Friday, August 16, 2013

The Countdown: 10 Things You Need to Know How To Do Before You Lose Electricity!

#5: Store Shelf Stable Foods

Since we are about to hit the active period during our hurricane season here in the US, I thought it would be beneficial to create a 'Top 10 List' of things you should know how to do without electricity. Most of these things will be extremely important if you had to go without electricity for a few weeks (or longer). However, many of them also apply to power outages of just a few days. So, every Friday, until we countdown to #1, I will highlight a necessary skill to keep your house running as 'normal' as possible. Once you learn about these 10 things, you should be able to keep your house running normally during any power outage from a few days to a few months or longer, if that becomes necessary.

I do want to mention, none of these things will include the use of a generator. While generators do work short term, IMHO, there is no way you can store enough gasoline to keep the generator running for a long term outage. My strategy is to use 18th and 19th century skills to keep my house running. I don't even own a generator. 

I created this 'Top 10 List' and the subject matter and countdown order are mine alone. You may not agree with my list. That is no problem! You are welcome to share your ideas in the comments section. We all learn when differing viewpoints are shared respectfully!


I had someone tell me once that they had plenty of food storage because they had a freezer in the garage and it was full. While I do agree that buying in bulk and freezing is generally a good idea to help you save money, it won't do anything for you in the event of a power outage. In fact, having a freezer full of food during a long power outage is a liability, not an asset. For the first few days of the power outage, you can still eat normally by using up some of the foods in the freezer. What then? I sure hope you have a plan to can or dehydrating everything else you want to save. 

Let's say that you do have a plan to can most of what is in the freezer. Are you going to eat all that ground beef by itself?  Take a few moments to really think about this. How much food do you have in your pantry? If all you have is a box of crackers, some breakfast cereal, and a few cans of peas, what exactly are you going to eat? While I believe a well stocked pantry is essential to riding out life's storms, I know that I am in the minority here. However, going to the other extreme of having nothing in your pantry isn't a good idea either. Waiting until the last moment to go to the store before a storm is stressful at best, (who wants to fight the crowds to stock up?) and foolish at the least. We have all heard about the store shelves that are completely empty before a storm hits. Why not avoid all the stress, and keep a supply of shelf stable foods in your pantry? Even FEMA suggests that all Americans have three days worth of food at home. I suggest that three days isn't enough. After a storm, FEMA isn't going to magically appear in three days. If help arrives at all, history suggests it will be closer to 10 days or so before you will see the Red Cross or FEMA.

Many people tell me they can't afford to stock their pantry. I understand food is expensive. The paycheck doesn't go as far as it used to! Once, someone told me that shelf stable foods were a waste of money for her because she only feeds her family fresh foods. (What, no pasta?) People who don't want to store even a few items will always find a reason not to do it. And if you don't have other people dependent on you for their survival, that is fine. Everyone has agency to choose for themselves. However, if you have others (especially children) dependent on you for their survival, it only makes sense to keep some foods in storage. 

What you store in your pantry will be different from what I store in mine because our families are different. Start with what your family likes. Here is a list of some all-time favorites that are also inexpensive:
  • A box of spaghetti and a can/jar of sauce
  • A can of beans and a package of rice
  • Dried soup mixes
  • A variety of canned vegetables
  • Canned tuna and a package of tuna helper
  • Canned chicken and a package of chicken helper
  • Canned chili with a box of cornbread mix
  • Pancake mix and a bottle of syrup
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Any instant meals that say 'Just Add Water' on the label

It doesn't have to cost a fortune to store shelf stable foods like those listed here. If you clip coupons (and only purchase when the store puts them on sale) you can get them for even less! When you store what your family normally likes to eat, nothing is wasted! Eating these foods now, on a regular basis, means you know your family won't have a problem eating them when the power goes out! 

Need more ideas? Here are a few web sites to help:

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