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A nutritionist weighs in on what to keep in your hurricane kit

Tips for smartly stocking and using the food and drink in your hurricane kit.
Walmart shopper Diana Calvero, 40, purchases six cases of water and non-perishable foods in preparation of Hurricane Dorian in 2019.
Walmart shopper Diana Calvero, 40, purchases six cases of water and non-perishable foods in preparation of Hurricane Dorian in 2019. [ ALLIE GOULDING | Times ]
Published Sep. 16, 2020

It’s the peak of hurricane season here in Florida, and while many of us have been through it plenty of times, having a well-stocked hurricane kit is not always top of mind for everyone.

But it’s important, especially in an active year like this one. The state recommends having enough shelf-stable food for every family member in your house for up to seven days.

Related: We asked readers what they keep in their hurricane kits

Sometimes, that’s easier said than done. Does anyone really want to eat canned tuna for a week?

We talked to local nutritionist Nan Jensen for some tips on smartly stocking your hurricane food kit — and actually eating the food if the time comes. Here’s what she had to say.

What are the most important things for families to keep in mind when stocking their hurricane food kits?

  • Creating a food shopping list centered around healthy menu ideas is the first step in assembling your hurricane supply kit. Focus on foods that allow you to create balanced meals.
  • Keep in mind the ages of your family members and whether there are any household members with special nutritional needs such as infants, the elderly or those with medical conditions. Remember to include pet food if you have animals.
  • Just before the storm, stock up on whole fresh fruit and vegetables, like apples, bananas, pears, potatoes, tomatoes and cucumbers.
  • Include some of your family’s favorite foods.
  • Don’t forget a manual can opener, paper plates, bowls and disposable eating utensils.
  • Cooking and cleaning supplies should be included in the kit.

In addition to water, are there any other useful beverages to keep in your kit?

Water is the best beverage to have on hand to keep you hydrated. Make sure to have at least 1 gallon per person and pet per day for at least three days or more. Plain water can be jazzed up by adding orange, lime or lemon slices. These fruits when whole don’t require refrigeration, which would be a concern during a storm.

Fruit juice (bottled, canned or in boxes) and shelf-stable milk in single-serving boxes can be included. Sports drinks that provide electrolytes are another option. While beverages like coffee and tea can have caffeine, they are mostly water and can add some variety to your beverage choices.

Do you have any tips for doling out the food should you need to rely on it for a full week?

If you plan meals and snacks to serve your family, you’ll have better control over the food in your hurricane kit. Keep planned written menus that have worked for you and your family. ... Staying hydrated and consuming enough calories are of particular importance. Focus on energy-rich foods high in protein and fiber. Healthy protein choices include chicken, salmon and tuna. Peanut and other nut butters as well as nuts are good choices. Beans, apples, dried figs and whole-grain cereals are good high-fiber choices.

What do you keep stocked in your personal hurricane kit? Any particular indulgences?

I always have peanut butter and nuts on hand as well as apples and citrus fruit that don’t require refrigeration. We have canned vegetables and soups, those that are lower in sodium, canned tuna and chicken, whole-grain crackers and dry dog food for the pets. Pretzels and whole-grain tortilla chips are also family favorites.

As far as an indulgence, I would have to say my personal one is white wine. My husband has a sweet tooth so candy like peanut butter cups and licorice are his go-tos.