Provisions I Stock in My Hurricane Cabinet

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist October 29, 2012

Being a native Florida girl, I have ridden out many a hurricane in my day.   The first hurricane I ever remember was when I was about 3 years old.  My family’s small home, which my parents still live in, is just a few feet above sea level right on the water in North Pinellas county in West Central Florida.

I remember like it was yesterday huddling with my family with the power out in a darkened room while the wind howled for hours on end like thousands of ghosts as my father and mother prayed the roof would hold.

I also remember asking my mother if I could go outside with my little umbrella so that I could fly like Mary Poppins.

Fortunately, that Cat 3 storm with 120 mph winds came ashore south of us so the storm surge never came and our home and perhaps even our lives were spared.    In hindsight, our family should have evacuated but back in the 1960′s most folks chose to ride out the storm and stay in their homes to protect the homestead.

The last hurricane I rode out was in 2004 when I was just a couple of months pregnant with my daughter.   The stress from that particular storm was high and we were without power for close to a week during very hot and humid August days which added to the misery.  I remember thinking that this poor baby I was carrying who was no doubt being flooded with my stress hormones would end up being a nervous wreck. As it turns out, my daughter is one tough little cookie and not much at all seems to faze her.  Perhaps riding out her first hurricane before she was even born contributed to her steely edge.

Since I lived my entire childhood and most of my adult life in a hurricane prone area, learning to stock an adequate storm cabinet with essential provisions is a skill I learned very early and a practice I have continued to this day.

I keep a hurricane cabinet stocked all year long as it comes in handy if the power goes out for any reason not just because of a bad storm.

I don’t stock snackie foods of any kind as boredom eating can easily take hold in those hours or even days without power and overconsumption of these foods can lead to grumpy kids which is not helpful during such a time of increased stress.

I really focus my hurricane cabinet on foods that will nourish and fill you up with just a few bites if necessary.

In my experience, you really need less food than you think during a hurricane, so if you focus on the nourishing foods, an adequate hurricane cabinet really doesn’t require that much space.

Food and Other Basic Provisions in my Hurricane Cabinet

  • MSG free beef and buffalo jerky
  • Canned red salmon
  • Tins of sardines packed in olive oil
  • SPAM (one of the few canned meats that doesn’t contain MSG)
  • Raisins
  • Dried apricots
  • Dried prunes
  • Dates
  • Yogurt covered goji berries
  • Dried mango
  • Dried pineapple
  • Soaked/dried almonds
  • Soaked/dried cashews
  • Soaked/dried pecans
  • Soaked/dried pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Popcorn (for popping on the barbeque pit)
  • Peanut butter
  • Sunflower butter
  • Raw honey
  • Coconut butter
  • Ghee
  • Cod liver oil
  • Paper plates/plastic utensils
  • Plenty of jugs of water
  • 7-8 gallons of kombucha (brewing all the time .. doesn’t need refrigeration)
  • Bottles of oil for the hurricane lamps
  • Bags of charcoal for the barbecue
  • Lighters/matches
  • Flashlights/batteries
  • Both cars tanked up with gas
  • Wind up radio

Of course, it is important to have a source for cooking when the power is out.  I have jugs of frozen water in our spare freezer so if the power goes out, everything stays nice and cold for several days.  If stuff starts to thaw, you start cooking on the outdoor barbecue or firepit while you wait for the lights to come back on.

In my experience, this list will easily last you a few days to a week without power.  If the power is going to be off longer than that for a very severe storm, it is best to seek another location until normalcy is restored.

What essentials do you stock in your storm cabinet?

 

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

 

Comments (57)

  1. We also have ground coffee, a french press, sterno, a fondue pot (Francis lasted for days when we could not access the grill to cook or make coffee), baby wipes, crackers, a first aid kit, 7 days of meds (which I rotate every few months), and duct tape.

    Reply
  2. Erin Boyd via Facebook October 29, 2012 at 9:59 am

    This is great! I don’t live anywhere there could be a hurricane, but I should really get some stuff stored in case of any other kind of weather emergency.

    Reply
  3. Laura Waldo via Facebook October 29, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Thanks Sara, I will definitely share this list. I also lived in Florida as a child so we’ve got everything you mentioned plus a propane camping stove. Officials are telling us to expect 7-10 day power outages, so I did some baking before the storm. We have grain free pumpkin cookies with dried cranberries, and grain free apple cinnamon muffins.

    Reply
  4. Great list!

