Top 10 Foods to Stock Up On Before a Hurricane

When hurricanes strike, severe winds can topple power lines and strand communities without power for days or weeks. Those without electricity still need nutritious foods during the aftermath, but cut power could mean spoiled provisions, improper nutrition and possible dehydration. A hurricane’s destruction can also ravage local roads and grocery stores, leaving hurricane victims relying solely on their home rations. 

Just as you would take steps to prepare your home or business ahead of a hurricane, you should also ensure your pantry is filled with long-lasting, nourishing foods. Stockpiling the right foods can help you, your family and your work team stay healthy even without cold storage and supermarkets. To remain energized amidst a storm’s destruction, stock your property with the foods below and set yourself up for success this hurricane season.

Which Foods to Stock Up On Before a Hurricane?

  1. Canned Fish

Our list begins with shelf-stable, protein-heavy offerings that can provide energy and help you feel full, even during a power outage. Canned fish is among the best of these options.

Canned fish, like other canned foods, is a great choice for hurricane preparation because it can be stored for a long time without refrigeration. Among canned options, canned fish has unique nutritional benefits like omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins that set it apart as a prime food to stockpile. Fish canned with edible bones, like sardines, also offer a high amount of calcium

For the healthiest options, look for products that contain less sodium and are packed in water to help you stay hydrated. Some popular and healthier canned fish varieties include light tuna, salmon and mackerel. 

Just be sure you have a manual can opener to open these and other canned foods if the electricity is out.

  1. Canned and Shelf-Stable Meats

Other canned meats, like Vienna sausages, offer a storable source of savory protein. The meat can last two to five years unopened, and the fully-cooked varieties can be consumed immediately after opening.

Other pre-packaged cooked meats, like dried jerky, provide assorted protein-packed flavors and do not require preparation. Although canned and shelf-stable meats are highly processed, meats with lower sodium and fat can offer comparatively healthier options.

  1. Peanut Butter

Peanut butter allows for a creamy (or crunchy) way to increase protein intake as a plant-based alternative to the prior meat options. Like canned fish and shelf-stable meats, peanut butter also has a long shelf life due to its natural high-fat content and added oils. The spread is also calorie-dense, so even a smaller serving can provide sustaining energy. Stock up on peanut butter varieties that are low in added sugar and sodium. You can use it on bread for a sandwich meal or on crackers for a hearty snack.

More generally, nuts can introduce varied nutrients and texture to your post-hurricane diet. The long-lasting, crunchy snack can provide varying health benefits, like possibly helping reduce the risk of heart disease. Pick up varieties like almonds, walnuts and cashews for a diverse mix of calorie-rich nutrients.

  1. Protein Bars

For quick, zero-prep cuisine to stockpile ahead of a storm, pick up protein bars. Like nuts and nut butters, protein bars often have a long shelf life, are calorie-dense and provide a good energy source. Certain varieties come with added vitamins and minerals for an additional health perk. 

The bars’ compact size makes them easy to store in a hurricane preparedness kit or quickly pack if you need to evacuate before the storm hits. If you stay behind and begin recovering your business or home after a storm, protein bars can help sustain your energy level amidst your work.

Flavors range from chocolate chip cookie dough to lemon cake and many more, so you can pick options that suit your taste. However, pay attention to the protein bar’s purpose when consuming them to help you correctly energize. Some bars are designed as a full meal replacement, while others are meant to be enjoyed as a snack with other foods.

  1. Canned and Dried Fruits

Add canned fruit to your pre-hurricane grocery list for a refreshing and healthy alternative to protein products. Canned fruit without added sugar or syrups can help you add additional nutrients to your diet while still offering durable storage. The high water content of most canned fruits can also help you stay hydrated while recovering from a hurricane.

In addition to canned fruit, consider stocking specific whole fruits with a prolonged shelf life, like apples and oranges. Fresh fruits can provide nutritious and tasty fare but will expire much quicker than canned varieties. Avoid stockpiling fresh berries and bananas which can spoil quickly.

Dried fruits, like banana chips, prunes and craisins, on the other hand, are longer-lasting and require no refrigeration but can still help satisfy your sweet tooth. Try mixing dried fruits with the aforementioned nuts for a homemade trail mix.

  1. Canned Vegetables

Stock up on canned vegetables for additional vitamins, minerals and fiber during a hurricane. This affordable choice comes with a long shelf life so you can stockpile healthy choices for a power outage. Canned vegetables, like corn, carrots and peas, provide varying flavors and offer several health benefits.

