Is Your Pantry Hurricane Ready?

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The best way to survive a disaster and to be able to quickly recover is to “be prepared”!! North Carolina Cooperative Extension has prepared some quick Fact Sheets to help you become more disaster ready, below are some Food Ready Tips as well as Food Safety following a power outage or disaster. For additional information contact your local Cooperative Extension office, in Lenoir County the number is 252-527-2191.

It’s no surprise, we are most hungry when a storm is brewing and the power is out! The best way to be ready to feed your family during a power outage is to stock up on foods that do not require cooking. Here are some helpful ideas;


  • Fruit or canned juice
  • Ready-to-eat cereals or breakfast bars
  • Breads or crackers with jams, jellies, margarine, peanut butter, cheese, or cheese spreads
  • Milk (canned, evaporated or reconstituted powdered milk, which may also be used in coffee or tea)*
  • Instant coffee, tea, or cocoa (if tap water is hot enough)

Lunch or Supper

  • Processed cheese or cheese spreads*
  • Canned vegetables*
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned meats, fish, poultry*
  • Canned beans (baked beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, etc.)*
  • Raw vegetables, such as carrots, celery, etc.
  • Fruits (canned or fresh)
  • Bread, crackers, cookies
  • Canned puddings*


Fruits (fresh, canned, dried), milk*, juices, cheeses*, ready-to-eat cereals, nuts and seeds, fruit leathers, crackers, cookies, raw vegetables, raisins, hard candy, granola bars, beef jerky

* These foods must be refrigerated after opening. You will have to eat it all in one sitting

Preparing “No Cook” Food Bags

 If you need to put together “no-cook” bags of food, consider the following items. If people lack refrigeration, consider container size when choosing foods like soups and juices. Make sure the foods can be eaten in one sitting. If people don’t have access to hot water, don’t choose foods that require hot water, like instant hot cereal.

Bread, Cereal, Rice and Pasta Foods

  • Bread
  • Crackers
  • Granola bars
  • Breakfast bars and pastries
  • Cold cereal
  • Canned noodle soups
  • Instant noodle soups


  • Vegetable soup
  • Tomato soup
  • Cans of tomato, carrot, or vegetable juices 


  • Cans of fruit
  • Boxed fruit juices
  • Cans of fruit juice

 Meat, Poultry, Dry Beans, and Nuts

  • Canned goods – tuna, salmon, clams, shrimp, sardines, pork and beans, chili, stew, ravioli, spaghetti, meat spreads, and chicken
  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Jerky
  • Dried meat sticks (that don’t need to be refrigerated after opening)

Calcium-Rich Foods

  • Powdered milk
  • Cocoa mix
  • Canned evaporated milk
  • Shelf-stable boxes of milk
  • Snack puddings
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Snack packages of cheese and crackers

Other Foods

Although the following foods have little nutritional value, they may be something you will want to have around.

  • Instant coffee
  • Tea bags
  • Bouillon
  • Candy
  • Potato chips
  • Snack-size containers of flavored gelatin
  • Sugar

Perishable Foods

The following perishable foods may be available. They are suitable as long as they will be used promptly.


  • Fresh carrots
  • Fresh bell peppers
  • Cucumbers


  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Other firm, fresh fruit

Following a Power Failure, Stay Safe 

 After a power failure, you might not have heat, refrigeration or water. To prepare food when you have no power, follow these guidelines:

Little or no heat or electricity?

  • If you have limited heat for cooking, choose foods that cook quickly.
  • Do not cook frozen foods because they require much more cooking time and heat than canned goods.
  • Eat commercially canned foods straight from the can.

If you can’t use your stove, you can use a:

  • Fireplace.
  • Candle warmer, such as a fondue pot. Do not use a candle warmer to cook raw meats, fish, poultry, and eggs.
  • An outside camp stove and charcoal burner. Never use a fuel-burning camp stove or charcoal burner inside your home, even in a fireplace. Fumes from these stoves can be deadly.

Little or no refrigeration?

  • If you are without refrigeration, open only enough cans or jars of food for one meal. Leftover food in jars and cans cannot be saved.
  • If necessary, substitute canned and powdered milk for fresh milk.
  • Prepare and eat foods in their original containers, if possible.

With the door closed, food in most freezers will stay below 40°F for up to 3 days, even in summer. Thawing rate depends on:

  • The amount of food in the freezer.
  • The kind of food.
  • The temperature of the food.
  • The freezer.
  • The size of freezer.

You may safely re-freeze foods that still contain ice crystals or that have been kept at 41°F or below.

Little or no safe water?

  • Substitute liquids from canned vegetables for water in unsweetened cooked dishes.
  • All water from questionable sources that will be used in food preparation must be boiled for at least 10 minutes before use.