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Hurricane kits: We asked readers what food and drink they stock up on

The responses might offer inspiration for getting your own kit in shape.
Even a minimal storm could affect power for days. Here are some of the supplies you should have in your hurricane kit.
Even a minimal storm could affect power for days. Here are some of the supplies you should have in your hurricane kit. [ Times (2009) ]
Published Sep. 16, 2020
Updated Sep. 16, 2020

We asked Tampa Bay Times readers what they keep stocked in their hurricane food kits. Here are some of the responses. They’ve been edited for clarity and length.

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

1. Almond milk cartons, six of them

2. Cans of roast beef, chicken breast, tuna, dried chipped beef

3. Canned vegetables are always stocked in surplus

4. Cans of canned milk and canned cream

5. Canned fruit

6. I have filled empty gallons of almond milk with water for drinking and also flushing toilets.

— Laurel Gonzalez

Parmalat containerized pasteurized milk needs no refrigeration. Powdered milk in water is also a good alternative for growing children. … As many sailors and many backpackers know, a hand-operated reverse osmosis watermaker can be used to convert seawater to freshwater, and purify it at the same time with a UVC light. Very helpful for people who live really close to saltwater. — Dr. Marc S. Berger

Cheese!!!!! I can’t live without it and it comes in all sorts of prepackaged forms. Dried fruit, such as apple slices and apricots. Fresh fruit too, such as small apples. Something resembling bread, such as Ry-crisp or rice cakes; you have to have something to put that peanut butter on. A picnic knife with a sheath. Sometimes you have to cut stuff and those plastic knives won’t do it. Parmalat for those little boxes of cereal that you can eat out of. — Rita Moore

We are 2 people who primarily eat plant foods. The current stock includes home-canned black beans, pinto beans, greens beans, turnips and tomatoes. Black-eyed peas, rice (minimum 20 pounds), barley, cornmeal, grits, dried figs, raisins and pasta make up the dried goods. We froze turnip greens, mustard greens, pineapple, strawberries. (As I read this I realize next year we need to can more fruits.) There is a little frozen meat and commercially canned fish. There are very few snacks. At any given point there are two to seven days of fresh vegetables on hand. Somebody once advised to not keep hurricane supplies you would not normally eat. We regularly eat and replenish our food stock.

— Jim

I keep quinoa quick cups (with artichoke and roasted peppers) that I picked up at Costco earlier this year, along with canned breast meat chicken. It makes a tasty meal and is shelf-stable. I also keep canned fruit and canned green beans (add chopped onions, oil and vinegar) — again pretty tasty. I also pick up beef jerky, peanut butter and jelly, and snack bars. — Gail Chouinard

Pepperidge Farm Nantucket cookies. Also tuna and salmon in foil packets to eat on crackers. — Marcia Gunnoe

The foods I like to keep on hand include a variety of nuts, not necessarily salted. My preferences are cashews, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecans and macadamia; sometimes Brazil nuts. They make you feel full and curb hunger pangs. I keep plenty of bottled water on hand, not necessarily cold water. Peanut butter, grain bread, rice cakes and cereal works as well. I might stash a few sweets like non-melting candy or cookies. — Alice DeVille

First of all: dog and cat food.

Tuna fish

Peanut butter

Jelly

Bread

Crackers

Small Jell-Os that don’t need refrigeration

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Dry cereal (it can be eaten dry for a snack)

Snickers bars

Cookies

— Jane Levin

I have been in the Tampa area for 10-plus years now, having moved from Broward County. Before that I lived in coastal North Carolina, so I have seen my share of hurricanes and tropical storms. I have lost power for more than a week at a time, but have never really had to throw away much of my perishable food as a result of careful planning. I start by buying ice and putting the bags in my crisper drawers. My fruits and vegetables usually stored in these drawers will not spoil on my counter. Then I open the door only when absolutely necessary. As for my frozen foods, when the power goes out and I can no longer use my electric stove, as with the refrigerator I open only when necessary and most of these foods will stay frozen for at least 2-3 days. These are the foods I cook first. Who ever said you can’t eat shrimp cocktail for breakfast?

