Q:During a recent extended power outage, I was unable to maintain my balanced diet of protein and fruits/vegetables. I believe as the time progressed this caused me to not feel so well. Do you have any recommendations of items which could be purchased to have on hand for times when power may be out for a few days? What non perishables can be purchased to help sustain a reasonable diet during power outages?
A: There are a great deal of foods that can not only help you during a power outage, but they are also great portable snacks when you are away from home without refrigeration. If you lose power often, you can keep most of these in a kit at home.
- Apples, pears, clementines, cherry tomatoes, and bananas are all foods you can get right before a storm.
- Dried fruit (any kind). Freeze dried (crunchy) apples are my favorite. They are very high in sugar but are still often a better alternative than potato chips or other such snacks.
- Nuts and seeds of any kind
- Tuna packets (You can get flavored tuna so you dont need mayo, or you can keep mayo and mustard packets in your kit).
- Canned chicken or chicken in packets
- Mini Kind Bars, Luna Bars, and Lara Bars are pretty close to whole foods and keep a long time.
- Raw broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots will keep for a few days at room temperature.
- A jar of almond butter works well in a pinch to add protein to a meal or put on an apple for a snack.
- Individually packaged unsweetened applesauce
- Popcorn is on the healthier end of prepackaged foods, so you can keep a bag of light or air popped in your kit
- Instant oatmeal can be eaten cold when you need to. Many people even eat refrigerator oatmeal. Instant is not the best choice on an everyday basis due to the glycemic index (real oatmeal is better), but it is still good to have when you are without power.
For alternatives to shelf stable food, one good idea is to pack a cooler ahead of time. This is obviously a good option only if you have a storm that you are expecting, and you think you will probably lose power. If this is the case, buy a large bag of ice, and pack a large cooler with some of the foods listed below. That way, you will be able to eat the foods that help you stay on track without worrying about opening your refrigerator and spoiling the food.
- Pre-cooked frozen chicken breast strips (Put them in the cooler directly from the freezer)
- Sandwich meat
- Cheese sticks
- Any vegetable or fruit that you enjoy eating cold
- Boiled eggs
- Cottage cheese
As with any unusual circumstance, just do your best. Having a kit prepared can help you not only to stay on track, but to keep sustained energy throughout a power outage.