How To Prepare For Food Shortage When A Famine or Disaster Happens

In a world where many of us can simply pop to the grocery store multiple times a day, it can be hard to imagine a food shortage. 

Yet, failing to prepare for a food shortage and not having non-perishable foods in your home in case of an emergency could be the difference between life and death. 

The average time that humans can survive without food is around 2 weeks, but this can be much lower for some adults and can be especially damaging for children. Severe hunger can be extremely dangerous so we musn’t take the risk when it comes to preparing for a possible food shortage. 

If you refuse to consider experiencing a food supply shortage a possibility, you could be left with very little to survive on in an extreme situation. With recent global events the world has seen how easy it can be for food shortages to happen – often extremely suddenly. Failing to be prepared will mean you may be left behind whilst others have far more to survive on and nourish their families with. 

Give yourself and your family the peace of mind by prepping for unexpected food shortages in a few easy steps that could make a huge difference. 

Get Organized

First, you’ll want to do some simple planning to help streamline your prepping for a food shortage. 

Ask yourself some of the questions below to start to prepare you and your loved ones.

  • How many adults and how many children will you need to provide food for? This will help you work out the total calories of food you’ll require.
  • How long do you want your food supply to last? Most survival experts recommend having 72 hour’s worth of food as this is the critical time after a disaster, but you may consider more or less.
  • Where will you store your stockpile of food? Consider the type of food and the specific storage requirements they may have. A cool, dark place is ideal for most non-perishable foods and bottled water should be kept away from direct sunlight. 
  • How much space can you realistically dedicate to your emergency food supply? 
  • What is your budget for prepping for a food shortage? You may want to buy a small amount each week or you may want to invest a sum now and buy all your essentials so that you’re fully stocked up. 

What are the best foods to stock for a food shortage?

Here are some of our top foods that you can buy in advance, have a long shelf life, are easy and safe to store and will provide you with sustaining calories during a food shortage. 

It’s always important to remember to get flip top lids for your canned goods or ensure you keep a can opener with your food stores at all times. 

  • Canned Beans and Pulses – These are pre cooked so you can eat them straight from the can if you don’t have any cooking facilities. Add them to pasta or rice for extra energy. They’re often a great source of protein which can be hard to get hold of in a food shortage.
  • Bags of rice or pasta – these can be stored for years at a time and have a long shelf life. All you’ll need to create a meal with them is some boiling water. Consider stocking up on jarred sauces or adding canned tomatoes and other vegetables to have a complete meal on hand. 
  • Dry cereal – Dry cereal is super light weight and has a long shelf life. Make sure you always store it in an air tight container and prevent it from getting damp at any point as cereal can quickly turn soggy if not stored properly. 
  • High energy protein bars – Protein bars are easy to store and packed with calories. These are brilliant snack options. You can also consider buying meal replacement bars which will keep you and your family feeling full when times get tough. 
  • Beef Jerky or other dried meats- This is a really good snack option as well. It is a key way to keep up protein levels and Omega 3.
  • Canned fish such as tuna or sardines – An ideal option for getting omega 3 fatty acids, these foods are also high in protein. They’ll be a welcomed variety when it comes to keeping your tastebuds entertained! 
  • Hard candy – Ideal for a quick energy boost or simply a treat to boost morale – hard candy doesn’t expire for years and it’s easy to store in your home. 
  • UHT milk: This can be bought in cartons and has a shelf life of at least 6 months. It could be an essential source of calcium for you and your family as well as an added perk when you’re having a coffee or tea. 

Top Tips: 

Use a marker pen to write on the top of canned goods what the can contains. This will help you to quickly identify it even if the paper label on the outside comes off if it ever gets wet or damaged in some way. 

You may want to vacuum pack foods such as dried pasta and rice. This not only saves space but it also helps to prevent any bugs from getting into packaging. 

Products Mentioned:

Amazon Basics Safe Cut Can Opener

Airtight Food Storage Container Set

Pure Protein Bars

Vacuum Sealer Machine

Emergency Food Packs

Lightweight and transformed into ready meals by simply adding water, emergency food packs are ideal for ensuring maximum calories and provisions that take up little space. 

ReadyWise Emergency Food Supply

These packs usually contain freeze dried and dehydrated foods that can quickly become a life line to your survival in an emergency. They’re easy to store, last for years and won’t add extra weight if you have to carry them around. 

