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Food prep for emergencies?


KitchenQueen
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Some of us live in hurricane/storm prone areas.

If an emergency hits, and we lose all power, decent food can become a prized commodity, especially if your range was also electric.

Other than the canned beans, tuna, cracker route what do you or would you have on hand?

I am lucky enough to have a wood burning fireplace, but nothing resembling a cooking rack. I also have a propane barbeque grill with a burner. But many have neither, especially apartment dwellers.

Any recipes and ideas to make edible and varied (or at least decent) meals for maybe as long a as week without electricity or gas?

Most outages are no more than a day or two, but I went through 2 hurricanes that were 7-11 days if I recall..

Other than lots of bottled water, what staples and what equipment should be in our emergency pantry?

Canned beans or plain canned tuna can do terrible things to one starting about day 3. I know.

Your ideas?

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If you are without power for more than a couple of days, you are pretty much looking at a large scale disaster, and eating well becomes a little less of a priority. Eating, yes. Eating well and planning multi course meals, no.

Camp stoves are fairly inexpensive and a good investment. I think the larger ones that can handle more than one pot start around $40, available at Wal-mart and other places. The smaller propane bottles are more expensive, but much easier to handle, and can be stored inside - an important point for apartment dwellers. Please note - these items have to be used outside. They do create carbon monoxide and can kill you. But they are great items to have.

The key to long term outage survival is to use the fridge first, the freezer second, then go on to the canned goods. The fridge is good for the first day. After that, everything perishable becomes suspect and should be thrown out immediately. Many store bough condiments will be OK past that, and of course canned drinks are fine without refrigeration. Your freezer, if well packed, can last for 3-4 days before thawing really becomes an issue. Even then, if you can keep the thawed food on ice somehow, you can get a few more days out of it. By that time, there should (note I said SHOULD - no snarky comments, please) be some sort of food delivery mechanism in place, be it Red Cross actually bringing food and water around, or access to other sources, such as the MRE. You may have to venture out to get those.

That being said, store bought bread can be good for a couple of days, and are a good route for sandwiches. Tortillas last for more than a few days. The key is getting some carbs for energy, but you also need protein to make you feel full. Fruit or veggies to snack on are good ideas since you really don't have anything else to distract you, and I've found that I eat more during those times. Plan extra for that reason. Many canned fruits are fine right out of the can. In fact, that's how I like peaches. Right out of the can.

Of course, nearly any packaged food will last that length of time easily. Other considerations include portability. I keep Pringles instead of regular potato chips, for example, since they are easier to pack and carry if the need arises. Plus I like them.

It's important to choose foods that you will actually eat and enjoy, otherwise it is a waste of time. You would be surprised how often that happens. This is not the time to get experimental. Stick with foods you know and your family likes, if you have the option. Even though the new flavor of soup looks good, get the minestrone, if that is your favorite. Get more than one flavor where available in food and drink, 7 straight days of chicken noodle will make things even worse.

One other item I recommend. Get a AC inverter. It plugs into your car and can run small electrical devices. It won't do a toaster or microwave, and surely won't run a fridge, but it can help with distraction by running small TV's or laptops. A larger inverter will run fans or an electric blanket, as the need may be. You do have to run the engine of the car, as these things will suck the life out of the battery in no time. But they are good for temporary comfort or distraction. It's nice to be able to go sit in the car and watch a little bit of TV every so often. At least you can get the news.

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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"It's important to choose foods that you will actually eat and enjoy"

Boy, did I goof on that one last time. I gave 15 cans of assorted "Savory Sides" to my local food bank after Katrina/Rita.

I realized after tasting one potato-cheese sauce thing they should have been sent to the SPCA. Those things are VILE.

AC inverter? Never even heard of it.

Exactly the kind of ideas I'm looking for.

When this post has run for a few days, I may send it to the 300-plus locals in my email list.

I have a feeling many more ideas are coming up.

For me, I found a little sterno rack for a few bucks at WalMart, and keep 8 large sterno cans on hand. I have a 2 piece ceramic Melitta drip coffe maker. It never occurred to me to find out if sterno is okay to use indoors. I assume it is?

See what I mean?

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"It's important to choose foods that you will actually eat and enjoy"

Boy, did I goof on that one last time.  I gave 15 cans of  assorted "Savory Sides" to my local food bank after Katrina/Rita.

