Preparing for a power outage and its impact on your life is difficult enough without worrying over how you’re going to prepare your meals.
Considering that the kitchen is really the command center of the average home, anything that takes your kitchen offline is going to dramatically interfere with feeding yourself and your family.
Yes, it is still possible to heat and cook food through other means, but depending on the greater context they might not be viable or worth the trouble.
To counter this, choosing the right foods specifically for blackout preparation will make your life easier under the circumstances. Requiring minimal or even no preparation, being able to simply open up a package and eat is more than a convenience.
Below you will find 23 different foods that are indispensable for your blackout preparation pantry.
1. Freeze-dried Food
When it comes to sheer longevity, nothing beats freeze-dried foods. They are equally suited for summer or winter preparation since they are not particularly vulnerable to temperature extremes in either direction.
Almost anything can be freeze-dried, allowing you a great variety in your menu and many items are ready to eat as is, like astronaut ice cream, or with minimal preparation using room temperature or boiling water.
Nothing more than a camp stove with a burner could be all you need to prepare full meals using freeze-dried foods! The only downside to them is that they are typically expensive…
2. T.V. Dinners
When I say TV dinners here, I’m not referring to the classic freezer meals but rather the smaller shelf-stable offerings by Hormel and other companies that are similar to an MRE entree.
Ready to eat right out of the package with no heating, you can again enjoy a great variety in your menu including entrees and sides.
No matter what you and your family like, there will be something you like in this category, and they are highly affordable.
Try to protect these from freezing if you’re worried about winter power outages!
3. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is the one mainstay that all preppers love. Packed with calories and offering tons of protein and minerals, peanut butter will fill you up, and is highly adaptable when combined with other ingredients.
Best of all, it requires absolutely no refrigeration. A giant tub of peanut butter can definitely keep you and your loved ones alive even for a long-term scenario.
Sure, you might get sick of it before the end but it beats starving or dealing with a grumbling stomach.
Peanut butter does okay when it is chilled, but try to keep it from freezing for best quality.
4. Instant Oatmeal
Instant oatmeal is another good choice for food that is calorie dense, filling, and easy to prepare.
You’re supposed to make it with hot water or milk, but I know from experience that it turns out okay using room-temperature water and a little bit of extra time if you are in a pinch.
This is another great option for cold weather or winter blackout scenarios since it won’t be terribly damaged if your house gets very cold, though you should still try to protect it from freezing for quality purposes.
You and I both know when you are hungry and in a hurry, it is hard to beat a big bowl of cereal! Ideally, you’ll be eating stuff that is mostly whole grains (without a ton of sugar and other weird ingredients in it), but pure calories will definitely keep you alive in the short term.
This is a great option to help pacify kids and give them a little bit of normality under the circumstances.
Powdered milk is a great supplement for this item, see the next section.
6. Powdered Milk
The single biggest drawback when it comes to food prep and storage for blackout conditions is that you will lose refrigeration.
Without refrigeration, a lot of things we depend on every day will spoil in very short order. Like milk, for instance…
You don’t want to eat cereal with water over it, but if you have some powdered milk on hand you can create milk as you need it and keep the rest from spoiling at room temperature.
My advice is to start preparing food with powdered milk and drinking it now so you can get used to it before you need it.
7. Pop Tarts
Did you know that Pop-Tarts are one of the most commonly purchased and stockpiled items in areas that experience hurricanes? Why is that, I wonder?
Again, pop-tarts are a tasty, ready-to-eat snack that can give you a little bit of normality in an otherwise stressful situation, but pop-tarts are also calorie dense, and will give you quick energy when you are run down.
Right out of the package or gently toasted, these are great for small bites and for kids.
Another classic survival food standby, there are too many types of crackers to even begin to go over them all here.
For our purposes, they are shelf-stable, last for a very long time when sealed, and are a ready source of carbohydrates and salt.
Combined with other foods on this list, it is easy to make a simple cold lunch that will fill you up and stay with you.
I recommend that you purchase brands that have smaller individually wrapped sleeves so that if the some of packaging is compromised, all of your crackers don’t go stale.
9. Instant Coffee
Let’s get real for a minute. Probably the biggest threat to your mental state and it to domestic tranquility under the conditions of a blackout is going to be a precipitous slowdown of caffeine intake.
No electricity, no coffee maker- whichever kind you prefer! In such a case caffeine withdrawal will take hold quickly and then people are going to get upset! Avoid this tragic fate by keeping some instant coffee on hand.
Easily mixed with water and heated to taste (if you are able) it is enough to keep you functional and alert even if it isn’t your usual gourmet cup.
Once again, I highly recommend you try it and get used to it now while you can before you are forced to drink it.
If you aren’t a coffee fan or just want some variety in your caffeinated beverages, go with tea.
Tea will keep basically forever if you keep it out of sunlight and dry, and you can have traditional or instant varieties depending on your preference.
Ideally, you’ll have the supplies you need to whip up a piping hot cup but it is okay cold if you let it steep a little longer than usual.
