When you are sheltering in place, are planning on staying in a shelter, or even dealing with the possibility of being stuck out on the road, having food and water is your top priority in any disaster situation. You can make it without power, and a lot of creature comforts, but you can’t survive without food and water.

Emergency food storage doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. In fact, it can be mainly comprised of items your family is already eating. Before you go out and start buying all the water, canned food, and milk you can get your hands on, figure out how long you want to prepare for. Having at least a week’s worth of food and water stored up can be a great idea during a natural disaster. Keep in mind that you not only have to ride out the storm itself, but that it may also take extra time before help and supplies can make it to you.

Start with your water supply. Hopefully you will continue to have running water, but don’t depend on it as your only source of drinking water. Buy water bottles, or fill up milk jugs, soda bottles and the likes to ensure you have enough clean water to safely drink for a few days. You can make it much longer without food than without water. This should be your number 1 priority.

Next think about non-perishable food that your family will eat. Choose food that you can eat as is. Nut butters (almond, cashew, etc) are a good choice, as are canned beans, soups, and the likes. Canned tuna, sardines, anchovies, oysters, or chicken makes for a great protein source. Have protein shake and green drink mixes that you can add water and still get good nutrition. Don’t forget about things like granola, protein bars, nuts and seeds or beef jerky that you can eat right from the package.

If you have a camping stove, or a grill outside, you may also be able to heat and cook some foods. Oatmeal, coffee, soups, and even rice are great options if you have the ability to heat water when the power goes out.

Last but not least, stock up on some favourite treats like chocolate, chips, pretzels, and the likes. It will make getting through those tough disaster days a little more bearable.

Start with a list of things that you know your family will eat and things you’ll use up even when you don’t need them during a disaster. From there, start to round it out with things that will keep you full and healthy and pick those up as needed. For example, you may eat canned vegetable or chicken noodle soup regularly, but aren’t a big fan of tuna. Keep a small supply of the soups in your pantry at all times (rotating through them as needed), and pick up a few cans of tuna as needed.

Talk to your family about your survival food supply and let them have input into what you should stock and keep as well. It will give them a sense of control and responsibility and of course ensure that everyone is happy with the meals available when things get serious.