  I realized after tasting one potato-cheese sauce thing they should have been sent to the SPCA.  Those things are  VILE.

AC inverter?  Never even heard of it.

Exactly the kind of ideas I'm looking for.

When this post has run for a few days, I may send it to the 300-plus locals in my email list.

I have a feeling many more ideas  are coming up.

For me, I found a little sterno rack for a few bucks at WalMart, and keep 8 large sterno cans on hand.  I have a 2 piece ceramic Melitta drip coffe maker.  It never occurred to me to find out if sterno is okay to use indoors.  I assume it is?

See what I mean?

Sterno is fine inside if used sparingly. I'm not sure about the byproducts of it's burning, but it is used indoors on buffets a lot. More confined spaces may become an issue, but I'm not sure. I do know that it is alcohol based, not that you can drink it. Edited to add: Sterno is more for keeping food at temperature. I don't think it could even boil water more than a cup at a time. Plus you would use almost a whole small can to do that. It's not for cooking or even warming.

At many hardware/department stores, you can still find the old fashioned percolators that work right on the stove. If coffee is important to you, that may be worth having on hand.

Edited by FistFullaRoux (log)
Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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Very good advice from FistFullaRoux. After last week's earthquakes in Hawaii (when we suffered no major damage on Oahu but electric power was down island-wide, for 12 hours or more in most areas), my husband and I decided that the one emergency item we were missing was a means of cooking indoors.

We had flashlights and camp lights, a transistor radio, plenty of batteries, stores of food and water, etc., and were able to use the gas grill at our condo's pool complex to cook lunch, but what my husband really wanted during the day was a cup of hot tea.

Our solution for the next emergency was to buy a portable tabletop stove that uses butane cartidges. It was on sale for about $12 and the cartridges cost 99 cents apiece and are supposedly good for about 2 hours of cooking. It can be used indoors with adequate ventilation and is, in fact, what a lot of Asian-Americans use for cook-at-the-table dishes.

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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"At many hardware/department stores, you can still find the old fashioned percolators that work right on the stove. If coffee is important to you, that may be worth having on hand."

Actually, FistFullaRoux (your name tells me the precise area you're from, I grew up there), I started collecting coffeemakers a few years back. Why? Damned if I know. I hit a resale shop, found a few really old suckers, and bought them cause they brought back childhood memories. I've got lots of them now.

When I die, the sorter-outer is going to be really annoyed.

Is coffee important to me? Let me put it this way. If I can't have coffee, just kill me now.

But back to your point. I went through Betsy , Camillle, Katrina and Rita.

My stove is electric.

Coffee I can make, even if I have to torch the house to get the water boiling.

But your ideas on buying things you already know you like?

Never crossed my mind. Hence, the Savory Sides debacle.

What foods can be bought canned ,dried or whatever and be combined to make something decent? Canned meats would seem to be the starter.

Canned ham and craisins?

Vienna sausages and grape jelly? Nevermind.

I think I made myself sick.

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Check out the camping department at your local sporting goods store or discount mecca (Like Wal-mart). Camping has gotten a lot more civilized lately, and many essential items as well as creature comforts are available that are designed to work "off the grid"

One other non-food thing. Consider an inflatable mattress if you are in a warmer climate. The key to these is the air inside. It does not warm up with your body temperature when you lay on it. It's cooler to sleep on than sleeping on a regular mattress when it's hot. You can even put it on top of your regular bed if you feel like it. You can get manual or car inflators for them.

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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I once had a propane two-burner hot plate. It used a grill-sized propane tank, which could be left outside and the gas tube run through the window or wall. When a transformer blew, I served 35 restaurant guests a four course meal using this emergency hotplate and candles.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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Actually, FistFullaRoux (your name tells me the precise area you're from, I grew up there),

...

But back to your point.  I went through Betsy , Camillle, Katrina and Rita.

I was 18 months old when Camille hit, I grew up hearing about Audrey (That was the big storm before Rita in my neck of the woods) and moved to Mobile 2 days before Georges. I stayed in a shelter for that one and heard the horror stories from the people who went through Frederic.

