When we say preparedness, many people think of the end of the world and how they might have to survive with little to no supplies. In reality though, preparing is more likely to be for a temporary disaster.
A small-scale storm can leave you without electricity for hours. But it doesn’t necessarily take a storm to cause an interruption to the power lines… a car crashing into a utility pole will do (I experienced this). It really doesn’t take much!
Unless you’re prepared with some supplies, a power outage can leave you feeling powerless. No pun intended. 😉
Keeping your family well-fed during this type of emergency is vital. You need energy to perform important tasks and let’s face it, no one is going to survive too long with a bunch of hangry (hungry + angry) people.
Alternatives to traditional cooking styles when the power is out
Before we get into the recipes, I wanted to mention all your possibilities of cooking that don’t require electricity. Being able to cook even when your oven or stove isn’t working can ease the struggle of eating cold food all day, especially if an outage occurs during the winter.
- Eating raw
To clarify, I’m referring to raw fruits, veggies and nuts. A fresh salad during a summer power outage is a nice alternative to a warm and possibly heavy meal, like pasta.
- Gas stove
You’ll be able to use a gas stove if you have a way to light it. Electric stoves obviously won’t work.
- Bobcat Cooking Stove
This emergency stove is very effective. It uses cans of ThemaFuel allowing you to cook indoors because it doesn’t produce toxic fumes. Each can burns a consistent flame for four hours and can be used multiple times. One can is all you need to cook up to 6 emergency meals. This is a great backup to have in your home or to take as a portable stove for camping trips and outdoor adventures. A sterno is also a great option for safe indoor fuel.
- Outdoor fire pit
During summer power outages, take the advantage of preparing your food on the grill while enjoying a pleasant evening.
- Grills with a side burner
When you’re looking into buying an outdoor grill, consider getting one with a side burner which is connected to a propane tank. If possible, keep the grill inside a garage during winter months for your convenience.
- A fireplace
My family loves a good barbecue but our winter conditions make it nearly impossible to cook outdoors. During winter months, we use our wood fireplace to grill anything we want. It’s a double win: you get warm and eat delicious food at the same time! In a power outage, you can boil water in the fireplace to use for hot drinks or cooking.
- Coleman Stove and Propane
The Coleman stove is very common among outdoor enthusiasts. Follow the instructions on the appliance and take extra precautions if you’re using it indoors.
- Solar grill
I recently heard about this cool gadget. It’s a pricey option but an interesting way to cook food with the sun. Some people use them for hiking or in place of an outdoor grill. It’s a fun alternative for those who are into natural ways of cooking. I don’t think I need to say this, but you need to live in an area with significant amounts of sun for it to work properly.
- Disposable / Instant grill
This is a cool and cheap alternative to store with your bug out supplies. An instant grill will provide you with the ability to cook a warm meal if you don’t have any other way. There are biodegradable options available.
- Jet / Rocket stoves
This is yet another awesome gadget to look into! These stoves provide you with a strong flame and the ability to boil water quickly, therefore cooking warm meals doesn’t have to become a nightmare. The difference is that jet stoves use gas and rocket stoves use wood.
- These are few more wilderness options you should consider!
Meals you can prepare without electricity
I encourage you use power outages as an opportunity to get creative with the food you have on hand and make delicious recipes that require little to no cooking. Our ancestors made it work somehow, so why can’t we?
- Granola bowl
Top some yogurt off with granola or muesli and fresh or canned fruit. This will be one of the first things you want to eat, since the yogurt can go bad after 4 hours inside the fridge without power. It’s a convenient and delicious breakfast or midday snack.
- Overnight oats
Oatmeal is one of the most nourishing kitchen staples. Mix the correct proportions of oats with water- it’s okay if the water is cold. Leave it overnight (covered) and add toppings to it the following morning. Some of my favorite toppings include fresh fruit (bananas and apples) and cinnamon. You can also add a dollop of almond or peanut butter for extra protein.
- Whole grain cereals with shelf-stable milk
Choose cereals that are high in nutrition and low in sugar. Shelf-stable milk (or milk substitute) will be safe to store for long periods of time but once it’s opened, it must be refrigerated. The alternative is powdered milk.
- Bread, butter and jam
This is not necessarily healthy but butter will not go bad if it’s left outside the fridge so at least it’s a safe food option.