    During World War 2, the German army did a comprehensive study and found that canned sardines were the best survival rations, enabling soldiers who were cut off from supplies to fight for many days with no other food. No fuel was required, all you had to do was open the can.
    We keep a supply of canned sardines from Portugal in our home.

    We are on the west coast. We hope and pray that everyone in the path of the storm is safe, protected, and has what they need.

    Thank you for sharing your list, Sarah.
    Stanley Fishman\’s last post: Traditional Sea Salt Is a Vital Nutrient

    Reply
  5. Love the tip about gallons of frozen water in the deep freezer! I am a born and raised Floridian as well and I was ten when Hurricane Andrew hit my house in Homestead. I would love to get a generator for my deep freezer, but the frozen gallon jugs is a great tip in the mean time!

    Reply
  6. If I get a warning about a power outage in cold months I’ll fill my thermos’ with hot stock, teas and soups. I haven’t come up with an alternative to an appropriate heat source…maybe a fondue pot would work for me too. I’ve used my wood fireplace- but I wasn’t successful. A barbecue is not an option for me. would love to hear about any other sources. I keep pretty much the same foods listed except never dried fruits which I tend to mindlessly graze on- haven’t developed a taste for jerky.

    Reply
    • Have you considered installing a woodburning stove in your fireplace? It would give you heat and a cooking surface. And the heat would warm the room more efficiently than a fireplace where a lot of the heat is going straight out the chimney.

      Reply
  7. In Missouri I have had weeklong power outtages in both winter AND summer. I rotate the items in my emergency kit in the spring and fall.

    I have a small cookpot with lid that can take direct flame heat, a Melitta cone and extra filters, tea(black and herb tea specific to colds) and some homeopathics:
    -Arnica cream (bruises and strains) EXTERNAL USE
    -Hypericum in oil (injuries to nerve-rich areas, bleeding from scrapes, also is a good relaxer) EXTERNAL USE
    -Calendula cream/in oil, or dry. First aid kit in a flower. Can be used internally but works great externally.
    -Rescue Remedy (cream works well and can be applied to animals and children externally as a calmer)
    -Oscillococcinum (flu remedy but terrific for illnesses when you feel dragged out and chilly)

    The most important thing is to practice cooking without power.

    Also remember the pets.

    Reply
  8. Cash in small bills. When hurricane Ike hit in Texas, we were without power for 10 days and needed cash to pay for gasoline and groceries. Most businesses were running on generators and would only take cash. Extra gasoline is also helpful to get you by until gas stations open.

    Reply
  9. I’m in Ohio. We have tornadoes and long blackouts because I live in the lucky part of the city that’s always effected during a storm. They are predicting high winds from the nor’ester on the backside of Sandy to knock out power.

    We have gas fireplace for heat and a propane grill to cook. I’ve prioritized what we will grill if we lose power. I dehydrated the fresh frozen vegetables and fruit from our freezer. That way, we only have to worry about storing meat in the cooler when the ice packs in the freezer melt.

    We have crank powered flashlights that put out a lot of light to read by. We don’t have to worry about batteries losing a charge either.

    I love the tip about sterno. We have a camp stove but it is so icky outside to use for coffee. I think I’m going to run to the store for a few cans. Thanks!
    Condo Blues\’s last post: Odd Job Tool Giveaway

    Reply
  10. Good list the “Spam” surprised me.
    Spam doesn’t have MSG but it does have Sodium Nitrite. Is that not “AS” bad as MSG?

    Also you need a box of shotgun shells on your list. :)
    R

    Reply
    • When I was little my favorite afterschool snack was to dip out a big spoonfull of p.b. and dot it with raisins, then slowly eat it. Have done this with my daughter during power outages in TX. Some great tips here especially the one about having small bills to pay for food and gas. When the power’s out you can’t use debit/credit card and most businesses may be low on change. Prayers to all on east coast.

      Reply
  11. Thanks for the list Sarah. Though not in the path of any hurricanes, we here in So Cal are prepared for natural disasters too such as earthquakes, flooding and fires, which we seem to have pretty regular. I was pretty unprepared for one of our most damaging earthquakes back in the early ’90′s and that was a wake up call to be more prepared. First thing we invested in were those lights that stay in your outlets always and when the power goes out, they illuminate dark rooms like a night light and can be taken out and used as flashlights too. Next most important is lots of bottled water and regular flashlights next to every bed. I am investing in head lamps soon. As for food, we always have canned salmon, sardines, dried fruit and lots of Crispy Nuts in the house. Our BBQ is always filled with propane and we have everything for camping in case we need to get out of the house, which could be a problem in a severe earthquake, so we could “camp out” in the yard if need be. Thanks again for the tips and I hope everyone of your readers gets prepared for whatever natural disaster might befall their town.

