Food Storage Essentials: 3 planning tips to avoid surprises in an emergency

Published: Friday, Aug. 2 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

Important information on labels helps people make wise purchases.

Leslie Probert

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Most of us are so busy looking at the price of food storage items that we tend to overlook some very important information on labels. Additionally, sometimes we don’t pay attention to a possible lack of variety in meals. Here are some things to check out.

Weight of food in containers

Make sure that containers contain as much food as you think. Contents always settle in containers, leaving a space inside at the top. However, occasionally companies don’t fill cans sufficiently to start with. It is disappointing to find cans only half full after opening them. Before buying a food, including powdered milk, compare the pounds and ounces on the labels between food storage companies to ensure cans and buckets are mostly full. A sale on a half-filled can of dried or freeze-dried food may not be the great deal it appears.

Calories per serving in complete meal packages

Many companies today sell very convenient freeze-dried meals that require only the addition of hot water. Be sure to check the calories per serving on the label to ensure meals will be satisfying and provide enough nutrition. Adult women and men require around 1,600 to 3,000 calories per day.

If planning for three meals a day, that means having close to at least 530 calories per meal, especially necessary for long-term emergencies. Side dishes can be added for additional calories. Particularly because prepackaged meals are quite expensive, make sure they provide the most value for money. It will be quite a surprise to discover in an emergency that some prepackaged meals contain only 200 calories, leaving you very hungry.

Plan enough variety

Planning a small number of meals may not go over as well as expected in a long-term emergency, particularly dinners. People don’t mind repeating breakfast and lunch ideas, but they can get very tired of eating the same five or six dinners repeated over a long time. A small variety of meals can become unpalatable for some adults and especially for children.

Variety is important in food storage meals. It’s well worth the effort to increase the selection of meals to serve. People purchasing prepackaged meals may consider buying meals from several companies to ensure there is enough variety for meals to stay appealing over a long period of time.

These tips can help minimize surprises in emergencies when you are counting on having stored enough food and when you want meals that are filling, interesting and appealing for families. Double check the labels on food you are storing and meals you have planned for peace of mind.

Leslie Probert, a graduate in home economics from Brigham Young University, has been a speaker and is co-author of "Emergency Food Storage in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition," with more than 400 recipes. E-mail: foodstoragechick@gmail.com

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