hurricane food
September 10, 2008 9:25 PM   Subscribe

What food should I buy in preparation for Hurricane Ike, and how should I eat it?

Hurricane Ike is on its way, and I'm going to the grocery store tomorrow to stock up on non-perishables. What specific foods should I get? Last time we were without power for days at a time (Hurricane Rita, 2005), the granola bar diet got pretty old. Any suggestions/recipes on how to prepare meals with no refrigeration or electricity? We do have a propane barbeque, but all of our kitchen appliances are electric. Keep in mind that if the power's out, that means no air conditioning, so please no recipes for hot soups. etc.

We're far enough inland not to have to have any serious worries about evacuation or flooding, but we are on the "dirty side" of Ike, so power outages are somewhat likely.
posted by jschu to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Whenever I go on camping trips I bring those dehydrated-just-add-water meals, some of them can be pretty tasty. Some people don't like it but I really like those little Vienna Sausages, I kinda grew up on them and they can be an aquired taste though. Spam is tasty but that's another aquired taste thing, beef jerky is always good. You said no soups but if you have a propane bbq than why couldn't you buy canned soups?
posted by BrnP84 at 9:33 PM on September 10, 2008

Do you have a good cooler? You can keep frozen stuff on tons of ice in a cooler for a few days if you don't open it very much. Get things you can cook on the grill from frozen (burger patties) and things that thaw quickly (shrimp). Skipping that, you could just get the pre-cooked shrimp and eat them cold.

Does your grill have a side burner? Because if you can boil a pan of water you can eat pasta, rice, and anything that comes in a pouch like those pre-cooked Indian meals, and other stuff like instant soups and noodle bowls.

Lay in a supply of mayonnaise packets, relish, etc. if you can. Then you can make tuna or chicken salad with canned/pouched protein and not worry about the rest of the huge jar of mayo going bad.

I am sure the camping folks will be in presently with a million better suggestions.
posted by cabingirl at 9:38 PM on September 10, 2008

Peanut butter and jelly sammiches is a tried-and-true camping trip staple.
posted by dhartung at 9:40 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Does Granola include dried fruit and nuts?

Pickles are tangy!

Also, why not beans and rice and cereals for the propane barbeque. (Get extra bottled water to cook.)
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:40 PM on September 10, 2008

Can you get a cooler or two filled full of ice and keep some perishables? Ham, turkey, cheese, bread, tomatoes, lettuce, fruit? Make some big ole sub sandwiches? That will last at least for a couple of days. It would give you a break from non-perishable stuff. Pop tarts? Cook some things ahead of time that can be reheated on the propane. I wish you the best of luck. Take care.
posted by wv kay in ga at 9:41 PM on September 10, 2008

Peanut butter is pretty damn dense in calories and doesn't need much refrigeration so I would recommend that as a staple. PB&J sandwiches and PB crackers will easily fill you up and give you energy. Don't forget drinking water. Even if you prepare for that, at least fill the bathtub so that you'll have an emergency stash of water.
posted by crapmatic at 9:56 PM on September 10, 2008

uhhhhhh, I would screw thinking so much about the food, and buy a shitload of water. If the roads get messed up, you'll miss the H20 before you will the calories (im sure you have peanut butter and other nonperishables you could live on for a couple days)
posted by wuzandfuzz at 10:03 PM on September 10, 2008

Most things don't require fridge. Bread and vegetables are fine at room temperature for a few days, the cooling just makes them last longer.

Pasta - (dry pasta and Canned tomato sauce). As long as your grill can boil a pot of water.
Omlette - (Eggs - they don't require fridge)
Sandwiches/Subs - (Tuna, chicken, salmon, bread, Lettuce, tomatoes, condiments)
Frozen meats - with a good cooler and ice, you can store this for at 3 days.
Milk - the ultra homogenized type or powdered

The key is how you pack your coolers. (use 2 coolers or more)
1. Separate frequent use from infrequent (no drinks or consumable ice mixed with meats)
2. Pre-freeze your food or buy it frozen.
3. Keep meat and perishables directly on ice (direct contact)
4. Don't drain the water
5. Keep the cooler in a cool spot

So you could do something like:

Saturday (assuming you lost power Friday night)
Breakfast: milk and cereal
Lunch: Sandwich
Dinner: Grilled meat, corn and bread

