30-Day Emergency Food Supply

Introduction – 30 Day Emergency Food Supply

It would be nice to have two different types of emergency food supplies as follows:
A 30-day or one-month emergency food supply.
A one-year emergency food supply.

Some emergencies are short-term and they do not last very long. A 30-day emergency food supply would be very useful in this type of situation. In most short-term emergencies electrical power is not available, and water may or may not be available. Under these conditions cooking a meal from scratch would be extremely challenging. In this type of situation it would be nice if you had a decent variety of canned foods that you could simply heat and eat.

cann3ed food optionsOn the other hand, a long-term hard times event is different. Although eating from a can is a reasonable option for a short period of time, after awhile it becomes very boring. That is when your body will crave “real food” that you prepare from scratch. Therefore, a one-year emergency food supply will need to contain a broad variety of food items that include some canned foods and some foods that you can prepare from scratch, such as a loaf of fresh baked bread.

One reasonable option for storing your emergency food supplies would be as follows:
Store your 30-day food supply at your current residence. If something unexpected happens then you would have immediate access to your food and you could make the decision to either stay exactly where you are, or you could quickly load your 30-day food supply into your car and go somewhere safer.

Store your one-year food supply with your parents or children or close relatives who live in a country area. You could arrange this with them ahead of time and perhaps they could set aside a spare bedroom just for your family in the event of an emergency. Then you could stack your one-year emergency food supply in the closet of that bedroom, or put some of it under the bed or beds in that bedroom. This would provide you with food to eat when you
arrived at your more desirable back-up location. (Or you could store some of your food at a temperature controlled warehouse in a distant small rural town.)

Important Criteria for Selecting Food Items for an Emergency 30-Day Food Supply

If an emergency were to occur unexpectedly and you had to provide for your family until the emergency was over, then you should have enough fresh drinking water and enough food stored ahead of time to get you through the emergency.

If the electrical power is off, then cooking a meal from scratch would be far more challenging than simply opening a can of food, heating it, and then serving it to your family. In this type of situation your canned foods should meet all of the following criteria:

The food item should be one that your family members have enjoyed eating in the past. During a short-term emergency it would be really nice if your family knew that their daily meals would be something they have enjoyed eating in the past. It is okay if different members of your family have different taste preferences. You should consider purchasing and storing the food items that each person in your family really likes because in most situations one can of food is just barely enough for one person.

  • The food item should have a reasonably long shelf life, preferably at least five-years or more.
  • The food item should not require refrigeration or freezing.
  • You should be able to safely store the food item at normal room temperatures.
  • The food item should be relatively affordable.
  • The food item should be ready to heat and eat.
  • The food item should be a complete meal in a can that includes meat, vegetables, and a few vitamins.
  • The food item should contain a lot of calories, fat, carbohydrates, and protein.

Your body will need and crave all of these basic ingredients and therefore your food items should contain all of them. In other words, don’t just look at the calorie content of the food item. Also consider the fat, carbohydrates, and protein of the food in order to provide a truly balanced meal that will satisfy your family’s hunger. After you have eaten a meal you should not feel hungry again for several hours. This is extremely important because some foods only relieve your hunger for a very short period of time and you become extremely hungry again rather quickly. Therefore, the foods you select should be ones that can keep you from feeling hunger for at least 5 or 6 hours. If the food contains reasonable levels of calories, fat, carbohydrates, and protein then hunger should not be a problem for several hours.

For each food item read the nutritional data on the label. Multiply the number of servings in the container by the number of calories, fat, carbohydrates, and protein per serving. This will yield the total nutritional value of the entire food container. This is important because different canned foods show a different number of “servings per can” and therefore you must convert this into the total food value of the can instead of just comparing the food value per serving. For example, consider the following:


The last column in the above table is the important column because it shows the total number of Calories in the entire Can. You would need to do the same calculation for the total Fat per Can, the total Carbohydrates per Can, and the Total Protein per Can.

