Here is what experts say to stock up on before a major snowstorm hits
Before you hunker down waiting for an impending storm, make sure you're prepared and have the right foods on hand in the event of a lengthy power outage and impassable roads. But which essentials and how much?
Anything can happen that can affect the food supply, especially severe weather like a hurricane or even disasters such as a wildfire or a pandemic. Know which kinds of food to stock up on.
When it comes time to stock up on food supplies before a major storm or other severe weather event, most people head straight to the shelves for milk, eggs and bread, but nutritionists say those are terrible choices.
Milk spoils without refrigeration, eggs can't be cooked if the power is out and the bread is not going to provide much nutrition on its own.
The idea of stocking up on milk, bread and eggs before a major storm dates back to the Blizzard of 1978, which hammered New England. Many people were trapped in their homes for days and didn't have access to those products.
"Milk and bread are terrible choices because they’re perishable. If the electricity cuts out, the milk will spoil, and in a couple days, the bread will mold. You need nonperishable foods such as canned goods," said Dr. Michael Greger FACLM, a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety and public health issues.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends stockpiling at least three days worth of meals.
Experts stress the importance of stocking up on healthy snacks and other food in preparation for a major storm. (AP Photo/Mark Peterman)
It is important to focus on nutritious food that can be stored without refrigeration and eaten without cooking, such as ready-to-eat canned goods.
"Other possibilities include instant packaged mixes like instant oatmeal, mashed potatoes and cup soups (though these require water that may be in limited supply), as well as shelf-stable aseptic packaged soups and juices," Greger told AccuWeather.
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There’s a cookbook out called "Apocalypse Chow," which is a humorous, yet serious attempt at palatable “pantry cuisine,” using jarred, canned and freeze-dried foods.
"Anthony Fauci, the National Institute of Health’s infectious disease chief, recommends stockpiling a few weeks’ worth of water, a few weeks’ worth of non-spoilable foods,” Greger said. "FEMA recommends a gallon of water per person per day, with additional allowances for any household pets."
According to FEMA, one can disinfect water, sourced from a freshwater stream or lake, by keeping it at a rolling boil for a full minute or, if unable to boil it, by using water-purifying tablets found in camping stores or using bleach.
Other nutritionists also agree milk, eggs and bread aren't the best items to stock up on.
"I don’t suggest buying milk and bread for the simple fact that milk will go bad if left unrefrigerated. What will you do if the power goes out for too long? And bread provides calories but has almost no nutritional value," said Sara Sullivan, a certified nutritionist.
Sullivan and the CDC recommend purchasing the following items that require no cooking or refrigeration:
Peanut butter or almond butter is high in protein and good fats and doesn't need refrigeration after you crack it open. It's a good idea to keep snacks on hand, like nuts and trail mixes. Calorie for calorie, they pack a big nutritional punch, as do dried fruits, which are high in vitamins and fiber.
Apples are one of the longest-lasting fruits you can purchase. They can last up to three months when stored in a cool, dry area. Apples are also 86% water, making them a good source of hydration.
Canned tuna or salmon provides essential protein and can generally last at least two years.
Dates are one of the oldest cultivated fruits in the world and in the absence of fresh fruit, this healthy snack offers potassium, dietary fiber along with a significant amount of nutrients and calories.
Nuts are also a great food to stock up on: They are healthy, convenient and high-energy foods. Look for vacuum-packed containers, which prevent nuts from oxidizing and losing their freshness.
Protein or fruit bars as well as dry cereal and granola are also good choices.
Canned chili can be eaten straight out of the can and will provide a variety of nutrients, protein and fiber. Always look for low-sodium options to prevent dehydration.
And don't forget to have baby food in stock for the little ones.
"You may think that eating healthy during a natural disaster is out of the question; however, it's 100 percent doable if you take the time to prepare an emergency food supply in advance," Sullivan said.
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