It’s hard to imagine a time when you can’t drive down to the grocery store for food, but in a true disaster when power goes out across the state, roads are flooded and debris prevents travel, you will want your pantry and cabinets to be filled with the appropriate foods to feed your family for at least a week without a trip to the store.

Disaster preparedness requires food and water. You should have at least a week of food for your family and pets to be prepared for an emergency. Recently it has been suggested that you have as many as two weeks worth of supplies.

However, not all foods are created equal. As you well know, many foods spoil quickly, no matter how you store them. Unless you buy enough to rotate your food supply and just keep enough on hand, you’re going to need to shop carefully.

As you buy food, consider preparation. If you have no gas or electric service, would you be able to cook oatmeal? Canned nuts and peanut butter and jelly on crackers may be a better choice. Of course, you could create an outdoor fire, if the disaster did not cause too much flooding, but make sure you have some types of food that are easy to make or ready to eat as they are.

Here are some items you should buy for your emergency food supply, and the length of time they should last if stored properly:

Boxed potatoes (six months)
Dry crackers (six months)
Powdered milk (six months)
Dried fruit (six months)
Canned foods (one year)
Peanut butter and jelly (one year)
Cereals that are unopened (one year)
Dried corn, pasta and rice (many years)
Coffee, tea and cocoa (many years)
Bouillon products (many years)
Beef jerky (many years)

Also, don’t forget water. You will need at least 1 gallon per person for a minimum of 7 days to protect your family. Keep in mind that living in a hot climate like Hawaii, its never a bad idea to have more!

When packing your food items, make sure you avoid:

Foods that will deplete water in your body (caffeinated or highly salted foods)
Foods that expire quickly (fresh fruits and vegetables)
Foods that must be frozen or refrigerated
Foods that require a lot of prep
Foods with little nutritional value (candy, fruit snacks, chips)