Your food supply should contain a wide assortment of foods. If possible, you should not have to eat the same exact food item until at least seven days have passed. This means you should have enough variety so you could serve different meals to your family every day for one week.

A Recommended 30-Day Emergency Food Supply for One Adult
In my opinion the following food items are ones you should consider for your 30-day emergency food supply. I strongly recommend that you purchase one can of each of the following foods and serve it to your family during normal times to determine if they enjoy it. If they like it then you could purchase additional cans of that food item for your 30-day emergency food supply.

The following suggestions would be a reasonable starting position for the average family. However, since each family has unique taste and dietary requirements, each family will probably need to remove some items from the following list and add other items that they enjoy more.


If you do not want to cook then omit the rice and potatoes and buy more of the complete meals in a can (Chunky Soups, Pasta, Chili with Beans, Beef Stew, etc.). Usually one can of food is just enough for one good meal for one person. However, some of the above canned foods contain enough food for two meals (lunch and supper), or for two people at the same time.

Discussion of Some of the Recommended Food Items
The powdered milk and the cocoa powder may be used to make either chocolate milk or hot chocolate.

On the other hand, if your family doesn’t like milk then don’t buy it. If you prefer coffee or tea then buy it instead.

If you don’t like Kool-Aid or Tang and you prefer soft drinks or beer or wine then buy them instead.

White rice can be enhanced with bouillon cubes (either beef or chicken) or with gravy (either white country gravy or brown gravy).

Instant potatoes can be enhanced with brown gravy or white country gravy.

Armour Roast Beef can be converted into a “Mexican” meal by combining it with approximately one-half package of Taco Mix and then serving it with either Refried Beans or Black Beans. If you have some flour then you could make a burrito or tortilla shell.

Chef Boyardee Macaroni and Cheese may be eaten as a side dish by itself, or it can be converted into a casserole by adding canned tuna, or canned chicken, or sliced Vienna Sausages, or diced Spam.

Pork and Beans can be made into “Beanie Wienies” by adding sliced pieces of Vienna Sausage.

The Vienna Sausages may be eaten as a simple meat item, or converted into “mini corn dogs” if you have some cornmeal, or into “pigs in a blanket” if you have some flour.

The Spam may be sliced and fried for breakfast, lunch, or supper.

The Salmon can be made into “Salmon Patties” if you add a little cornmeal.

Canned fruit may be eaten as a dessert item, or you could eat from the bag of candy.

The candy could be hard candies (peppermints, spearmints, butterscotch disks, or cinnamon disks), or caramels, or tootsie rolls or any combination your family prefers.

Note: If you use a standard Vacuum Food Sealer to vacuum seal some of the above items (candy, vitamins, white rice, instant milk, sugar, cocoa powder, and quick oats), then you could extend the normal shelf life of these items by a multiple of approximately five.

Suggestions for Preparing Meals During a Short-Term Hard Times Event
To prepare a meal from scratch normally takes more time, more fuel, and as the food slowly cooks it emits a stronger aroma than when you simply open a can of food, heat it, and then immediately eat it.

Therefore, having canned foods that you simply heat and eat means you will need less cooking fuel and you will be keeping your cooking aromas to the absolute minimum. The absence of strong cooking aromas may help you to avoid attracting unnecessary attention to your family during a difficult short-term hard times event.

As a practical example, Breakfast could be oatmeal, or breakfast bars, or fried Spam or fried ham, or you could skip breakfast and eat lunch at 10:00 AM and supper at 5:00 PM.

Lunch could be a complete meal from a can.

Supper could be more like a normal meal such as boiled rice or instant potatoes or beans or vegetables, plus a meat item from a can, such as salmon patties.

Remember, canned foods have been fully cooked and they only need to be heated and served. However, whenever possible it is advisable to heat your food to at least 185 degrees Fahrenheit (85 degrees Celsius) to kill any potential harmful microorganisms that might be in the food.

