Emergency Rations

So, about 5 years ago we bought a house (the one we live in now… and when I say “we”, I really mean my partner, who paid for and is paying for the lion’s share of the house since I am a writer and the money I make is actually a negative number… great for tax breaks, bad for paying for things).

However, according the the Canadian Government, we are supposed to have an Emergency Preparedness kit… and we do! Lots of water, lots of useful tools and low-tech devices that can do neat stuff like “keep us alive” and “keep our pets alive” and fun things like that… but it also suggests about 2 weeks(ish) of emergency food supplies.

So about a month after we bought the house (see above note), I went shopping. “Mountain Equipment Co-op” was a local chain that sells lots of yummy(ish) food for hikers, campers, and climbers… and so I bought about $300 worth of food that should last two healthy adults about three weeks.

All of it had a 5-year expiration date. Fast forward to… five years from then… and I find myself needing to replace a lot of emergency food supplies.

Now, nothing is stopping me from doing the same thing again, but I figured there are smarter people on this website (hello all of you!), and I didn’t really think about it before, I just impulse-bought several weeks worth of food.

So, does anyone have any advice? Suggestions? Tips? There are a lot of Prepper websites selling staggeringly expensive “luxury meals for two survivors!” that I’m skeptical of… but surely there is something better than just freeze-dried Mexican Rice?

Or maybe not? Anyway, just thought I’d ask. Thanks!


I’d always buy a couple of jars of peanut butter and honey. Long expiration and highly calorific.

(Easy to carry too when the zombies arrive.)


Choosing your threat scenario is important. Looking at https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/emergency-preparedness/making-an-emergency-kit.html the target appears to be “no power, no water, some shelter”. Chances are this is a shelter-in-place, but secondarily you might have to make shift in a gymnasium or something far from home. Does that sound fair?

Unlike the campers, you don’t have to care about every gramme of weight. So tins are more doable for you.

Here in the UK we’ve seen quite a few supply chain disruptions over the last couple of years because of COVID and [politics elided] so while we (wife and I) aren’t going full prepper we aren’t going to suffer if shops and power are out for a bit. That means e.g. a large sealed tub of rice and another of flour, which we gradually get through and replace; tins of things we’d eat anyway, some of which are entirely edible cold, but again we rotate through them; big containers of water. If we were also expecting long-term power and gas loss we’d get some camping stoves.


We have a Brexit freezer and a Brexit larder, fortunately we didn’t have the full doomsday.

Lots of frozen meat. You can buy frozen veggies in the UK which was our plan in case we had trouble getting fresh.

Lots of tins (especially tomatoes), rice, pasta, pulses. Tea bags!


I did something similar to @RogerBW just before the first Covid lockdown: bought a bunch of tinned/dry food that we would use anyway, and replace it as we go. I also have matches for lighting the gas stove if the power goes out!


Get a good mix I’d say. Something to break up the monotony.


I do have a very robust collection of frozen and tinned foods. The emergency supplies previously were all in a backpack with the other emergency supplies so I could just grab the whole thing, toss it in the car after we wrangled our two cats into their carriers, and then go to wherever we were supposed to go.

The water supplies certainly aren’t portable… too heavy. I think we have a small supply of water purification tablets, but probably only a dozen or two.

Hmm. Maybe I’m thinking about this too much. Still, thank you all for your input! Lets me know I’m not totally off base with the kinds of things I’m thinking.


Yes, if evacuation is a likely thing, I think the rotation goes something like:

reserves in the cupboard → backpack ready to grab → ready-use in the kitchen

just in the way that my next full thing of deodorant lives in the washbag ready for me to pick up when I go somewhere. Back in the days when I went to places.


I thought the point of the emergency cupboard was to have enough food in case you got snowed in (no doubt a big enough problem in Canada) or in case of transport links getting cut so there’s no food in the shops (hello small settlement life, or Brexit). My dad and sister both keep a cupboard full of tinned stuff they like, and slowly rotate it in to the regular food cupboard when it gets close to expiry date.


The theory is supposed to be both emergency “stay put” orders, and emergency “go here immediately” orders, but yes, the idea is basically to have enough food on hand that if you have to pack in a hurry or you can’t get anywhere, you won’t starve immediately.

I have a fair amount of tasty tinned goods, but they don’t transport super well (in an emergency, I’d grab our one picnic cooler and just arm-sweep everything into it, I suppose, but the backpack full of food and tools was certainly more handy). And since we eat them constantly, I’m never exactly sure how much I have on any given day… whereas the emergency rations just sat there for 5 years (and are now being tossed because I missed their expiration dates and I’m not willing to risk eating them).


Just to think what’s been going on in the past (almost) two years with covid, with disrupted supplies of so many things we take for granted. Add to that various other disasters that have hit so many places (floods, fires etc). Next up the presence of media portraying apocalyptic scenarios. My guess is almost everyone has been going through some of these scenarios.