11. Drink Mixes
There are lots of other drink mixes you can choose from besides coffee and tea. Juices, flavored waters, sports drinks, and electrolyte replacement formulas, all kinds of stuff.
And, of course, don’t forget about Tang and Kool-Aid! You can keep any other kind of shelf-stable drinks on hand that you want, of course, but they tend to be space inefficient and vulnerable to freezing.
Powder mixes don’t have those limitations, so consider stocking up just in case. Sports drink powder is especially important if you’re working hard and sweating a lot.
Honey is another time-tested prepper standby, and another ideal inclusion in your blackout food stash.
Honey is unique in that it basically will not spoil if it is uncontaminated.
Ancient honey that has been hauled out of long-buried structures inside sealed jars has proven to be intact, edible, and nutritious. Amazing stuff!
For our purposes, honey is a wonderful sweetener or conserve as quick, easy bulk calories on crackers, bread, or anything else you care to put it on.
13. Granola / Energy Bars
Love them or hate them, you know them and probably have some already. Granola bars, energy bars, fruit bars, and similar products are quick and easy to eat, and very easy to store.
This is a good all-season option, although they can degrade pretty badly if you let them freeze.
These can help you add calories to a meal or serve as snacks that are easy to carry and even easier to prepare and eat.
They’re also another great option for kids who are probably well used to eating them regularly already.
Candy might seem like a strange inclusion when you were talking about the business of survival, but you shouldn’t underestimate the morale-boosting benefits.
All candies, whatever kind they are, are basically nothing but sugar, but sugar means calories and calories will keep you alive! Plus, your favorite piece of candy will improve your mood, and that might be sorely needed under the circumstances.
You can keep any kind of candy you want, but understand that the softer stuff or the ones that are gooey and chewy might not do well if they are allowed to freeze.
You won’t have to worry about that with hard candies.
Nuts are another nutritious favorite, one that you can eat as-is for a protein pack snack, add to other food to bulk it up and increase calories or carry with you as a sort of ration, and trail mix or otherwise.
Nuts, sealed in a factory package, will last for quite a while if you keep them in the dark and at room temperature, but things tend to go poorly at temperature extremes, including high heat.
The high-fat content of nuts makes rancidity a real problem. Even so, nuts are a dependable inclusion to your food supply.
16. Canned Vegetables
There is a limitless variety of canned vegetables these days, and all of them are good sources of vitamins and minerals, and decent sources of calories.
The best thing about them is you can just pop them open, and eat them cold if you have to. Don’t forget your can opener, and make sure you protect cans from freezing or they will burst.
17. Canned Fruit
Canned fruit fulfills much the same requirement as vegetables, above, and can help crush your sweet tooth cravings.
The variety is virtually endless, so there is something here for everyone. Again, make sure you protect your canned veggies from freezing.
18. Canned Beans
For blackout prep, canned beans have a major advantage over dry beans because they are so much easier to prepare.
You won’t need to soak them to make them safe prior to cooking them, which can be lengthy. Both processes together can consume a lot of resources.
Canned beans are ready to eat as is, are packed with protein and minerals, and are highly filling. There’s a reason they are a survival food staple. Once more, you must protect them from freezing at all costs.
19. Instant Rice
Instant rice is another solid option, being easy to store in bulk, cheap, and a good source of calories, and a few vitamins and minerals.
Compared to whole or long grain rice, it’s much easier to prepare and cooks far quicker, saving you fuel. But, in a pinch, you can soak it in room-temperature water to prepare it…
20. Instant Potatoes
Chances are that instant potatoes or nobody’s favorite compared to the real thing, but this is a basic side that can go with just about anything to approximate a normal dinner or lunch you’d have when the lights were still on.
A little bit of water is all it takes, and instant potatoes store wonderfully and for a long time at room temperature.
21. Canned Chicken
Don’t forget about your proper animal protein options for blackout prep. Just like our canned produce up above, you have a huge variety when it comes to canned meat.
Chicken is, as always ,popular and highly adaptable. It goes with just about everything, will fill you up, and it’s pretty tasty right out of the can, and if you can heat it up it’s even better.
I’ll say it again: if you live in a cold environment or just one with harsh winters you must do whatever you can to protect it from freezing, or you’ll lose it.
22. Canned Tuna
Tuna fills a similar role to chicken here, just giving you a different protein option with a different flavor.
It still pairs well with all sorts of vegetables and crackers, and is easily made into tuna salad if you have a few other ingredients handy.
You know it, you probably love it, so stock up on it. Keep it from freezing, no matter what!
You didn’t really think you were going to make it to the end of this list and not see Spam, did you? All jokes aside, Spam is a lot better tasting and surprisingly “clean” and wholesome contrary to what its detractors would tell you.
I think it is far better than a lot of other canned meats, and it stores for a very long time. Plus it can be used in countless ways to make nutritious, filling meals.
You can even get it in single-slice packs if you want!
Also, due to the way that Spam is packed, it is somewhat less vulnerable to freezing than other canned meats, giving it an edge for people living in cold environments.
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