So, how do you prepare for being without power for an extended period of time and still provide healthy and delicious meals? Read on …
Essentials to always have on hand:
- Sandwich maker (other than a panini maker)
- Waffle iron
- Slow cooker
- Hot plate
When you are thinking of the essentials that you will need to still be able to prepare delicious and healthy meals in spite of the current conditions, it’s important that you keep in mind that you will have to clean it all after each meal or snack prep. Easy to clean items when you have power are likely to be good choice when you lose power. For example, plastic food storage containers can stain or retain oils from whatever was in them. This makes them difficult to clean without a dishwasher, and therefore would not be a good choice. Using disposable aluminum pans and dishes are a better option because if they are sturdy enough they can be reused, they clean up rather easily, and they can be recycled when the power outage is resolved. To seal them tight, just use aluminum foil. It too can be cleaned and reused (especially in a situation like a power outage), then recycled at a later date. Try to think in terms of what can be cleaned and reused. You will decrease the amount of waste you have and won’t be able to properly dispose of.
Of course all of this cannot work if you don’t have a generator. To make life a little more bearable both during and after the storm, you should have the generator hard wired to your home (if you can do this). A separate breaker box will be installed and only essentials will be hooked up to it. If you have special needs, of course these are a priority. The next priority would be your refrigerator / freezer. After that, comes your well and furnace if you have them. If you hook up your well, you will be able to have running water (it will be freezing cold at times, but it’s better than not having it at all) and a working bathroom. Lastly, at least 2 plugs in your kitchen hooked up to your generator. This can be used to keep technology devices full charged and for things like meal prep. Using another energy source, like propane, is a good idea. But you have to keep in mind that it will eventually run out. Will you be able to access roads etc to get more? Do you have the cash on hand (because you can’t depend on banks in a situation like this) to purchase more if you needed to?
What happens when the propane runs out or you don’t have a generator? Go camping. I don’t necessarily mean literally go out into the wilderness somewhere and set up temporary housing. But if you want to, that’s ok with me! It’s very important that at least one person in your household know how to start a fire from scratch with various methods. It not only provides heat if needed, but you will need the fire to be able to sterilize items, bathe (if you absolutely have to have hot water – this is often the case for seniors, babies, and small children), and cook food at meal time.
You should have a small stockpile of food and water on hand at all times. Non-perishable pantry staples are the smartest choice here. But inevitably we will all have a refrigerator full of perishable items. Having it hard wired to the generator will help prevent the food from spoiling. This will give you a couple of more days to enjoy tasty dishes. A rough estimate is that you should have enough food and water for a week per person in your household.
To collect enough water ahead of time, use anything you have that you have if it has a screw top. This includes: any beverage bottles, condiment jars, apple sauce jars … this is can be a time to get creative. Every little bit helps, so don’t think that a jar is too small. Fill them all up to the top and cover them tightly. You can also purchase water storage jugs and have a certain number of them designated to bathing, food prep, and cleaning everything else. Have a designated area where they can be found, and that they will hopefully be out of the way. You don’t want to stumble over them!
When you stockpile foods, keep in mind that cans (or mason and canning jars if you do your own food preservation) can come in handy when you least expect it. If you are using cans, be sure to put the lids that have been removed into a paper towel lined zip top bag or some other protected way of disposal. The last thing you want in a situation like this is to have a medical emergency that could’ve been prevented! Always wash your empties when your done. They can be used in place of plates, bowls, and drinking glasses. Washing your empties also prevents molds and bacteria from grow. Safety first, always.
Stay tuned for Part II …