Food storage for short-term emergencies

Food storage for short-term emergencies

Food storage for short-term emergencies

By Marsha McCormick

OSU extension

SNAP-Ed PA, Adams County

Now that the winter weather has finally arrived, it’s a good time to plan and have some emergency food on hand in case you should find yourself snowed in for a few days. Keep in mind that your home may be without power after a winter storm, so focus on non-perishable foods that require little preparation and make sure you have a manual can opener in the house.

While nutrition may not be the first thing you think of during an emergency, it is important that you not only have enough calories but also a variety of foods to ensure that you can stay healthy while dealing with other more pressing issues. Of course, make sure you have some bottled water available if your water supply is interrupted. Food you choose to fill up on will be dictated by the number of people in your house and their personal preferences. However, you may want to consider including some hearty snacks like peanut butter and whole grain biscuits, granola bars and trail mix. If you want to make your own trail mix, fill up with a variety of nuts, whole grains and dried fruit. You can also add some chocolate chips or small chocolate candies to your trail mix as an added treat.

Foods from the protein group, including tuna, salmon and canned chicken, will come in handy if you are at home for more than 24 hours. These can be paired with your whole grain biscuits, cheese or fresh apples, celery and carrots. While most of us prefer canned beans heated, they can be used cold in a bean salad or wrapped in a tortilla peel with some canned meat or vegetables to add protein to meals.

Durable milk or milk powder can be helpful, especially if you have children in your home. String cheese will also provide much-needed calcium and some protein if milk is not available.

Fresh fruits like apples, oranges and bananas can be stored at room temperature, and raw vegetables like carrots, celery and broccoli can also be eaten as a healthy snack. Commercially canned fruits and vegetables are both safe to eat directly from the can, but do not eat canned vegetables at home without heating them first.

If you have a heat source available, canned soups can also be a quick meal, as can other staples like pasta, rice and macaroni and cheese mixes. During a power outage, you can choose to use an outdoor grill to cook and heat food, make sure it is in a well-ventilated area, and never use an indoor grill. It may be a good idea to keep an old, heavy pan or frying pan on the grill for emergency use if you are not in the habit of using your grill this way.

Make your emergency meal plan today so you are ready for the coming winter. For more information, contact the Adams County Extension Office at (937) 544-2339 or email me at

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