10 Nonperishable Foods You Must Stock for a Power Outage Situation –
If you are wondering what foods to stock up on for a power outage or other emergency situation, do not fear. As a long time prepper (my kids say hoarder), I know the best food to buy for a power outage, quarantine, or natural disaster.
[Update: Though this post was originally written to cover food for a power outage, all of these foods would work perfectly if you are trying to stockpile food in case the Coronavirus causes a quarantine and makes food supplies difficult to obtain.]
As Hurricane Florence threatens the coast, and heavy rains canceled all outdoor activities here last weekend because of severe flooding in nearby towns, I’ve been thinking a lot about emergency preparations.
Here in the flyover states, winter storms pose a more frequent threat to us. When the weatherman calls for a blizzard or ice storm, Hoosiers make a mad dash for milk and bread. Even when a winter storm knocks out power, we can generally count on being able to put items that need cold storage outside in a cooler, so keeping the milk at a safe temperature isn’t a huge problem.
Unfortunately, not all emergency situations guarantee easy ways to refrigerate perishable foods. Some natural disasters and other emergency events leave residents with no electricity in warmer temperatures. These power outages make stocking non-perishable food items imperative.
*This post contains affiliate links.
**I did receive complimentary Duke’s Meats SHORTY Sausages pictured in this post to sample from Moms Meet. Moms Meet is a program where families can “try and review better-for-you products” and then post about them on social media. I was under no obligation to mention the product in this post. They just happen to be a great option for the scenario.
The Most Essential Power Outage Item for Your Household
You must own a manual can opener! Your electric can opener will not work in a power outage. Even though the foods I’m including in this post don’t require a can opener, owning a manual can opener will give you the option of any canned foods in your cabinets as well.
You can find a hand can opener at any dollar store, but those ones are difficult to use. I own a couple of cheap Dollar Tree can openers as back-ups. I do not own an electric can opener at all! The can opener I own and love is this one.
It’s made for the huge #10 cans. I bought one of these hand-crank can openers after running a ballpark concession stand where they had one. It works better than any other can opener I’ve ever used. I bought one from Gordon Food Services, and it lasted me 10 years. I bought a new one from Amazon last summer because my old one finally rusted so much I wanted another.
Winter Storm Prep vs. Summer Storm Prep
Last winter I did a series of posts titled How to Avoid a Winter Power Outage by Being Prepared. My list of foods in that series is slightly different because it was focused on ice storms and blizzards, and it was based on being able to (or forced to) stay in my own home where I know I have alternative ways to cook food without electricity.
I encourage you to check out that series even if you live in a warmer climate because I have tips about cheap water storage. I’m not going to discuss water in this post because I covered it thoroughly in the winter storm series, but please know HAVING ADEQUATE AMOUNTS OF WATER STORED IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT THAN HAVING FOOD!
- How to Avoid a Winter Power Outage by Being Prepared
- Winter Storm Preparedness: Massive Water Storage on the Cheap
- Winter Storm Preparedness: Alternative Heat
- Winter Storm Preparedness: Power Outage Foods
- How to Flush Toilets in a Power Outage
Foods You Use and Eat Already Are Better
When trying to keep a stockpile of food in your house, it’s usually better to collect foods you eat regularly anyway. If you buy some weird food that no one in your house would ever consider eating in a non-emergency situation, you will likely just end up tossing that food once it expires (or five years after it expires if you are me and tend to hoard).
If you just keep surplus levels of foods that people in your house already enjoy and consume as a normal part of their lives, you are able to just rotate your supplies (first in, first out) to avoid large amounts of waste.
We buy a lot of foods in bulk anyway because there are seven of us, so it’s not unusual for our family to be buying the big case of granola bars from Sam’s Club or Costco. Just make sure the older box gets opened first. When I’m on top of my game, the newest box is taken to the basement, and the older box is carried upstairs to the improvised pantry (really just a cheap plastic shelf hidden in a hallway).
Update: Since the time this post was originally published, we’ve converted a coat closet to pantry shelving to store most of our emergency supplies (which came in quite handy during the COVID-19 quarantine). You might want to check out that DIY Closet Makeover.
Power Outage Foods Requiring No Refrigeration and No Cooking
1.) Peanut Butter (or other nut butters)
Obviously, if you have peanut allergies, you should not stock a bunch of peanut butter, but for those of us who consume peanut butter without issues, this is a great emergency food. I prefer the plastic jars over the bulk-sized cardboard canister for survival stores because I think the jars would hold up better in any type of flooding, hurricane, or tornado.
Peanut butter is a good source of protein, and it’s fairly filling. If you have bread, you can make sandwiches. You could roll it in a tortilla or eat it with crackers or pretzels.
Jelly has a long shelf life, so if that makes the peanut butter easier to stomach, keep it on hand as well. The more expensive squeeze bottle would likely be even better in an emergency because it won’t require another spoon or knife to wash. Honey is also great drizzled on peanut butter, and it’s healthier.