Breakfast: Omlette with veggies and toast and juice (bottle or frozen concentrate)
Lunch: Grilled meats
Dinner: Burritos (rice, beans, ground beef or fajitas)

Breakfast: Eat whatever meat you have left
Lunch: Sandwich
Dinner: Pasta

I dunno, this is what I'm doing. I don't have to buy many coleman coolers since I have a large freezer in the garage which I will be dumping my food into. I will still be using separate coolers to store ice and drinks. Having gas stoves is pretty convenient (assuming the gas will work)

I live in Spring, Texas. We typically lose power for a couple hours. I can't imagine what people in Galveston go through.
posted by abdulf at 10:16 PM on September 10, 2008 has a quick collection of disaster survival recipes and tips. Also try the related forum for a TON of info . . .
posted by oldtimey at 10:24 PM on September 10, 2008

There's also this site about hurricanes. They got a cookbook too. Click the images.

posted by abdulf at 10:25 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions so far, all!

wuzandfuzz, we're set on water. It's hurricane season, after all. :)

abdulf-- howdy, neighbor. Great ideas. I'll keep them in mind. You stay safe.
posted by jschu at 10:47 PM on September 10, 2008

Tasty Bites, Indian food sealed in thick mylar packs. Drop them in boiling water for 5 minutes, open and eat. They're really good, come in a wide variety. We take them camping all the time.
posted by 5MeoCMP at 10:56 PM on September 10, 2008

Sammidges! Keep the meat, cheese and mayo on ice. You can live for days...nay weeks, on sammidges. Other than that ( if you require anything else, which I doubt) you may fire up the grill for Ramen, soup, Dinty Moore (mighty, mighty Dinty Moore). Don't forget - corn on the cob, watermelon, bread and butter and PB&J (not to be confused with a sammidges). Keep your head down!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:39 AM on September 11, 2008

In addition to the above-mentioned food items, I would get myself some instant coffee + powered milk to avoid caffeine withdrawal. I likes my coffee.
posted by jrockway at 3:03 AM on September 11, 2008

The one thing we couldn't do with out was a percolator. Nothing made me feel better than a nice cup of coffee in the morning. Also, don't forget some snacks. Sometimes you just want some comfort food. What we would do was buy some Jiffy Pop and use the grill's burner for that as well. You might also want to get some dried fruit to help you "move" along, if you know what I mean and I think you do.
posted by govtdrone at 4:50 AM on September 11, 2008

Powdered milk is so much easier to deal with if you're flying by cooler - the real deal is too hard to keep cold, takes up too much room, waxed paper containers get soggy easily, etc.

You've got time to prep today, so cook and freeze (in single portions) rice and pasta. Pasta doesn't thaw to gourmet textures, but it's fine for a quickly-heated warm meal. You can also cook and freeze chicken and beef in small portions to go with. Canned beans are far easier to manage when your water and heat-tolerance are limited, and can be eaten cold in a pinch.

Stock in some counter-stable raw produce for snacks and meal ingredients - carrots, celery (also good with peanut butter), tomatoes, grapes, oranges.

If you've got the time and inclination, bake something now - cake, cupcakes, cookies. If you end up with a long power outage, it's nice to have something that still tastes like fresh food, and if you end up in a neighborhood grill-out as everyone cooks their thawing freezer contents, you have something novel to bring. My parents spent 5 days on a generator after Rita, and it was dessert that went missing. I think they made a couple of cookies in the toaster oven, but it wasn't really worth the trouble or the heat.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:40 AM on September 11, 2008

seconding the water suggestion & if it's not too late, try this: freeze those water bottles! as many as possible! (you'll have to take a little of the water out before putting in the freezer so the bottle doesn't break when the water freezes & expands.) not only will you have cold water to drink on a hot electricity-less day, it will help keep your perishables from going south when the power cuts out.

for food, i generally keep tuna & crackers and (i know it's weird but i like them) canned garbanzo beans. pb&j is excellent as it will last forever.

good luck w/ike. i hope the worst you get is a short-term power outage.
posted by msconduct at 6:01 AM on September 11, 2008

When you go shopping, stay away from the refrigerated aisles. Hit the aisles in the middle of the store that sell unrefrigerated cans and jars of ready-to-eat food such as canned spaghetti.

