8 Essentials You Need in Your Emergency Home Food Bank

I was never good about keeping a pantry, but that all changed when we relocated and the first hurricane came through. Even once it had passed, stores remained closed and power was out. That's when I understood the need to have a well-stocked home food bank.

A food bank also enables you to avoid the panic that sets in when something scary does happen. If you've ever been through a natural disaster, you know well how quickly water and other basic food necessities disappear. For those with electric stoves, consider getting a camp stove to keep around in case you're without power and need to boil water or heat up other food. Here are eight items you should stock in your emergency home food bank.

1. Rice

White rice keeps for four to five years, assuming you have it stored well. Brown rice has a shorter shelf life of three to six months, so if that is your preference, you need to make sure you use it in time. (See also: 10 Foods You Need in Your "Emergency" Pantry)

2. Ice

We learned quickly, and the hard way, that ice is the first thing to go in an emergency. You'll need to keep your perishables cold. If you have room in your freezer, keep extra trays of ice. We also invested in an outdoor freezer where we keep an extra bag.

3. Canned soups

Canned soup is versatile, filling, and can come packed with nutrient-rich beans and veggies. Watch for soups to go on sale or buy by the case at a warehouse for the best price. (See also: How to Save a Ton by Eating Soup Every Day)

4. Canned meat and tuna

Fresh meat and fish will go bad the fastest, but the canned versions are made to last, and can satisfy your body's need for protein in a pinch. Keep cans of tuna, chicken, corned beef, or Spam around, because they can easily be added to any meal.

5. Canned fruit and vegetables

Canned green beans, carrots, and canned potatoes can be used in an easy camping "stew" if you lose power. Canned fruits are delicious, and will certainly hold you over until the stores reopen and you can purchase healthier fresh fruit.

6. Bottled water

We keep five-gallon jugs at the ready. If there is a storm approaching, we fill those with water right away before the storm hits. Because if you lose your water source, you'll need clean water for absolutely everything: bathing, cooking, drinking, etc.

7. Instant coffee and tea

In a power outage, you can still get your daily caffeine fix from coffee or tea if you have a gas stove or camp stove.

8. Pasta

There are a lot of ways to get creative if you have some pasta around, or boxed macaroni and cheese. It's also a filling staple that can be combined with just about anything to create a complete meal. Stock up when prices are low and you won't regret it.

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8 Essentials You Need in Your Emergency Home Food Bank

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