June 7th, 2007

mango&lime’s Hurricane Survival (Food) Guide


It’s that time again — hurricane season — and we’re hearing it from all fronts: Prepare, prepare, prepare. So how do you prepare to eat during a hurricane?

Stock up

The Florida Department of Health recommends:

* 1 gallon bottled water per person per day
* Ready-to-eat canned meats, chicken or fish
* Canned fruits, vegetables and beans
* Peanut butter
* Cereal, cereal bars, crackers
* Evaporated, powdered or UHT boxed milk
* Canned, bottled or boxed juice
* Nuts and dried fruit mixes

Check out Critical Miami’s Hurricane Shopping Guide and the St. Pete Times Hurricane Grocery List for more on shopping.

Keep things chilly

Under a hurricane warning:

* Turn your fridge and freezer to the coldest settings.

* Fill plastic containers with water and place them in the freezer — if you have space. This will keep things cooler longer in there when the power’s out.

When the power’s gone:

*Move the snacks and drinks you think you’ll go through the quickest — or the ones you’ll crave the most — to a cooler with ice or frozen packs (hint, hint, you may want to have these on hand before the hurricane). This will minimize the amount of times you open the fridge. Refrigerated foods will remain safe to consume for four hours if the refrigerator is kept closed.

* Frozen foods will keep frozen for up to 48 hours in a full freezer (24 hours if not full) if you keep it closed. The closer foods are to each other, the longer they’ll keep cool.

* If you have a thermometer, place it inside the refrigerator so you know when the temperature goes below 40 degrees.


Eat your food in this order:

  1. Fresh foods and foods in the refrigerator
  2. Foods from the freezer — that is if you have a way of heating or cooking foods.
  3. Canned goods and foods that can survive without refrigeration.

When in doubt, throw it out

Here are some foods that can be safely kept above 40 degrees for 2 to 3 days:

* Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (in a can or jar)
* Butter and margarine, wrapped or in a covered container
* Uncut raw fruits and vegetables
* Peanut butter, jelly, relish, taco sauce, mustard, catsup, olives, pickles
* Worcestershire, soy and barbeque sauces
* Vinegar-based dressings
* Dried and candied fruits and dates
* Hard cheeses (Cheddar, Colby, Swiss, Parmesan, Provolone, Romano)
* Processed cheese
* Opened canned fruits and juices
* Bread, rolls, cakes, muffins, quick breads and tortillas
* Waffles, pancakes and bagels
* Fresh mushrooms, herbs and spices

For more on this, go to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s guide to Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency. For their list of what to throw out and when in PDF, click here. For more on food shelf life and storage, enter the name of the food in the Food Marketing Institute’s Food Keeper.

Be creative

Just because you’re stuck in your house, possibly in the dark, doesn’t mean you can’t eat well. Be creative using your resources. Prepare a cheese and cold cut plate soon after power goes out and eat it with crackers so it doesn’t go to waste. Eat hummus and pita bread or fill the pita bread with canned tuna or chicken. Mix a variety of canned beans for a colorful salad.

Hurricane-proof recipes coming soon…

[tags] hurricanes, emergency preparedness, food safety, food storage [/tags]

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4 Responses to “mango&lime’s Hurricane Survival (Food) Guide”

  1. I have to warn you about putting large amounts of water into a freezer: it can have the effect of thawing it out until the water has had a chance to chill and freeze. Best to start several days in advance than plop it in just before the storm.

    Better still, grab a few bags of ice, instead. I did this for Katrina. I stuffed two bags into the freezer (filling in all the void space) and distributed the rest in pitchers and bowls in my fridge.

    And adding ice to the fridge helped me keep it cool enough to store my food there for 5 days. By which point I was on to my canned and dried goods until the power came back a few days later.

    Make sure you have a thermometer for your fridge and freezer!

  2. CL – Thanks for the tips! I did wonder why you would fill bags with water, rather than buying ice.

  3. Why bags of water? Because it’s cheaper than buying ice. And as long as you just do one bag at a time over several days, it works fine. In fact, because you end up with large blocks of ice, it probably lasts longer than bags of cubes.

    I never understand why people buy all that bottled water. I invested in a water filter, so I have all the water I need. After all, ALL the water you purchase is processed the exact same way. Bottled water is for suckers.

    I have a couple of collapsible water bottles I use for camping and boat trips. They store flat and hold 2 gallons each. And they have a convenient dispenser spout.

  4. Very useful guide and tips on hurricane survival. Many thanks for sharing them with us. But, commenting this article I would like to note that it is very difficult to be creative in the most difficult time.

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