"People always clear the shelves of milk, eggs and bread," Paul Shipman, a spokesman for the American Red Cross's Connecticut chapter told the Hartford Courant. "Well, the milk doesn't do well without refrigeration, eggs are useless if you can't cook them and the bread is not going to provide much nutrition on its own. You need non-perishable food, water and other necessities to be safe."
Along with buying bottled water, it's a good idea to assemble a non-perishable food emergency kit. Try peanut butter and crackers, for starters. Peanut butter is high in protein and good-for-you fats, and doesn't need refrigeration after you crack it open. Crackers, particularly the whole wheat variety, have a long shelf-life and will give you a fiber boost.
Buy multiples of canned meats, such as chicken, tuna or salmon, and canned vegetables and soups, all of which can last a couple of years. Make sure you have a manual, not electric, can opener stored with them.
You'll also want to keep snacks on hand, like nuts and trail mixes. Calorie for calorie, they pack a big nutritional punch, as do dried fruits, which are high in vitamins and fiber. Add a few granola bars to the mix because they can give an energy boost. You could also keep powdered milk instead of fresh milk on hand; the powdered variety still offers calcium and vitamin D, but lasts much longer [source: Cartwright].
If you do stock up on perishables, be smart about it. Some fruits, like apples, can last up to three months. Others, like oranges and grapefruits, can last for a couple of weeks. Even less hardy treats, like avocados or tomatoes, can last for at least a week if you purchase them before they ripen [source: DiMaggio].
Author's Note: Why do people buy up all the bread and milk before a storm hits?
Not only did I grow up in the Midwest, but on a farm miles and miles from the nearest town. Thus began a habit I've kept well into adulthood: stocking up for storm season. Even though I now live less than two miles from the nearest market, my pantry is never without a bevy of staples (basically any ingredient I would need to bake a cake or serve a protein-carb-vegetable dinner). It's a system my husband, who has always lived in a city, cannot quite fathom. Still, when warm chocolate chip cookies seem to magically appear from the oven on a snowy day, I'm pretty sure he's willing to adapt -- at least temporarily.
- Brateman, Lisa. Personal interview. Nov. 8, 2012.
- Cartwright, Martina. "Food Anxiety in Tough Economic Times: Should Americans Start Stockpiling Food?" Aug. 10, 2011. (Nov. 11, 2012) Psychology Today. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/food-thought/201108/food-anxiety-in-tough-economic-times-should-americans-start-stockpiling-foo
- Mathis, Taylor. "What Southerners Do When It Snows." July 12, 2011. (Nov. 11, 2012). Taylor Takes a Taste. http://taylortakesataste.com/what-southerners-do-when-it-snows/
- Rosenberg, Judy. Personal interview. Nov. 8, 2012.
- Vann, Corky. "Shopping for the Storm: 10 Things You Need To Stock Up On Right Now". Hartford Courant. Oct. 26, 2012. (Nov. 14, 2012). http://courantblogs.com/savvy-shopper/shopping-for-the-storm-10-things-you-need-to-stock-up-on-right-now/