No matter where you live, when serious snow or an impending hurricane is in the forecast, people stampede through the grocery store to strip the shelves of bread and milk. But if you're going to be hibernating in your home for a few days — possibly without power — there are much better ideas.
Milk will spoil quickly if your power goes out and bread doesn't offer a lot of nutrition on its own. Some people add eggs to their must-have emergency storm shopping list (giving you the option of French toast for your winter menu) but you need power to store and prepare them.
Instead, here are some more nutritious, less perishable options. While other people are rushing the bread and dairy aisles, fill your cart with these healthy foods.
Canned beans can be mixed with bottled salsa or tossed with any fresh vegetables you still have in your refrigerator. Because they're packed with protein and fiber and don't need to be cooked, they're the first thing you should choose when you go to the grocery store, suggests Cooking Light.
2. Peanut or other nut butters
High in protein and healthy fat, nut butters can be eaten on whole wheat crackers, vegetables, bread or with a trusty spoon. Try peanut, almond, cashew or anything that looks tasty. Avoid nut butters that contain added sugar and partially hydrogenated oil, recommends Health.
3. Fresh fruit
Choose fruit that doesn't need to be refrigerated, like apples, pears, oranges and bananas. Apples and citrus fruits, in particular, are packed with vitamin C and fiber.
4. Hearty vegetables
Most people avoid the produce department when they're stocking up for hibernation, but sturdy veggies like carrots, Brussels sprouts and leafy kale are survivors and can last longer than delicate produce, says Cooking Light. If you're oven is working, you have loads of options, but if not, they don't need to be cooked. "Massage kale leaves until wilted and tender, slice and marinate carrots in vinaigrette, or shred fresh Brussels sprouts with a sharp knife or mandoline."
5. Nuts, trail mixes and dried fruit
When you want something to munch on, healthy snacks like dried fruit with no added sugar, trail mixes and nuts will do the trick. Nuts are packed with protein and healthy fats and, like trail mixes, can offer lots of energy. Dried fruit, like raisins, apricots and dates, can take care of your sugar craving with a burst of nutrition.
6. Canned vegetables
Normally, fresh and frozen vegetables are the healthy way to go, but if the power goes out, it's good to have a stock of canned options on hand. Look for "low sodium" or "no salt added" on the label.
7. Canned meat
Canned tuna, salmon, chicken and turkey can provide protein without needing to be cooked. Salmon especially provides heart-healthy omega-3s. For the most environmentally friendly choices, check Seafood Watch so you know what to look for on the label. For example when it comes to tuna, albacore and skipjack ("light" tuna) caught in the Pacific Ocean with trolls or polls are considered "Best Choices."
8. Granola bars and protein bars
Although some bars can be more like cookies, the healthier options have a lot of fiber and protein. Read the label, says WebMD nutritionist Elaine Magee, and choose the ones that offer a nutritional and filling snack when you need it.
9. Canned soups and chili
A nice pot of soup or chili simmering on the stove all day sounds perfect for a cold wintry day, but if you don't want to chase down the ingredients or you're without power, this is a simple alternative. Look for low- or no-sodium choices. Most just need a quick zap in the microwave and, if you're really hungry and the power goes out, they can be eaten straight out of the can. (Just be sure you own a handheld can opener.)
10. Healthy cereal
If you were lucky enough to get some milk or still have some in your fridge, you can pour it on some multigrain cereal. But dry cereal is a healthy snack too.
11. Comfort foods
Because you're likely stuck inside and burning fewer calories than normal, you don't want to eat a bunch of junk. But you might be a little stressed. Even the Department of Homeland Security suggests adding comfort foods to the list when putting together any emergency food supplies. Chocolate, after all, is a lot more comforting than bread.