2.) Tuna Pouches
Tuna by the pouch is a little more expensive than the canned tuna, so I buy the cans for normal use. However, I like to keep some pouches in the back of the cabinet just in case of a power outage. You just have to be careful to watch the expiration date. Replace them shortly before they expire, and use all the older ones.
The pouches also come in a variety of flavors with various herbs or seasonings, so in a power outage where you might not have something like mayo to mix with the tuna, the flavored kind would be better as a standalone. Tuna can also be served on bread, tortilla shells, or crackers.
If you don’t like tuna, canned chicken could be a substitute, but try to find the cans with the pop top.
3.) Applesauce Cups or Other Fruit Cups
You can find applesauce, diced pears and peaches, fruit cocktail, and so on in the single serve cups with the peel-off lid. Crackers dipped in applesauce taste a little bit like apple pie. Be sure to keep some plastic cutlery on hand too, since you won’t necessarily have extra water for washing.
Crackers have a decent shelf life and can be paired with the peanut butter, tuna, or applesauce. I can get crackers cheaper at Aldi, but I’ve more recently started buying the name brand crackers that offer the short stacks. We end up wasting half the crackers if we open the full sleeves. A little bit higher cost upfront turns out to be a better value in this case because the short stacks are just the right size.
5.) Beek Jerky and Meat Sticks
Jerky and meat sticks are especially nice to have on hand if you are in an area that might be evacuated. They’re easy to throw in a bag and take in the car. These are items we always take in the van for any road trip. They pair nicely with cheese, and cheese can go longer than most refrigerated foods before it spoils. If possible, eat them with the cheese left in your fridge before you let it spoil.
Duke’s makes a variety of Smoked SHORTY Sticks that are free of nitrates, MSG, and preservatives. You can find more about those on my Instagram posts here and here. I did receive these products free for sampling and thought they would be a great emergency food item to stock.
6.) Nuts, Seeds, Trail Mix, and Dried Fruits
I buy the big packages of single-serving bags of peanuts and cashews from Sam’s anyway. You can also get the single-serving bags of trail mix there. These are great for taking along to athletic events, so I always have them. They’re relatively cheap. You can find sunflower seeds and all sorts of dried fruit at Aldi.
7.) Canned Chili
Canned chili tastes better if heated, but it doesn’t absolutely have to be heated. You can use it to make a burrito with tortilla shells. The Hormel cans now have the pop top, so they don’t even require a can opener.
If the stuff in your fridge is still edible, you can even use it to make what my cousin introduced to us as “college nachos.” College nachos have cream cheese, canned chili, and shredded cheese served with tortilla chips or corn chips.
8.) Granola Bars & Cereal Bars
These are pretty self-explanatory. Many on the market are nothing more than a glorified candy bar where nutrition is concerned, but they do travel well, have a decent shelf life, and are affordable. Amazon actually has some nice variety packs.
9.) Boxed “Milk”
The milk in your fridge will be one of the first items to spoil with no electricity. Boxed coconut, almond, or rice milk could serve as a substitute. I personally avoid soy because it’s a hormone disrupter and may be one of the contributing factors in earlier ages of puberty for girls today and a number of other hormonal problems. You can read more about that in 5 Ways Soy Upsets Hormone Balance by Dr. Edward Group.
Coconut milk is my favorite. I use it daily to soak my chia seeds overnight (which I add to my homemade Greek yogurt in the morning). Some of my kids don’t like the slight coconut taste, but they are fine with almond milk. We use either coconut or almond milk in the Easy Spinach Fruit Smoothies we taught you how to make in this video post.
None of my kids will drink boxed milk as a standalone beverage (maybe if we added chocolate syrup). Having boxed milk on hand though gives you another viable no-cook meal option if you pour it over . . .
When you pour boxed milk over cereal, you can barely tell the difference. Don’t let your kids see you pouring it, and they will likely never know. Remember the story in my last post about the teenage boy who ate Nana’s Quick and Easy No-Bake Banana Pudding every single week at youth group until he found out there was whipped topping in it (which he apparently hates), and then he would never eat it again?
That’s probably how your kids will be if they see you putting almond milk on their cereal, but the difference in the taste really isn’t that noticeable on cereal.
Plan Ahead to Keep Your Family Fed in Emergency Circumstances
With just a little bit of intentional buying, you can keep a variety of Emergency Foods on hand for any power outage. This is definitely not meant to be a conclusive list. You should stock items your own family prefers and will actually eat. You should make your shopping list based on what’s readily available at a good price in your area.
We would love to hear what emergency foods you keep on hand for a power outage. Let us know in the comments!
If you found this post helpful, please like, share, tweet, pin, follow, and subscribe to The House That Never Slumbers!
You may also enjoy: