What to Eat When the Power Goes Out
By Daisy Luther
When you’re in for some turbulent weather, do you head to the store with a list entitled, “Food for Power Outage?” Or do you already have a supply of food for power outages that you keep carefully hidden from your family? Many folks these days don’t have a way to cook when the power goes out, so that should be considered when creating your supply of the best foods for a power outage. If you don’t already have a stockpile of non-perishable food, it’s time to build one.
In my family, a power outage means party time and some foods we that we do not usually indulge in. Of course, we do have backup cooking methods for heating food when the electricity goes out, but if the event is going to be short-term, we usually focus on food that doesn’t need to be cooked.
While you may have a fireplace or woodstove, in the summer you won’t want to heat the house up with it, and during a storm, you won’t want to stand outside in the rain cooking on the barbecue. So, during a short-term power outage, it makes life easier in many cases to eat things that don’t require much in the way of preparation.
What non-perishable food should you buy when a storm is coming?
The radio and preparedness websites always tell you to stock up on non-perishable food, but what is it?
Non-perishable foods are items that are shelf-stable and will not spoil if left out at room temperature for a long period of time. Some examples of non-perishable foods are:
- Canned goods
- Packaged dry food (like potato flakes or pasta dishes)
- Cheese or peanut butter crackers
- Beef jerky
- Fruit cups
- Granola bars
Dried goods like beans and grains are also non-perishable, but they aren’t very practical for a power outage.
The Best Food for Power Outages
Depending on your budget, on what is available, and your diet, here are some ideas for food to eat when the power goes out.
- Graham crackers with peanut butter or almond butter
- Protein shakes – my favorite is Reserveage Organics (in chocolate, of course!)
- Saltines with peanut butter
- Fresh fruit (apples, oranges, bananas)
- Canned juice
- Trail mix (this is our favorite)
- Dry cereal
- Cereal with rehydrated dry milk
- Canned baked beans with ham
- Pudding cups
- Canned fruit
- Jerky (This one is organic)
- Pouches of pre-cooked and seasoned rice or quinoa
- Granola bars – we like Kind bars (my favorites is Dark Chocolate, Nuts, & Sea Salt)
- Dried Fruits: apricot, mango, banana, raisins, cranberries, pineapple, figs
- Sandwiches: Peanut butter and jelly, tuna, leftovers from the fridge before they spoil
Following are some “recipes” for power outage food. Okay, “recipe” is a stretch – perhaps just some “tasty combinations”. 🙂
- No-Power Nachos
Layer organic tortilla chips with canned cheese sauce, salsa, and canned jalapenos
- Blackout ‘Smores
Top graham crackers with chocolate-nut spread and marshmallow fluff
Soft tortillas filled with canned meat, a touch of mustard or mayo, and veggies from the fridge
- No-cook Soft Tacos
Soft tortillas with canned meat (we use our home canned chicken or taco meat for this), salsa, and canned cheese sauce
- Main Dish Tuna Salad
Combine a can of tuna, a can of white beans, chopped onion, chopped peppers and chopped black olives (veggies are optional). Top with Italian dressing mixed with dijon mustard to taste.
- Pudding Cones
Drain canned fruit of choice and stir it into vanilla pudding. Serve in ice cream cones for a kid-friendly treat. (We do this with yogurt also.)
- Mexican Bean Salad
Combine 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed; with 1 can of organic corn, drained. For the dressing mix 1/2 jar of salsa; 1/2 tsp each of chili powder, onion powder, and garlic powder; 3 tbsp of lemon juice. Toss well. Serve as a salad, in a soft tortilla or mixed with a pouch of pre-cooked rice.
Do you have any no-cook ideas for the stockpile? Please share them in the comments section!
What should you do about food in the refrigerator when the power goes out?
If you’re pretty sure the event is short-term, keep the refrigerator door closed to help prevent the food inside from spoiling. (Here’s a chart to help determine if the food is safe to eat or not.) For food safety purposes, it’s a good idea to grab a digital thermometer so that you can tell what the temperature is in your refrigerator and freezer. I keep one of these in the fridge and one in the freezer.
If you do get items from the refrigerator, plan it out so you can quickly grab all the things and then close the door again to help maintain the temperature while the electricity is out.
If it appears to be a longer-term event, you’re going to want to make a plan for the food in your refrigerator and freezer to help prevent it from going to waste. If you have a way to pressure can without power, you can learn how to preserve your meat and vegetables before they go to waste in this book.
- Some ways to use up the food before it spoils:
- Put the items you’d most hate to lose into a cooler full of ice. (For us, that’s meat and cream for our coffee)
- Eat refrigerated leftovers, fruits, and vegetables first.
- Make sandwiches and put them in the cooler.
- Throw a barbecue and invite all the neighbors. It’s better than throwing it out, right?
If you do end up having to dispose of food, try to bag it up and put it in the outdoor garbage can before it begins to decompose. The stench is terrible and you will never, ever get it out of your freezer. I learned this horrifying lesson when a repairman unplugged my freezer for one of his tools and failed to plug it back in. I discovered the error 3 weeks later. Really, that’s all the detail you need to know. Trust me.
Use disposable items to conserve water during a power outage.
If you are on well-water, if the power goes out, you will probably not have any running water. As well, even if you are on city water, the fluid from the taps may be contaminated and may not be hot. To circumvent a few difficulties, we stock up on disposable goods to use during power outages:
- Styrofoam plates
- Paper towels and napkins
- Plastic cutlery
- Baby wipes
- Disinfecting wipes
- Plastic cups
Even if you’re normally very eco-friendly, you will find that these items make your life during a power outage so much easier.
Are you looking for other power outage resources?
Here are some articles that may help!
- Last-Minute Emergency Supplies: What to Buy When the Shelves Are Almost Empty
- “I’m bored”: 30 Ways to Keep Kids Entertained When the Power Goes Out
- 8 Prepper Hacks for Cleaning Without Running Water
- Getting Started: Prepping for a Two Week Power Outage
- How to Survive a Summer Power Outage
- Staying Warm During a Winter Power Outage