Storm prep here’s what to have on your hurricane supplies grocery list gas vs electric oven efficiency

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Even a smaller tropical storm can knock out power for days. You may have a roof over your head, but not the electricity to cook dinner or run the refrigerator. That’s when shelf-stable food comes in handy. When making up a shopping list, consider whom you are buying for. Is there a baby in the house? A diabetic? In general, don’t buy food that your family won’t eat regularly – it’ll still be in the cupboard for hurricane season 2010.

Condiments: Mayonnaise is generally a no-no because of refrigeration issues, but buy the smallest jar you can and make tuna or chicken salad. Look for condiments – ketchup, hot sauce, mustard, relish, salt and pepper – in individual packets.

• As a storm approaches, conduct an inventory of your pantry. You may already have foods appropriate for an emergency such as bread, crackers and peanut butter. Eat what you’ve got in the fridge before it goes bad, then dip into the shelf-stable stuff.

• Fill your coolers and pack the freezer with ice as close as you can before the storm makes landfall. Put drinks in the fridge and move to the cooler when they are cold rather than room temperature to preserve the ice. If the power goes out, you’ll have cold drinks, at least for a while.

• Keep in mind whom you will be feeding when making a list of storm-ready food. Do you have young children, or perhaps a newborn? Is someone a vegetarian? Are there dietary concerns that are about more than losing weight? For instance, diabetics and people allergic to wheat will need special considerations since so many shelf-stable foods are carb- and grain-laden. When it comes to emergency food, one size does not fit all.

• When the storm season is over and you’ve hopefully escaped unscathed, cycle the food into your regular meals or donate it to a food shelter. And finally, don’t buy what your family won’t touch when the weather is perfect. Spam doesn’t taste any better when the wind is blowing 75 miles per hour.

Do not eat any food in nonwaterproof containers that have touched floodwater because it carries bacteria. This includes boxes of cereal or pasta. For canned foods, discard paper labels and note the contents with a marker directly on the can. Disinfect cans with a solution of 1/4 cup household bleach and 1 gallon water.

A full freezer should keep food safe for about two days; a half-full freezer, about a day. Refrigerated foods should be safe if the power is out no more than four to six hours. If it appears the power will be off more than six hours, transfer refrigerated perishable foods to a cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packs.

Meat, poultry, fish, eggs and egg substitutes (raw or cooked), milk, cream, yogurt and soft cheese; casseroles, stews or soups, lunch meats and hot dogs; creamy salad dressings; custard, chiffon or cheese pies; refrigerated cookie dough; and open mayonnaise, tartar sauce and horseradish will be spoiled after eight hours without refrigeration.

The following foods keep at room temperature for a few days: butter or margarine; hard and processed cheese; fresh fruits and vegetables; fruit juices and dried fruit; opened jars of vinegar-based salad dressings; jelly, relish, taco sauce, barbecue sauce, mustard, ketchup, olives; fresh herbs and spices; fruit pies, breads and cakes, except cream cheese-frosted or cream-filled. Discard anything that turns moldy or has an unusual odor.

You’ll face a refrigerator full of rotten food if you evacuate, the power goes out and you can’t return home for days or weeks. If you’re gone only a day or two and the power stays on, your food should be fine. Here’s a middle ground: Throw out the leftovers, stuff that probably won’t get eaten. From your freezer, throw out items such as meat and poultry, which will go bad quickly if the power goes out.