It would also be a good idea to put a lid on the cook pot or skillet when you are heating the food. The lid will help to keep the heat and the aroma inside the cook pot. This means you will need less fuel to heat the food to an acceptable temperature, and it will prevent most of the delicious cooking aromas (odors) from escaping and attracting unnecessary attention to your location.

It should also be noted that some foods emit a powerful aroma while they are being prepared, such as coffee and bacon. Therefore, if you truly love coffee then during a short-term emergency it might be advisable to have a small supply of “instant coffee” instead of “regular coffee.”

I know there is a difference between the flavor of instant coffee and regular coffee but you need to consider your priorities during a short-term emergency. For example, Would a cup of instant coffee be okay if it did not attract any attention to your location? Or would you prefer for everyone within a half-block radius to be knocking on your door and asking you to please, please share some of your fresh brewed coffee?

Some Options for Heating Canned Foods
It is possible to heat some food items while they are still in the can. This would mean no dirty cook pots to wash. However, after heating the can of food you will still need to transfer the food to a bowl or plate so you can stir the food to more evenly blend its ingredients in order to make it a more enjoyable eating experience.

If you decide to heat your food while it is still inside the can then you should first remove the exterior paper label, if the can has a paper label. Then you should remove the top of the can to allow the pressure to escape. Some people recommend simply punching one or two holes in the top of the can with a can opener in order to prevent the ashes from a campfire from getting into the food. However, trying to remove the lid from a can that has been heated to 120 degrees or higher can be a very challenging task.

Following are some options for heating canned foods:

Microwave Oven: If the power is still on a microwave oven will control the cooking aromas, and it uses very little power, and it is very fast. However, you must remove the food from the can and put it into a microwave safe container before heating the food inside the microwave oven.

Cooking on a Coleman StoveColeman Camp Stove: Another obvious option would be a Coleman Camp Stove. One model uses Coleman fuel and a different model uses the small propane tanks. The major shortcoming is the initial investment in the grill itself and in the fuel, and the fact that they are designed to be
used outdoors because they release poisonous gas fumes while in operation. Another disadvantage is that when you run out of fuel the Coleman grill will cease to function. Finally, if you are forced to evacuate your home then which would you rather have in the trunk of your car: (1) a Coleman
Grill and some spare fuel, or (2) an extra case or two of canned foods?

charcoal grillCharcoal Grill: A small portable charcoal grill can be used to heat food. You should consider lining the bottom of the grill with a thin layer of sand, or dirt, or small gravel before starting a fire in the charcoal grill. You could use ordinary charcoal briquettes, or you could collect some small sticks from a nearby wooded area and use them to start a very small fire inside your charcoal grill.

If you use sticks, then you should consider collecting sticks that have fallen off the trees and are caught in some bushes or are leaning against something else. These sticks will be extremely dry and they will burn well. If you collect sticks lying flat on the ground then you will probably discover that many of them are damp, or moldy, or rotten and they will not burn well.

The primary shortcoming of both charcoal and sticks is that they must be used outside, and as they burn they will release an odor, or smoke, that will attract a lot of attention to your cooking area.

Grill Surface: All you really need is the top metal grill cooking surface off a charcoal grill. You could support this metal grill piece in a variety of different ways and place a heat source below it to heat your food. For example, if you were indoors you could support the metal grill piece on top of four cans of food, and then put a can of “Sterno Cooking Fuel” below the metal grill piece, and you could then heat your food in a skillet on top of the metal grill piece. If you were outdoors you could use four rocks for support and start a fire using some wood sticks from a nearby wooded area.

Fireplace: If you have a wood burning fireplace then you could build a very small fire in your fireplace and heat your meals there. Remember that you only need to heat your food so it would be okay to heat the food over a small flame. In other words, you would not need to wait for the wood sticks to burn down into red hot coals to heat your food. This is one of the differences between simply heating a can of food and cooking from scratch. The major disadvantage of heating food in your fireplace will be the column of chimney smoke that everyone can see. During the cool or cold winter months this would not be an unusual sight. But during the warm summer months a column of chimney smoke will be a “very unusual sight” and almost everyone will notice it and immediately realize you are probably cooking something inside your fireplace.

