Hurricane season officially starts June 1 every year. Hurricanes are stressful and if you are like me stress leads to crappy eating and the guilt that comes after.
As a native Floridian, I’ve been through quite a few storms. After going without power a number of times the last few years – including a six day stretch – I developed this healthier hurricane kit and meal plan.
Not having electricity or knowing when it will return is stressful.
Evacuating is extremely stressful.
Not eating a lot of crappy food can provide a little relief while the power is out and your to-do list is growing.
I’ve upgraded my family’s hurricane box to lower calorie foods and more nutritious less processed items.
Our hurricane kit has four parts
- Fresh Produce & Perishables (yes, really fresh produce!)
To be fair, I do have some junk food in our hurricane box. What’s a hurricane party without a little indulging?!
Hurricane Meal Planning Tips
Emergency preparedness experts recommend having 3 days worth of food per person and 1 gallon of water per person per day for 3 days.
My family’s hurricane kit reflects the different eating styles my husband and I have.
I tend to snack all day. My husband can exist on sandwiches & hot dogs on the grill for 3 days with no problem. And my daughter eats pretty normal kid stuff.
Also, you don’t have to forgo coffee after a hurricane! These are a little sweet but they are how I caffeinate without power and they don’t take up a lot of space in my hurricane box. Just add water!I’ve included a three-day shopping list and low calorie meal plan for a family of three based on what we really eat. This list can easily be expanded, downsized or customized for your family.
I’ve also included some mostly low calorie ideas on repurposing your hurricane box leftovers. If you didn’t end up losing power you won’t waste food and money.
Healthier Hurricane Kit and Meal Plan (PRINT A FREE SHOPPING LIST HERE)
The following list and meal plan assumes you have at least a medium size cooler bag, a storage bin and a good supply of Ziploc bags.
I also keep plastic utensils, paper bowls, paper plates, solo cups and trash bags in the storage bin in case of an evacuation situation.
I buy a lot of our staple hurricane kit items in early spring during BOGOs and sales. I keep them in a storage bin in the laundry room.
I prefer to cook and eat through our hurricane kit over the fall and winter and restock each spring but many of these items will be good for multiple years.
- 2 cans of Black beans
- 2 cans of White beans
- 2 cans of Chickpeas
- 2 cans of low sodium corn
- 2 cans of low sodium green beans
- Tuna and/or canned chicken. These are a little more processed, but they store well.
- Peanut butter and/or almond butter
- Individual applesauce
- Individual mandarin orange cups
- Individual pineapple cups
- Banana Chips
- Granola Bars
When it looks like a storm is headed our way I take a quick look in our pantry. If we are low on dry breakfast cereal I add an extra box to the hurricane kit for my daughter.
2. Fresh Produce & Perishables
Not all produce has to be refrigerated and that’s one of my secrets to a low calorie hurricane box!
About 2 days out, when the storm looks like it might really be headed our way I do a quick shopping trip.
I keep the items that don’t need to go in a cooler bag in large collapsible tote bag like this one until the storm has passed.
I love these tote bags because they store flat when I’m not using them.
I fill the tote bag with the following low calories hurricane box perishable foods:
- Greenish Bananas
- A bag of mandarin oranges
- A bag of small apples
- A couple of unripe avocados
- Package of grape or cherry tomatoes
- Red Onion
- Hot dog buns
When the storm or an evacuation becomes imminent, in a cooler bag like this
(with frozen water bottles doing double duty as ice packs) I put:
- Bag of baby carrots
- Package of low fat cheese slices
- Package of low sodium Turkey lunch meat
- Package of bologna (for my husband!)
- Hot dogs (again for my husband!)
- Whole Grain Pita Bread (I store it in the freezer so it works as an ice pack too!)
We usually have many of these low calorie snacks on hand already. But if we are or running low I’ll pick some extras up when a storm is looming or I see a BOGO during hurricane season.
If they aren’t already in our hurricane box pull them from our pantry and add them to the tote bag when the storm or an evacuation is imminent.
- Baked tortilla chips
- Individual bags of Skinny popcorn
- Goldfish (for my daughter)
- Peanut butter pretzels (for my husband)
- A package of graham crackers &/or cookies (it is a hurricane after all!)
- Marshmallows (Marshmallows are my weakness when there is a chance for a fire in our backyard fire pit!)
- If you have limited space try storing a case of water or two under your bed.
- If you have a corner in a closet that you can squeeze in a 3 or 5 gallon jug of water it can save you from having to stand in line waiting to buy more water.
- We have a traditional water cooler and a regular supply of 5 gallon water jugs. In our hurricane kit we keep this inexpensive backup dispenser pump. There are a couple different low-cost dispenser options that won’t take up much storage space.
- Juice Boxes
- Instant Coffee
Hurricane Menu Planning
As mentioned earlier, we went six days without power after a recent hurricane.
Below are some of the meals we relied on.
I continue to pack this kit each hurricane season and assemble this menu when the power goes out. These no-cook meals are also perfect for hot summer daytime hours with no air conditioner.
- Almond butter on an apple with a handful of dry cereal from the pantry.
- Peanut butter banana graham cracker sandwiches
- Can of black beans rinsed, can of corn rinsed, a handful of grape tomatoes halved, quarter of a red onion chopped & diced avocado dressed with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper eaten with baked tortilla chips and fruit.
- Lime is great squeezed on top if you have one
- Store leftovers in the cooler
- Triple ziplock bag the red onion before putting it in your cooler
- Can of white beans or chickpeas rinsed, can of green beans rinsed, handful of grape tomatoes halved, quarter of a read onion chopped & diced avocado dressed with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper eaten with pita bread and fruit.
- Tuna or canned chicken can also be added
- Lemon is great squeezed on top if you have one
- Store leftovers in cooler.
- Turkey & cheese sandwich with fruit and peanut butter pretzels or baby carrots (turkey and cheese are kept double zip lock bagged in the cooler)
- Hot dogs on the grill with neighbors when the sun is setting with chip, cookies and a cold beer from the cooler.
- Turkey & cheese sandwich with fruit & peanut butter pretzels or chips.
Repurpose Hurricane Box Leftovers
In just a few minutes you can put together a healthy post-hurricane snack while you focus on catching up on your family’s needs with the ideas below.
And if you didn’t end up losing power you won’t waste food and money.
I don’t know about you, but when the power comes back on the last thing I want to do is eat from my hurricane provisions. But I also don’t want to waste them.
A couple easy ways to repurpose your hurricane box include:
If you are thoughtful about what you put in your grocery cart and hurricane kit you can eat relatively well.
It just takes a little planning. Be sure to fill your freezer with zip lock bags of ice and freeze water bottles in advance of the storm for your cooler. It might take 24-48hrs for ice trucks to arrive after the storm.
As odd as this may sound a couple days without electricity, unplugged from electronics, can be nice.
I learned to appreciate the downtime. I really enjoyed being present with my family and neighbors during out hurricane power outages.