    Reply
  12. Hi Sarah,

    I recently became gluten intolerant after eating some processed flour on a short trip out of town. Even my home ground hard red wheat and rye were causing problems. In order to satisfy my one slice of toast per day craving, I got some Emmer Farro grain from Bluebird Farms up in Winthrop, WA. Emmer Farro is an acient wheat type grain that has not been hybridized, so it doesn’t contain the foreign proteins that cause the problems. After fooling around a little with their recipe (which makes a nice loaf but has some unnecessary complications), I am now back to a healthy piece of toast in the morning. My husband is equally happy getting back to home made goodness. Thought you might want to pass this on.

    Reply
  13. Great list Sarah! This is a great list for any kind of emergency and will certainly help me round out our stores. Here on the Canadian Prairies in Manitoba, hundreds of people were without power for more than a week after an early fall ice storm. It prompted me to get in gear stocking my emergency rations. I have 2 young children and we live on a farm. I want to make sure they are well taken care of- especially through the dangerously cold winter months where temperatures regularly dip below -22 farenheit (-30 celsius).

    Reply
  14. Great list! And I must shamefully admit, I have a guilty love affair with SPAM. I seriously love the stuff, but have not had it in a long time. I am going to get some for my emergency rations, though, because I didn’t realize it has no MSG! Thanks for the info!

    Reply
  15. Was is hurricane Camille??

    We lived in Ft Walton Beach then and I was 2ish at the time, but I have a memory. No details, but I remember it happening.

    Great post!

    Reply
  16. Cans of coconut milk! Also fruit and veg that don’t need fridging, like sweet potatoes and apples. We do have a gas stove so we’ll be able to cook when (not if LOL) our power does go out, but we’re keeping it to small enough portions that we can eat it all and not have to fridge leftovers.
    Deb\’s last post: Non-Academic Skills: Can We Teach Those?

    Reply
  17. Amanda McCandliss via Facebook October 29, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    I’m still trying to wrap my brain around that you stock SPAM! lol That is something I would have just skipped over without much thought. Thanks for the nice list. It’s very helpful!

    Reply
  18. A lap top wih back up batteries is an essential item- staying informed on issues is very important, hurricane notwithstanding. We just rented “2016, Obama’s America” A documentary of a true life story. Love him? Hate him? Then either way, this is the movie to see.

    Reply
  19. Some sourdough loaves would be a good idea, especially since they keep a while.

    I haven’t been in a hurricane since we stopped eating conventional food, but cooking and eating the meat in your freezer isn’t a bad idea, since you may lose it if the power stays out a while.

    Reply
  20. oh this is my first major adventure :) we get power outages for a few hours once in a blue moon…. only recall one winter with major cut off in 30 years THIS will be an experience!
    unfortunately i read the list too late fortunately i have most of the things any way, including some cans of sardines :) my hubby may not laugh at me any more next time i buy a bunch after Sandy is over :) thank you Sarah :)

    Reply
  21. We are campers, so I always make sure we have extra cans of coleman propane and I cook on the coleman stove just like I do when we are camping. One little can lasts for about 2 days, depending on how much you use it of course. We also fill up the bathtubs with water for flushing toilets and fill lots of jugs of filtered water. I make sure that the deep freezer is full. (I also freeze jugs of water to fill it up if it’s not completely full, and then I wrap it in lots of blankets, bubble wrap, newspapers, or whatever I have that insulates and then I make sure that no one tries to open it. Food will stay frozen a lot longer that way.

    Reply
  22. What a great list. The West Coast could keep the same things in case of earthquake or — as it was reported 2 days ago– a tsunami warning for the north coasts of OR, WA, BC and Alaska. We’re supposed to have an El Nino year this year, which likely means loads of rain and winds… preparation is always a good thing.
    P.S. I wouldn’t keep Spam in my cupboard… the nitrates and nitrites in it are as bad or worse than the MSG that it doesn’t have.

    Reply
    • Just heard today that the experts have called off El Nino for this year, but the oceans are still so warm here in SoCal, I wonder? However, our last huge rain event, back in I think 2003 or later, our 100 year storm, brought us record amounts of rain and it was a La Nina year. La Nina? El Nino? What really brings the rains on is that Jet Stream. :-o

      Yeah, why is Spam in our WAPF Shopping Guide anyway? Please tell us Sarah! :-)

      Reply
  23. @Amanda yes, SPAM is definitely not something I would ever eat under normal circumstances, but in a hurricane situation it is believe it or not a pretty decent choice as an emergency item. When the power is out, you get tired pretty fast of the sardines and salmon … SPAM offers a good alternative for a nonseafood item to break the monotony.

