What's for Dinner During a Power Outage: Beyond Peanut Butter

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June 1 through November 30 is hurricane season, and residents of the Gulf Coast and other hurricane-prone areas know only too well that the chances of at least one power outage during those six months are high. If you’re riding out a storm at home, is your pantry stocked with the right foods, and do you have the right equipment to serve dinner, even a hot meal? Planning ahead is key .

The number one rule of getting through a power outage is food safety. To keep food cold as long as possible, tips include:

*Keep blue-ice packages in your freezer, or fill containers, such as milk jugs, with water and freeze to help maintain temperature.

*Know where to buy dry ice before a storm arrives.

*A full freezer keeps foods frozen for two days after losing power; a half-full freezer for only one day. Group foods together to keep them colder.

*Refrigerators keep highly perishable food safely cold for about four hours. Use your dry ice or frozen jugs in the refrigerator if the power is out longer than four hours.

*Avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer unless absolutely necessary during an outage.

Read more tips for safe food handling during a power outage.

So now that the power is out, what do you cook?

Again, planning ahead makes all the difference. A list of nonperishable foods is recommended that should feed a person for three days. Keep your pantry stocked with such foods during storm season.

How about homemade hummus, tuna salad, overnight oats or bean salad? Dishes such as these are healthy and don’t require cooking. Search the internet for healthy non-cook recipes and stock up on ingredients before a storm hits. You can find lots of good recipes, like these. Bon Appetit has some great ideas for hurricane cooking.

If you want to cook a hot meal and use up some of those perishables in your refrigerator, you can always cook on your barbecue grill. Or, a two-burner propane camp stove is a nice investment to make. They cost around $50 and are available at mass retailers and sporting goods stores. Don’t cook indoors with a camp stove; you risk carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure the storm has safely passed and cook outside. Before a storm hits, make sure you have a good supply of fuel for your grill or stove.

Review these safe grilling tips from Granville Morse, III, MD, Ochsner Urgent Care system chair.

Here’s a healthy street taco recipe you could make on your camp stove if you have a pound of chicken in the fridge you want to use up.

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