Planning for Long Term Power Outage

Ah, nothing like a good old-fashioned power outage to remind you how amazing it is to have light and heat at our beck-and-call just by flipping a switch or dialing a thermostat! Those are modern conveniences we should never take for granted, and that lesson tends to be driven home the hard way when a storm, fire, flood, grid malfunction, or some other hiccup—more than one unlucky transmission-line-scurrying squirrel has done the trick—disrupts the power supply.

Blackouts are often merely short-term inconveniences, but it’s also possible to endure one that lasts a week or more. Such extended outages can be dangerous, even life-threatening, if you’re caught unprepared.

So how should you prepare for a power outage? There’s a lot you can do to make these inevitable interruptions much more bearable: It’s all about assembling a power outage survival kit and knowing how to stay safe while electricity’s down.

Let’s run through the fundamentals of how to prepare for power outages, including what sorts of power outage supplies to have on hand and strategies for meeting your basic needs during an extended blackout.

Power Outage Supplies: Emergency Preparedness Kit

Among your power outage supplies should be an emergency preparedness kit. If you’re a regular reader of the Mountain House blog, you’re familiar with the importance of such a kit, but it’s worth running through the basics again—especially because it’s one of those responsibilities we tend to think about attending to, but don’t always get around to following through on.

The more emergency provisions and supplies you can safely and securely stockpile, the better, but at a minimum the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends readying enough for 72 hours off-gridding it. That means a three-day supply of water—a gallon per person per day for drinking and sanitary purposes—and a three-day supply of non-perishable eats.

Not long ago we published a blogpost entirely dedicated to the principles of emergency food storage, and that’s well worth eyeballing again as you brief yourself on how to prepare for power outages. With the longest proven shelf life in the industry, Mountain House products make fantastic food for power outages: They’re as useful around the house during such an emergency as they are out in the wilderness campsite.

Our Just in Case…® line in particular makes storing enough backup food for the long term simple and straightforward, whether you’re prepping just for yourself or for a whole family. For example, our 14-day Emergency Food Supply provides you all the more wiggle room for dealing with protracted power outages, given it efficiently stows a two-week cache of meals for one person. (We’ll talk more about cooking during a power outage later in this post.)

Other emergency supplies for power outages to put in your preparedness kit: first-aid materials; a flashlight (ideally hand-crank) and backup batteries; a hand-crank or battery-operated radio (as well as a NOAA Weather Radio) with backup batteries; a signaling whistle; a backup cell phone with charger; moist towelettes and plastic bags with ties for personal sanitation; a supply of any necessary prescriptions or other medications; and a bundle of warm clothing, blankets, and sleeping bags, which are especially critical during wintertime blackouts.

Don’t neglect to regularly check on your emergency kit and replenish and refresh components as needed.

Want to learn more about putting together emergency preparedness kits? Check out this FEMA factsheet.

Prepare for Power Outages: Long-Range Planning

Besides assembling and maintaining an emergency preparedness kit, there are a variety of actions you can take to better ready your household for a future power outage. For example, making sure your home is well insulated will make regulating temperature if your heating or air-conditioning goes out a bit easier. Insulating water pipes in unheated rooms or crawlspaces will lessen the likelihood of their freezing (and maybe bursting) during a winter outage.

You might consider purchasing a portable generator for a readymade emergency power supply and installing a landline phone so you have an alternative means of communication besides a cellphone.

Ahead of a Potential Power Outage

Obviously you can’t predict a power outage, but weather forecasts can give you a heads-up when one may be likely. If severe thunderstorms, ice storms, blizzards, high winds, floods, or similar phenomena are expected, you should start preparing immediately for a potential loss of power.

Gather power outage supplies: Check on that emergency kit (again) and locate other flashlights, lanterns, and extra batteries so you’re ready in the go-to illumination department. Charge your cell phone, computer, and other electronics. Make sure your car has at least a half-tank of gas (remember, gas-station pumps may not be working during a power outage). Make or purchase ice, or freeze water in plastic containers, so you can keep the freezer’s provisions frozen for longer. And speaking of, crank your fridge and freezer to their coldest settings.

If you think your water supply may be impacted, fill jugs, pots, pans, and other containers with water as well as the bathtub (to be used for manually flushing the toilet and other sanitary tasks). Make sure you and other family members know how to shut off the main water valve to your house.

