As we age, our need for vitamins and nutrients tends to change. As we pass 60 years old, we really need to make a conscious change in our diets. That got me thinking, “What food should we store as we get older?”
Seniors who are storing food for long term storage (or family members that are prepping for them) should store the following:
- Lean Protein (lean meat, eggs, beans)
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Grains (rolled oats, quinoa)
- Low-fat Dairy (milk and alternatives)
Having the correct foods will give you or your family members a better quality of life during a long-term disaster.
Long Term Food Storage for Seniors
Long term food storage for seniors is a little more difficult than it is for younger families. When we’re younger, our bodies can do pretty well without the proper nutrients for a long period of time and they can bounce back after they get those nutrients back.
Older people need to do their best to keep those nutrients up and aren’t able to bounce back nearly as efficiently. This is why storing the correct long term food is so important.
Lean Protein – Lean protein helps us keep up muscle mass, something that we can struggle with as we get older. What can we store to meet the lean protein requirements?
Lean meats are the best source for our protein needs. They can be a little more difficult to find and cost more than some other protein sources that store for a long time, but they’re still out there. Canned chicken, turkey, and tuna are all great if you’re looking to boost your mid-term food stores but they aren’t going to last for decades.
If you’re going for true long term food storage, the only real option with meat is things like this freeze-dried chicken.
Eggs are another great source of protein for seniors. They’re useful in a wide range of recipes and provide a large amount of protein.
Freeze-dried eggs last for 20-30 years depending on which manufacturer you listen to and they’re about as expensive as freeze-dried meat.
Beans are a staple of pretty much everyone’s long term food storage. They’re one of the cheapest sources of protein that you can find. Add in the fact that you can package them at home and store them for 25 plus years and it’s pretty obvious why they’re so popular.
Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) is another source of long term food storage protein. It’s a soy-based product that is made to have the texture and taste of regular meat. It has a shelf-life of up to 20 years and can be a slightly more affordable alternative to freeze-dried meats.
Fruits and Vegetables – Keeping a decent amount of fruits and vegetables in our diets as we age is important to make sure that we have the right vitamins and minerals in our diets.
Canned fruits and vegetables are a cheap way to add them to our food storage. They’re normally good for at least a year or two past and dates on the can. This is more of an intermediate answer to food storage but if you eat what you store or don’t mind keeping track of dates it can be pretty inexpensive.
Be careful with canned fruit. You should get fruit that’s canned in water if you can and doesn’t have any added sugar.
Freeze-dried fruits and vegetables are more options for long term food storage. The shelf life of these products depends on the type of fruit or vegetables and the temperatures they’re stored at. The FDA attributes the shelf life more to temperature than anything else.
The best part of fruits and vegetables is that you can get a garden going pretty easily after most types of disasters. Make sure you store the seeds needed to get you growing fresh fruits and vegetables as soon as you can.
Grains – Finding quality whole grains that you can store for a long time can be difficult. Things like brown rice just don’t last very long. This tends to limit our options.
The good thing is there are a few options that we can use. Rolled oats and quinoa are both whole grains that can be used for food storage.
Rolled oats are still a whole grain (unlike steel cut-outs) even though they are processed. When they’re stored with oxygen absorbers in a #10 can or mylar bag and bucket they will last up to 30 years.
Quinoa is another whole grain that people have started to store. If you pack it in a #10 can or mylar bag and bucket with oxygen absorbers it will last for around 8 years.
I personally store rolled oats but I have considered adding quinoa to my food storage.
Low Fat Dairy – Powdered milk and freeze-dried cheeses are available for long term food storage.
Powdered milk is a great food storage item lasts up to 20 years.
Freeze-dried cheese is another way to get dairy into your food stores. Depending on the type of cheese you can get a shelf life of up to 30 years. I personally like the from Augason Farms.
Putting Together a 72-Hour Survival Kit for Seniors
The three day (72-hour) survival kit is one of the most basic survival kits that you can put together. It should give you everything that you need for a couple of days following an emergency where you may not have access to clean water, heat, power or food.
This kit doesn’t need to break the bank! You can put most of it together from things you have laying around the house or buy one or two things at a time until you have your entire kit put together.
Use this list to get your 72-hour survival kit started:
- Water – You should store at least one gallon per person/per day. This will cover both your hygiene and drinking needs.