- Green-based salads
I’m not going to get into a detailed recipe for this one because salads are kind of a no-brainer. Also, your recipe will depend on what fresh veggies and fruit you have on hand. Chop up what you have (kale, spinach, tomatoes, onions, etc) and toss them together with a simple dressing. Done. 🙂 Since this might not give you enough sustenance, pair it up with bread, cooked grains (rice or quinoa), or throw in some canned corn or beans (rinsed). A simple dressing can be made with the oil and vinegar of your choice, salt and pepper. Lime or lemon juice can replace vinegar.
In a pinch, you can put together a nice taco filling using mostly canned goods. Open a can of chopped tomatoes, canned beans, canned corn, avocado (optional) and fresh cilantro (optional). Toss everything together with a zesty lime dressing: whisk together 1/4 cup lime juice with 2 tablespoons of a mild vinegar, 3 tablespoons honey, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, and garlic salt / pepper to taste. If you don’t have taco shells, eat it like a salad or with pita bread/ chips.
- Tuna and bean salad
One of the best ways to add extra protein and sustenance to a plain tuna salad is with beans. A few of my favorite choices are white kidney beans, garbanzo beans and cannellini beans. Choose one of these options and mix it in with a can of tuna (drained), a little bit of chopped onion, lemon juice, olive oil, spices of your choice, and salt/ pepper- to taste. If you don’t have tuna, you can mix together different kinds of canned beans and make a bean salad.
- Lettuce wraps
If you have romaine or iceberg lettuce, use them as lettuce wraps to add a fun twist to a chicken or tuna salad. For a simple filling, combine canned chicken or tuna/salmon (drained) with chopped celery, onion, salt, pepper and mayonnaise to taste. If you have bread or tortillas, you can make this into a sandwich or wrap. Adding these carbs will keep you full longer.
- Rice paper spring rolls
One of my favorite summer treats are spring rolls. They’re super easy and fast to make, and require no electricity. You can use any veggies you have on hand, such as carrots (julienned), green or purple cabbage (thinly sliced), lettuce (shredded), bell peppers (sliced), cilantro (chopped), beets (in thin slices), etc. Follow the assembly instructions on the rice paper container. For the best flavor, dip these into a peanut sauce. To make the sauce, whisk together 1/2 cup peanut or almond butter, 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce, 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup or brown sugar, 1/2 medium lime (juiced), 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger (grated/ optional). If it turns out too thick, thin it out with water. I got this recipe from one of my favorite food blogs, the Minimalist Baker.
- Burrito bowls
You can get creative with burrito bowls as well by using some of the veggies and canned goods you have at home. Keep in mind that this recipe requires pre-cooked grains, such as rice or quinoa. For those of you who have electric stoves, cooking grains may no longer be an option but try one of the alternative options mentioned above. My favorite burrito bowl recipe includes chopped tomatoes (salsa works too), canned corn, canned black beans (drained and rinsed), chopped avocado, and chopped cilantro. The dressing will depend on what you have that hasn’t gone bad yet. Refrain from using anything that contains dairy if the power has been out for more than 4 hours.
- Veggie noddles
Make veggie noodles using a peeler or spiralizer. Some of the easiest veggies to prepare for this recipe are zucchini, yellow squash, asparagus and carrots. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle hard cheese, like parmesan, on top. If you’re not used to eating raw veggies, use an alternative cooking method to sauté them. The second option will be tastier to most.
- Long-term emergency food
For this one you’ll need a gas stove or another alternative cooking method. Emergency food is amazing because it doesn’t need to be rotated often. What you buy now will still taste fresh in the next 20+ years. Our emergency food is sure to bring some smiles to the dinner table. These freeze-dried meals are filling, nutritious, and made with quality ingredients. We recommend this option for long power outages and other emergencies.
- Peanut/ almond butter with sliced fruit
Bananas and apples are a couple of my favorite fruits to pair with peanut and almond butter. They’re not just nutritious, but their sweetness helps to curb a sweet tooth (when chocolate isn’t available)!
- Chunky hummus and veggies/ chips
With a fork, smash up a can of rinsed chickpeas (for a bean dip use canned beans). Add lemon or lime juice, salt, pepper, spices of your choice and pair it up with chips, pita bread, or fresh veggies.
- PB&J sandwiches
Most people love PB&J. For the sake of a little comfort in difficult times, this is a great option.