Try to buy the nonperishables you would buy anyway, only lots of it, and then it won't make any difference to you if you don't need it (if there's no real emergency other than hoarding). If you aren't keen on tuna, for instance, don't buy a shitload of it now just because it keeps. Find stuff you do like, and make sure it requires minimum preparation because in an actual emergency you might need to eat it cold and straight out of the can.

So: tuna and other canned fish and meat products (if you like it), canned spaghetti and such instant shite (if you see any you can stomach), cheese, nuts, peanut butter, canned beans, snacks (to fight boredom). Buy anything that comes in a can or jar, can be eaten cold, and keeps without refrigeration for a long time. Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam.

Then make sure you have can openers, cutlery, bowls, and plates handy.

If you're hooked on caffeine, stock up on colas and other cold caffeine drinks, and maybe even get some over-the-counter caffeine pills to take care of your fix.

And then think about warm stuff, should you be lucky enough to have electricity or gas.
posted by pracowity at 6:21 AM on September 11, 2008

It's probably obvious to everyone but me, but be sure you have a non-electric can opener. I live in New Orleans and for years bought canned foods in preparation for hurricanes and it was probably the summer before Katrina that I realized, had I ever needed the Spaghetti-o's, I couldn't have opened them. (I always evacuate, so I didn't ever discover my stupidity the hard way.)

After Gustav (evacuated to Central Louisiana, lost power there) last week, I can say that when the power is out for days you'll be too hot to really care about what you have to eat. Lots of water and seconding the above comment to have your caffeine source around. I didn't mind having yet another PB&J if I had that last cool Diet Coke or some weird instant coffee made on a BBQ pit.
posted by artychoke at 7:01 AM on September 11, 2008

To prepare yourself for a storm:

I'll assme you've read all the stuff about getting cash, drugs, tarps, etc - but want to know what it's like living through the aftermath of a storm....

Prep begins the day before. Eat all the ice cream in the freezer. It builds strong bones, you know! Got any milk in the refrigerator? Put it in small bottles and freeze for later use. If you have children in the mix, they are much harder to please, so think about some snacks for them. Get the m&m’s/gummies/whatevers if you don’t usually have them in the house. Kids don't always understand, so make a point of involving them and explaining what's going on. Make it a game if possible.

You will be hot and sticky. We don’t usually cook anything heavier than hot dogs or chicken breasts or veggies. You can even grill them ahead of time and have them divided up in smaller packages and freeze for extra cooling. I go with the idea that the more coolers and frozen small items, the better. If you have the ability, get the small evil water bottles and freeze lots (per upthread) and have them in one cooler dedicated to that. Fill some buckets of water if you can get the type w/ lids.

We try to cook, then freeze as much in advance as possible. Have a couple of coolers. Divide up the food into “first few days” then “long-range”. Have lunchmeats or cheese available if you eat these things. Frozen water takes up a lot of room, so don’t go overboard unless you have extra coolers. But, frozen little juice bottles are a wonderful change. Frozen lemon or lime juice can do wonders for that libation you’ve stocked up on at the liquor store….

Think about your daily routine and what you usually do. Like others above, that first cup of coffee or tea is the way to make the day. And, I don’t know what it is about the storms we have, but they almost always come at night and you’re faced with the first day without power and having coffee ready to go is great. So, we make a pot the night before landfall and warm it up w/ our sterno for the first awake day.

So, now, you’ve fumbled around and gotten the radio going and found some station that’s trying to give news updates – spotty as they are. You’ve carried that precious cup of normalcy around, peeking outside and hopefully not finding too much damage to your immediate surroundings. Or not. As long as nobody is hurt in your neighborhood, there’s nothing immediate for you to do. Decide that you’re not going to be having power restored any time soon and then just forget about it. The more you keep checking on it, the more frustrating it can be. Call about downed power lines, or injuries; but leave the rest for later.

The first breakfast meal can be something as simple as grits – they take nothing more than boiling water. Or, Krispy Kremes! Oh, that’s the best thing about the storms – we use them as an excuse to get the “bad stuff” without feeling guilty! Chips, cookies, snack cakes anyone?

Now, the storm has passed (hopefully.) The windows are all opened to catch any breeze. You have a snack: fruit, nuts, slice of cheese, maybe a cookie? Put one of your buckets of water outside in the sun for later.