It’s not just food that you can access either – you can ensure you keep your calcium and vitamin D levels high by adding water to make milk via these types of emergency food packs.

How To Keep Hydrated During A Food Shortage

When we’re used to just turning on the faucet, the idea of no running water is hard to conceive. Yet, in the aftermath of a natural disaster or emergency, you could face water shortages for days and weeks. 

The maximum time that a person can survive without water is generally around 3 days – so it’s really essential that you have an emergency water supply in case of a natural disaster. When food shortages occur, it’ll often follow with limited access to safe drinking water so make sure you’re fully prepped. 

It’s definitely advisable to consider having emergency water storage in your home – even if you keep this tucked away in the backyard or basement. 

Aim to have at least 10 Gallons to provide you for as long as required – especially if you’ll need this for food preparation as well as drinking and simple tasks like brushing teeth. 

Another easy to store and brilliantly designed option is a water filtering product such as these personal water filters which you can use on the ground in an emergency to quickly and efficiently hydrate yourself. They protect against 99.9% of bacteria and have a flow rate of 3 liters per minute by suction.

Remember to consider purchasing long life milk and juices made from concentrate which can often last for up to 2 years. These can be added to tea and coffee, or offer you an alternative to just drinking water which may encourage you to stay hydrated. 

Products Mentioned:

Emergency Water Storage Tanks 5 Gallons

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

Food Storage Methods

There’s no point in spending time and money preparing for a food shortage by getting emergency supplies if you then don’t store them correctly. 

Invest in some good quality plastic containers with lids – these should be airtight to protect the contents, and clear so that you can quickly identify what’s inside. If you’re tight on space, there are lots of good stackable food storage containers too. 

Get a variety of sizes of Zip Loc plastic bags (again, these should be clear so you don’t waste time working out what’s inside) as these can be good for prepping for grocery shortages such as dried cereals, oats or sugar. 

If you want to prepare for famine in large quantities, plastic buckets could be an option to tightly seal dried goods or large, opened packets. These are a good option if you have a basement or outdoor area where you can easily store large containers. 

You’ll probably want to get some heavy duty garbage bags too for waste-although these can be used for a variety of things (including shelter or warmth in an emergency). It could also be useful to get some kitchen towels – try to find rolls like this that are individually wrapped in plastic to ensure they don’t become damaged in storage. 

Products Mentioned:

24 Pack Airtight Food Storage Container Set

Ziploc (347 Variety) Total Bags

House Naturals 5 Gallon Plastic Bucket

Ultrasac Heavy Duty Contractor Bags

EcoFirst Recycled Paper Towels (2 Rolls)

Useful Appliances During A Food Shortage

It’s likely that you’ll be without electricity and power during an emergency, especially in the aftermath of a natural disaster or if you’re out in the wild. 

Having a backup option such as a portable stove means that you’ll still be able to fuel yourself and your family regardless of power shortages. A warm meal or even a cup of tea can be an excellent boost to morale.

If you’re really short on space or want an option that you could quickly throw into a Bug Out Bag to grab in an emergency, have a look at the smaller stove systems. These can be surprisingly powerful and all you’ll need to remember is that you keep your propane supply fully stocked. 

Remember to consider the size of your group when deciding which appliances to buy as larger options will obviously be better for catering for families or teams of people. 

Gas ONE GS-3000 Portable Gas Stove

Fire-Maple “Fixed Star 2” Backpacking and Camping Stove System

Short Term Food Shortages

There might be some situations when you want to prep for a short term food shortage that you can foresee. 

In some cases you could actually prepare specific meals and batch cooking is a good way to do this. Think about meals that you could make in a large quantity and then portion up individually to eat throughout a period of time. This is useful for catering to both yourself and larger numbers of people. 

Obviously you’ll be dependent on storing these in a fridge or freezer so be mindful that this is only really for short term food shortages when you may still be in your home and able to access power. 


Stocking up on food is easy to do in normal circumstances. Prepping even just a small amount of food could make all the difference in a food shortage. 

Why not add a few items each week to your grocery list and gradually build up your supplies in case of a food shortage? This is useful if you’re on a tight budget as you won’t have to purchase everything in one go. 

Recent global events have shown the speed at which grocery shortages and food supply shortages can occur. Very few people were prepared for the food shortages that happened with Covid 19 with the presence of panic buying from shoppers.

Don’t be the person who gets caught out – get organized and prepare for food shortages before it happens. Prepping in advance will keep you and your family healthy, happy and safe.

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