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Preparing Your Kitchen and Pantry for a Natural Disaster

September 21, 2012 Emily Murray Le Cordon Bleu 0 Comments

Preparing Your Kitchen and Pantry for a Natural Disaster

If disaster strikes are you prepared? Could you feed yourself and your family for several days in the event of a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, or other natural disaster? Your emergency food plan is every bit as important as your other emergency preparations, especially for those of you who live in places more prone to disaster like coastlines, flood plains, tornado alley, quake zones, etc.

If severe weather and other natural disasters are common in your area, you probably already have some type of emergency plan in place. You know where the batteries are. You know where the first aid supplies are. You may even have a secondary shelter for protection. But what about your food supply? Do you have enough? Do you have the right type? How long can your supplies last.

What to Store and Why

Most emergency preparedness experts suggest enough supplies to last for 7 days. This is an excellent starting point, but if you live in rural area or have special dietary needs, you may want to stock for more. One month should get you through nearly any natural situation until help arrives.

Here are 7 tips on preparing your kitchen and pantry for disaster:

  • Stock your emergency pantry with foods that you would eat even without an emergency. Just because a survival website has a great deal on a 55-gallon drum of suet doesn’t mean you should buy it
  • Have plenty of disposable cutlery, plates, napkins. There may not be any running water. Disposable is your friend in times of emergency
  • Store a way of cooking food. Whether it is plenty of cut firewood or portable camp stove, you are going to want a way to heat up your canned soup and beans
  • Don’t worry about your diet. Unless you are on a medically necessary diet, there is no reason to stick to your Paleo, South Beach, Detox, Natural Foods, or whatever else diet. Eat what is available, especially nutrient dense food like beans, dried meats, and dried fruits. Also, you shouldn’t worry about cooking like a culinary school star. You are eating for sustenance and survival. There will be plenty of time for gourmet after the storm has cleared.
  • Do not rely on refrigeration. You may be out of power for a while. Don’t stock pile frozen or refrigerated items that will go bad after a couple of days without electricity.  Stick with canned foods and dry goods
  • Consider MREs. Both active and ex-military love to joke about their experiences with MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), but any food that is capable of sustaining an army is good enough for you. They are nutrient and calorie rich. They are also easily attainable at most sporting good stores and on the Internet
  • Have more water than food. Humans can live for 50 days or more without food, but only a few days under the best of circumstances without water. A good baseline is one gallon per person per day of clean drinking water

Finally, make sure that you are stocking food that is both nutrient and calorie rich. It will do you no good to have an emergency pantry full of Doritos and Kool-Aid. Choose the following foods:

  • Dried meat
  • Dried fruit
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned fish like tuna, sardines, and salmon
  • Canned beans
  • Powdered or canned milk
  • Grains like rice, flower, and other dried goods

And don’t forget seasonings, salt, pepper, and sweeteners like honey and sugar. Just because the power is off doesn’t mean your food should taste bad. Again, don’t worry about cooking school quality meals. You and your family will be in an emergency situation. Availability of food is more important than quality.

Go to http://www.ready.gov to get more disaster preparedness information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency

This article is presented by Le Cordon Bleu. Le Cordon Bleu offers culinary arts, pâtisserie and baking, hospitality and restaurant management training programs across the United States. To learn more about the class offerings, please visit Chefs.edu for more information.
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