Preparing Your Food Supply Before the Storm
Hurricane season is upon us. If you haven’t already started (or finished) your hurricane preparations, now is the time. When a disaster strikes, we often respond in a panic because we did not plan. Ensure that you and your family have enough healthful foods and water to last for at least 3 days.
Families may purchase a lot of “comfort” or “junk” food just to have something on hand when the storm passes through; However, after the storm, families now have a pantries full of high calorie, high fat, non-nutritious foods leftover. “Comfort” or “junk” foods are lacking the necessary vitamins and minerals and most often, do not keep you full. When you aren’t full, you are likely to increase your intake and in turn, exceed your recommended daily caloric intake. Avoid purchasing excess “comfort” or “junk” foods and build your hurricane food supply based on your family’s nutritional needs. This way, when the storm passes, you will have a pantry filled with more nutritious foods that you will feel good about feeding your family.
Planning Meals Ahead
Planning meals for hurricane preparedness is similar to how you would plan a typical weekly menu for your family. The one key difference is that you will focus on shelf-stable products to create the meals. Think canned, dried, and flexible packaging (like chicken or tuna in a pouch). Look for the appropriate sized shelf-stable products based on your family needs. You wouldn’t want to purchase a jumbo can of beans and then throw out half of the can because the portion was too large to consume in one sitting. Look for single servings or just enough to feed your family without the food waste.
Ideas to Kick-start your Hurricane Meal Preparation
- Dry cereal (single serve or from original packaging) with canned, dry, or single serve, shelf-stable milk and a 100% juice box or fresh fruit you have on-hand
- Peanut Butter and banana sandwich (look for high fiber bread – keeps you full longer)
- If you’ve run out of fresh fruit, try peanut butter bread with a fruit cup (no sugar added) and a single serve milk
- Granola/protein bar with a single serve milk
- Oatmeal with dried fruit and unsalted nuts (if you have access to a heating source)
- Canned or flexible package chicken or tuna
- Chicken or Tuna Salad with whole wheat crackers (use single serving condiment packets to make a chicken or tuna salad)
- Make a Southwest Chicken Wrap (add a no-salt southwest herb blend (or make your own) to shelf-stable chicken – add it to a sandwich wrap with a single serve, shelf-stable salsa
- Canned soup with whole wheat crackers
- Hummus wrap (use single serve, hummus cups (non-refrigerated) and sandwich wrap – you could even drain canned vegetables and add them to your wrap)
- BBQ sandwich (mix single serving BBQ sauce with canned or chicken in the pouch and put on your favorite bread)
- Want to add pickles? Be sure to add single serve pickles to your hurricane food supply list.
- Bean salad (or soup)
- Vegetable Soup or Chili and whole wheat crackers
- If you have access to a heat source, you can even make salmon cakes with a side of peas or string beans (all from shelf stable sources)
Most importantly, you and your family will need water to stay hydrated. One gallon per person per day, for a minimum of 3 days is a good rule of thumb. For example, a family of 5 would need 15 gallons. If you prefer flavored drinks, try adding a single serve drink packet to a bottle of water. There are many flavors to choose from including sugar-free. Remember that water may also be needed for preparing some of the foods and drinks on your menu. Do you like to start your days with a cup of coffee? The grill comes in handy to boil a pot of water to make instant coffee.
Choose healthy snacks for the in-between meal slump most often.
- trail mix
- granola or protein bars
- dried or single cups of fruits
- pudding cups
- dried meats (jerky)
- gelatin cups
- Include mixed vegetables, add a fruit cup and shelf-stable milk to any of the lunches or dinners to include all the food groups.
- Choose shelf-stable products that are low-sodium and low in saturated and trans fats when possible.
- Plan how much of each item you will need based on your family’s intake.
Other items you might find helpful:
- Plastic utensils
- Can opener
- Single-serve condiments and spreads (not requiring refrigeration)
- Paper goods (plates, bowls, napkins, and cups)
- Hand sanitizer/wipes
When planning the menu, think about what your family favorites are and if they can be adapted using shelf stable products. Write out your menu and shop for the food, water, and other supplies you will need to complete your hurricane menu. During stressful times, providing your family (and you) the right foods can help keep your energy up and your mind clear to make fast decisions for when the storm comes.