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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

NOLA Times Picayune shares readers' tips for emergency food supplies

The New Orleans Times-Picayune published these emergency food tips from its readers for preparation for an oncoming storm. I am reprinting these with full reference to NOLA and ask their support.

These emergency food tips came from the real experts: Our readers
by The Times-Picayune
Wednesday August 27, 2008, 5:08 PM

Most of these food ideas for dining and preparing in an emergency came from the storm-hardened readers of the Times-Picayune.

*Salty snacks will just make you want more water. Avoid them. Look for low-salt crackers, broth, soups, etc., for your emergency food supplies.

*Do not waste money buying any food you know your family will not eat.

*Plan for your water. Most emergency planners advise storing enough food and water to last for two weeks. The Red Cross and FEMA advise that every household to have a three-day supply of one gallon of water per person per day, plus more for any instant foods that require water for preparation (such as instant oatmeal, dry milk, bouillon cubes).

*Don't just fill up your bathtub. Fill up clean liter-size soda bottles and any other containers.

*Have some long-lasting fruit and vegetables on hand to eat raw: apples, oranges, lemons, limes, tomatoes, cabbage, carrots, uncut melons. All will last several days without refrigeration, as will potatoes, onions and sweet potatoes, which you can cook on a grill.

*Fill empty space in the freezer with water bottles or water in plastic freezer bags. A full freezer will stay cold longer if the power goes out.

*If your freezer is not full, shove all the food in it close together, which helps the food stay cold if the power goes out. *Store ice pops or ice cream (in their original packaging) inside plastic bags closed with twist-ties. If the power goes out and the freezer temperature goes up, you will avoid a terrible mess.

*An emergency cooking kit (for home or on the road) should include a cast-iron skillet for cooking over a camp stove or on a grill; a pot for boiling water; waterproof matches; heavy-duty foil; scissors or knife to cut open packages; paper plates and plastic cutlery; gallon-size plastic zip-top bags; and a jar with a screw-top lid, to blend foods by shaking.

*Foil pans are useful for baking and cooking on a grill. Foil is the improvisational cook's duct tape.
*When shopping, select can or jar sizes that will make one meal with no leftovers, because the contents of opened cans will spoil quickly without refrigeration.

*The most healthful canned foods for an emergency: beans, canned seafood, instant oatmeal, peanut butter and nut butters, powdered and boxed milk.

*The most versatile canned vegetables: tomatoes, potatoes, corn, green beans, artichoke hearts, garbanzo beans, red bell peppers, asparagus.

*Menu-brighteners: Cryovac-packed fish and meat, which is more expensive than canned, but great quality; canned coconut milk, shredded coconut; Boboli, pizza sauce in a squeeze bottle, summer sausage, dry salami, parmesan cheese; instant rice; bulghur wheat to make tabouli, which does not require cooking.

*Also: low-salt broth; canned, chunk high-quality ham; Dijon and Creole mustard; real bacon bits to flavor bland dishes; instant pudding; dried fruit of all kinds; unsalted nuts; individual tea bags that don't require hot water; small jar of instant coffee plus creamer packets; and small packets of condiments.

*If you have a home vegetable garden, pick vegetables before the bad weather comes. Do not pick or eat any produce touched by floodwater.

*Home-grown herbs will really perk up canned food. Pick leafy herbs before the storms and store them with stems in jars of water at room temperature.

*A good, easy-to-use manual can opener is an essential tool.

*If the power goes out for only a few days, the following will not spoil in the refrigerator: Catsup, mustards, jams, jellies, peanut butter, oils, butter and margarine (really); unopened salad dressing or other condiments, hard cheeses, barbecue, soy and Worcestershire sauces.

*High-salt canned goods can be rinsed to remove some of the sodium (if you have enough water).

*In an emergency, you can heat or cook food on: an outdoor grill (have extra fuel) or have on hand a small, inexpensive portable grill plus charcoal; a camping cookstove plus fuel; or in a candle- or Sterno-fired fondue pot, chafing dish or candle warmer. Food can also be heated in a working indoor fireplace. Be sure to open the flue.

*NEVER use a charcoal or gas grill indoors. This mistake has claimed many lives.

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