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List of items to stock up on to prepare for an outage
- Freeze-dried emergency food: Check out a few of our favorite options here!
- Canned beans: Chickpeas, navy beans, black beans, kidney beans, etc.
- Canned vegetables, such as corn
- Canned fruits, fruit cups and applesauce
- Canned tomatoes: A healthier option is to buy the jarred tomatoes (instead of canned) but in an emergency, either one will do.
- Canned chicken and fish (spam works too!)
- Beef jerky and cured meats
- Peanut and almond butter
- Granola and muesli
- Breakfast cereal
- Instant or one-minute oats
- Protein bars, Clif bars, and granola bars
- Nuts and trail mix
- Dried fruit
- Crackers, pretzels, taco shells and tortilla chips
- Comfort foods: A couple boxes of cookies wouldn’t hurt!
- Shelf-stable pudding
- Pre-cooked grains, such as rice and quinoa (these usually come in pouches)
- Any meals found in the non-refrigerated section
- Shelf-stable milk and milk alternatives. Dry milk is also a good option.
- Olive oil
- Vinegar: Any condiment or dressing that contains vinegar will last longer.
- Jarred picked veggies, such as pickles and sauerkraut
- Salt, pepper and other condiments
- Honey or maple syrup
- Instant drinks, such as juice, coffee and tea
- Baby food and infant formula
- Dog food
- Vitamins, supplements, and medication
- Water! And lots of it!
- Eggs: If you buy them fresh from a local farm, they don’t need to go in the fridge at all.
- Bread and fresh tortillas
- Hard cheeses: Parmesan, romano, cheddar cheese, and vintage gouda for example.
- Fruits: Apples, bananas, pears, kiwis, etc, will stay fresh outside of the fridge.
- Vegetables: Kale, cabbage, carrots, celery, onions, and other veggies also stay fresh for a long time.
Check out this blog to learn how to keep your fruits and veggies fresh outside of the fridge!
- Can opener
- Veggie spiralizer / peeler
- Disposable paper towels and wet wipes
- Disposable plates and eating utensils (this will make clean-up much easier)
- Several large black trash bags
- Ziplock baggies (for easy left-over storage)
- Hand sanitizer
For a comprehensive list on the food with the longest-shelf life, check out this blog!
A few more tips
- When the power goes out, try to keep the fridge and freezer doors closed as much as possible. The food in the fridge should stay fresh for up to four hours. Food in a fully-packed freezer should stay frozen for up to 48 hours, whereas a half-filled freezer will stay frozen for about 24 hours. This resource, provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, gives a guide to food safety during natural disasters.
- Eat perishable food items first. You don’t know when the power will return so eat dairy and cooked meat first.
- Keep a couple baggies or Tupperware containers filled with water inside the freezer. If a power outage occurs they will work much like an ice-pack, helping to maintain the temperature of the freezer for a longer period of time. Worst case scenario, if they melt you can use them as a backup source of water (it’s a minimal amount but perhaps enough for a cup of coffee).
- Prepare heartier meals for breakfast and lunch so you feel full for a longer time. Leave the lighter meals (like salad) for dinner.
- If you’re concerned about an upcoming power outage (say it’s weather related), cook some food beforehand, such as eggs, rice and fry bacon and garlic. Cooked eggs will last longer if they’re not peeled and are a great source of protein. Fried bacon and garlic will last a long time too and they’ll add great flavor to many dishes.
- Although long-term power outages are not too common, it’s best to prepare for a minimum of two-weeks. This might sound like an exaggeration to many but it’s best to be ready than sorry. If you don’t have the means to prepare for that long, at least be prepared for a minimum of three days.
- When buying canned goods, opt for the ones that have an EZ-open pull-tab. Even if you have a can opener, these might be more convenient in the moment.
- Check the expiration dates on your shelf-stable food and rotate them as necessary.
- If there’s snow during a power outage, consider storing some foods from your fridge in a shady area outside (short-term). You can use a cardboard box and dig it into the snow. Just watch for animals. 😉 This way you can heat your home without worrying about your food going bad.
A power outage is common to experience, but the real struggle beings after several hours have passed.
Cooking is one of those things that can become inconvenient but if you’re equipped with everything you need, next time there’s a power outage you’ll say:
“No electricity? No problem!”
What foods do you have stockpiled in the event of a power outage?
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