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Food Storage For Power Outages: What to Stock

a family sitting around a candle during a power outage
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When you find yourself having to feed your family during a power outage, having an adequate supply of food storage can literally save the day. The first thing food safety advisors will tell you is to try to avoid opening your refrigerator or freezer during a power outage. This will help your food stay as cold as possible and avoid spoilage. However, families still need to eat, so having a store of non-perishable food items will ensure that your family has plenty of food to sustain themselves for the duration of your area’s power outage.

What Foods Should Be Included in Food Storage for Power Outages?

If you have a non-electric refrigerator, you will have an advantage when your power goes out. However, if you don’t have a non-electric refrigerator, you need to plan for food storage. Below, we list some of the items you can stock to get your family through a power outage.

Cans or Pouches of Tuna and/or Salmon

Canned fish such as tuna and sardines are great for food storage. Fish is a filling protein source, and you can serve it with crackers. Watch the expiration dates on canned fish carefully and replace your fish in food storage as needed.

Meat Sticks or Beef Jerky

Beef jerky and other dried meats are nice to have in food storage for emergencies. Many dried meat products are loaded with ingredients such as MSG and nitrates, so shop around for a brand that doesn’t have these harmful ingredients.

Canned Meat

Like canned fish, canned meat is also a handy protein source. You can buy canned chicken and use it to make chicken salad, soups, or sandwiches. In a pinch, you can also buy products such as hash and pre-made tuna salad.

Canned Vegetables

Even when there is a power outage, people still need their veggies. Everything from green beans to corn is ideal for having in food storage for emergencies. Make sure you have a non-electric can opener for opening cans. You can also buy canned vegetables that have a pop-top lid that you pull off.

Nut Butters Such as Peanut Butter or Almond Butter

Nut butters are excellent sources of protein, which makes them filling and nutritious. If you happen to have bread already, you can use it to make peanut butter sandwiches. You can also serve your nut butters with crackers. Another food that has a long shelf life is jelly, so have some on hand if you enjoy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.


While bread isn’t great for food storage because it spoils quickly, crackers are ideal. You can buy a variety of different crackers, and they are perfect for serving with nut butters and canned fish.

Trail Mix, Seeds, and Dried Fruit

Mixes that include nuts, seeds, and dried fruit are filling and satisfying. They also keep for a long time. Stay on top of the expiration dates because the nuts can go rancid after a while.


You can keep your nuts separate if you don’t eat trail mix. Nuts are highly nutritious and a great protein source. Whole nuts that have not been shelled will keep much longer than shelled nuts. If you’re storing walnuts or pecans, be sure to store a hand-held nutcracker with your nuts.

Cereal Bars and Granola Bars

Granola bars and cereal bars are shelf-stable and last longer than cereal. You can find these bars that are loaded with sugar, but there are some great brands out there that are healthier.

Protein Bars

Protein bars are more substantial than granola bars, so they keep you fuller for longer. Also, protein bars generally have less sugar than granola bars or cereal bars.

Fruit Cups, Canned Fruit, or Applesauce

If you’re facing a day or more without electricity, it’s nice to have some fruit in your food storage. Fruit is satisfying for children, and it provides important vitamins and nutrients. You can also use fruit as a side dish with the simple meals your prepare.

Overnight Oats

Oatmeal is filling and nutritious, and also quick and easy to prepare. If you make overnight oats, you don’t even have to cook. To make overnight oats, mix your rolled oats with some water in a mason jar with a lid. Then, let your oats sit on the countertop overnight. In the morning, add other ingredients, such as peanut butter or dried fruit.

Instant Oatmeal

To make instant oatmeal, you need nothing but hot water or milk. We recommend buying the boxes with individual packages because keeping them from spoiling is easier. Have a variety of flavors so that there’s something for everyone.


You probably already have some cereal in your pantry, but consider storing some with a long expiration date for your power outage emergency. Cereal without a lot of added sugar is a nutritious meal that can be served with shelf-stable milk.

Boxed Shelf-Stable Milk

Milk is a nutritious beverage to have in your food storage. You can buy shelf-stable dairy milk, or you can store non-dairy milk products. This can include almond milk, coconut milk, or oat milk.

Canned Chili

If you’re in a cold house without electricity, it’s nice to warm up with a satisfying bowl of hot chili. You can heat canned chili up on the grill outside if you don’t have a way to cook it inside the house.

Canned Soup

Like chili, canned soup can provide a hot and satisfying meal. Consider stocking some heavier soups, such as chowder and beef stew. These are more filling than thinner soups like chicken noodle soup or tomato soup.

How Much Food Per Person Should I Store?

Plan to have at least one week’s worth of food for every person who will be with you during your power outage. Equally important, you need to plan how to heat your food storage supplies when your power goes out. If you’re fortunate enough to have a gas stove, you can use a lighter to light your burners to cook.

If you have an electric stove, you need to have an alternative plan for heating your food. This can be an outdoor propane grill or a charcoal grill. You can also buy Sterno cooking fuel for heating foods such as canned chili or soup. A Sterno will burn for about two hours, so be sure you stock enough of them to last for a week. If you need to use a Sterno, you need something like a fondue pot that will sit above the Sterno.

Ensure that you have lighters or matches in the house for lighting your stove, candles, and Sterno.

A closeup of a hand holding a glass water bottle in front of a light brown wall.

How Much Water Should You Prepare for Power Outages?

You need one gallon of water per person every day for drinking and preparing food. Planning for a week of a power outage, you will need seven gallons of water for every member of your family. This does not include water for cleaning and bathing.

Keeping Your Water Safe

If you have questions about the safety of your water supply, consider boiling your water to kill bacteria and microorganisms that can be dangerous. It’s easy to boil water, and how your water looks determines how long you should boil it.

  • Cloudy tap water: First, strain your water through cheesecloth or a coffee filter. Boil cloudy tap water for minimally one minute. If you live at a higher elevation, boil your water for three minutes or more.
  • Clear tap water: If your water is clear, boil it for one minute. Higher elevations should boil their clear water for minimally three minutes.

Other Beverages to Stock

In addition to having access to fresh water during a power outage, it’s also a good idea to stock other beverages.

  • Fruit juice
  • Flavored water (if you have family members who don’t like plain drinking water)
  • Gatorade for summer power outages
  • Shelf-stable milk products
  • Powdered milk
  • Instant coffee

When Should I Tap Into My Food Storage?

You can tap into your food storage at any time but plan to replace the food the next time you go grocery shopping. Bear in mind that you should try to avoid opening your refrigerator or freezer so that your food in there stays cold. Equally important, make it a habit to check your food storage every couple of months so you can toss out any expired foods and replace them.

Look Towards ONIT Home for a UV Purification System

When planning for your food storage needs, don’t forget to make sure you’re prepared to have safe drinking water! With ONIT Home, we supply homeowners with water filtration systems, including UV purifiers! Say goodbye to boil water notices and enjoy clean and safe water, straight from the tap.

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