Solar Oven: You could purchase a pre-made solar oven, or you could build your own “solar oven.” Or you could simply line the inside of a small cardboard box with some aluminum foil and then put a piece of glass or a piece of clear plastic on top of the box. The box should be at least twice as big as your can of food. Place the small solar oven in front of a southern facing window to heat your canned foods. The major shortcoming of this method is that the sun must be shining which may not be the case during a short-term hard times event.

Window and a Dark Cloth: Do not remove the lid from the canned food, and do not punch any holes in the lid. Place the can of food under a dark cloth in front of a window in direct sunlight for several hours. You could also use this method by placing the wrapped can of food below the rear window of your car. The dark cloth will achieve two objectives:
(1) It will collect and capture more of the sun’s energy and do a better job of heating the food, and
(2) It will prevent anyone who might pass by from seeing that you are heating a can of food underneath the dark cloth.
The major shortcoming of this method is that the sun must be shining which may not be the case during a short-term hard times event.

Sterno Cooking Fuel: The twin packs of Sterno Cooking Fuel may be purchased in the camping section of most sporting goods stores, including most Walmarts. Remove the lid from the can, light the fuel, heat your food, put out the flame, put the top back on the can of fuel, and save the rest of the fuel for your next meal. Since you will only be heating your canned foods, a single can of Sterno Cooking Fuel will last a lot longer as compared to using it to cook a meal from scratch.

oil lampOil Lamp: Remove the glass top from the oil lamp, light the wick, adjust the wick to achieve a very short flame, and then put the flame below a campfire grill and heat the food on top of the campfire grill.

Candle: Place a short round candle inside a candle holder and light it. The short round candles are better because they will last a lot longer inside a candle holder than a long thin candle that will burn down very quickly. You can heat your food above the flame of a candle similar to a “fondue” pot. The glass candle holder in the above picture has a long glass stem on its bottom. The long glass stem allows you to move the candle holder to a different location while the candle is still burning. Some candle holders have a flat bottom and the sides of the glass candle holder get extremely hot and it is very challenging to move the lit candle to a different location.

When you stop and think about the above options carefully, the ones that would be the most dependable in the widest variety of short-term hard times events and which would attract the least amount of attention would be the last four options above. On the other hand, if the power was still on, then the microwave oven would be my first choice.

Note: Several of the above options are only a reasonable choice for heating a can of precooked food. Cooking a food item from scratch will require significantly more heat for a much longer period of time.

There may not be very much to do during a short-term emergency and everyone in your family will be truly looking forward to each meal in order to relieve their boredom and to satisfy their hunger.

It is okay to talk about unpleasant topics at other times during the day but each member of your family should understand that all discussions at the dining table will be about pleasant topics. This will facilitate their enjoyment of their meal and it will aid in the digestive process.

Finally, please remember to thank God for every meal before your family starts eating

Chef Boyardee Canned Pasta Note:
I have tried the Overstuffed Ravioli, and the Giant Meatballs, and the Regular Ravioli, and the Mini Ravioli and the Mini Spaghetti with Meatballs.

In my opinion the Mini Ravioli and the Mini Spaghetti wit Meatballs are better than the regular pastas or the giant pastas. The “mini pastas” contain more sauce, and all the food heats more evenly in less time, and the overall taste is superior.

Therefore I strongly recommend the “mini pastas” instead of the regular pastas or the giant pastas. However, since taste is a very individual experience, your family may completely disagree with me and there is nothing wrong with that.

If you have young children then they will probably prefer the Chef Boyardee “ABC” and “Dinosaur” pastas because they are significantly more fun to eat. The nutritional value of these pastas is almost the same as the other pastas so there is nothing wrong will adding these special pastas to your emergency food supply for your young children.


A man who loves his family, his friends, and his country. Hoping to provide a meaningful resource of information for the average family to utilize in cases of emergency.

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