat for a fairly long time (several weeks or more). Stay calm because fear will not help in these situations. Here are a few basics to consider:
- Check your current supplies and try to create workable menus. Are you short on one type of item but have better supplies of other items? For example, are you low on proteins but have a number of packaged side-dishes? Perhaps you could use less of the proteins and more of the fillers to provide needed calories.
- Eat perishable items first. If you have to throw away food then that is less food for you to consume.
- Look for ingredient alternatives. For example if you have a case of Mac & Cheese but only have two sticks of butter then you will need to find a butter alternative. Remember that you may to improvise with ingredients and the resulting eating experience may be less than ideal.
- Defrost items as needed. Frozen items last longer and you may have to make your food last awhile.
- Do NOT hoard items! Be considerate of others. In most cases the supply lines can handle extra demand. Purchase reasonable quantities and allow the normal supply lines to work and pick up the slack. If replenishment is a problem then reduce your consumption to make your existing supplies last longer.