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Emergency food

For a time after 9/11, I made sure I had on hand plenty of canned beans, tuna, corn, fruit and other nutritious foods (and a can opener!) my family could count on should another act of terrorism render us housebound. I kept a store of bottled water and lots of packaged foods such as crackers and granola bars.

Over the years, though, we've dipped into those supplies and the sense of urgency for stocking up has waned. Now that I've adopted the habit of planning a week's menu and shopping just for the items I need for the week, I don't have a lot of extra food hanging around the house.

So when something like Snowmaggedon occurs, I become one of the hordes of shoppers laying in supplies for the duration. Otherwise, we're looking at a few days' worth of pasta and peanut butter for sustenance.

As the past week has demonstrated, food plays a huge role in weathering a storm. We need nutritious food to keep our energy and spirits up, and allowing for some variety and even whimsy in our snow-day feasts can help alleviate boredom.

As Jane Black wrote in the "All We Can Eat" blog last Friday, those who keep quality pantry and fridge items on hand are at a big advantage during an emergency that leaves them home-bound. Even the simple pasta dish she describes whipping up sounded better than anything I could make with what I typically have on hand.

It's clearly best not to wait until the last minute to seek tasty fixin's. As many Washingtonians learned the hard way last week, the pickings can swiftly become dishearteningly slim. And, as I write in this week's "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy" column, you don't want to end up stuck with nothing but milk, eggs and bread in your larder.

What did you end up buying and eating during Snowmageddon? Did you plan carefully and shop well, or did you end up having to make the best of the limited foodstuffs you could find? Please share your stories so we all can learn from them!

For more health and nutrition news, follow Jennifer on Twitter:

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  February 16, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Family Health , Nutrition and Fitness , Snowmageddon  
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I managed to eat pretty healthfully during the storm, and I was totally stuck in for a full week. I have a second freezer, which I always keep stocked with chicken breasts and ground turkey, which serve as the basis for many of my meals. I also always keep my pantry stocked with some canned beans (red and white kidney, and black usually) and some jars of pasta sauce. On my big grocery trip before the store I got skim milk and eggs (of course), and lots of fresh veggies to last through the week. My big treat during the storm was hot cocoa made with skim milk, cocoa powder (the kind from the baking aisle) and splenda. My blend was healthier and tastier than the processed stuff. My dinners were a lot of my usual dinners--chicken parmesan, turkey chili, chicken curry, slow cooker healthy cassoulet (with white beans, chicken andouille sausage from costco I found in the freezer, carrots, celery, onions and spices). Breakfasts were scrambled eggs, whole wheat pancakes...toward the end of the week I did run out of eggs, but I found a container of quick oats in the pantry so we made do with that for a couple of days. Lunches were sometimes dinner leftovers. One day I roasted a bunch of veggies and had a bowl of that topped with feta and pine nuts (both of which I keep in the fridge most of the time from costco) for lunch. Tasty! I also took advantage of the time at home to try out a lot of the workout videos available on my cable's "on demand".

Posted by: AmandaLA | February 16, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

While I was well prepared for the storm with food, and with flashlight batteries, having no power for an extended amount of time changed everything. We were grateful for the cold cereal, canned tuna, and other eat-in-the-dark-and-cold foods.

Posted by: Marywexler38 | February 16, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Wow -- two pretty varied experiences, I'd say. Thanks for sharing; I hope you continue to enjoy electricity and nice food for the rest of the winter!

Posted by: Jennifer LaRue Huget | February 16, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

I bought a mango and an onion before the snowstorms, then added flour, shortening, beans and spices from my pantry to make black bean-mango empanadas. I also made artichoke risotto with arborio rice, vegetable broth and scallions I had at home. But we were out of wine that would have made the risotto really good.

Posted by: shantybird | February 16, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

I live up in the mountains where we lose power (and water, toilets, etc) fairly often. I keep about 2 weeks of easy to fix foods in the pantry. No matter what there is to eat, however, there is always something else you will want. In addition, I have food in the freezer and food I canned from my garden. The trick is warming up the food without power, so I have a few backup food heating options. I try to go easy on the cooking, however, because it is hard to clean up without water. And as soon as the power goes off, I feel DIRTY and want a hot bath right then!, and end up with stomach problems that make it tough to go to the bathroom out in the freezing cold woods.

I do, however, go out and get bread and milk (if I can get the 20 miles into town) like everyone else, although I never drink milk. But if I need it, I have GOT it!

Off topic, thanks to all the public safety personnel and utility workers who have helped those suffering from the weather,including our animal friends. God bless.

Posted by: catlady1 | February 16, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

I was determined not to get caught up in the grocery store frenzy. I did go to the store on Friday before the first storm to get milk and vegies. I soaked beans Friday night and made mediterranean white bean soup with a leftover ham hock from the freezer on Saturday. The power went out Saturday at noon, but luckily, I could still use my gas burners. We were able to heat the soup for the next two days and make salad while the power was out. We made pancakes on the gas burners and used up the sausage that had defrosted in the fridge freezer. My deep freezer in the garage kept cold for the duration of the outage. On Monday before the next storm I searched my pantry, determined not to join the masses at the local store, even though it was my husband's birthday on Tuesday. I viewed it as somewhat of a challenge. I found anchovies & can tomatoes to make marinara sauce, along with onions, mushrooms & garlic. We had a box of Omaha burgers that I defrosted and used to make meatballs with bread & parmesan cheese. I came up with choc chips, my last 3 eggs, and a can of tart cherries to make a choc torte. We still had milk and shelf milk in a pinch. I cooked some frozen chicken breasts for sandwiches. Thursday we had spanish chicken & rice, made with chicken breasts from the freezer, frozen pepper strips & frozen peas & saffron seasoning. We made it though an entire week without leaving the house and with the power off for two days. We were fortunate to have plenty of firewood and the gas range that we could light with a match. We were actually pretty happy campers, even though on Monday morning the thermostat read 37 degrees! Luckily, the lights came on late Monday afternoon. A collective cheer went up in our neighborhood. My husband and I read by the fire, pulled out the single malt and planned our summer vacation.

Posted by: Hunzu | February 16, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

We stocked up on plenty of healthy fruits and veggies, but I confess...I baked. A lot. Ciabatta bread, bagels, a few types of cookies, peanut butter fingers, chocolate chip pumpkin bread, pizza.

I'm glad I experimented with the homemade breads and bagels. I used white flour, but will experiment with substituting white whole wheat flour in part, now that I have a baseline recipe and technique. If you haven't made bagels before, try them -- they're easy and fun to make.

When I wasn't baking, I cooked rare roast beef on kimmelweck sandwiches (for the Superbowl), roasted veggies sandwiches (on the homemade ciabatta bread...balsamic vinaigrette, touch of feta...delish!), baked potato soup with bacon and cheddar (Cooking Light recipe...try it!), shrimp fajitas (with guacamole), and a spicy shrimp stir-fry with lots of veggies.

Yes, we pigged out. Guilty as charged. But it was great. And now, back to sensible eating.

Posted by: lancasterNYgirl | February 16, 2010 11:36 PM | Report abuse

The four pounds that I've been struggling to lose since Christmas popped right back over Snowmaggedon. You can't imagine the will power it took not to make that chocolate bread pudding the Post ran. I knew the battle of the scale would be lost if I had that around!

Once the initial snow was over and we were stuck a path developed in our street that lead straight to the local grocery store about 6 blocks away.

I'm glad it's over because I feel like I'm on my way to looking like a snow-woman!

Posted by: RedBird27 | February 17, 2010 6:46 AM | Report abuse

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