My sister has been joking for years, that she lives in a perfect place to survive the zombie apocalypse. On the other hand the valley around her saw really bad flooding a few years back–she lives up on the hill so still safe. But her neighbors weren’t quite so fortunate with that particular scenario.

My most likely scenario is a shelter in place type thing for which my freezer and larder are well prepared. Lots of dried foods like beans, lentils, plus canned goods (cans contain stupid unhealthy plasticy stuffs between the metal and the food stuffs, glasses are better but more difficult even to transport). Preserved tomatoes of any kind fix up anything dry to a meal. Spices. Lots of different hot sauces. Sauerkraut keeps a long time.

Throughout the pandemic I have tried to keep my food stuffs at a level that we could do quarantine without sending anyone for groceries if necessary.

I do not keep a lot of stuff around for evacuation type scenarios. But I have thought about these. For hiking I usually keep around a few bags of nuts and some energy bars, we eat those anyway. Also a good thing to carry around is a bit of granola style something. Can be eaten for normal breakfast but keeps well and if you feel like having around some milkpowder… have a cold meal. We don’t do multi day hiking so I have little to no knowledge of the kind of trekking food people bring. Probably the kind of stuff you bought.

My most feared scenario is still a fire and I have thought plenty about that -.- what I would save and depending on when the most recent fire around us was, I keep a bag with stuff in the bed room.


They’re fine. Expiration dates on shelf-stable food are about quality, not safety. As long as seals are intact, cans aren’t rusting out, etc, they’re fine.
(I’ve eaten 140 year old hardtack, but also lots of expired back packing food.)


@marx are you on Twitter? There’s a UK chef called Jack Monroe (@bootstrapcook) who is awesome at this kind of thing. She’s a single Mum and lived from food banks before she became well known. She wrote some stuff on what is safe to eat past a sell by date (most things) and what isn’t (bread is the one I remember).

She also did a store cupboard list.


Our plan is more or less what others have noted. We have a reasonably sized pantry, and it’s full of stuff we eat. (Also, four jars of artichoke hearts. Why?) Downstairs, we have additional stuff which I buy in moderate bulk (10 kg of rice, 50 lbs of sugar, 50 lbs of flour) plus more of canned stuff that we use lots of (assorted tomatoes, peanut butter, beans), stuff hard to find when it’s not in season (canned pumpkin!), reasonably long-life dry stuff I buy when it’s on sale (cereal, crackers) and rotate through, and stuff we don’t eat, but could if required (strange canned soups. I should move some of the artichoke hearts there…) There’s also a freezer full of food, but I expect it would if we’re eating through the pantry, the power is off.
A couple years ago, when I started hearing stuff about what was going on in Wuhan, I added a few things, some dried milk, (and stuff I can’t remember, and am too lazy to go look at.), in case we couldn’t get stuff. I totally struck out at stocking up on things that were going to be hard or impossible to get at the start of the pandemic, like toilet paper and PPE.


We have actually recently upgraded our „emergency preparedness“ by getting a 30L water cannister so we can have the 20L per person water in the apartment (we have a bunch of bottled water around as well but not nearly enough). I also got one of those battery radios.

Most likely scenario is blackouts this winter because of some energy fuckup. Pantry still filled. Coal and wood for the BBQ. Still not really any portable rations.

I feel a bit like an idiot. The only person we told was my dad who laughed at us—he thinks any emergency where he would need drinking water is „The End“ anyway due to immediate societal collapse?! WTF?—and I spent about 2 hours explaining to my partner why I thought we should at least have some more drinking water stored somewhere.

My sister on the other hand is still ready for the zombi-calypse. No idea why my father finds my tiny effort laughable when my sister would prefer to be able to go off the grid.


Our Brexit freezer in the garage died the other week. Gutted.

Got plenty of wood in for the fire this winter before the price shot up again.


Is it worth investing in pills to make water potable? You know that without chlorination, it is only so long you can store water in tanks for.


A bit extreme, but can you dig a well?


The tank has a valve and I am cycling water. I am not quite sure how often I will have to cycle it → the internet suggests that in the type of container+storage I have it should keep for a year or at least 6 months. In addition, I think, I will not need it after this winter. So it should keep for a few months and when we move to my dad‘s I will think of a better longterm solution. This is really just for the next few months—this one particular winter. If after this winter the situation remains as unstable, I will think I will need more than just one water cannister.

No well digging possible. Neither here nor at my dad‘s.

I really don‘t think I need it but not having water is like the dumbest thing. As stated, I feel that even this little bit is being „overprepared“ on the other hand I keep reading articles referencing the governments emergency preparations say that 20L of water/per Person plus a well-stocked pantry are advised.


Ruh-roh. I did not know this… lemme go check our water supply… Best Before May 2017!

Damnit. Well… lesson learnt. That’s 30L of water for the toilets I guess?

Well, I should be able to get more in the next week. Thanks for letting me know!

The Government of Canada’s “Emergency Preparedness Packs” include potable water pills. I think I have one of those kicking around with the other emergency supplies I’ve stockpiled (including 30L of water that I’m glad to find out isn’t actually potable! Woo!)