Going into my fourth hurricane season in Wilmington, I have started to pay closer attention to what can be done to prepare for the worst. Creating healthy and fulfilling meals during a stressful event, such as a hurricane, can be challenging. Hurricane season in North Carolina takes place from June 1-November 30. Preparing for natural disasters such as hurricanes is essential because you never know how long you could be without things such as food, water, electricity, and transportation. Before hurricane season picks up, it is advised that you stock your pantry with two weeks of nonperishable goods such as canned fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, beans. Other shelf-stable items include snacks, whole grains, nut butters, and non-perishable milk of choice. You’ll also want three days’ worth of water in your household, at least one gallon per day per person (and pet).
The breakfast I often enjoy is oatmeal or chia seed pudding topped with nuts, fruits, and milk. This meal can easily be composed of shelf-stable whole grains, nuts, and seeds that provide the body with energy and protein. Lunches that could be enjoyed when low on accessible resources could be sandwiches, wraps, or salads. Dinners could include lentil or bean tacos, curry, or bean and rice burritos or bowls. All these options can be tailored to individuals’ liking and available resources. The focus is that your meal should be composed of lots of vegetables and fruits, half of your grains should be whole, and your protein sources should vary. I also like to limit my intake of empty calories from products such as solid fats and added sugars which provide you with little source of energy and nutrition.
Knowledge surrounding food safety is also critical to hurricane preparedness. I always keep in mind that it is important to keep food in covered containers. All uneaten portions of prepared foods should be disposed of within two hours to prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses. Also, it is important to note that canned foods that are damaged, such as swollen, dented, or corroded cans, are not food safe. Throw away foods that have any molding or other signs of spoilage. Lastly, when under a hurricane warning, keep the fridge and freezer set to the coldest settings to extend the longevity of refrigerated and frozen items in the event of a power outage.
I will be reminding myself of all these tips as we enter hurricane season this year. If you need help deciding what goes in your hurricane kit, visit this website: https://go.ncsu.edu/hurricaneprep.
Rhianna Flory is an intern at The NC Cooperative Extension Center for New Hanover County which is located at the Arboretum, 6206 Oleander Drive. The gardens are free and open daily 8 am - 5 pm. Reach her at email@example.com or 910-798-7660.