If you have an electric garage door, confirm where the manual release lever is and how to use it.

If you or a member of your household relies on a medical device that requires electrical power, come up with a plan of action in the event of a blackout. You should also notify your utility company if it’s a life-support system. (FEMA has more detailed recommendations on emergency preparedness for those with medical conditions or disabilities.)

If you have a fireplace or woodstove, make sure you have a decent supply of wood on hand in case you need to rely on it for heat.

What to Do During a Blackout

Unplug computers and other electronics and turn off appliances so they’re protected against the temporary surges that can occur when power comes back on. Leave a light on, however, so you know when electricity’s been restored.

Favor hand-crank or battery-operated flashlights and lanterns over candles as power-outage light sources.

During colder temperatures, use a woodstove or fireplace (if you have one) to keep at least one room toasty. Wear extra layers to stay warm. And in the event of any winter outage, keep your water pipes in mind: Swaddle them in insulation, and if it’s really frigid outside keep the taps trickling to lessen the chance of a frozen pipe (which may burst). In an extended blackout during cold weather, you may want to shut off water to your house entirely; be sure to drain the pipes if you do so.

Use generators sparingly to power the most necessary appliances. Always operate them outdoors in a well-ventilated area away from your house’s windows or air intakes. Make sure you’re using a power cord of the proper rating, and only plug in appliances that use less wattage than the generator’s output. (The American Red Cross offers more detailed tips on generator safety.)

How to Cook Without Electricity

You can use a charcoal or gas grill or a campstove to prepare food during a power outage, but only outdoors—never inside. A fireplace or woodstove can serve as an indoor cooking receptacle: For instance, you can cook meat or vegetables on skewers or wrapped in foil and placed on coals. A less desirable option is a fondue pot or a candle warmer, but make sure you’re exercising due caution at all times.

It’s important to conserve fuel and water during a power outage, so choose quick-cooking and one-pot meals. Here again, Mountain House entrees, snacks, and desserts prove their worth: All you need to do is add hot water!

Power Outage Tips for Your Fridge & Freezer

Minimize opening your refrigerator and freezer during a power outage in an effort to keep foods inside as cold as possible. A full, unopened freezer can keep items frozen for 48 hours, a half-full one for 24 hours. An unopened fridge can maintain perishable products at a safe temperature for as long as six hours.

If you’re facing the situation of no electricity for a week or more, you’re obviously going to need to work through your freezer and fridge reserves. Naturally, you’ll want to eat or at least cook the most perishable items—raw meat, for instance—first.

Chances are, you’ll probably run into a power outage or two at some point in your life—maybe a lot of them if you live in a storm-prone area. Readying an emergency supplies kit, insulating water pipes, buying a generator: These tasks can seem a burden in the context of your everyday routine, but they can be lifesavers when the lights go out. And don’t forget to stock up on those Mountain House supplies!

How to Prepare for a Flood: Emergency Flood Checklist

A flood is among the most universal of natural disasters: It can happen just about anywhere. That includes parched desert country, where canyons and washes are highly vulnerable to flash floods. And that includes urban areas, too, where heavy rainfall over a paved-over cityscape often generates violent runoff and overspilling channelized streams, and where storm drains may back up from clogged debris or simply the magnitude of precipitation.

Whether a seasonal floodplain overflow or a catastrophic 500-year inundation, floods can kill and sicken, rack up billions of dollars in property and infrastructure damage, and impede transportation and services for days and weeks on end. (The National Weather Service tallies some pretty sobering yearly flood statistics.)

Here’s how to ready yourself for high water in your neck of the woods!

Waterlogged Primer: The Nature of Floods

Floods come in all shapes, sizes, and timetables. They might impact a single waterfront neighborhood or swamp entire towns or regions. Hydrologists distinguish between slow-onset floods, which may slowly build from multiday rainfall and persist for weeks or months, and rapid-onset floods, “flashier” affairs that rise and fall more quickly.

Streams and rivers may leap their banks due to heavy and/or prolonged precipitation; they may also flood from spring snowmelt. Some parts of the country often see inundations from ice jams. (For instance, the Red River of the North, which flows, rather unusually, poleward from Minnesota and North Dakota to Lake Winnipeg, is notorious for regular flooding not only due to its pancake-flat basin, but also because its southern watershed often melts out earlier than the northern portion, where lingering ice can dam the river’s swollen springtime waters.)

