Committed to providing you and your family with the best survival knowledge, skills and equipment.
Have You Ever Wondered How You’re Going To Store Food When The Grid Fails During The Apocalypse?
But even more pressingly, do you know how to eat well during the inevitable post-storm power outages in your neighborhood?
In my experience, while the power company spends its energies hooking up more important buildings like schools and hospitals, I spend at least the first day in the dark. That means encouraging my family to eat ice cream before it melts and cooking hot dogs over a fire. The fridge’s cold air is fading fast and it can only be opened on a strict schedule: whenever every member of the family is simultaneously dying of hunger. By the second day, the refrigerator’s cooling powers have failed entirely. The now useless box begins to stink of rot and breakfast is served at the doughnut store. In fact, every meal is either pizza or donuts until the electric company decides to grace my street with their omnipotent presence. Although a power outage is a kid’s culinary dream, it can be an adult’s nightmare.
Yet, with a little knowledge and planning, you can actually cook delicious meals without a refrigerator. After living on boats for almost four years with no or limited electricity, I have learned it is possible to eat like a gourmet without ice.
Get a gas stove: With a gas-powered stove, you can heat basics like hot water even when there’s no electricity. Boiled water will be vital after the apocalypse when there is no clean, running water. Just kidding.. sort of. If your main stove is electric, a small camp stove with a propane tank will suffice for roughing it during a power outage.
Eggs Eggs Eggs!!! Eggs don’t need to be refrigerated! Eggs can last up to a month at room temperature. You do need to turn them over every day to coat the insides of the shell with yolk. Otherwise, the shells will become brittle and crack more easily. If they smell bad, or are cracked toss them.
Canned Food:Canned beans and veggies are a great way to store food. These can go great in soups, chilies, and stews, or make a nice addition to salad. Be sure to have a non-electric can opener.
Fresh Vegetables: Many vegetables do not need refrigeration. Root vegetables such as onions, carrots, and potatoes can last for weeks in a cool, dark area. More perishable vegetables, like tomatoes and zucchini, can last a week in room temperature conditions. Tomatoes even taste better when they’re not refrigerated. Use your judgement when storing food. Of course, vegetables will last longer in cool, dark places. If you live in Alaska, your food will last longer than in Jamaica. I would recommend going vegetable shopping twice a week to keep up a rotation of your stores. Now you can make onion, garlic, and tomato egg omelets!
Fresh Fruit: Most fruits do not need refrigeration. Apples, bananas, and oranges will all do fine for weeks without refrigeration. Store apples away from other fruits, however, because they have a tendency to cause other produce to decay more rapidly. Berries and peaches will last a few days without refrigeration. Don’t eat if they are moldy! Again, shop for these more perishable fruits a few times a week.
Dairy Products: Butter can last weeks without refrigeration. Monitor the butter for spoil. To encourage your cheese to last indefinitely out of the fridge, wrap hard cheeses in vinegar and cheese cloths. This may prolong the life of your cheese.
Rice: and other grains are perfect when you have limited power. If you have your gas stove, you can cook up a pot of rice, and add some of your fresh veggies for a great dinner.
Become a Vegetarian: I would not advise storing meat when you do not have refrigeration or an ice box. If you must have meat, cured sausages such as charcuterie will keep without refrigeration. Canned fish is a great way to add protein. If you really enjoy the 19th century lifestyle, salted cod will also keep. Soak the dried, salted fillet in water for a day, and you will have fresh, desalted, re-hydrated fish.
Beverages: Wine and beer store nicely and will go well with your preserved cheese! Enjoy your next power outage in French style!
Please use your own judgement when consuming any food. These are techniques the author has found useful. The author is not liable for any illnesses you may experience due to eating non refrigerated food.
Headlamps are better than flashlights. Have one for each person.
Large camping lanterns with fluorescent bulbs are great but be aware that they will only light up your immediate area. They also burn through batteries fast.
Candles are traditional and don’t require batteries, but they also don’t provide much light.
Another idea I’ve read about but haven’t yet tried is to charge up solar-powered LED garden lights during the day and distribute them around the house at night.
Refrigeration & Cooking
If you’re not following Eve’s Tips for Living Without Refrigeration, you’ll want to get a cooler ready for your perishables. Alternatively, you can designate a freezer as your cooler. Organize your food so that you know what’s where and what you’re going to grab first.
Freeze as much ice as possible — in containers, water bottles, and ice trays. If you can’t fit in or freeze all your bottles, fill them with drinking water. Set your fridge and freezer temperature settings to their coldest point.
Bag your meat and ice cream to avoid a mess later.
If you have the means to cook, plan and print your recipes before the power cuts.
Once the power cuts, keep the fridge and freezer doors closed for at least a few hours. How long the temperature will stay down will depend on how full they are. Just be sure to grab the ice while it’s still frozen.
Load up your cooler with the ice and your priority perishables. Open it as seldom as possible. Watch out for the inevitable leaks as the ice melts.
Even after the ice has melted, the cold water and small size of the cooler will keep temperatures down.
If you have a gas stovetop and a lighter or matches, you’re all set for cooking. You can make soups and stir-frys out of the last of your perishables, and then start on canned and packet meals. Even foods that don’t normally go in a pot can be heated by steaming them.
The worst part of a power outage in the late fall and winter months is losing your heat. A fireplace helps, but burning logs isn’t enough. Unless you’re already in an enclosed space, the warm air is going to be sucked away. To avoid this, you can create a temporarily enclosed space, for example by using some good tape and a few plastic painter’s drop sheets. If you manage to get your fireplace and stove into the same space, it helps to boil some water and steam up the room a little. However, it’s not wise to run gas heat in an enclosed space for long (and a gas fireplace shouldn’t be enclosed at all). Also, the steam will eventually soften up your walls.
Your best tools for keeping in touch are a battery- or hand-crank- powered radio, a corded landline phone with a backup battery, and your cellphone. The landline will only last so long, but that way you can give your cellphone a rest before it’s needed.
Charge up any laptops in your home. You may not have wifi after the power cuts, but they can be used to charge up any USB-powered devices, like your phone.
Write down or print out any phone numbers and emergency information you may need (e.g. where the nearest shelters and pet shelters are).
Solar power is a great resource if you have or can build a solar charger, but don’t hold your breath — it may take a long time to power your devices.
Prepare for gas shortages by rationing the gas in your car if necessary. Walk or bike when you can.
It’s not easy in the dark, without many of your usual creature comforts. But this is just another adventure, same as if you got on a plane to somewhere exotic. You’re a post-apocalyptic pioneer, reinventing to survive and living with the bare minimum.
Go back to the basics — I like to have some good books to read (especially old favorites) and some pen and paper to scribble ideas and play word games. Others prefer a deck of cards and some board games.
Clean clothes can do wonders. This is when your hand-washable, quick-drying travel clothes made of wool or synthetics really pay off.