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Healthy Hurricane Menu: A Week on Shelf-Stable or Canned Food

At least once a year, I stock up on healthy food to eat if a hurricane, ice storm or other disaster strikes. With Hurricane Irma heading my way on Tuesday, I refreshed my supplies of shelf-stable food to get my Taster and me through two weeks without power. (I either eat or donate any emergency food left over from the last season before it expires.) The picture below shows most of a week's worth of supplies (see below for a complete picture). We want to eat well and stay healthy by focusing on beans, other vegetables, fruit, nuts, and whole grains.

See the menus below to get ideas to stock your emergency pantry. All the food is plant-based, so vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores can all enjoy it. Most of it is organic too. Fortunately, more stores than ever carry a variety of healthy, organic food at reasonable prices. It's easier than ever to cook in a way that slows climate change and minimizes our risk of extreme weather.

one week of canned food to prepare for a hurricane or storm without electricity


Before the Storm Hits

lemon-berry cashew cheesecake

I'll quit feeding the freezer and instead cook the best of our frozen and refrigerated food. There's no need to keep the Lemon-Berry Cashew Cheesecake for a special occasion when a hurricane is on the horizon!

I'll cook a pot of quinoa, make two loaves of bread, and bake potatoes and a dessert the day before the storm arrives. Frozen jars of bean stew and tomato sauce will go right into the coolers along with any fresh vegetables and the cooled baked potatoes. Once a season, I'll wash containers and fill them with water. The water in properly prepared containers is safe for six months. You don't need to buy a bunch of plastic bottles if you have glass jars or other clean, food-safe containers.

For more on preparing for a storm or emergency, including food safety tips, see my post on preparing for a winter storm post.

Storm Menus for the First Few Days

chickpea stew ready for the freezer

We will eat our way through as much fresh and frozen food as we can before it spoils. Fortunately, many varieties of fruit keep well at room temperature, including bananas, cantaloupe, apples, and stone fruit such as peaches and plums. Tomatoes, bell peppers, and avocadoes will also last a few days on the counter. We'll keep other food cold as long as we can in coolers filled with frozen food and ice packs.

Our storm menu will initially look pretty much like our normal menus:

  • Breakfast: peanut butter on bread (alas, not toast), fresh fruit while it lasts, and cold-brew tea.
  • Lunch: bean stew or hummus on potatoes or tortillas with salsa and salad or vegetable sticks.
  • Snack: dried fruit, trail mix, or chocolate bars.
  • Dinner: tomato sauce with greens or pesto on quinoa with more salad or vegetable sticks.
  • Dessert: peach cobbler, chocolate cake, or whatever else I've baked to use up the most valuable perishables. If we get caught with frozen nice cream, we'll devour those the first day before they melt.

On sunny days, I'll heat or cook meals using my solar cookers focusing on perishiable vegetables such as bell peppers, green beans, and okra. On cloudy days, I'll heat food using sterno burners. I wish we'd replaced our gas grill!

Usually on the second or third day, our neighborhood gets together to grill and share what has to be eaten or thrown away.

Storm Menus for Day Four and Beyond

seven days of canned ans shelf-stable food for a power outage, hurricane, or winter storm

Lunch becomes the big meal of the day. Any canned food must be eaten or gotten to a safe temperature within 6 hours. (The generous six hours is because we are eating all plant-based food. For animals products, the food-safety window is smaller.)

On sunny days, I'll use my solar cookers to heat canned food and roast the less perishiable vegetables saved for last: potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, and winter squash. I can even make solar baguettes and cupcakes. On cloudy days, sterno as long as it lasts.

  • Breakfast: peanut butter on crackers (alas, not bread or toast!), canned fruit, and cold-brew tea
  • Lunch: a stew made from canned beans, tomatoes, and often corn, with a canned green vegetable on the side dressed with vinegar and oil. Plan on two 16-ounce cans of food per person per day for your main meal. On days that we don't have corn, we'll eat tortilla chips instead. For variety, stock up on different types of beans and vegetables. The top picture shows a stack of cans for each day in a week to serve two adults. You can see that I picked black beans, pinto beans, ranchero beans, and baked beans. (We will have had our fill of chickpeas during the first few days as we eat our way through the freezer. My aquafaba habit means we always have a lot of cooked chickpeas on hand.)
  • Snack: kale chips, fruit-and-greens Lärabars, dried fruit, nuts, trail mix, or chocolate bars.
  • Dessert: dairy-free graham crackers with homemade NewTella (hazelnut and cocoa spread shown below, recipe coming soon), dairy-free Fig Newmans, dried fruit, or chocolate bars.

vegan NewTella on graham crackers

What do you do to get ready for a storm?

What lessons have you learned from past storms? Please log in and share in the comments below. I hope you and yours stay safe, dry, and comfortable. May all those who are suffering recover soon.

Reader Comments (4)

Thanks for this timely and very helpful post, Linda. You are super organized, and an inspiration!

Sep 9, 2017 | Registered Commenterbettya

Thanks so much, BettyA! I'm thinking about you and all those in your beautiful community. Hope you stay safe, dry, and have power!

Sep 10, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Watson

FIU has a free cookbook called "The Healthy Hurricane/Disaster Cookbook" (available as a downloadable PDF). It has lots of recipes to make with canned and shelf-stable food. A lot of the recipes use canned meats (fish, etc.), but there are a few veggie recipes too.

Another item to consider is shelf-stable German "fitness" bread, sold at World Market and some better supermarkets. It's a whole grain product in vacuum sealed packages. Here's an example:

Seeds of Change also makes shelf-stable ready-to-eat brown rice and quinoa. Mori-Nu tofu in tetra packs is another good product to keep around for and emergency. .

Sep 30, 2017 | Registered Commentermagwart

@Magwart, thanks for the great tips!

Oct 6, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Watson
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