Ferocious as the winds of hurricanes and tropical storms most definitely are, the most lethal effects of these tempests tend to be flood-related: from storm surges—where cyclone winds pile up ocean water inshore—and inland deluges caused by torrential rains. Storm surge can also coincide with high tide to result in a so-called “storm tide,” which may pummel coastal areas with waters better than 20 feet above the normal tidal reach.

Floods, of course, can also stem from the failure of artificial infrastructure: breached dams or levees, for instance, or burst pipes.

Flood Risks

Sound flood preparation means understanding just how dangerous high water can be. Overland floodwaters are deceptively powerful: A mere six inches can knock you clear off your feet, and only a foot or two can sweep a car away. (Cars can also stall out in surprisingly shallow water, leaving occupants vulnerably stranded.) Overflow may also be contaminated, and there’s also the risk of electrocution. In short, whether you encounter them while evacuating by foot or vehicle or inside your home, avoid entering floodwaters if at all possible.

Besides drowning, electrocution, waterborne illness, and other directly life-threatening effects, flood impacts can also include damaged or destroyed property, blocked transportation corridors, interrupted power, and polluted municipal water supplies.

Flood Preparation for Your Home

If you live in the U.S., you can assess the vulnerability of your home to flooding by looking up your address via the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Flood Map Service Center. The agency generates Flood Insurance Rate Maps (aka FIRMs)that portray high-risk, moderate- to low-risk, and undetermined-risk flood hazard areas. Federal law requires many home- and businessowners in high-risk areas to obtain flood insurance. It’s not required in moderate- to low-risk areas, but damaging flooding can still occur in these zones: According to FEMA, they account for a third of flood-related federal disaster assistance and better than 20 percent of National Flood Insurance Program claims.

If you live in a place prone to flooding, it’s smart to take measures to protect your house, such as:

  • waterproofing your basement;
  • installing a backup battery-powered sump pump;
  • elevating electrical systems and appliances such as furnaces at least 12 inches above the projected flood level; and
  • securing fuel tanks.

Putting Together a Flood File

As part of your flood checklist, FEMA recommends maintaining a “personal flood file,” a collection of essential documents kept in a waterproof container. Said file should include copies of your insurance information and a detailed inventory of major possessions, including serial numbers and receipts for appliances.

Flood Checklist: Emergency Kit

You may need to evacuate in the face of a flood and be unable to return home for an extended period of time, and goods and services may well be disrupted during and after the inundation. This means it’s vital you have an emergency readiness kit already assembled before a deluge comes knocking at the door. This should include water and non-perishable food provisions (such as Mountain House Just In Case…® supplies) for at least three days and preferably a week-plus.

Your flood preparedness/flood evacuation kit(s) should also include first-aid, any necessary prescriptions and toiletries, insulated clothing (including raingear), sleeping bags and/or blankets, flashlights (and backup batteries), a charged cellphone, spending cash and credit cards, and other essentials. A battery-operated or hand-crank NOAA Weather Radio is also a valuable tool to have on hand, as it allows you to closely monitor real-time flood conditions.(Check out this FEMA factsheet for a full flood checklist.)

Developing a Flood Action Plan

Evacuating ahead of or during a flood is much easier when you have some sense of where you’re going. This means developing a flood action plan that everyone in your household’s well versed in. Identify evacuation routes to high ground in your neighborhood as well as around workplaces and schools. In the event of a large or long-lasting flood, you may need to take refuge out of the region, so make a list of friends or relatives you might be able to stay with. Make sure everyone’s phone has emergency numbers programmed in, and identify a family member out of the region to serve as an emergency point of contact.

Practice makes perfect, right? “Dry runs” (if you’ll pardon the pun) put the finishing touches on any flood evacuation plan. Carry out periodic simulated flood drills with your family so everyone’s familiar with the step-by-step. Besides instilling confidence, these exercises can help you identify and fix any potential hiccups in your plan.

