How to Prepare Your Pantry for Severe Weather

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When a winter storm or hurricane shows up in the forecast, the first thing most of us do is make a bee-line for the grocery store. But besides milk and bread, what other food items should fill your cart?

The Importance of Non-perishable Food

Grocery shopping for inclement weather isn't all that different from ordinary grocery shopping. You should feel free to buy the foods you normally eat and enjoy, but be careful if many of them are found down your grocer's refrigerated and frozen food aisles! Such foods will do you little good if you lose electricity during the storm. 

If widespread power outages are expected (as is common when storms pack strong winds, significant icing, or accumulating heavy snow) you'll want to make it a point to stockpile "non-perishables" — foods that require no cooking or refrigeration. Even if you don't expect to lose power, it's still a good idea to grab a handful of non-perishables just in case.  

Because non-perishables, or ready-to-eat foods, are made to be eaten "as is," many people struggle with ideas of how to make a meal of them. Here are some suggestions to help get your started:

Ready-to-Eat Breakfast Items:

  • Cereal
  • Dry milk (use bottled water if threat of contamination exists)
  • Fresh fruit (apples, oranges, grapefruits, and bananas stay fresh for days to weeks)
  • Canned or dried fruits 
  • Granola bars
  • Protein bars

Ready-to-Eat ​Lunch/Dinner Items:

  • Canned meats (tuna, chicken, Vienna sausages, Spam)
  • Canned soups, broths
  • Canned vegetables, beans 

Ready-to-Eat Snack Items:

  • Nuts
  • Nut butters (peanut butter, almond butter, etc.)
  • Snack crackers (saltines, goldfish)
  • Pre-packaged cookies
  • Trail mix
  • Bottled or boxed juices 
  • Bottled water

How Much Food Is Enough Food?

Determining how much food to buy can be stressful. After all, if you get snowed in and are unable to leave your house, you need a large enough food supply to outlast the storm. 

The next time you're faced with this predicament, follow these three tips to keep from under-buying and overspending.

1. Know how long the storm is forecast to affect your area.

2. Consider how much food your family eats in a days' time. Buy that amount for the number of days the storm will last, plus enough for an additional one or two days.

3. If widespread power outages are expected, avoid buying a lot of "fresh" foods and stick mainly with ready-to-eat options. If the threat of a power outage is slim to none, buy what you wish, but also pick up a few non-perishable items to be on the safe side.