11 Groceries to Stock in Your Pantry for Hurricane Season

published Aug 11, 2023
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When you grow up in Florida like I did, you get really good at grocery shopping during Hurricane season really fast. Lasting from June 1 to November 30 each year, hurricane season can often bring more than a few common occurrences: power outages, drinking water advisories, and Supermarket Sweep-style grocery shoppers. No one wants to be the last person in the store scrounging for the lone loaf of bread or last bit of plywood, so do yourself a huge favor this year and stock up your pantry for whatever hurricane season brings your way (fingers crossed hopefully it’s just a bit of rain!).

By and large, stocking your own hurricane-proof pantry involves making sure you can meet all your dietary needs whether you have power or not (or a portable gas stove). Think of it this way: Swapping in a few shelf-stable versions of your usual heavy hitters from each portion of the good old MyPlate (aka the glowed-up Food Pyramid that serves as the official symbol of the five food groups), will not only keep you feeling full, but also energized and ready to weather the storm. It also helps minimize the disruption from your normal routine. 

Add in an ice-packed cooler if you have medications that need to stay chilled (like insulin) or want to keep any of the items below fresh. I’m a big fan of my RTIC cooler, not only because it has kept ice frozen for four days (!), but also because it’s light enough for me to carry it on my own. 

Lastly, as a hurricane-weathering Floridian, I highly recommend gradually stocking up on hurricane-friendly items throughout the season (rather than doing one fast mad-dash during its peak) — especially for all these hurricane-friendly groceries. 

1. Bottled Water

Hurricanes are notorious for taking out power, and water sources can often be compromised due to storm damage. That’s why it’s super important to make sure you’ve got plenty of bottled water on hand (a gallon of water per day, enough for a whole week). Electrolyte drinks are also your friend here, too, like Powerade and Gatorade, or powdered electrolyte drink mixes (I’m a big fan of keeping plenty of Liquid I.V.’s Golden Cherry flavor on hand). 

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2. Instant Coffee (or Tea!)

Aside from water, of course, coffee is definitely next on the list of most important beverages. Especially when it comes to power outages, don’t let your electricity-powered coffee maker leave you coffee-less in the morning. In a pinch, that canister of instant coffee is great to break out during a hurricane (and maybe you haven’t noticed, but instant coffee has gotten scary good these days). 

My favorites? Trader Joe’s Instant Cold Brew Coffee, Starbucks VIA, and Verve’s Instant Craft Coffee are my constant go-tos and easy to grab on a grocery run. There are also delicious concentrates that go great when served hot or cold, like Pop & Bottle’s. If you prefer to use your own ground beans, my Aeropress has become my BFF for when I need a barista-level cup on the fly. It not only will brew hot coffee, but can also brew cold brew in a minute (no exaggeration!) with lukewarm water. 

More of a tea person? Kola Goodies’ Sri Lankan Milk Tea packets are absolute day-makers whether you brew them hot or cold (and come complete with powdered whole milk and natural sweeteners, like monk fruit and coconut sugar). Plus, they also come in a vegan oat milk version.

Credit: Roman Tiraspolsky

3. Shelf-Stable Milks (or Your Fave Alt-Milk)

It’s easy to forget that cow’s milk also comes in shelf-stable versions (like you might see alt milks such as pistachio, oat, and almond), and you’ll be so glad to see these in your cupboard during a hurricane. A great substitute for the refrigerated stuff, shelf-stable cow’s milk is a solid source of protein and great along with individually portioned boxed cereals (my power outage breakfast of choice over large boxes, so they won’t go stale as quickly). It’ll also help add heft and vitamins to your coffee, oatmeal, or alongside a granola bar, too.

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4. Canned Foods

Pantry workhorse canned foods are the MVPs of hurricane food prep, as they’re shelf-stable and easy to combine for a solid meal. Thankfully, canned and shelf-stable items have gotten more exciting lately, meaning you have plenty of options for quick, easy-to-make meals if you’ve lost power or water. I like to make sure to stock up on canned and bottled pasta sauces (a great quick dinner when tossed with dried pasta), beans, tinned fish, and canned vegetables.