Flood Forecasts & Evacuation Orders

Pay attention to those meteorologists: The National Weather Service issues a “Flood Watch” (or “Flash Flood Watch”) when conditions are ripe for flooding; a “Flood Warning” (or “Flash Flood Warning”) means a flood’s underway or soon to occur. It’s also a good idea to keep tabs on alerts from the NWS River Forecast Centers, which monitors current and predicted river levels.

It goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway): Take any evacuation orders issued by local or state officials seriously. The sooner you can seek safe high ground ahead of a flood, the better: Traffic’s liable to be heavy on major evacuation routes.

Imminent Flood Preparation

Besides the general measures we outlined above, you may need to implement some last-minute prep if a flood watch or warning has been issued. (But remember, again: Evacuation is the most important course of action in many cases, and you should absolutely abide by any evacuation orders issued by local or regional officials.) Move important documents, rugs, furniture, and other possessions to higher floors of your house. If directed to do so, you may also end up shutting off utilities and/or water to your house. Clear your gutters and downspouts of twigs and other debris in anticipation of downpours.

Don’t let floodwaters catch you off-guard: Prepare a flood checklist, assemble an emergency kit, come up with (and practice) an evacuation plan, and stay abreast of weather/hydrographic forecasts and any emergency declarations. You can learn more about flood prep and response over at

Here’s to staying dry—and safe!

Basic Emergency Food Storage Principles

From an evening power outage to the weeks of turmoil following a major natural disaster like a hurricane or earthquake, the world has a habit of occasionally playing havoc with our daily routine. From the inconvenient to the catastrophic, it’s always a smart idea to have an emergency food storage at the ready in case the unexpected does befall you. And anchoring those supplies must be an adequate reserve of food and water—the absolute fundamentals.

Fortunately, Mountain House makes stocking emergency rations easy. Our meals boast the longest proven shelf life on the market—and, best of all, they taste absolutely delicious! Survival fare, as it turns out, can be both nutritious and lip-smacking—at least when it comes from a company with a half-century reputation as a leader in the freeze-dried food industry. (It’s no surprise many of our customers reach for Mountain House cans and pouches for everyday at-home dinners, not just for camping trips or survival stockpiles. From the kitchen to the backwoods, from routine evenings to disaster zones, Mountain House always delivers!)

Let’s run down some of the best long-term food-storage tips so you’re ready to hunker down when the next contingency comes knocking at the door.

food storage

How Much to Store

A recent blogpost of ours spelled out the calculations you’ll want to consider when deciding how much emergency food you should be stockpiling. Factors include the size of your family, the caloric requirements of each individual, and any special dietary needs.

The general rule of thumb when it comes to disaster preparedness is to have what you need to get by for at least 72 hours, but, naturally, larger supplies give you more security in the event things take much longer to get back to normal.

Our Mountain House Just In Case…® emergency food supply kits come partitioned in two-, three-, four-, five-, and 14-day amounts, which makes assembling reserves a breeze. You can use our handy-dandy Emergency Food Supply Calculator (available on our Emergency Preparedness page) to estimate how many of what size kits to purchase for different intervals and numbers of people.

Don’t Forget Cooking Water

When estimating how much water to include in your emergency supplies, be sure to factor in what you’ll need for cooking (including for those Mountain House delicacies!). And remember: Besides stockpiling bottled water, it’s a good idea to equip yourself with the means to purify water in case you need to rely on questionable sources.

Emergency Food Storage Containers

A supply of emergency rations doesn’t do much good if it’s improperly stored. Here’s another of the many pluses of Mountain House: Between our waterproof pouches, vacuum-sealed Pro-Paks®, airtight and sturdy #10 cans, buckets, and kits, our containers are ideal for maintaining an emergency food supply for the long term.

Place other ingredients such as rice, cereal, sugar, spices, and the like in resealable containers (a screw-top jar, for instance) to preserve freshness and keep out insects, rodents, and other pests. Wrap perishable nibbles such as crackers in plastic bags and keep those in a resealable container, too.

Label all your containers with the date you restocked the supply so you’ve got a yardstick for gauging your food’s level of freshness.

Where to Store Long-Term Emergency Rations

You want to make sure any long-term food supplies stay sheltered from moisture, high temperatures, and direct sunlight. Cool, dry, dark—that’s the best sort of setting for your emergency rations.

Figuring Out What To Use When

Let’s say your power goes out for an extended period. How should you prioritize your rations?