Vermilion Parish born and raised, so I do know a thing or two about the subject. Here in Birmingham, it's more tornadoes and the occasional ice storm. Like the "ice storm of '93" which I wasn't here for, but my wife was. Her father was a delivery man for Lance snacks, so they had food, but no power and the house was all electric. They had a wood fireplace (since outfitted for gas), and after they burned all of the wood, old books, cardboard boxes, and just about any other flammable item, they resorted to burning the stale items from his truck. They learned that if you are going to burn a bag of potato chips, open the bag first. They pop when you put 'em in a fire.

Long story short, we have to prepare for cold and hot weather things around here. We got hurricane force winds near here for Katrina and Ivan. Power was out at our apartment for 12-24 hours for those.

Hurricanes, tornadoes, snow, and ice. Nice place to live, though.

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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Check out the camping department at your local sporting goods store or discount mecca (Like Wal-mart). Camping has gotten a lot more civilized lately, and many essential items as well as creature comforts are available that are designed to work "off the grid"

One other non-food thing. Consider an inflatable mattress if you are in a warmer climate. The key to these is the air inside. It does not warm up with your body temperature when you lay on it. It's cooler to sleep on than sleeping on a regular mattress when it's hot. You can even put it on top of your regular bed if you feel like it. You can get manual or car inflators for them.

Damn, you're good. I had forgotten. I (after hurricane Betsy) spent about 6 days sleeping in a normal bed. I say 6 days, it may have been closer to 10. It was that terrible. I can't remember.

Being in the early stages of pregnancy, I was given one of the beds, to share with other females, me and elderly first.

I was the only expectant mother there at the time,as I recall.. . Our husbands slept on the floor,as did the children. There were about (guessing here) 20 people in one house in New Orleans. House belonged the parents of our best friend.

Downstairs was under water. Upstairs had 3 bedrooms. That was it. It was one of the few homes for blocks with a second floor.

I remember insisting that hubby and I could sleep on the floor, but the men were

having none of it. They took over like Marine DI's.

There was 4-5 feet of water outside.They could not take chances on me having a miscarriage, or an elderly woman suffering a medical problem,since medical help simply was not available.

Conversation was closed, and I was advised to shut up and obey. I did.

Owners of this house were Italian, bigtime. Somehow, our men hit all our freezers and and refrigerators (by boat) and cleaned them out.

Brought back their haul. House had a gas range. Our lovable Italian hosts made meals I still remember, and fed us all in amazing style till the food started running out.

But back to the mattress. The heat was unbearable. 3-4 ladies and we let the men have it on rotation. It really got awful after a few days. Everyone was drenched in sweat, constantly. That damned mattress stank after a few days.

I see your point on the air mattress. I will buy one shortly.

You have again brought up a need I had forgotten.

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Good freeze-dried food pouches availabing from camping stores. Make sure you keep an extra large jerry can or two full of water round the house. Refill it every three months or so to keep it fresh. A dash of chlorine or those tablets you use for killing bugs in water is a good idea. Then you've got water for reconstituting the freeze-dried food, for soaking beans etc etc.

I got caught during power cut one time and couldn't light my gas stove which had electric ignition. Not a match to be found. Then I remembered my chef's torch!

Website: http://cookingdownunder.com

Blog: http://cookingdownunder.com/blog

Twitter: @patinoz

The floggings will continue until morale improves

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am lucky enough to have a wood burning fireplace, but nothing resembling a cooking rack. I also have a propane barbeque grill with a burner. But many have neither, especially apartment dwellers.

I have a wood stove instead of a fire place. That is a decision that we made before we tested it's efficiency during the ice storm about 10 years ago. It passed with flying colors. We had an electric kitchen at that time and the stove saved our collective butts. Btw, we now have gas burners. They too have proven themselves, after all when a hurricane hits and it's almost 100 degrees outside, you really don't want to crank up the wood stove.

Propane burners to make gumbo outside to use up the stuff in the freezers and plenty of propane.

Other than the canned beans, tuna, cracker route what do you or would you have on hand?

Well, I still have 2 cases of MRE's.. that'll do for a couple of days.

But to my great surprise, those Ramen noodles are a quick and tasty (and super cheap) choice as well. Especially during hurricane season, as they are especially salty and can help to keep you from dehydrating. When you sweat soo much that a sixpack of beer doesn't even barley make you pee, much less help you sleep then you can use some salt.

Next time, I'm going to pack a lot of frozen things on dry ice if I have a day or 2 of advance notice.

