There’s great peace of mind that comes when one prepares for a natural disaster. After living in SW Florida for eight years, preparing for hurricanes became second nature and it was something I did every year for just-in-case. While some real food compromises may be necessary, for the most part, I was able to prepare while still maintaining a decent variety of healthful foods. Sometimes the forecast changes within hours of any land hits and it’s completely unexpected, or an evacuation may not be safe. This post will provide tips for water planning and storage, food storage, how to cook when the lights go out, recommendations for food purchases, making coffee without an electric coffee maker and ways to reduce stress during the unexpected.
For years, we’ve owned a heavy duty water filter that filters out impurities, heavy metals, bacteria and fluoride. It was originally developed for use by the English military. It not only filters tap water, but any fresh water source can be used including water from ponds, drainage ditches, etc. We originally bought one that held 2.5 gallons, but as our family grew, we upgraded to a 6 gallon capacity. This is the kind we use here. If there’s a possibility that a storm is on the way, filling containers of filtered water in advance is a good idea. It’s best to figure one gallon/person/day. Storing water to filter or use for flushing toilets, etc can be done with one of these.
Buying bottled spring water is also a great idea.
Cold Food Storage:
If the power goes out, food will stay frozen in an unopened freezer for about 3 days. Food will stay cold in an unopened fridge for 4-6 hours. Thinking outside the “box” is a good idea. When a storm is approaching, within 1-2 hours of it landing, food that needs to be opened the soonest from the fridge can be placed into coolers with ice. If multiple coolers are used, most of them can stay closed to preserve the lower temperature while one cooler at a time is used for food for the first day of a power outage, etc. This will take some planning and organization. Frozen items added to the refrigerated items and ice will extend the time that the food in a cooler stays cool. If possible, it’s best to eat through the cold foods first before getting into the shelf stable foods. Start digging into the foods from the freezer on day 3-4. If they are still cold, they are still edible.
There’s a few ways to cook when the electricity goes out. For those with gas stoves, if the gas is still on, they can cook like they normally do. For those with electric stoves, the cooking will have to move outside. Many people buy enough supplies to grill outside. There’s also the possibility of having concrete blocks or bricks on hand to build a simple rocket stove. You can see how to do that, here. Before the storm hits, put sticks and twigs into a dry place for future use. Cast iron is great for cooking on the grill or on a rocket stove. This set is great for outdoor cooking here.
Shelf Stable Real Foods:
Canned meats, wild caught seafood.
Farm Fresh never refrigerated eggs last around 2 weeks in a home environment.
Dried Meats and meat sticks including dried and sealed pepperoni.
Peaches and pears tend to ripen very quickly and go bad faster than apples, watermelon, green bananas and green plantains.
Vegetables that are seen sitting out at stores can be sat out at home. Sometimes things are refrigerated that can go many days without refrigeration including: untrimmed cauliflower, cabbage, tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, onions, garlic, avocados, winter squashes, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and intact/whole/unsnapped green beans. Don’t store in plastic wrapping as the moisture secreted by the produce will collect and cause them to mold or rot quickly.
Vegetables cultured in a brine are shelf stable for many days or longer. The cultured beet blend has juice on the lid, because it’s full of beneficial bacterial life. Kombucha is also shelf stable for a week or longer.
Bread is shelf stable for many days and crackers last a long time if they are sealed well. Easy, fast cooking carbs: pasta, white rice, potatoes
Nuts, nut butters and nut-based bars like Larabars
Dried or glass canned fruits
Chips and salsa are usually well-received.
Healthy fats are shelf stable. Butter can sit out while covered for up to a week. For a longer shelf life, it can be made into clarified butter/ghee. Animal fats are shelf stable as long as they are dry and sealed. Buy mayonnaise in small jars that can be used for one meal or skip it all together (toss what mayo is left after 2-3 hours) or use oil/vinegar and salt or squeeze a lemon with some oil and salt. These can be used for spreadable seafood salads, canned meat salads, etc. Hard cheeses are shelf stable as long as they are sealed well.
Note: Raw milk does not rot. It sours with time and is edible for 4-5 days after being unrefrigerated.
Making Coffee Without an Electric Coffee Maker:
If you don’t buy pre-ground coffee, pre-grind the coffee you’ll need on a course setting, so it’s easily strained out or use a manual grinder. If using a french press, ignore the instructions for pouring into a jar and straining through a fine mesh strainer or tea towel.
1 part course ground coffee to 3 parts water. Place in a jar or container and sit for 6-24 hour. Pour through a fine mesh strainer or tea towel.
2T course ground coffee/1 cup water
Pour hot water over the grounds in a glass jar. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes then pour over a fine mesh strainer or tea towel.
For many years, my family has enjoyed the drastic stress reducing affects of Rescue Remedy. It comes in drops, spray and chewables. There’s blends for adults, kids and even pets!
Here’s to staying safe and prepared!!