Forgot your manual can opener? No sweat! Fun, prepackaged packets from brands like A Dozen Cousins (which make super-easy-to-throw-together items like bone broth rice and seasoned beans) are there for you. 

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5. Granola Bars

A friend to purses, backpacks, and disaster preparedness kits alike, granola bars are a must-buy on your hurricane shopping list. They’re a quick source of energy, last (nearly) forever, and often are packed with fiber, protein, and/or dried fruit. My go-to brand these days is Bobo’s oat bars, because the company has yet to create a flavor I haven’t been infatuated with. They’re actually so popular in my family that I have to hide my personal stash on long road trips so they don’t eat them all, so definitely consider getting a few boxes (especially the PB&J-stuffed flavor). 

Credit: Shyripa Alexandr/Shutterstock

6. Nut Butter 

Quick energy is the name of the game with most hurricane-friendly foods, and it doesn’t get any quicker (or last quite as long on the shelf) than a big ol’ jar of nut butter. I don’t need to tell you that there really are infinite uses for the stuff, from sandwiches to schmearing on an apple (also a pretty long-lasting fruit to keep on hand) or just eating straight from the jar on a spoon. I like to jazz things up by always having a few fun-flavored jars and packets around, like Justin’s individual packets of Maple Almond Butter and Ground Up’s Blueberry Waffle Cone Nut Butter.

Credit: Patty Catalano

7. Jerky

I’m no stranger to slamming into a Slim Jim, so to speak, especially when it comes to putting together my hurricane snack stash. Nowadays there are so many options out there that go way beyond the sticks of jerky you used to get out of a vending machine. Be sure to gather up some of my favorites like Chomps grass-fed Beef (and Turkey) Jerky Sticks, EPIC Provisions jerky bars and snack strips, or vegan-friendly Primal seitan-based jerky.

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

8. Dried Fruits & Fruit Pouches

When there’s a possibility of a power outage on the horizon, your hurricane shop is not the time to stock up on all the fresh produce you can grab. With the exception of long-lasting produce like apples, opt for picking up bags of dried fruits in lieu of your fresh favorites. Another favorite thing to pick up? Applesauce pouches. Really! They’re not just for kids (and often come with snuck-in nutrient-rich vegetables, too).  

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

9. Ready-to-Eat Meals

Power outages caused by hurricanes can really make you feel like you’re camping inside your house, so I definitely keep that theme going by stocking up on a few of my favorite RTE, freeze-dried camping meals to perk up a meal time when the PB&Js or canned options aren’t the mood. Camping food has also come a long way, with plenty of delicious options for lots of different tastes and dietary needs. They also often only require boiling or lukewarm water to prep. Some of my favorites are Good-To-Go’s Fig Granola (complete with powdered milk) and Backpacker’s Pantry Pad Thai.

Credit: Kelli Foster

10. Instant Noodles

Much like instant coffee and pre-packaged camping meals, instant soups and noodles have become delightfully better-than-ever these days — ones you’d make even if you didn’t have a power outage. I’m basically a lifelong lover of the iconic Maruchan Ramen Noodles, but why stop there? A-Sha’s dry noodles have plant-based protein, come with their own sauce packets (like sesame, chili, and extra-spicy ghost pepper), and come in all kinds of fun, infinitely slurpable shapes. Just add to boiling water and you’ll be slurping in no time (well, like five minutes).

Credit: Sarah Crowley

11. A Few Little Luxuries (for Good Measure)

Hurricane season is not the time to forgo the treats, either. Far from it! While I’m not advocating breaking the bank on fancy tinned fish here, do be sure to buy items that you’ll actually enjoy eating to really ensure you keep both your energy and spirits high. If you, like me, also grew up experiencing a lot of hurricanes, the season likely has a specific flavor for you as well. 

For me, it’s a delightfully ’90s combo of Clearly Canadian and frosted animal crackers (never lets me down!). Perhaps make sure you’ve got a decent boxed wine, that new fun popcorn you’ve wanted to try, or an Ina Garten-approved bar of chocolate on hand to really lean in to the power-outage camp-out vibes (grab all three for good measure). 

What other essentials are you stocking in your pantry? Tell us in the comments below.