... As for shelf-stable foods ... we always have bread and crackers available. If regular bread isn’t available, hot dog or hamburger buns work just as well. Cheese can be kept at room temperature (in fact it tastes best that way). Peanut butter is an essential. Canned soup, tuna, salmon, chicken are also in my pantry, along with canned vegetables. Cold cereal is there too, along with shelf-stable milk. — Michelle Atkins Schaefer

Some canned goods. Creamed corn, beets, Chef Boyardee ravioli, peas. Chunky soups. I also have several bins of freeze-dried entrees. Nearly a year’s worth. Black painted mason jars for warming up water in the sun. A small solar “oven” to heat water. Purifier straws for water. I clean out and fill the large jugs cat litter comes in and fill them with water. I fill the tub. I also keep a bin of cat food for my kitties. And large jugs of juices. — Linda Terrell

In response to your query about food stocks held for a hurricane (or other disaster), let me share: In the pantry we (my wife and I) keep about 5-10 meals of nonperishable/canned foods: pasta, crackers, soups, etc. In the fridge, 4-6 meals of breads, eggs, cheeses, lunch meat. In the freezer, 4-6 meals of meats, vegetables, breads. In the closet, for worst case scenario, 6 tubs of 90 survival meals each (shelf life 25 years). We have a generator to run lights and fridge. Water and gasoline are not stored, but will be obtained with warning. — Kenneth Krause Sr.

How we got through Hurricane Irma in 2017 will be our example for the next hurricane. We were without power for five days then. First and foremost, we had a portable generator which ran on liquid propane gas. We had extension cords all over the floor. The ones to the refrigerator and the chest freezer were always plugged in. We were able to run, and depended on, our microwave. ... We ate all our refrigerated food first, which consisted of sandwich meat, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt and milk for cereal. We microwaved our frozen food; we stock up on packaged frozen meals, like Stouffer’s, regularly so that was really no change from normal. We keep a supply of canned meat (chicken, roast beef, tuna, SPAM) in our pantry. I make microwaved stews with canned meat added to canned soups and canned vegetables. Of course, we have a manual can opener. We had a lot of sandwiches, but did run out of bread. ... I also have a supply of things that don’t need cooking, like energy bars, peanut butter, fruit cups, canned fruit, applesauce, cereal, potato chips, crackers, cheese dip, nuts, dried meat. We are more or less ready for the next storm, but you never know what unexpected surprises will arise. — Cathy Outlaw

My hurricane food mostly consists of Progresso soups to be heated up on the side burner on my grill, canned tuna and chicken along with extra bottles of mayo and pickle relish to make it all into tuna or chicken salad. But that’s after the sprint eating of everything in the refrigerator before that stuff spoils. — Bryan Lord

I learned through experience over the years to only stock foods your family actually eats in your hurricane kit. Amongst other things in my hurricane kit, I stock up on Capri-Suns, applesauce cups and Pringles (things that my kids always pack in their school lunches throughout the year anyway), breakfast bars, protein bars and Pop-Tarts (always a favorite here) and instant oatmeal packets (a regular breakfast staple even in non-hurricane times). If we ever have to subsist on the hurricane kit foods, I’m sure we will quickly grow tired of these standard foods, but we will enjoy them at least at the beginning. ...

The past couple of years, I have stashed chips and sweets in a cabinet clearly labeled as: “Hurricane Foods – Don’t Eat Now.” I realize that if we are stuck in a post-hurricane situation for a while, desirable snack foods may help us keep our sanity. Also, to prepare for the possible loss of power during a hurricane, I try to only freeze meat that I have already cooked. That way, if we lose power, I don’t have to worry about raw food going bad. We simply will eat already-cooked taco meat, fajita chicken, chicken and yellow rice, etc., as it thaws and is ready to be consumed. — Dianne Wood

After living in hurricane-prone areas after 26 years I have definitely changed my hurricane emergency food. My hurricane food choices also helped a new neighbor after she looked in my shopping cart at a Publix. ... Besides your standard emergency food list (tuna fish, peanut butter crackers, water, etc.), my hurricane stash has chocolate doughnuts and wine. Why? No refrigeration needed for either! — Anne Costello

We live in Evac Zone A on Clearwater Beach, so we need to be ready! We try to stock high-protein and vitamin-enriched stuff in our kit. We plan on not being able to have electricity, so we’d eat everything cold.

Vitamin Water Zeros

Bottled water and refillable 10-gallon jugs

Lots of ice

Caffeinated water (a MUST, in case you can’t make coffee!)

Gatorade

High-protein One bars

Cheddar cheese slices and Ritz crackers (cheese can also be used to make sandwiches; crackers can go with the soup)

Canned tuna fish

Yogurt-covered pretzels

Peanut butter, jelly and bread

Animal crackers (for sure!)

Trail mixes and nuts

Diet pop (caffeinated and noncaffeinated)

Progresso soups

Tostitos nachos and cheese sauce

Canned baked beans

Bag of M&M’s

24 pack Gu Energy Gel packets (you can get them at any running stores) for easy storage, high energy, very portable quick snacks

Apples

And of course, a manual can opener!

We also have a small dog, so we’ve stocked up on dry food and treats for her.

— Melanie Stanek