- Food – Traditional canned food will meet your needs here. Keep this on top what you already have in your house! Pack three meals per person/per day. You can pack less but it’s nice to be able to feel full during an emergency situation.
- First Aid Kit – See our recommended first ait kits here.
- Cell Phone – You don’t need a separate phone in the kit, just be sure to have a way to charge your current cell phone.
- Shelter in Place Kit – Dust masks, plastic sheeting, and duct tape.
- Sanitation Kit – 5-gallon bucket, trash bags larger than 5 gallons, bag of kitty litter, baby wipes and toilet paper. The 5-gallon bucket will serve as a toilet if you need it and you can fill it up with some of the items in this kit in the meantime.
- Radio w/ NOAA Weather Radio Capabilities – Have spare batteries and a way to charge them or buy a radio with solar and hand-crank options.
- Flashlight – Have extra batteries or a way to charge them. It doesn’t have to be some million candlepower beast, any good flashlight that works is fine.
- Signal Kit – I prefer a signal mirror and an emergency whistle. The mirror is great for signaling aircraft or people that are far away and wouldn’t hear the whistle.
- Emergency Wrench for Water and Gas – Depending on the type of disaster, you may need to turn off the water or gas to your home. You can pick up any of the gas and water wrenches. They’re all pretty much the same in my experience.
- Can Opener – Any kind of manual can opener will work.
- Clothing – Three days of clothing per person. I’d suggest warm, comfortable clothing that can be layered. If it’s hot, you can just wear less clothing but the cold can be fatal.
- Local Maps – Print out or buy some local maps and mark important things like police departments, firehouses and medical facilities that you may be good evacuation points if you have to escape your home.
I like to pack all of this in the 5-gallon bucket and the rest in a cheap large plastic tote with a lid. Everything other than the water should fit inside. You can store the water in any sturdy water storage container or in a couple sealed 5-gallon food grade buckets.
The buckets are nice because they’re cheap and stack well. Other stackable water containers are usually too expensive for my tastes. Their only real downside is that it can be difficult to get the water out.
Vitamins in Survival Food Kits for Seniors
A quality multi-vitamin is something that most people add to their daily routines as they get older. There is some research that says you should and others that say that you shouldn’t, either way, having a multi-vitamin if you’re ever forced to live off of just your food storage is a good idea for everyone. Especially those over 60!
Multi-vitamins last around two years after the manufacture date on average. Does this mean that they stop being useful as soon as that date passes? Nope! Just like almost everything else, expired vitamins are usually good to continue to take long after that date. They just lose some of their potency after that date.
We can even take measures to extend that life out longer. Always keep your vitamins in a cool, dry, dark place and they should be good for a while after that date.
Pills are one of the few things that I recommend to rotate through your food storage. If you rotate them out as you use them, you’ll always have enough stored to last well into an extended disaster.
Medications aren’t exactly food but they have a lot of the same storage requirements and I tend to think of them more as part of my food stores than anything else.
We cover a full range of antibiotics that you can get for long term storage right here.
In order to get your doctor to prescribe extra medications, you’re going to have to talk to them and get them to understand your intentions. If you’re trying to get extra heart medication or something else along those lines you probably won’t have much of a problem getting them to prescribe you a few extra months of medication. If you’re trying to get any kind of pain killer than you’re probably out of luck.
The opioid addiction epidemic going on these days is going to limit you from getting extra pain medication in almost all states!
According to Intermountain Medical Center, you can extend the life of your prescription medications by one to two years by vacuum sealing the pills and storing them in a cool, dry place that has very little sunlight. Make sure you mark the bags with the name, dosage, and instructions for each prescription that you store this way.
How many calories do seniors need? Sedentary women need 1600 calories a day and men need 2000 calories a day. Active women need 2000 calories a day and men need 2600 calories a day. Active is defined as briskly walking 3 miles a day. You may need to add or reduce calories as needed to maintain a healthy weight.
How long does brown rice last? Due to the high oil content of brown rice, it doesn’t last as long as white rice. It actually only lasts for 3-6 months if you store it in a cool, dark area. You can extend the shelf life to 12 months by storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator or 24 months in the freezer.
As we age, our food requirements change. Lean protein, grains, and vitamins all become more important as we age.
If you, or someone in your family, are getting older then this is something that you need to take into consideration when you start storing food.