Hurricane Preparation: Better Choices for Your Non-Perishable Foods
Preparing for a hurricane usually includes total panic and poor planning – a deadly combination if there ever was one.
Why do so many wait so long to buy so much? Because as humans we tend to ignore anything that we don’t want to deal with and, at best, hope we won’t even need to. Hurricanes are certainly close to the top of that “I don’t want to believe it” list. We sit in front of the TV for a week watching meteorologists forecast a monster storm on its way to our city – and what do we do? “No way!” we scream at the TV. Then suddenly reality kicks in and off we go to the gas station and the grocery store in a futile attempt to hunt and gather the vital provisions we need to make it through.
As a result, we put ourselves and our families in jeopardy – especially when it comes to food and drink.
So, what are the basic foodstuffs we should all have on hand in order to survive about one week without power? Luckily, if you do plan ahead, you have many more options than the typical bread, peanut butter, crackers, or canned beans. (Seriously … has anyone other than the cowboys of old truly resorted to eating cold canned beans? Ever?)
If you plan ahead you can not only survive but eat quite well. The real beauty with the following items is simply that they do not need to be kept cold in the tiny space you have in your cooler. The other benefit of these items is that if you do choose to put some in the cooler simply because you prefer to eat them cold, they won’t go bad when your ice runs out (and it will).
Top on everyone’s list is apparently to find and grab about 10 cases of water. Considering most bottled water is nothing more than filtered tap water, start saving the bottles you already have and fill them with your own filtered watered. You can also add a few drops of flavor to your water for some variety.
Keep in mind that one of the more horrific aspects of losing power is the heat that builds up inside your home. Temperatures can easily climb to close to 100 degrees. Although water is vital for survival, you also need to replenish potassium and electrolytes. This is when you need something like a vitamin water or good old-fashioned Gatorade.
Sure, most cold cuts will go bad after a few hours of no refrigeration. But there are some that don’t need to be refrigerated. (Think beef jerky). Hard salami and most pepperoni is sold hanging from hooks in the butcher shop, not in the deli case. If in doubt what is safe to keep without refrigeration, ask your local butcher.
The same thing applies to many cheeses. Head to a gourmet shop that sells exotic cheeses and ask which ones you can keep on hand during a power outage. You don’t need to rely solely on Cheese Wiz anymore.
For anyone who is a military vet, these were probably the staple of your nutrition while out in the field. They have improved immensely over the years and now border on gourmet cuisine. Unlike the original ones that did contain fairly decent food but needed to be eaten cold, the new ones are packaged in material that heats itself with a simple slap on a hard surface. You don’t need to be a soldier to get them, either. They are readily available at Army surplus stores, Amazon and every “survivalist” website out there. They have a shelf life of about 25 years and have no special storage requirements.
A jar of peanuts or a can of cashews is not only a great snack, but they also contain a wealth of nutrition that is much needed in times of mental and physical stress.
Baby carrots are sweet, don’t need refrigeration, and provide plenty of vital vitamins. Others that can easily be eaten raw include virtually anything you would add to a salad – although lettuce is not a good choice for a long shelf life without refrigeration.
Figs, dates, raisins, craisins, prunes, apricots, apples and even pears can be found in almost every grocery store. (Why not real fruit? Mainly because real fruit – aside from apples – kept out in the heat will continue to ripen and won’t last more than a few days. If you really want fruit on hand, you do need to keep it in a cooler).
The single serving Dole and Del Monte fruit cups can be kept almost forever. The jarred varieties do need to be kept cold once they are opened.
GRANOLA BARS / BREAKFAST BARS:
These have been around for decades yet somehow people ignore these items when it comes time to prep for hurricanes. Read the ingredients first because some varieties are no better than a candy bar; others can literally be your sole food source for weeks without harming you.
These options will provide you with plenty of variety for nutritious and tasty choices to add to the typical boring staples we are all guilty of hoarding before each hurricane scare. You can buy well ahead of time, keep on hand, and be totally prepared without needing to panic at the last minute. You might also want to consider buying enough to share with family and neighbors who weren’t as successful in their planning strategy as you.