2 Week Food Supply List cover

2 Week Food Supply List for the Elderly

Emergencies and disasters happen. As I write this article, I am home during the 2020 pandemic. This is something I never saw coming. I feel so fortunate that we can still go out and get supplies and food. But my family and I also prepared in the event we are no longer able to go to the store.

This made me realize the need for information and a good 2 week food supply list for the elderly during emergencies. This way, those caring for the elderly can be better prepared. They can buy the foods elderly need in order to stay home for an extended period of time. In this article, we will discuss shelf stable foods and provide a 2 week food supply list.

Survival while Stuck at Home

When disaster strikes, we can be stuck at home for an extended period of time. If this happens you need to make sure you have supplies for survival. And the elderly may have more specific needs.

Emergency PreparednessOur basic needs include:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Clothing
  • Medications
  • Medical supplies
  • For some, caregivers

Many older adults need assistance with their activities of daily life. They need a caregiver. This means they need other people for survival. They may live at home or in a facility. Those at home are at the greatest risk, so it’s important to be prepared.

In an emergency, it is unknown if we will have access to electricity or running water. In an ideal world, you will have both. But it is best to plan for neither.

Storage of Foods

Storing food is so important. You don’t want foodborne illness to strike when on lock down. The elderly are at a higher risk of foodborne illness and it could lead to hospitalization or death. Cold foods should be kept in a refrigerator (1). In the event the power goes out and that food is comprised, it should not be used.

food storageAdditionally, certain foods should be cooked to a certain temperature for safe consumption (ex. meats, eggs, leftovers, etc). Check out FoodSafety.gov for information on safe minimum cooking temperatures. If you are unable to heat food to the proper temperature, it should not be used (1).

When in doubt, throw it out!!

Shelf stable foods should be kept in a cool, dry, and dark location. Food should remain sealed until it is ready for consumption. Foods stored for an extended period should be examined before consumed (2).

For canned foods you should throw away any items that are swollen, dented, or corroded (2). This is a sign that the food is bad and if eaten can make you or an older adult very sick.

Shelf Stable Foods

How long are shelf stable foods good for? It varies by food item. The following information is from Food and Water in an Emergency released by FEMA and the American Red Cross in 2004. It serves as a great guide, but, always be sure to inspect foods prior to eating and refer to individual manufacturers for products whose shelf-life may vary from what is listed below.

Foods good for 6 months (2):

  • Powdered milk
  • Dried fruit (ex. raisins, cranberries, plums, etc.)
  • Dry crackers
  • Potatoes

Foods good for 1 year (2):

  • Soups (canned)
  • Fruits (canned)
  • Vegetables (canned)
  • Cereals
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly
  • Hard candy
  • Canned nuts
  • Vitamins

Foods good indefinitely (2):

  • Wheat (ex. flour)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Dried corn
  • Baking powder
  • Soybeans
  • Instant drinks (ex. coffee, tea, cocoa)
  • Salt
  • Rice
  • Bouillon
  • Dry pasta
  • Powdered milk in nitrogen-packed cans

Other foods with a good shelf life include:

  • Canned evaporated milk
  • Aseptically sealed milk or milk alternatives
  • Powdered eggs
  • Jarred applesauce

If you have power and access to a fridge and freezer food options include:

  • TV dinners (Frozen)
  • Meat (Frozen)
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Frozen fruit
  • Ice-cream
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Juice (frozen condensed)

 

How Much Water in an Emergency

Water in emergencyWater is essential for life. In the event no water will be available, make sure that there is a half gallon of drinkable water per person per day (3).

This is 64 ounces or 8 cups of water.

Keep in mind that additional water may be needed for recipes (ex. if using powdered milk) or for cleaning. Plan accordingly.

FYI: A 2 week supply of drinkable water for one person would be 7 gallons.

Cooking without Power

If you have power, you can still use an oven, stove top, or microwave. You also have the ability to eat foods stored in the fridge or freezer (depending on expiration dates of individual foods). It goes without saying, but it’s easier to eat in an emergency with power.

If the power goes out, you can cook indoors with a fireplace (assuming it safe to do so) or outdoors with a grill or cooking stove (2). Part of your emergency planning should include making sure you have wood, charcoal, gas, and matches (or a lighter) as needed.

If you have no heat source, stick to foods that do not require heating.

Nutrition During an Emergency

nutrition for elderly during an emergencyI am less concerned about “optimal” nutrition and more concerned about survival and quality of life during an emergency. It is a good idea to have a multivitamin on hand to cover any deficiencies, as needed.

But for older adults, there are a few nutrients of concern: fiber, protein, and calories. Even a couple of days  without these nutrients can lead to constipation, weight loss, and muscle loss.

Make sure an older adult is getting a good source of protein at each meal during an emergency. Provide snacks in between meals as needed to get enough calories. And provide for high fiber foods like dried plums, oatmeal, canned vegetables, etc.

Ensure an older adult has:

  • Adequate calories
  • Protein spread throughout the day
  • Enough fiber
  • Adequate hydration
  • Multivitamin as needed

2 Week Food Supply List PDF

Here is a 2 week food supply PDF list for 1 person. This list accounts for a little extra food. Please keep in mind that it does not account for individual needs or diets based on medical conditions. Always consult a doctor or dietitian for your individual medical and nutrition needs. To download a printable PDF directly, click here.

Conclusion

It’s important to be prepared during an emergency. Having a 2 week food supply can help the older adult in your life have security and the nutrition they need. If an older adult is unable to prepare meals, make sure to  prepare foods as needed. Stay safe out there!

As always, thank you for caring for the older adult in your life!

2 Week Food Supply List infographic

References

  1. Food Safety website. https://www.foodsafety.gov/
  2. Food and Water in an Emergency. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and American Red Cross. August 2004. https://www.fema.gov/pdf/library/f&web.pdf
  3. Niedert K, Carlson M. Nutrition Care of the Older Adult. Chicago, IL: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; 2016

 

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