Preparing to cook when the power is out

Usually in emergency situations, the power goes out and your refrigerator, freezer, and oven become useless.

Stocking your kitchen with the right ingredients and equipment ensures that you’ll be able to prepare healthy meals even in times of crisis.

Fresh water is number one on the list. Keep a minimum of one gallon of water per person, per day, and an extra stash for pets. “If stored water was bottled at home, we recommend replacing it every 6 months, and if it was commercially bottled, it should be replaced each year,” says  the Red Cross.

Sure, dried oatmeal keeps well in your pantry, but trying to make breakfast without hot water or electricity may be hard to do. Plus, you may be in a situation where you need to avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you’re sure it’s not contaminated. In that case, we think granola bars look better all the time, and bonus: You don’t need a bowl or spoon.

Canned fruits and veggies keep for long periods of time. Same goes for proteins like canned fish or meats.

Nuts, dried fruits and meats can also be good sources of nutrition, but keep an eye on expiration dates as these items don’t keep forever.

When stocking your emergency pantry, consider buying single-serve items. No, they’re not environmentally friendly thanks to all that packaging, but they are a better choice if you end up in an extended power outage and refrigeration is not an option.

Also, in the case of a hurricane or other event where you may have time to prepare, turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings and keep the doors closed for as long as possible.

Lunch meats, meat salads, raw meat, poultry, seafood, raw eggs, soft cheeses, milk, cream, mayonnaise, and leftovers are the most perishable foods that should be cooked and eaten or moved to the freezer (this will keep them at a safe temperature for a longer period of time) or into a cooler packed with ice.

“While stocking your emergency kit and pantry, it’s important to think about what you need from shelf-to-mouth to consume each item. Make sure you have the appropriate utensils and kitchen equipment to open cans, and think about whether or not items can be consumed raw or will need to be heated,” says Red Cross spokesperson Attie Poirier.

Equipment that will come in handy: a manual can opener, waterproof matches, heavy-duty aluminum foil, paper towels, paper plates, plastic utensils and cups, dry ice packs, an outdoor grill or camp stove, and fuel for cooking.

Remember, just because you don’t have electricity, you can still cook!

Gas ranges, wood fireplaces, outdoor grills, a small campfire, or a camp stove are all ways you can cook a meal. Propane, gas grill, and barbecues should only be used in an open, well ventilated area, preferably outdoors.

Use up the most perishable foods first. Ask your family if there are any favorite comfort foods that will help cheer them. Be creative; use your spices and seasonings to jazz up pantry items.

Lastly, and this is just one guy’s opinion…pack some of your favorite sweets and snacks. These emergency situations are very stressful and can be frightening, especially for children. Sharing a favorite bag of chips, or making s’mores in the fireplace can provide some much needed comfort while waiting for the lights to come back on!

If you, or someone you know, concerned about the lights going out here pretty soon…here’s a list of easy, great tasting meals you can “cook” without electricity.

Print it quick!

Chef Perry

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