Decision-making for your food storage should include multiple considerations that span the emergency possibilities for your situation. If your scenarios are primarily shelter-in-place emergencies then you have different concerns than if most require leaving your home to put distance between your family and the adverse conditions. If you have determined that you need more than 72 hours of food, then transportation or in-home storage space may also be a consideration. How do you balance variety, convenience, nutrition, weight, volume and cost? Here are a few thoughts on the selection process.
More practically, you can shop at Target or Walmart and compare the NUTRITION labels and the price. If a 1 lb box of saltines is the same price as a 1 lb box of enriched dry pasta, you need to think through which makes more sense given your criteria. If you need ready-to-eat food, the saltines and a jar of peanut butter may make more sense that the pasta and some sauce. Both will provide carbs and protein, but you may anticipate a situation where cooking may not be realistic for several days. In that case, the peanut butter provide the fats and protein density and the crackers give some carbs to get you to the point you can fire up the pasta.
Some foods may fit both the shelter-in-place requirements and an evacuation scenario. (Preferably you will pre-evacuate and head out long before the masses hit the road!!) To make these decisions, you will need some clue about where you are going. If it's 200 miles to Granny's and she's out of the evac zone, your food storage needs are different than if you plan to drive until you find a place to camp out and decide what to do next. Once you make these decisions and as you buy your preparedness food supply, you need to package your evacuation supplies for a fast 'get away.' The advantage of having these foods set aside, boxed and ready to load could translate to fewer hours stalled in traffic because you beat the crowd leaving town.
I use a labeling system to help me make quick decisions. I use boxes (some people use plastic tubs) labeled with the meal and relative preparation requirements. So I can choose 'fast breakfast', 'fast snacks' or 'slow dinner' when I pack up. Each box has EVERYTHING except the water and pan needed to prepare the meal. Each carton has at least 2 cans with a flat P51 can opener taped to the top or under the plastic lid. Each carton has some beverage powder with vitamin C (usually Crystal Lite orange), matches and a small can of butter. Even within the 'slow' boxes, I try to have at least one component that is palatable right from the can, just in case! (example: 'slow dinner' may have a can of dehydrated -- not freeze dried-- apple slices for the dessert. These can be enjoyed right from the can and will provide some good carbs and fiber.)
Anyone who has read my blog a few times understands that I'm a little ... odd. One of the little games I play when I've nothing better to do takes advantage of the Food Storage Analyzer (button on the right side, use the TRY IT option if you are concerned about your privacy). I see how many days of nutrition I can make out of one case of 6 #10 cans of freeze dried or dehydrated food. The analyzer will tell you what percentage of the essential nutrients you have accounted for-- my goal is 85% or better on all. This 'game' is to teach myself about nutrition and calorie density. My max to date is 21 days at 1800 calories per day for one person from a six can case of freeze dried and dehydrated food and beverages. Meals would be really bizarre, but you could stay healthy. See if you can beat my max. I'll even give you a hint: a can of orange drink mix provides carbs and takes care of a lot of the vitamins and mineral requirements!