Eat what’s most vulnerable to spoilage first, namely those perishables in your refrigerator and on the pantry shelves. As the USDA notes, an unopened fridge can maintain foods such as eggs and meat at a safely frosty temperature (at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit) for four hours or so. Freezer items should be next on your list: A properly insulated and completely full freezer that isn’t opened can keep items safe for some two days (less if it’s only partly full). As long as a food item still contains ice crystals, it normally should be OK to eat—and it can be refrozen.

Try to minimize opening the fridge and freezer doors to preserve as much of their cold as you can. A good strategy is to keep a regularly updated list of stored items taped to your freezer so you know what’s in there and where: That cuts down on costly rummaging time. If electricity’s not looking to come back on board for some time, the USDA recommends sticking block or dry ice inside the refrigerator.

Once you’ve worked through your perishables, move on to those items with longer shelf lives. A simple and effective way to arrange non-perishables by their expiration date (whether indicated by a “use-by” label on a package or the date you filled a container) is to keep older items in front, newer ones in back. That way you’re reaching first for the foods that need to be eaten soonest.

Mountain House meals don’t have any competitors in the emergency-food department in terms of shelf life—not with our 30 Year Taste Guarantee! A manufacture or ‘Best Used By” date of a given product can be found on its packaging. Refer to the information on our website to determine the specific shelf life.

Keeping Tabs on Your Stockpile

Periodically inspect your food stores to make sure they’re in good condition. Discard expired items, containers that have been punctured, swollen or rusted cans, and any foods that smell or look spoiled. Don’t take risks with foodborne illnesses.

Assessing Flood Damage

If floodwaters breach your emergency food supply, you should get rid of any items that might have come into contact with them. As the USDA explains, you can still use all-metal cans and retort pouches if they weren’t damaged or otherwise compromised by floodwaters: You should take off their labels (which can foster microbes), wash the cans or pouches with soap and water, rinse them with potable water, and then sanitize them using either boiling water or a bleach solution.

Whether you’re outfitting a 72-hour bag or a bomb shelter—or you’re just looking to spice up your pantry options—turn to Mountain House, your go-to source for the highest-quality, best-tasting, and longest-lasting freeze-dried food around!

How To Be An Urban Prepper

In the developed world of the 21st century, it can be all too easy to forget how quickly the comforts and systems we’re used to can go out the window: All it takes is a bad storm or a major power outage. You may be well-versed in the 1,2,3’s of wilderness survival, but the idea of having to apply some similar tools and techniques as an urban prepper may be a new one.

In this article, we’ll explore the concept of urban survival and what it takes to be an urban prepper.

urban prepper

Urban Survival

There are plenty of scenarios that might disrupt the normal and predictable routines of everyday city life. While our imaginations might gravitate toward visions of disease outbreaks and terrorist attacks—or the odd zombie apocalypse—extreme weather events are a more likely situation. Tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, severe thunderstorms, blizzards: The atmosphere can wreak real mayhem, and in the wake of one of its outbursts you may find yourself stranded in a devastated neighborhood, marooned by floodwaters, or simply contending with a widespread, long-lasting power outage or a contaminated public water supply.

Similar calamities can also occur via earthquake, tsunami, wildfire, and any number of other natural disasters. Because many such natural disasters are difficult to predict, and because one kind or another can strike just about anywhere, preparing in advance is the first step in reducing your vulnerability.

You might have only a few days’ advance warning about a hurricane making landfall, and if you wait until then to stockpile provisions you might be facing long lines at the grocery store and gas stations—not to mention picked-over shelves.

In this hyper-connected day and age, abrupt emergencies might also arise from a cyberattack (or, less dramatically, a system malfunction) that disrupts, for instance, a region’s transportation or power grid.

The Urban Prepper

A person might decide to become an urban prepper for any number of reasons, and there’s no question some have more dire outlooks than others. But being prepared for the unexpected—wherever you live—is sound, rational, and potentially lifesaving.

Imagine an unforeseen catastrophe occurs: a tornado detours through your subdivision, an unexpected shift in winds means you need to quickly evacuate ahead of a blaze. In such situations, you may not have the time or the ability to assemble what you need to stay safe and comfortable for some unknown length of time—however long it takes for things to get back to “normal.” And you shouldn’t assume rescue workers will quickly come knocking at your door (or tracking down your stranded vehicle): Depending on the circumstances, they may have their hands full, and transportation corridors may be blocked.