    Reply
  24. Pingback: Provisions I Stock in My Hurricane Cabinet | CookingPlanet

  25. Thanks to your list I’m back from buying sterno so I can heat water for my French press and finally remembered to get a manual can opener – don’t ask. They say we are supposed to get rain/snow mix after the high winds. While I can heat water outside on our camp stove if I need to I don’t necessarily WANT to in rain/snow mix.

    I saw Spam at the store and checked the label. It is gluten free. Who knew?
    Condo Blues\’s last post: Odd Job Tool Giveaway

    Reply
  26. Don’t forget books and games to keep the children happy. Stash a couple of small new toys.
    Also you will need heavy duty plastic trash bags and a 5-gallong bucket to make a toilet if you are without power and water for any length of time. Kitty litter for the bags, to soak up liquids.

    Reply
  27. Great list! Thanks for sharing. After nearly losing a bunch of meat in our freezers from losing power from the derecho (land hurricane) my area experienced this year, I canned some of the chickens in the freezers and hope to do more. Canned chicken doesn’t taste as good as freshly cooked, but at least it keeps and is ready to eat when the power goes off. I’m hoping to learn how to can other kinds of meat so I’m not so dependent on the freezers and it’s ready to eat during power outages or when I need a quick meal.

    Reply
  28. Spam?! REALLY?! This blew me out of the water. Your entire list is so well-thought-out… and then there’s the Spam. Who knows where those animals come from? And what about all those chemicals in Spam? After all you’ve been touting, I find this inclusion bizarre.

    Lisa Marie

    Reply
  29. All this talk about Spam made me curious and nostalgic, so I bought and ate half a can last night right out of the can (I know, it is supposed to be for emergency use only). Husband was perplexed and asked that I never serve it to him (he has never tasted it in his life). But it was very satisfying and I will include some in our emergency rations. When he is sick of canned salmon, Spam might win him over.
    I noticed different varieties of Spam at the store including Spam Lite and Low Sodium Spam. The original appeared to have the shortest ingredient list.

    Sarah, would you include pressure cooker home canned meats for emergencies?
    Thanks, Vicki

    Reply
  30. I think it was when Charlie (or one of the hurricanes that hit in 2004, I lost track after the 2nd one) hit when we lived back in Tampa that I cooked a 5 pound meatloaf on the grill to use up the rest of the meat and eggs in the fridge. The neighborhood I evacuated to was out of power for a week, but my house when I came home was just fine (minus part of the roof) and the power had never gone out because the clocks were still set properly. Irony there.
    Mrs. Yoder\’s last post: Giveaway: Wondermill Jr. Contest

    Reply
  31. Although Spam doesn’t have MSG, it does have ham. In all likelyhood, there’s MSG in the ham. (or natural flavor, hydrolized protein, etc etc etc.) FYI for those sensitive to MSG. MSG doesn’t have to be listed if it’s in the ingredients.

    Reply
  32. I just moved from FL 3 wks ago to PA and was hit with Sandy! We live in the country so not only were we left with no power for 9 days but we, also, had no running water because we have a well. Since we have a propane stove, we still had a way to cook (just the oven does not work in a power outage). I want to add that you have no idea just how much water you will use. Figure out how much you think you will need, and triple it! A high quality water filter will be a must to save for. We have the Delaware River and a few creeks around just in case the outage was worse but without a way to filter it all, it is useless. I made a few loaves of bread, muffins for the kids and granola. Oats are a pretty good thing to have on hand. I put them in a bowl to soak in the evening and they cooked up very quickly the next morning so I did not have to use too much propane on that meal. I, also, have on hand some dehydrated veggies that I could throw in a pot to make a soup. Thru this, I learned, too, that it is a good idea to keep up on the laundry! It was cold so we were going thru socks and such quickly and the piles were adding up. Cash, as another reader stated, is a must. We have a local country store that opened and was dealing in cash only. And please, fill up those car tanks! I was so happy we did because the lines at those gas stations afterwards was insane!

    In the end, I learned a lot about what to add/change to my list. And if all we lost was power and running water, we were lucky! So many people lost so much thru this storm. God bless them!

    Reply
  33. Pingback: How To Survive The Next Storm – Paleo Style | New Brunswick CrossFit | Central Jersey CrossFit | CrossFit Stealth

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