Crackers. lots of them, there's a reason they put them in the MREs.

citronella oil for summer and lots of wood for winter, then just wait for the troops to bring the ice. I really agree with the tv idea though, not being able to SEE what was going on was soo frustrating. Getting calls (no mobile service, but we did have land lines till the tree guys tore them out..) from people all over the place telling me horror stories that they saw on CNN. That was freaky.

I used to worry about not having milk, so I bought some shelf stable stuff. Didn't touch it.

What we almost ran out of was coffee. I was down to the last of the last when Albertson's brought generaters in to run their stores here. It was one of the first things that sold out (after beer_).

I still have spegetti o's. Anyone?? You'd have to be under 2 to like those things...

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Like the "ice storm of '93" which I wasn't here for, but my wife was. Her father was a delivery man for Lance snacks, so they had food, but no power and the house was all electric. They had a wood fireplace (since outfitted for gas), and after they burned all of the wood, old books, cardboard boxes, and just about any other flammable item, they resorted to burning the stale items from his truck. They learned that if you are going to burn a bag of potato chips, open the bag first. They pop when you put 'em in a fire.

The only time I ever visited Birmingham was during that storm. My boyfriend and I were driving two separate cars to B'ham when the storm hit (two a race-prepped cars - lowered & with slick tires). Needless to say we didn't have much fun driving, thank goodness I had driven on snow and ice plenty (I'm from North Dakota), so we made it to within 5 miles of Birmingham on the "closed" interstate and had his brother-in-law pick us up in his 4WD. I was stuck down there nearly a week in BF's aunt's place in Vestavia Hills (a good neighborhood if I recall), and luckily they had a gas fireplace. No hot water, though, so several cold showers. We cooked on the gas grill outside. That week convinced me that BF wasn't the guy for me. What a whiner.

Back on topic - we have a charcoal grill and wood fireplace, plus a pilot-light stove that isn't currently hooked up but hopefully will be soon. That makes cooking much easier when the power is out. In addition to several gallons of water, oil lamps and candles, I have lots of pasta and canned tomatoes for sauce (useful only if water is OK), canned chicken broth and other ingredients to make quick soups, canned meats (corned beef, canned salmon to make salmon cakes, canned beef stew and lots of canned chicken breast). We keep instant potato flakes (and canned gravy), oatmeal, other hot and cold cereal items, ramen noodles, crackers, powdered milk, some canned veggies and plenty of dried and canned fruits to round things out. To keep up our spirits, we have plenty of spirits, plus pudding cups and lots of chocolate. Basically comfort food.

If we are just going to hole up and water/electricity's not a problem (bird flu or something like that), we have additional dried, canned and frozen foodstuffs to last up to 3 months, but they require a lot more preparation.

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I keep lots of chicken/beef broth on the shelf. We usually make our own, but the canned stuff lasts ages and some of it isn't terrible. Freeze dried onions and garlic to put in the broth with the dried veggies and some pasta or rice. It gets you through without making people gag. Also canned tomatoes. I figure that the water will be precious so I use other canned stuff to go with pasta/rice/beans to eat. Amazing how many different tastes you really do make with just a few things.

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Around here, (Northern Minnesota), blizzards are the dominant weather emergencies. With modern snow removal equipment, unless you live in a very remote location, traffic is usually moving again in 24-36 hours, and people in rural areas have gasoline generators for backup.

This wasn't always the case though. Snow, and the accompanying high winds and cold temperatures are rarely life threatening themselves, but surviving until roads were cleared used to be the critical period, especially if electrical power was out.

Some friends and I had the experience of being stranded in "The Blizzard of the Century" on Superbowl Weekend many years ago. Even though we were amazingly ill prepared, the old adage about Heaven watching over fools held true, and we made it through no worse for the wear, and with a good tale to tell.

Burkey, QO and I were partying on Friday night at a place called the Phunny Pharm when snow began to fall. By early Saturday afternoon we realized that there had been no traffic going past on the highway for quite some time. In fact, upon closer examination, we couldn't exactly tell quite where the highway ran, even though it was only about 100 yards away.

The snow continued to come down, and the radio advised us this was being called "The Storm of the Century". Since our available firewood was buried beneath the snow outside, we moved all necessary furniture, (ie: couch and stereo), into the kitchen and utilized the electric oven for heat. Luckily the REA's electricity, not always reliable in the best weather conditions, stayed on the whole time! We probably could have gotten by without the oven by burning furniture in the wood stove in the living room, but we really would have missed the stereo. Still, taking into account our physically and mentally depleted state at the time, things weren't looking all that bad, except we had virtually no food!