Self-reliance and forethought are called for. If you’ve readied yourself for a disaster—even if, of course, you didn’t know what form it might take—you’ll hopefully have emergency supplies at hand and a preplanned emergency protocol to follow.

You may never have to use the urban survival gear you acquire or the urban survival skills you cultivate—hopefully you won’t! But urban prepping gives you the peace-of-mind of knowing you’ve got a game plan—and some practical tools—if disaster does strike.

The Basics

A basic emergency kit, as the Federal Emergency Management Agency notes, should provide the supplies you need to get by for at least 72 hours, and ideally longer.

We’re talking at least a three-day share of non-perishable food and water (a gallon per person per day), with larger reserves all the better. Here at Mountain House, we offer a selection of kits and buckets, including our three-, five-, and 14-day “Just in Case” emergency food supplies ideal for an emergency kit. (Don’t forget: Our products have the industry’s longest shelf life, which is backed by our 30 year Taste Guarantee!)

You’ll also want items such as a first-aid kit, a battery-operated or (better yet) hand-crank radio, multiple flashlights, backup batteries, a cell phone with a charging system (or two), a whistle, and materials such as plastic sheeting for making an emergency shelter.

It’s also a good idea to include blankets and warm clothing, copies of critical documents, some cash money or traveler’s checks, and household chlorine bleach (which can be used to disinfect both wounds and water). If you use prescription medication or you wear glasses or contact lenses, keep backups of these in your emergency kit as well.

And don’t forget Fido and Whiskers! If you have pets, they need their own emergency kits, too (including their own stockpiles of water).

Urban Survival Training: Practice Makes Perfect

It’s one thing to have assembled the urban survival equipment necessary for a comprehensive emergency kit. But that’s not all that urban survival demands: You also want to define a plan of action, and make sure that everyone in your household’s familiar with it.

This means mapping out an evacuation route in your house, ensuring everyone knows how (and when) to shut off utilities, and practicing putting these kinds of measures to use through emergency drills. Occasionally running the family through a simulated disaster response might seem like overkill, but if an actual disaster occurs, you’ll be thankful for the game plan you established—and that were able to refine through trial-and-error—in calmer moments.

The same idea applies to workplaces, schools, and anywhere else you or a family member spends a lot of time: Familiarize yourself with that location’s particular emergency-response protocol, and make sure everybody in the family has the contact info for every pertinent location.

Bug-Out & Get-Home Bags

There’s plenty of lingo connected to modern-day urban prepping, and some of it refers to variations on the standard emergency kit. You may have heard about “bug-out bags,” for instance, also known as “72-hour bags” among several other monikers. Bug-out bags are meant to include items to sustain you while you evacuate from a disaster zone to a safe retreat (a “bug-out location”). Given such havens might be in the backcountry, bug-out bags typically include many of the same items an experienced wilderness traveler carries, such as fire-starting and water-purifying materials, in addition to tools for “living off the land,” such as fishhooks. (Some Mountain House freeze-dried meals would come in handy, too!)

And then there’s the urban “get-home bag,” a survival kit specifically designed to help you return home if an emergency or disaster catches you away—say, at work. Many people, after all, spend most of their waking hours on the road, at an office, or in a classroom. A get-home bag’ll typically be smaller and lighter than a bug-out bag—weight’s at a premium, after all, when you’re trying to get yourself home as quickly as you can—and might include items such as tennis shoes (for comfortably walking or running blocks or miles of city streets, not to mention hopping fences and other obstacles) and a detailed city map. Once home, you might determine you’re secure enough to hunker down there (what some call a “bug-in” scenario); or, if conditions are dicey, you might reach for that bug-out bag of yours and light for safer territory.

Both kinds of survival kits are meant to be catered to your personal situation. A bug-out bag will look differently depending on the sort of place you live: The tools and supplies for bugging-out in a swamp forest, for instance, won’t be exactly the same as those a desert dweller would depend upon. And a get-home bag will reflect the specifics of your workplace (or wherever you spend most of your time outside the house), including—naturally—how far from home it is.

