Emergency Preparedness for Your Paleo Household

Any natural disaster requires us to ultimately prepare for the unexpected.

Are you prepared with Paleo foods to survive a natural disaster? Within the past month alone there have been earthquakes in Nepal, and deadly flooding and tornadoes in Texas and Oklahoma. For those of us living away from these areas, it’s a sobering reminder to review our emergency preparedness kits, specifically the food rations that should yield at least a three day supply per person in your household.1 In the event of a disaster, worse things could happen than being subjected to eating salt or gluten, but with a little forethought and planning, you can stock up on plenty of Paleo options to keep you nourished when hazards hit.

Typically, disaster relief organizations recommend heavily processed, additive-rich foods to have on hand in the event of an emergency. Products, such as emergency food bars, have a long shelf life and are loaded with calories, but definitely do not resemble the Paleolithic foods of our ancestors and they usually taste terrible. Fortunately, it is still possible to closely follow the Paleo diet prescription for health when access to fresh foods might be limited by utilizing the storage strategies employed by traditional hunter-gatherers,2 such as smoking, and drying.3


Although you will need hot water to prepare foods, the options are limitless for what you can eat if you dehydrate your own Paleo meals in advance. Using the modern conveniences of an electric dehydrator and a vacuum sealer, you can pack our favorite proteins and a bounty of seasonally available nutrient-dense vegetables, for the longest-term storage capacity. Not only is it cheaper to dehydrate your own Paleo meals, but also you can eliminate the unwanted preservatives, salt, and artificial colorings and flavors.


Some brands of tuna, salmon, sardines, and mackerel are commercially available without added salt. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids4 and are able to be eaten straight out of the package without cooking or any other preparation.


Native American tribes were known for eating nutritionally complete and energy-dense pemmican made from lean dried bison or beef and rendered animal fat. When prepared correctly, which is simple to do at home, it has a long shelf- life and is highly portable.5


Despite the implications for our blood sugar, the only time you will see a sweetener being recommended on the Paleo diet, like honey, is as a very rare treat. However, it makes a great addition to your Paleo emergency kit because it lacks water and contains hydrogen peroxide (also appealing to dress wounds),6 and it has no expiration date.7 And let’s face it; it’s a dense source of calories that taste delicious in times of distress.


You can’t get a better source of calories than from a healthy shelf-stable fat source like coconut. Besides tasting great, it will help you feel satisfied when food is scarce. Any of the following coconut products will provide adequate calories from fat to keep you going: coconut oil, coconut butter, coconut wraps, canned coconut milk and coconut flakes.


Not only are olives a great source of fat, but also they contain over 30 phenolic compounds8 to support antioxidant and anti-inflammatory processes within the body.9 Seek out uncured olives, without added sodium to round out your food survival box.

Besides an airtight container of honey, most preserved foods don’t last forever. In order to reduce waste from spoiled food, I stock my emergency kit with rations and rotate them into my Paleo pantry or for use while traveling before they reach their expiration date.

Any natural disaster requires us to ultimately prepare for the unexpected.  When the weather disrupts our modern life by disconnecting our electricity, heat, cooking source and inhibits our ability to travel by car or perhaps even to leave our own home, we must reconnect with our Paleo instincts and drive for survival. Be prepared with nutrient dense foods to fuel you through the storm.



[1] Available at: //www.ready.gov/food. Accessed on May 26th, 2015.

[2] Testart, Alain, et al. “The Significance of Food Storage Among Hunter-Gatherers: Residence Patterns, Population Densities, and Social Inequalities [and Comments and Reply].” Current anthropology (1982): 523-537.

[3] Dunn, Michael T. “Fungal Contamination of Stored Seeds: Implications for Aboriginal Caching Strategies.” Idaho Archaeologist 18.2 (1995): 35-38.

[4] Ameur, Adam, et al. “Genetic adaptation of fatty-acid metabolism: A human-specific haplotype increasing the biosynthesis of long-chain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.” The American Journal of Human Genetics 90.5 (2012): 809-820.

[5] Quigg, J. Michael. “Bison processing at the Rush site, 41TG346, and evidence for pemmican production in the Southern Plains.” The Plains Anthropologist(1997): 145-161.

[6] Bang, Lynne M., Catherine Buntting, and Peter Molan. “The effect of dilution on the rate of hydrogen peroxide production in honey and its implications for wound healing.” The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine 9.2 (2003): 267-273.

[7]Available at: //www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-science-behind-honeys-eternal-shelf-life-1218690/?no-ist. Accessed on May 26, 2015.

[8] Sacco, Sandra Maria, Marie‐Noëlle Horcajada, and Elizabeth Offord. “Phytonutrients for bone health during ageing.” British journal of clinical pharmacology 75.3 (2013): 697-707.

[9] WattanapenpaiboonBSc, Naiyana, and Mark L. Wahlqvist. “Phytonutrient deficiency: the place of palm fruit.” Asia Pacific J Clin Nutr 12.3 (2003): 363-368.


About Stephanie Vuolo

Stephanie VuoloStephanie Vuolo is a Certified Nutritional Therapist, an American College of Sports Medicine Personal Trainer, and a Certified CrossFit Level 1 Coach. She has a B.A. in Communications from Villanova University. She is a former contributor to Discovery Communications/TLC Blog, Parentables.

Stephanie lives in Seattle, WA, where she is a passionate and enthusiastic advocate for how diet and lifestyle can contribute to overall wellness and longevity. She has been raising her young daughter on the Paleo Diet since birth. You can visit her website at www.primarilypaleo.com.

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“2” Comments

  1. This list is awesome. Just one question comes to mind. Most emergency preparedness kits are full of things I would only eat in an emergency. I’m wondering how I’ll keep my mitts off this kit while waiting for the emergency to take place. Most of this I would eat right now if I had nearby.

    • Hi Adam, I hear you! I am putting together a Paleo Emergency Kit and I’m being careful to only include foods that won’t cause me to go off my eating style while stressed in day-to-day life. By drying and storing things we would normally eat while Paleo, we can avoid the pernicious temptation of the standard American diet. I notice that she didn’t mention nuts. I do eat tree nuts and I found some vacuum-sealed bags of natural almonds and walnuts. They are a good source of calories but don’t really “call” to me the way a manufactured protein bar would. I also plan on tracking down canned fish and canned meat (e.g. chicken or turkey) as I can’t really stand most jerky-style meat. The coconut is a great idea, too. I can fine plain coconut and coconut oil in vacuum sealed containers at my local natural foods market. To make my emergency stash even less tempting for non-emergency snacking, I’m labeling everything with the purchase date and packing it away in a large plastic bin in the closet double-lined with large plastic garbage bags and sealed with duct tape. I hope I’ll just eat what I have in the kitchen and ignore the food packed away in my emergency bin until the reminder on my calendar tells me that it’s time to rotate my emergency food and restock it for another six months.

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