As it grew dark Saturday evening we joked about National Guard helicopters dropping bales of hay to us while Nosie our neighbor's doagies on the adjoining forty dined on beer and pizza, but in truth we were getting a bit hungry.

About 7:00, to our amazement, there was a knock on the door! It wasn't the Guard, but QO's older brother and his friend who were stranded at a farm about 5 miles up the road. They had come down on cross country skis to see if they could trade food for any extra drugs or alcohol we might have. What luck! We were well supplied in that regard, with plenty of Blatz beer, Canadian Club whiskey and one last hit of windowpane, reserved for a "real emergency". (Well, if you have to ask...).

We managed to cook up oatmeal crusted perch filets with canned creamed corn and canned peaches for dinner, and slept that night in the kitchen. By Sunday morning the snow had stopped. We couldn't even see the roofs of our cars, but a county road grader came by about 11AM and opened up one driving lane. We were thus able to hitch a ride to town in time to watch the football game.

SB (older and wiser) :wink: (but duller) :rolleyes:

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Thank God the last windowpane I saw was in the 80's...but come to think of it , if we'd had enough for everyone it probably would have been a blast. Or not. That's the problem with drugs and alcohol during a disaster, you never know who's going to lose it.

so much for mispent youth.

I have a cleaner, much more organized freezer and pantry now. I do not buy it unless I eat it. There are no more free turkeys in the freezer.. much better things I think. Like steaks, roasts, frozen solid smart chickens. I never want to cook a crappy turkey on the grill again.

EVERYONE in the neighborhood had one! finally I cooked them all down and made a huge doggie gumbo. They liked that. The doggies really like me. You'd have been surprised at how many dogs were left here when Rita hit. I fed them all. At least all that I knew of, and who came to me of the smell of food. You know, thats really a crappy thing to do to an animal that trust you, so do make arrangements for your critters if you need to leave.

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"It's important to choose foods that you will actually eat and enjoy"

Boy, did I goof on that one last time.  I gave 15 cans of  assorted "Savory Sides" to my local food bank after Katrina/Rita.

  I realized after tasting one potato-cheese sauce thing they should have been sent to the SPCA.  Those things are  VILE.

AC inverter?  Never even heard of it.

Exactly the kind of ideas I'm looking for.

When this post has run for a few days, I may send it to the 300-plus locals in my email list.

I have a feeling many more ideas  are coming up.

For me, I found a little sterno rack for a few bucks at WalMart, and keep 8 large sterno cans on hand.  I have a 2 piece ceramic Melitta drip coffe maker.  It never occurred to me to find out if sterno is okay to use indoors.  I assume it is?

See what I mean?

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The food stuff was never a problem for short periods (2 to 4 days). But the most important item I've found to have is lots of water. In my area we get power outages in summer time and winter snow storms and the problem is you loose well water, so the 1st thing we do is fill up all the bath tubs and big 5 gal. buckets of water a day ahead of storm notices. this water is not for drinking it's so we can flush the toilets which becomes very important real soon.

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The food stuff was never a problem for short periods (2 to 4 days). But the most important item I've found to have is lots of water. In my area we get power outages  in summer time and winter snow storms and the problem is you loose well water, so the 1st thing we do is fill up all the bath tubs and big 5 gal. buckets of water a day ahead of storm notices. this water is not for drinking it's so we can flush the toilets which becomes very important real soon.

I second that as well. I filled up tubs for flushing, and it's a good thing I did because it would have been a real mess. Literally.

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We also fill our largest cooking pots with water, which is for cooking, drinking, and brushing teeth. That's in addition to having 5-gallon jugs of bottled water. We also keep a case of 16-ounce bottles of water in the car.

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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Those airmattresses take so much heat from a body. So nice in the warm. In the cold, put a blanket between it and oneself.

If cooking is not an option:

Canned chicken, dried fruits, a small unopened jar of mayo or mw.

Curried chicken salad - good as sandwich, on salad greens (using up fridge day 1), or by itself.

I keep NoDoz around, in case it becomes impossible to make coffee. I really love my coffee but my actual physical need is for caffeine.

One 2.5 gal water bottle per person, for drinking/cooking only. This is good for several days if one is careful with water use.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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