Building Confidence

It’s all too easy to go overboard when it comes to urban prepping, both in terms of scaring yourself silly with apocalyptic visions and in terms of amassing too much equipment (or impractical stuff for downright outlandish scenarios). But remember: Readying yourself for emergencies of even the most mundane sort is actually an exercise in building confidence, in feeling calmer and more secure in your day-to-day life. Life’s unpredictable, but some simple preparations and straightforward provisioning can go a long way to helping you sleep a bit more soundly!

Emergency Food Supplies: What to Buy and How to Store It

Stocking up on a supply of emergency food isn’t just a fascination of the prepping community. Even as society evolves, the demand for emergency food remains. From power outages to those nights you simply just don’t have the energy to cook, a supply of instant meals can help give you peace of mind no matter what.

Of course, everyone’s needs are different. In order to determine what kind of food you need to include in your emergency food supply, you’ll need to ask yourself a few basic questions. Determining the answers to these questions will make shopping and planning a whole lot easier in the long run.

How Much Food Do You Need?

In order to determine how much food you need, you first need to figure out what exactly you’re planning for. Are you planning for a heavy storm? Unexpected overnight guests? The great unknown?

Once you determine what purpose your emergency food will serve, ask yourself the following questions in order to calculate how much food you’ll need:

  • How many people am I feeding?
  • Do I need to consider special nutrition or health concerns such as diabetes or food allergies?
  • How long should my food supply last?
  • Do I need any special equipment for preparation of food?
  • Do I have access to water and electricity? If so, is that access limited?

These are only a few of the questions you’ll need to ask yourself to ensure a successful emergency preparedness plan. For instance, it doesn’t do any good to have a 25-pound bag of dry beans without access to water, heat, or a container in which to cook them. You’ll want to buy food that makes sense for your specific situation.

Plan Your Calories

Another main factor to consider is calories, also known as your energy intake. How many calories you need is dependent on your metabolism and how long you plan on needing a food supply.

When planning your daily calorie intake, a good place to start is by using a calorie calculator. The results give you a range that is based on age, height, weight, and activity level. Go with the most calories, and then add an extra 500-700 calories to your daily calorie intake goal. It may seem unnecessary, however in cases where you’d have to do extra work or exercise (like manual labor, additional walking, etc.), you’ll need more calories to meet your needs. Also, if you need to ration supplies, having extra calories makes rationing a lot easier.

Planning For Your Family Size

Use the following formulas to determine how much food your family needs:

  • One person = calories per day X number of days food supply should last
  • Family = total calories per day X number of days food supplies should last

Mountain House offers food kits in 2- to 14-day supplies. In fact, kits are broken down in 2-day, 3-day, 4-day and 5-day supplies to cater to a variety of needs. By purchasing the correct amount of food for your specific needs, you can rest assured you’ll be prepared no matter what.

Planning For the Long Term

The same rules apply when it comes to long-term emergency preparedness. Simply multiply the calorie needs per day into week-long segments and then determine how long you want your food supply to extend. People actively plan for three months, six months, or even for an entire year.

Planning for long-term needs requires a little more planning than planning food for a 14-day period. One consideration is shelf life, which may be shorter than you think for certain emergency foods. Home-packaged foods such as dried fruit, for example, typically must be used within six months of dehydrating. Most store-bought canned meat and uncooked instant cereals typically expire after about a year on the shelf. The nice thing about these products is that they have an expiration date on their packaging, so you’ll always be aware of how long you have left to use your supply.

Conversely, Mountain House products are designed specifically for emergencies that may not arise until well into the future. An emergency food kit and all our products have a Taste Guarantee of 30 years. If you’re planning for the long term, use quality foods that are made to go the distance. Food storage and shelf life are dependent on the type of food you’d buy and how it’s stored.

A Note On Water

The only thing that’s more essential than nutrient-rich food is water. Not only do you need water for hydration, but it’s also essential for making most of our delicious, ready-to-eat meals. The general rule is to keep a supply of one gallon of water on hand per person per day.

Like food, bottled water has a use-by date — therefore it needs to be rotated with your food supply. For long-term solutions, a water purification kit can be helpful, especially in cases where clean water is not always readily available.

Cost of Emergency Food

At first glance, emergency food can seem expensive. What you’re paying for is safety, nutrition, and value — all of which will deliver when you need it most.

