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What’s A 3-Day Food Supply?

Most disaster checklists include recommendations to keep a three-day food supply on hand for each person, but just exactly what does that mean? LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames has some of the answers.

She says you’re going to need at least two quarts – and preferably a gallon – of water for each person, as well as ample food supplies for everyone in your household.

“What you want to keep in mind are the conditions you’ll be operating under,” Reames says. “You may be without power, which means you may not have a way to heat things up or refrigerate them.”

Some of the potential foods you could include are single-serving cereal packages, crackers, granola bars, canned fruit, canned juice, packaged drink mixes, raisins, apple sauce, canned vegetables, canned soups or chili, tuna, canned chicken, beef jerky, peanut butter, canned milk or other shelf-stable milk, shelf-stable cheese, hard candy or chocolate.

With regard to water, Reames says to choose commercially bottled water or store water from your household system in clean containers for brief time periods when you think you might need it.

The LSU AgCenter nutritionist also offers these tips to keep in mind when choosing the foods:

  • Choose nonperishable foods that require little or no cooking and no refrigeration.
  • Can or jar sizes should be appropriate for one meal with no leftovers. Once opened or prepared, many foods lose their shelf-stable character and will go bad.
  • Select foods you like and normally eat.
  • If you don’t have a way to boil water when the power is off, do not include instant foods that will require hot water. Keep in mind foods that require water also will consume your water supply quickly.
  • Don’t forget baby food, special dietary requirements and food for your pets.

The LSU AgCenter expert says to buy – and practice using – a hand-crank can opener if you don’t have one already. “You’ll need it to open that can of tuna when the power goes off,” she says.

As you assemble your food and other disaster supplies, keep them in a central location – above potential flood level.

“You also want to store food in the coolest cabinets or pantry away from appliances that produce heat,” she says, adding, “Store food that comes in cardboard boxes, thin plastic or paper in metal, glass or rigid plastic containers to avoid insect and rodent damage.”

The LSU AgCenter nutritionist also stresses that you can acquire and store your three-day food supply early but that you want to rotate and use food and water every six to 12 months – or as recommended on the food labels.

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