For most of the last 11 years, I've lived in cities with higher-than-average risk for natural disasters. More specifically: I've lived in hurricane risk areas. From 2002-2008, I lived in the wonderful city of New Orleans, Louisiana. And yes, I was there in 2005 to see first-hand the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I am grateful to my friends who convinced me to evacuate just in the nick of time, but just a few weeks later, I was back in the city, and was lucky to be staying with people who had properly prepared to deal with a (very) extended power outage and lack of potable tap water. For the past year and a half, I've lived in Miami Beach, FL. So, food storage and preparedness is something I've got quite a bit of experience with and take very seriously. However, I am somewhat new to the concept of maintaining a Paleo/Primal/Real Food way of eating during a hurricane.
When I overhauled my way of eating in 2010, I was living in the (relatively) low-risk city of Athens, GA, so I didn't really have to think that much about how to accommodate a Real Food/Paleo/Primal way of eating in a disaster prep situation until I moved here to Miami Beach. Although, as an aside, the first winter after I moved to Athens we had a decent-sized snowstorm (for the South, that is) come through, and it actually knocked out our power for four days because a tree dropped a limb that ripped our power meter right off of the house. Trees all over town dropped limbs under the weight of the snow because of several summers of drought leading up to that storm. Lucky for us, there were plenty of restaurants in town that got power back almost immediately, so we didn't have to worry about trying to prep much food at all at home during that time. But...that was luck. I should've been prepared then, but wasn't.
My Hurricane Kit Recommendations
Last year, my first hurricane season while following a Paleo/Primal/Real Food lifestyle, I realized that many of my former standby food items were no longer appropriate for my hurricane kit. Luckily, it's not that hard to adapt a hurricane kit to this kind of lifestyle. Here's my list of staples to have stocked in my hurricane kit, so that I won't have to venture too far away from my normal eating habits if the power goes out:
With hurricanes, you typically only deal with dangerous weather outdoors for a few hours. If it's a really slow-moving storm, it can be maybe up to half a day. After the storm passes, the weather is typically pretty awesome for being outdoors, and the perfect time for grilling. If my power gets knocked out from the storm, I like to use this time as an opportunity to grill any remaining perishable veggies or meats from my fridge. I may also pull some extra meats from the freezer before the storm comes so that I can make sure to keep it closed and covered with blankets if the power does go out So, I always make sure we've got some charcoal stored for grilling. If you have a propane grill, make sure you've got an extra tank available.
I keep a ready supply of canned seafood, such as tuna, salmon, anchovies, and sardines in my kit. I try to purchase brands that use sustainable fishing methods and use BPA-free cans. You can eat these alone, with some olive oil, or on your favorite gluten-free cracker. I also enjoy mixing tuna with gluten-free soy sauce or coconut aminos and a little toasted sesame oil. Canned fish also goes great with a side of avocado (see below for more on avocados).
I am lucky to have a great local source for beef and chicken jerky: Novae Gourmet. I keep a stock of their gluten-free jerky in my kit. You can also make your own jerky and other dehydrated foods at home with a dehydrator, and there are tutorials for how to do it with your oven.
Other Dehydrated Foods
There are other options for dehydrated foods. I prefer mainly vegetables (you can get a really wide variety of things as "chips" these days), but some fruits can be handy as well. These items can get expensive, but if you only purchase them for use in your short-term disaster kit and not for normal consumption, it's not so bad.
Fresh Fruits with Longer Shelf Lives
Bananas (when purchased on the green side), apples, and citrus fruits all have a decent shelf life. Best to pair these with some fat from one of the categories below. Also, I like to have several unripe avocados. To ripen an avocado overnight, place it in a paper bag with one of your bananas or apples. The others with ripen at a slower pace, and you can control the ripening process over several days using the paper bag trick.
Nuts & Nut Butters
As long as you tolerate them, nuts & nut butters are calorie-dense and tasty and pair well with your fresh or dried fruit.
Dark Chocolate (>70% cocoa content)
You should have a cooler with ice anyway, so you can keep your chocolate there to prevent melting if necessary.
Coconut flakes, butter, and oil
Dehydrated coconut flakes are one of my favorite snacks ANY time. And coconut butter and coconut oil can be enjoyable to eat by the spoonful. Coconut butter also goes well with fresh fruit.
I typically avoid canned vegetables for day-to-day cooking needs and instead try to use frozen products (if fresh isn't available) due to their higher nutrient retention and lack of additives, and also to avoid the BPA found in many can linings. However, keeping some canned vegetables on hand in your disaster kit is a smart idea. Look for the best quality possible: organic, BPA-free cans, no additives, low or no added salt (since it's usually the bad refined kind, not the good unrefined stuff you want to be consuming).
Can't forget your water! For me right now, that means storing gallons of water. I'd love to upgrade to one of the Berkey water filters that can make non-potable water safe.
Longer-term Storage and Preparedness
This list is mainly for short-term power outages and doesn't tackle the issue of longer-term food prep and storage. For much more in-depth information on that topic, I'm excited to share with you an excellent resource that will only be available through August 26th. It's an ebook bundle put together by the blogging network that I am a member of, the Nourished Living Network. This month's bundle features 4 books with over 400 pages of extremely helpful information for learning how to keep your pantry stocked with Real Food items so that you can feed your family no matter what obstacles may arise, be it a natural disaster or a sudden layoff. Even though I am confident with my short-term disaster preparedness, I've learned a ton of valuable information from these 4 ebooks, and they are an incredible value at only $10.95.
You can read more details about the individual ebooks if you follow my affiliate link below:
Do you also live in an area with a high risk of natural disasters? Do you have any additional prep tips to share? Let me know in the comments! And, as always, thanks for reading.