Despite the cost, your food supply can be affordable. It’s a good idea to buy in bulk because the cost per meal is less than if you were to buy one meal at a time. You can also mix cheaper foods with premium options to extend your food supply without breaking the bank.

Another way to make buying emergency food a bit easier is to add its cost into your budget. Setting aside windfalls such as your tax return for buying more food is also a great way to ensure you’re always prepared without feeling like you have to shell out too much cash.

Types of Food

There are various types of emergency food available from Mountain House. From meaty choices like Beef Stew to vegetarian options like Pasta Primavera, you’ll find a wide assortment of products that not only provide you the necessary energy to get through anything, but taste great as well.

To kickstart your day, our Just in Case…® Breakfast Bucket provides favorites like Scrambled Eggs with Bacon, Breakfast Skillet, and Granola with Milk & Blueberries. Each meal is balanced for nutrition, calories, carbs, and flavor. Lunch and dinner kits are also available and include meals such as Chili Mac with Beef or Beef Stroganoff with Noodles

After a long day, there’s nothing more rewarding than indulging in something sweet. Our desserts and treats include delicious options like Raspberry Crumble and New York Style Cheesecake Bites to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Reliable Food, Any Time

The benefit of buying emergency food from Mountain House is that it’s designed specifically for long-term storage. This means all of our products are packaged to help you save space and reduce the chance of spoilage, thanks to a tightly sealed and waterproof design.

Pouches offer waterproof packaging that fits easily into daily meal planning. For longer rationing or when feeding more people, our #10 Cans provide a 30-year shelf life and the convenience of individual food items in a larger portion size.

Kits or multi-day kits are perfect for planning meals for a specific number of days and people. A bucket kit provides a lot of food in an environmentally safe container to ensure you’re always ready to eat.

Food Storage Best Practices

There are several methods that work well to extend the shelf life of your supply. The best way is to use each meal and replace as you go. Set a rotation schedule that matches the shelf life of your food. That may be every six months for home packaged dried fruit or every two years, 12 years, or 30 years for specially packaged emergency foods. The rotation depends on the food and its container type.

Here are some other things to keep in mind when storing food for the long term:

  • Emergency food should be stored in a dry, dark, and cool area.
  • Many food storage systems use a right-to-left method of storage. Food that expires quickly goes on the right, while foods that have a longer shelf life go on the far left. This method is even more effective if food is also arranged front to back — in other worse, foods that expire first sit front and right, while foods that expire last sit back and left.


Emergency food doesn’t merely exist to tantalize your tastebuds. It’s also designed to meet your daily dietary requirements both for nutrition and caloric intake. High-quality food supplies should be packaged by calorie-load, not by serving size. Because you’ll typically burn more calories than usual, it’s more important that during emergency situations you meet your caloric intake goals rather than eating the correct portion size.

Before You Buy

We suggest that before you go ahead and purchase a bunch of product from us, order a single serving of emergency food to try out first. You’ll want to make sure that it’s delicious and that you’ll be able to stand eating it for days on end.

Other Food Items You Should Buy

In addition to emergency meals, you should keep the rest of your food supply well-stocked. Include the things that you need to make meals easy, nutritious, and delicious.

  • Coffee, cocoa, and tea
  • Rice
  • Spices
  • Condiments
  • Sugar
  • Vitamins and supplements
  • Water (bottled or purified)

As you plan for emergencies, consider the benefit of Mountain House’s freeze-dried meals. We offer nutritionally balanced food that you’d actually want to eat that can be readily made no matter the situation.

Multi-Phased Approach to Emergency and Survival Food Storage

All Food is “Survival Food”

EnF7DhHROS8OMEp2pCkx_Dufer food overhead hig resHaving emergency food on hand is like having a savings account. You should keep cash savings to help you manage unexpected financial shocks—like needing a new transmission in your car. Similarly you should have extra food on hand as a buffer to help you weather difficult times.

The recent icy arctic blast experienced by much of the country has made travel difficult and serves as a prime example of the benefit of having extra food on hand. Healthy savings accounts and having extra food in your pantry provides peace of mind that your family will be taken care of should things get difficult. If you ever find yourself in the situation of having to dip into your emergency food stores, what exactly is the proper way to do it?

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