Additionally, consider buying canned beans due to their high fiber and plant-based protein content. Popular protein-heavy varieties include black beans, chickpeas and kidney beans. As with other canned foods, look for low-sodium and no-sugar-added options.

  1. Canned Soups and Pasta

Before disaster strikes, you can stock up on canned soups and pasta to add even more variety to meals when electricity is out. For canned soups, popular varieties include chicken noodle, tomato, lentil and minestrone. Cans of pasta, like ravioli and spaghetti, offer a shelf-stable take on pasta dishes that can be stored unopened for a long time and enjoyed with minimal to no preparation.

Both canned soups and pasta can be enjoyed out of the can without heating. However, if you have safe access to a charcoal grill or camp stove, you can warm the soups and pasta to enhance the flavor even when the power is out. Be sure to operate these cooking appliances outside, as they pose a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if used indoors. Additionally, always use proper cooking equipment on these devices to heat your food safely and effectively.

  1. Crispy Snacks

Crackers, chips, pretzels and other crispy snacks can provide appetizing variety and texture to your post-hurricane menu. Crispy snacks often have extended storage life and can complement other foods you have. Pairing crackers with tuna, for example, can make for a filling and energy-rich snack.

However, be aware of the sodium content of the crispy snacks. Higher sodium can raise blood pressure and cause increased thirst. For chips, you can opt for low-sodium and baked varieties to make the offerings healthier than standard fried chips. 

For other storm snacks with a crispy consistency, you can purchase cereals and granola. Look for low-sugar and high-fiber offerings to help curb hunger and provide steady energy. You can also stock up on shelf-stable milk or milk alternatives to pour on the cereal for a breakfast-time treat. And speaking of treats…

  1. Treats

Shelf-stable treats and desserts can provide a bright spot and break up the monotony of otherwise similar, utilitarian meals while weathering out a storm. Gummy fruit snacks, toaster pastries, packaged cookies and hard candies can bring shimmers of joy during the darkest moments of a post-hurricane power outage.

Additionally, single-serve pudding cups, while not as fresh as an exquisite homemade dessert, offer the advantage of pre-sealed serving sizes to eliminate leftover storage when refrigeration is not an option. Stock up on your favorite shelf-stable treats, but be aware of the hidden costs of consistently not-so-healthy food choices.

  1. Drinks

Staying hydrated is essential, particularly following a hurricane’s devastation. Hurricanes can impact water treatment plants and contaminate public water supplies, so it is important to have access to clean water and hydrating drinks in a storm’s wake.

While not a food item, water is one of the most important items to buy for post-hurricane recovery and deserves a spot on any hurricane preparation list. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends at least one gallon of water per person per day and more if possible. People who are ill or in hot areas should have access to even more water. Consider purchasing both individual bottles and gallons to ensure each household member is well-stocked.

Shelf-stable protein shakes can also provide hydration with the added benefit of protein. Look for shakes that do not require refrigeration. For additional liquids, stock up on sports drinks and canned or boxed milk for more variety and hydration.

Additional Tips to “Hurricane-Proof” Your Pantry

To help round out your pre-storm grocery trips, consider picking up the items below to “hurricane-proof” your pantry:

  • Stock up on pet food and ensure your furriest family members are safe for hurricane season.
  • Buy condiments and seasonings, like pepper, honey and hot sauce, to add flavor to otherwise simple meals. You can even get creative with unique shelf-stable offerings like chili crisp.
  • Consider purchasing paper plates and plastic silverware for easy disposal.
  • Look for single-serve portion sizes so you do not have to store leftovers in a temperature-controlled environment during a power outage.

Feeding More Than Just Your Family

Take the time to prepare your pantry for hurricanes today. Stock up on the foods and drinks on this list to promote your health, hydration and energy after a storm cuts off electricity. However, even if you and your home are set up for success, your community may be just as impacted by a hurricane and yet far less prepared. 

Emergency food services can help a community or workforce get back on their feet post-hurricane. For example, a turnkey catering company like Cotton Culinary provides not only special event catering but also emergency food services and disaster relief for communities. Cotton Culinary’s emergency food services for hurricane season help businesses restore their operations safely and efficiently. With a fleet of mobile kitchens and the ability to quickly mobilize to a disaster area to provide food and potable water, Cotton Culinary’s emergency food services help mitigate a hurricane’s damage to communities and business owners.

If your workforce or affected region requires food services after a disaster, you can contact Cotton Culinary for emergency relief catering and proven expertise in hurricane recovery. Equipped with the right foods, you and your community can better weather this hurricane season.