Preparing for a winter storm: Here are the groceries you should have in stock

Make sure you have done the basics: Learn how to keep the pipes from freezing (you can open cabinets in places like sinks to let in heat or let taps drip), test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, have extra batteries for radios and flashlights, charge electronics and pay attention to the specific needs of everyone in your household, such as medicines.

And make sure you have everything you need for groceries.

Such storms – and their aftermath – can cut off heat, power or communications services. Because we do not yet know how serious the effects will be and how long they will last, and in the midst of supply chain problems that could intensify the grocery trade battles this weekend, have at least three days of food and water for everyone in your home, says Joann Sands, a clinical assistant professor at the School of Nursing at the University of Buffalo, which trains students in disaster and emergency preparedness.
Choose foods that have a long shelf life, that do not require cooking and are not too salty or spicy, because these foods mean you are likely to drink more water, recommends the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here is what you should make sure to fill up in your home.

High protein and non-perishable food

These include foods such as energy bars and protein and fruit bars that do not need to be refrigerated or frozen, Sands said.

Dry cereals, granola, peanut butter, dried fruit and non-perishable pasteurized milk are also good to have while you hunk down.

Canned food

Keep in mind that the power may be out when the storm whips through your region, so bring pre-canned meat, fruits, vegetables and canned juices as well as a manual can opener, according to
Canned dietary foods, juices and soups can be especially helpful for the elderly or sick, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

If a box is swollen, dented or corroded, do not eat it.

Comfort food

While not crucial, experts recommend having comfort and stress foods on hand while tackling the storm.


Store at least three days of water supply for each person in your household and for each pet, the CDC recommends. FEMA recommends storing at least one gallon of water for each person in your household for each day.

Unopened, commercial bottled water is the safest and most reliable water supply, says the agency. If there is water from the store, make sure you check the expiration date.

Plastic bags and containers

Make sure you also have plastic bags on hand, as you can wrap perishable foods – such as cookies – in there and place them in sealed containers, according to FEMA.

Paper plates, cups and disposable cutlery

If you run out of power and water, having paper plates and utensils can help you prepare and eat your meals safely, says the CDC.

Think of babies – and pets

When preparing, do not forget about babies and pets in the house.

Make sure you have enough infant formula, as well as anything else an infant may need, such as diapers, Sands said.

Also, make sure to have several days’ supplies for pets, such as medicines and non-perishable food.

(And maybe some goodies, as storms can be stressful for them too.)

Hygiene products

Check that you have the hygiene products you need – including feminine supplies, toilet paper, wet wipes, paper towels and hand sanitizer.

Have an emergency kit

It is always a good idea to have a disaster kit ready that is in a portable container near the home exit.

These should include: foods that are not perishable and three days of water supply, a battery-powered radio and flashlight, extra batteries, a first aid kit with instructions for use, sanitary equipment, matches in a waterproof container, a whistle to signal for help if you need it, clothing , blankets and sleeping bags, identification cards, credit cards and cash, paper and pencil, items to cover baby and pet needs and any special items such as medicines, contact lenses, glasses, hearing aids and activities for younger children.

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, you should also include things like face masks.

Know this about items in the fridge:

It is important that you do not panic and try to fill your fridge, Sands said.

“How are you going to manage to store this food if you do not have electricity?” Sands said, adding that refilling with extra groceries can not only lead to wasted food, but can hurt others who may not be able to find what they are looking for.

If the power goes out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as you can to avoid letting the cool air out. If unopened, your refrigerator will be able to keep food cold for about four hours, according to

Throw out perishable foods – such as meat, poultry, eggs or leftovers – that have been in temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours.

Fill the fuel tank

While in a winter storm, try to minimize travel as much as you can, to avoid getting stranded on the road. Make sure if you have to go out, you have a full tank of gas, Sands said.

It is also a good idea to have an emergency kit in each of the family’s vehicles, in case you get stranded.

Here’s what to pack in your car to be safe.

Tips to keep in mind before the storm

  • Have important documents easily accessible in the event of an evacuation, including home or rental insurance, social security cards, birth certificates and passports, Sands said.
  • Make a family communication plan for how you can get in touch if you are separated during the storm.
  • Do not bring portable generators, clay ovens and grills into your home. Keep them at least 20 feet away from windows, doors and valves to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Look for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Here’s how they look.
  • Plan to check on your elderly or disabled neighbors and friends.

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