Ways for Surviving a Food Shortage: Ideas to Create an Emergency Food Stockpile

Ways for Surviving a Food Shortage: Ideas to Create an Emergency Food Stockpile
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People who view horror stories of starvation deaths, people eating mud for subsistence, and citizens killed in food riots, thinking, “this will not happen around me” is living in delusion. People who think that the authorities or someone else will help them during crises when food becomes scare or non-available are in even more delusion. New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina has already made it evident that the government cannot cater to everyone even if it wants to do so.

No person is immune from natural disasters such as flash floods, hurricanes, volcano eruptions, earthquakes, meteor strikes, or anything else. Man-made disasters such as war, a major terrorist strike, civil riots can also happen. Even without such disasters, hyperinflation, breakdown in the food supply chain owing to wars, climate change, or any other disturbance at production centers, or trade disputes may cause food shortage.

Stockpile Nonperishable Foods

The basic method of surviving food shortage is by stockpiling food. Make sure to stockpile non-perishable foods with shelf life of a year in normal temperatures, and which does not require refrigeration or heating. Also make sure that such foods are high in calories, minerals, and essential nutrients. Good options include:

  • Canned beans, tuna and chicken, all high in proteins
  • Rice, pasta or grains, all rich in carbohydrates
  • Dried sea vegetables such as the iodine rich kelp
  • Jarred olives, rich in monounsaturated fats and Vitamin E
  • Raw honey, rich in antioxidants and other health benefits
  • Instant noodles, which though not having much health benefits provide a feeling of fullness. Make sure to stock wheat based ones, with no MSG or trans-fat.
  • Popcorn, rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
  • Nuts, seeds, and dry fruits such as apricots, all having high nutritional value and ready to eat
  • Dark chocolate bars, as a concentrated source of energy and carbohydrates
  • Milk power, especially when the family has children as a source for protein and other benefits
  • Baby food powder. Baby food is puree of vegetables and fruits. Although expensive, it offers a good way to stockpile nutritious food in powdered form for emergencies
  • Dried Egg, or egg powder as a substitute for fresh eggs, and having the same health benefits
  • Malt extract powders such as Ovaltine that provide energy, vitamins, and nutrients
  • A few luxury items such as candy or cookies may make life a bit more comfortable

Food Stockpile

Avoid salty and spicy foods for such foods increase the need to drink water, which may be scarce.

Make sure to include essential tools such as a can opener, gas lighter, sprouting tools, and essential utensils in the food stockpile.

Rotate and Restock. Do not collect food and forget about it. Food expires and goes stale. Use the food regularly, but do so only after purchasing the replenishment.

The quality to include depends on the number of family members depending on the stockpile and the basic calorie levels required for each member. Determine how many calories you and your family members burn on a normal day, look into the calorie levels provided by the foods selected to stockpile and fix a quantity for the period required.

Dry to Preserve

Freeze-dried foods are foods with water content removed to increase storage life. Such foods re-hydrate faster than any other foods, require little or no cooking, and save valuable fuel and water. They are also superior in nutrition and taste better than any other food available for long-term storage. Popular ingredients in freeze-dried foods are seafood such as shrimp, crab, and lobster, and meat products such as beef and chicken.

Although commercial freeze-dried foods are popular and the food of choice for hikers, astronauts, and others without access to normal food; such foods are expensive. Knowing how to dehydrate and can foods to increase shelf life, though time-consuming help save cost.


The crisis that triggers food shortage may also trigger the breakdown of our water supply, and/or contaminate natural water sources. Store a minimum of five gallons of water per person to survive for a reasonable period.

To purify water, bring water to rolling boil for one minute. This may not always be possible owing to lack of electricity or cooking gas. Stock chlorine tablets, iodine tablets, or unscented household chlorine bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite) and document the method to purify water using these substances. If nothing else is available, water drained from the water heater faucet would be safe.

Private Garden

One should be prepared for disruption in food supply for a year, by which most disasters and emergencies should settle down. It is however next-to-impossible to stockpile ready-to-eat or instant foods for periods exceeding a few weeks. What is rather required is to store seeds from fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens, and plant an emergency garden. Opt for plants that grow fast and well in the local environment, and do not require much water or fertilizers. Stash away such seeds in a watertight plastic bag, and when the time comes, grow the garden in a back yard area, raised beds, in deck or small herb pots in the kitchen window, or anywhere else.

As the adage goes, the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The next best time is today. Space permitting, plant a few trees and shrubs today, to obtain self-sufficiency in food tomorrow. Good crops to plant at home include blueberries, cranberries, cherry trees, ginkgo nut tree, apricot, almonds, root vegetables such as carrots, and herbs such as various mints, rosemary, thyme, lavender, lemon grass and horseradish. Consider what grows in your area before planting.

If space permits, throw in a few chicken, duck, geese, or any other livestock in the garden as an added measure of food security during hard times, and a good source of secondary income during normal times.

Best Practices

Besides stockpiling food and growing home gardens to increase self-sufficiency, follow these essential surviving food shortage ideas and tips:

  1. Learn how to forage for greens. Weeds have more minerals than most of the greens available at stores. However, do not do so without due competence. Failure to understand the distinction between two similar-looking plants can even cause death through consumption of poisonous plants!
  2. Learn to hunt and fish. This is how early men lived when they did not have supermarkets and a public food order. Such skills will ensure that you and your family will not run out of food.
  3. Learn the basics of preparing food without the aid of civilization tools. For instance, learn how to sprout beans instead of cooking them. Sprouting is actually a healthier alternative to cooking.
  4. Extended electricity breakdown usually accompanies food shortage. Have a propane freezer with enough propane to last for weeks. Similarly, stockpile wood and charcoal handy to cook food and boil food.
  5. When calamity abounds, the best choice is to stay put at one’s place until the situation returns to normal. At times, however the government may order an evacuation as the area becomes unsafe owing to hurricanes, floods, or any other reason. To cater to such eventuality, make sure to keep the emergency food stockpile mobile. Be sure what to grab if you have just ten minutes. Hesitation may put you at the mercy of unknown strangers.
  6. Finally be discreet. Bragging about your foresight to keep food stockpiles when a crisis strikes and the city is without food might be an invitation for hungry freebooters to attack you for food!


  1. Magdoff, Fred. “The World Food Crisis. Sources and Solutions.” https://www.uvm.edu/~fmagdoff/PrecariousExistence.pdf. Retrieved July 20, 2011.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Food and Water Concerns.” https://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/earthquakes/food.asp. Retrieved July 20, 2011.
  3. “Protecting Your Food Supply - 10 Tips.” https://www.foodshortageusa.com/. Retrieved July 20, 2011.
  4. “How to Survibve the coming food shortage.” https://www.dailypaul.com/40465/how-to-survive-the-coming-food-shortage. Retrieved July 20, 2011.

Image Credit:

  1. flickr.com/DFID UK Department for International Development
  2. flickr.com/Ryan MCFarland