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It seems like another major hurricane ends up threatening (or actually damaging) the American coast every year or two, causing millions in damages, massive power outages, and even flooding people out of their homes. Clearly, hurricane preparedness is more important than ever. Active hurricane season, which peaks from mid-August to mid-September, is far from over—and now is the time to stockpile emergency foods in your home.
In fact, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends having at least a three-day supply of non-perishable emergency food in your home. And while you may think that eating healthy during a natural disaster is out of the question, it's 100% doable if you take the time to prepare an emergency food supply well in advance.
So what exactly are the best healthy hurricane foods to keep on hand? This hurricane preparedness guide shows you how to build a nutritious food supply full of energizing foods such as canned beans, legumes, vegetables, fish, and boxed oatmeal. You'll also find healthy eating tips, non perishable food lists, and more so that you and your loved ones can survive a storm safely.
During any natural disaster that cuts access to running water and power, the two most important factors for survival are staying hydrated and consuming enough calories. You'll also want to prioritize energy-rich foods high in protein and fiber to help you stay focused in the case of an emergency. Follow these five preparedness tips to make sure your emergency food supply is hurricane-ready.
Stock enough water, no matter what.
Having a sufficient amount of water on hand should be your number one priority during a natural disaster. FEMA recommends at least one gallon of water per person (and pet) each day for hydrating and preparing certain foods. Above all, proper hydration is key to survival—consume at least a half gallon daily, taking into account that children or those who are pregnant will need more. Never ration water, even if your supplies run low. Be aware of alternative safe water sources in your home, such as the hot water tank or pipes, and know how to access them. The Centers for Disease Control has additional information on ensuring safe drinking water during a natural disaster.
Choose comfort foods carefully.
While potato chips and candy bars can be comforting during a stressful time such as a hurricane emergency, try to limit your consumption of these foods. Many processed items are loaded with salt and can encourage dehydration. Also be wary of junk foods with added sugar (like Pop Tarts). Smart choices include baked veggie chips, multi-grain tortilla chips, pita chips, flavored whole-wheat crackers, and dark chocolate candy.
Focus on energy-rich foods.
When relying on a limited food supply, it’s important to choose foods that offer the most bang for their buck energy-wise. Beans, apples, dried figs, and some whole-grain cereals are high in fiber and protein to help keep you full. Foods rich in healthy fats such as salmon, almonds, and walnuts will also help you feel more satisfied after eating.
Consider special dietary needs.
If one of your family members has a food allergy or follows a restricted diet, make sure you have the proper food on hand. From gluten-free to dairy-free to nut-free, stocking safe foods for specific dietary needs is essential when access to a doctor or hospital is limited. Consider emergency medicine such as an EpiPen in the case of an unexpected allergic reaction. If you have high blood pressure, make sure to have low-sodium food options.
Don’t forget kitchen tools and supplies.
You may have all the necessary healthy emergency foods, but do you have the proper tools and utensils for them? Attempting to pry open a can of beans without a can opener puts you at risk for injury—avoid this, and other adverse scenarios by keeping these tools and products on hand:
- Can opener (manual)
- Paring knife
- Aluminum foil
- Food storage containers
- Paper towels
- Plastic utensils
- Paper bowls and plates
- Hand sanitizer
- First aid kit
Healthy eating tips
Approach your emergency food supply the same way you build a balanced plate—consider ways to include vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and lean meat. When it comes to drinking enough water, keep in mind that some foods are naturally hydrating and can help you reach your daily needs. Below are four types of healthy foods you'll want to stow in your home.
High protein foods also tend to be higher in calories and fat, essential nutrients when your food supply is limited. Canned tuna and salmon are excellent sources of protein and pack in omega-3 fatty acids. Canned beans and legumes and unsalted nuts and seeds are also smart protein sources, and can easily be combined with olive oil and vinegar for an easy and hearty salad. Lastly, energy bars are protein-rich, but check the ingredient list beforehand and avoid those with excess added sugar and artificial ingredients.
Consider fresh fruits that don’t need refrigeration such as fiber-rich apples, which can last up to several weeks if stored properly. Dried fruit is also a good option, but try to choose varieties without added sugars—dried figs, apricots, dates, and cranberries are smart options.
Canned vegetables are your best bet when refrigeration isn’t an option—to get the most nutrition, aim to stock a variety of colors including corn, beets, green peas, carrots, and artichoke hearts. Opt for low-sodium when possible.
Like beans and legumes, grains are energy-boosting and filling. Soaking steel-cut oats, bulgur, and whole-grain couscous in water brings them to life overnight, making for perfect ready-to-eat meals, no heat required.
Non-perishable food for hurricanes
Shelf stable, non-perishable food is an essential part of any emergency food kit. These foods have a very long shelf life, don't need refrigeration, or cooking to be consumed. Below, find the best healthy non-perishables to stock. To learn the exact shelf life and best way to store non-perishables, the CDC is an excellent resource.
Before you rush to the grocery store, make sure to check your pantry to see what items you already have on hand, then make your shopping list.
- Beans and legumes such as kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas, and lentils
- Vegetables such as corn, green beans, artichoke hearts, carrots, peas, and beets
- Tuna, salmon, smoked fish, and sardines
- Low-sodium soups
- Dried cranberries, apricots, or figs
Nuts and Seeds
- Almonds, pistachios, cashews
- Sunflower seeds
- Peanut butter
Healthy Snack Foods
- Energy bars
- Trail mix
- Rice cakes
Dry Pet Food
Healthy food list
While they may not necessarily be non-perishable, certain healthy foods can be safely stored at room temperature for extended amounts of time. While some foods such as whole-grain sandwich bread, apples, and olive oil will spoil after time, all can greatly assist in eating healthy during a hurricane emergency. Always check your food for spoilage beforehand to ensure that it’s safe to eat.
- Instant coffee
- Sports drinks with electrolytes (such as Gatorade)
- Evaporated or powdered milk
- Whole grain crackers (such as Triscuit crackers)
- Whole grain sandwich bread
- Whole grain cereals (such as Kashi Whole Grain Cereals)
- Olive oil
- Low-sodium soy sauce
This article originally appeared on Cooking Light.