OK. Now, it’s lunch time and you’re bored. Surprising? No teevee, no internet, nothing but silence/or the sound of chain saws and generators. You can either whip out some simple lunch meat or pb&j and slap it on bread. Maybe you’ve had a cola w/ a few precious cubes of ice – or some nice cool water?

Time to check on the neighbors again and decide what’s to be done. Action is good, it makes you feel like you’re getting somewhere. But, remember that it’s hot and sticky and that you and/or your friends aren’t used to this. Take it a little at a time. Offer your neighbors one of those little frozen bottles of water and take a break – tomorrow is another day.

Now, you’re hot, sticky and dirty. Yep, those wet wipes don’t do anything for you. Get that bucket of warm water from outside and bring it to the tub. Have a sponge bath. Ah, so good! You’ll still be hot and sticky in a minute but there’s nothing better than getting cleaned off. Trust me on this one – I’ve been there. Now, for all those folks who have municipal water that keeps working in a storm, having warm water is nice too, so this technique can work for you guys too.

You’re now “clean” and you’ve worked, so have a snack. Or libation. Play monopoly, or cards, or read a book or write in your journal.

Time to plan something for the evening meal. Think light fare. Nothing too heavy. Sometimes we have a cheese and wine party. Goes well with candles….

And, now, you’re bored. Yep. Unless you have to report for some emergency type work, you’ll have nothing to do except plan the next day’s clean-up effort or plan a block party with the neighbors.

The next day is not as optimistic. It was sticky last night and you wake up not terribly refreshed. Have your coffee anyway. Even though it’s not as much of an adventure as yesterday, you’ll need the caffeine if you’re accustom to it. Today will be much like all the others. Some cleaning up, checking on friends, listening to reports, and general hunkering in for the long haul. You’ll live at a much slower pace. You’ll live day-to-day until the power is restored and you can go back to normal.

Other things:
Do you have a land-line phone? Make sure that you have at least one that’s non-mobile and plugged into a wall. These work w/out power. We have a super cheap one that we plug in when storms are nigh.

Wet wipes are good to have.

Leather gloves that actually fit your hands are great when you’re moving debris or broken glass.

Don’t overdo the beer/liquor thing. Getting stupid drunk is not a good idea when you need to keep your wits around you…

Paper plates/bowls and plastic utensils are nice if you’re not going to have running water.

Have lots of reading material around. I go to the library as part of storm preparation.

Best wishes to all who’re in the path. May your winds be light and your lights be twinkling on the other side!
posted by mightshould at 8:15 AM on September 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

A cooler tip not mentioned above is that blocks of ice last longer in coolers than an equivalent volume of ice cubes. I don't bother with buying blocks of ice, but I freeze half gallon and gallon containers filled with water when I need to have extended use of a cooler. Oh and don't dump out the water, it keeps thing colds better than the air that would replace it.

Good luck, I hope all your planning is for not and you end up donating a ton of nonperishable food to the food shelf around Thanksgiving.
posted by advicepig at 9:27 AM on September 11, 2008

If you have small kids, stash a few cheap toys in plastic so they'll have some they haven't seen before for entertainment.
Don't forget pet foods and supplies.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 9:34 AM on September 11, 2008

Hey, I just did this last week! You might find you're too hot to be hungry, but my boyfriend and I used it as an excuse to grill steaks and pork chops, which kept just fine in my soft-sided, zip-up LSU cooler (which I recommend because it's nice and airtight and easier to deal with than an honest to goodness ice chest). I had my icemaker on all day the day before, and I'd empty it into grocery bags (double bagged) and by the end of the day I had a nice supply of ice in case it was hard to find in the days after the storm (it was).

My cold cuts and milk (for cereal, which holds up nicely and is more palatable when you're hot and sticky) held up all week, replenishing ice every day or two. And stuff like Spaghettios or whatnot can be eaten cold in a pinch, or easily warmed up in a saucepan on your grill. Bread, crackers, chips and salsa, etc are nice as well.

But the first night without power, I recommend treating yourself to a nice candlelit steak dinner. It might be a rough few days, you might as well treat yourself!

Also, buy a booklight and crosswords, or some of those hand-held LCD solitaire games, charge up your cellphone (buy a car charger if you don't have one) and make sure you have a working battery-powered radio. It gets real boring.

Good luck!
posted by ultraultraboomerang at 1:45 PM on September 11, 2008

« Older My shoulder dislocates really easily   |   Help Me Cook! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.