11 Things to Have in Your Pantry in Case a Storm Comes

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Susanna Hopler)

We are in the midst of peak winter storm season, which means it is time to stock your cabinets with the essentials. It is true that storms rarely appear without warning; it is also true that, like a Boy Scout, it is best to be prepared.

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  1. Bottled water: Just because water is still running once the power goes out doesn’t mean your city’s water purification systems are functioning at full capacity. If you’re expecting a power outage (or frozen pipes), stock up on the bottled stuff — for drinking, obviously, but also for cooking, washing, and general hygiene.
  2. Peanut butter: You probably won’t lose power, but if you do, peanut butter (or almond, or cashew, or sunflower seed butter) can keep you going in a pinch. Plus, it lasts basically forever — an open, unrefrigerated jar should last about three months (although presumably the storm will have let up by then).
  3. Wine (or festive booze of choice): A nice, mid-range Syrah will not save you in a true weather emergency, but for a moderate shut-down, you can’t go wrong with a solid bottle of red. You’re hunkered down anyway — why not elevate the occasion?
  4. Crackers: Seedy, whole-grain crackers last longer than fresh bread and make an excellent blank slate for whatever else you can scrounge up.
  5. Canned chickpeas: Eating room-temperature canned chickpeas dressed with salt and … whatever else you is in your refrigerator (lemon? Tahini? Hot sauce?) is not the ideal way to eat chickpeas, but if you must, it’s good enough. If your stove is working, even better: Chickpeas are an excellent staple to have on hand for hearty soups and stews of all kinds. (Also suggested: other canned goods of your choice like beans, soups, and diced tomatoes!)
  6. Nuts and trail mix: There’s a reason this stuff is a hiking staple: It keeps you going and requires no prep. For a premium storm experience, buy the nuts, raisins, dried fruits, coconut flakes, and chocolate chips in bulk and customize. (For a convenient storm experience, buy it pre-packaged at the grocery store.)
  7. Chocolate: When faced with adversity, it is important to keep your spirits up.
  8. Pasta: Dried pasta is worthless without water and a working stove, but assuming you’ve got both, it’s the ultimate comfort food for dining while in hibernation. Pair it with your aforementioned diced tomatoes, and perhaps your wine.
  9. Canned tuna or salmon: A non-perishable protein source, tinned fish makes an easy no-heat dinner. Spread it on crackers (see above), add whatever seasonings strike your fancy, and voila! You have something resembling a legitimate meal.
  10. Coffee grounds: Again, assuming you have water (and a French press), you can make yourself coffee, which is always essential.
  11. Fruit: You have no excuse to ignore this one. Apples, bananas, and oranges can sit out on your counter and require no prep. You can even eat them in total darkness!

What else do you buy when a storm is headed your way?