(I need to qualify this statement: We have been prepared on one level or another, but our 72 Hour Kits were not going to keep all of us happily fed and watered for three days. This is primarily what I'm planning to change.)
Because we need to put together eight of these emergency kits, I can't go out and purchase every needed thing in one gigantic shopping trip. I've made the goal to buy one of the nine required meals during my regular grocery shopping. I'll acquire other items (flashlights, first aid supplies, etc.) when I see a bang-up, can't pass deal--and after all of the food is bought and stored.
My first major purchase was backpacks. I started here so I'd have a place to put all of our supplies. I also started here because it is back to school time. I knew that in past years, Walgreen's is the best place to get cheap backpacks. I started watching the ads and, sure enough, the buy one, get one free deal was offered last week. The packs were only $11, so I ended up paying $5.50 for each backpack after the sale. These are not North Face backpacks. They wouldn't last the school year in the possession of an active 3rd grader, but for grabbing quickly and sitting in a school gym for three days? Perfect. For pulling out and using in our own dark and cold living room? Just right.
After switching the items I already had in our insufficient bags to our shiny new backpacks, I was on to food. One thing I've learned from the amazing people on the internet is to not rely solely on dry foods that will need to be re-hydrated. Obtaining water will be a problem unto itself. I'm also attempting to gather foods that won't need to be cooked. (Parenthetically, I do store alternative cooking methods for longer-term storage, but not for the quick-response emergency.)
With that in mind and because of my many little ones, my first goal was to look into shelf-stable milk. There are a few. The best bang for my buck (11 oz verses the 8 oz of all the other milk varieties), however, is more than milk. Look what has a one year expiration date:
Carnation Instant Breakfast has added vitamins and stuff so it can almost be breakfast unto itself. And it tastes good! Packs and milk for one meal, done. It is a good start!