Low-Carb Emergency Food

Be prepared with a supply of non-perishable food for your diet

can being opened
Photo © Igor Terekhov

Hurricanes, earthquakes, and blizzards are some of the natural disasters which can isolate you from sources of food, water, and power. Having a stockpile of food and water is a very good idea. It also comes in handy when illness strikes your household or when it's inconvenient to run to the store.

If you look at lists of emergency foods, you will see a lot of foods that have a high content of starch or sugar—such foods as cereals and crackers are commonly recommended.

Since most of the foods you eat to keep your blood sugar low are fresh and perishable, this can be an issue. With preparation, it is certainly possible to get though a food emergency without raising your blood sugar.

How Much Food to Store?

Experts used to recommend having a three-day supply, but many sources are now recommending having up to two weeks of emergency food in your home. This means you should store food that you like to eat as part of your normal diet, and rotate the food so that none of it goes bad or loses nutritional content.

Basic Plan for Power Outages

Use food in this order:

  1. Refrigerator: Eat the most perishable food in the refrigerator. Meats, eggs, dairy, mayonnaise, and the like. This food should not be over 40 F for more than two hours. The one exception to the "dairy" rule is aged hard cheese such as cheddar, which can last at least a day or two, and sometimes much longer, before going bad. If you have coolers and ice, transfer the most perishable foods to them. A lot of the food in a typical refrigerator doesn't go bad nearly as quickly as the most perishable foods. Most fruits and vegetables will last for a few days and even up to a week or more, depending upon the item (apples, for example, last a long time). Many condiments (jams, relish, mustard, ketchup, oil-based salad dressings, etc.) will last for weeks.
  1. Freezer: How long the food in the freezer will be safe to eat depends upon the temperature in the room. The rule of thumb is two days, but you may see the food staying frozen for longer, especially if you are in a cool climate. The more food in the freezer when the power goes out, the longer it will keep. Avoid opening the freezer as that will introduce warmer air and speed up the thawing.
  1. Pantry: The mainstay of food during a period without power is the pantry food. Once you have eaten the food that will perish from the refrigerator or freezer, you can begin to use your shelf-stable foods.

Protein from the Pantry

Eating enough protein is not only important on a low-carb diet, it's an area which can be neglected in emergencies. It's important to get adequate nutrition to cope with stress and physical exertion. Here are some shelf-stable sources of protein to have on hand:

  • Canned Seafood: Tuna, salmon, and sardines are excellent choices for protein, and also contain omega-3 fatty acids. Crab, clams, and oysters are also possibilities.
  • Canned Meats: Ham, Spam, chicken, and ham salad spreads
  • Dried Meats (Jerky): While most have added sugar, look for ones that don't.
  • Nuts, Peanut Butter and Other Nut Butters: Look for peanut butter that doesn't have added sugar.
  • Dried Beans: Beans are less glycemic when you soak them and cook them yourself rather than eat canned beans, as the resistant starch in beans is partially broken down in the canning process.
  • Canned Soy Beans: particularly black soy beans
  • Dry Soy Products: For those who tolerate soy, these products can be great additions to the emergency pantry, as they keep a long time. Examples are TVP and Dixie Diner Meat Replacement Products.
  • Freeze-Dried Foods: Although usually used for more long-term food storage, freeze-dried meats are another possibility. Camping supply stores and food storage companies often carry them.
  • MREs and Other Shelf-Stable Complete Meals: MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) usually have quite a lot of carbohydrates, but you can search for those that have less carb.

Vegetables

Eating as wide a variety of vegetables as possible is important for good nutrition. Here are some vegetables to consider adding to your pantry:

Canned Vegetables

    Pickled Vegetables

    • Dill pickles
    • Italian pickled vegetables or hot peppers
    • Sweet pickles such as Mt. Olive Brand (no sugar added)

    Jars

    • Salsas
    • Pasta sauce or tomato sauce with no added sugars
    • Roasted red peppers (rinse if there is sugar in the ingredients)
    • Dried tomatoes in oil (a little adds lots of flavor)
    • Jars of pesto or other vegetable-based sauces and spreads

    Fruit

    It's difficult to find non-perishable low-carb fruit. Canned and dried fruit usually has sugar added or is high in sugar to begin with, although there are exceptions. Read labels carefully. Freeze-dried fruits are the probably the best option, from sources such as "Just Tomatoes" or food storage companies. Freeze-dried blueberries and strawberries can be lower in carbohydrates than other dried fruit.

    Fats

    Most oils are stable for up to a year if stored in a cool, dry place. Olive oil and coconut oil are good bets.

    Emergency Water

    Water is even more important than food. Without water, you would die in a few days. You will need at least three gallons of water per person, per day. It's wise to keep a three-day supply of water on hand at all times. See the FEMA and American Red Cross advice on food and water in an emergency.

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