With all the talk in the news lately about hurricane preparedness, here are some ideas about how to continue your low carb way of eating despite a loss of power following a storm. Not all of these may apply, but hopefully they will give some ideas about how to deal with a difficult situation. Keep in mind that outside of hurricane season, folks in North Carolina and elsewhere still deal with ice storms, snow storms and other natural disasters – it pays to be prepared. The NC extension office has great info on general storm preparedness with many more tips on how to prepare your kitchen and home.
- Do the best you can. Sticking with your plan will help you deal with the stress
and work following a storm, but you may need to make modifications.
- Consider investing in a gas/propane grill with a side burner or camping stove (with bottled fuel) to use in case of an emergency. Be safe – these items need to be used outside, and not for heating your home. If you cannot cook outside (apartment dwellers for example), in a pinch, sternos used for keeping foods warm at parties can be used to heat/cook foods. Otherwise have on hand foods that need no heating and cooking.
- Cook and eat up the stuff in the fridge, then move on to the freezer. Items in the fridge like meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, eggs, and leftovers are not considered safe to eat after the power has been off for more than 4 hours. You may be able to keep items in coolers on ice as long as they are at 42 degrees or below.
- Food in a fully packed closed freezer should remain frozen for 2 days. Half
full freezer for one day. Resist the temptation to open the freezer. Inventory and map out what is in there and only go in when needed. Ice cream won’t stay frozen – eat up!
- Consider replacing from year to year your “disaster only” shelf stable items that you might not normally eat and donating useable non-expired items to your local food pantry.
- If your water runs on an electric pump, such as one attached to a well, be
sure to fill your bathtubs and buckets with water before the storm. This can be used for flushing toilets, cleaning, etc. thereby saving your bottled drinking water.
List of supplies that I’ve found helpful in weathering storms/power outages:
Alcohol based hand sanitizer
“Cleaning wipes” or baby wipes
General cleaning products (dish soap, etc)
Buckets (one for each bathroom – for flushing with water if you don’t have running water)
Flashlights and extra batteries
Camping lanterns/oil lamp (if they can be used safely in your home)
Candles (if they can be used safely in your home)
Manual can opener
Pans you can use to cook over open flame
Wine bottle opener
Protein shake bottles
Low carb options
These items are generally considered low carb, and may already be part of you plan.
Raw veggies: Ones that will keep unrefrigerated for a while are best such as celery, bell peppers or small cucumbers.
Canned or packaged shelf stable meats: Depending on your taste this includes things like tuna, salmon, chicken, spam/ham, spam/turkey, Vienna sausage, sardines, smoked oysters, etc. (Spam is great grilled!). Some have added sugar, but are lower carb than other options. Remember that once opened, you need to eat up since you will not be able to refrigerate leftovers.
Fully cooked bacon or bacon bits: Comes in a box, shelf stable and needs no refrigeration – but again, once open needs to be eaten.
Nut butters: No need for bread, you can eat with a spoon. Or spread on raw veggies.
Whole nuts: If you can, making spiced nuts adds some zest. Melt butter in pan, toast nuts, add spices, cool before eating.
Beef jerky: The lowest carb brand around used to be Wal-Mart Great Values brand, 2 carbs per oz. Jack Link’s is not too bad at between 3 and 4 carbs per oz.
Canned veggies: I’m partial to green and wax beans. Kale, spinach, collards, and mushrooms are also good low carb options. As are jars of roasted red peppers.
Bottled vinaigrette dressings: Can be used to make salad out of a mixture of drained canned veggies, also nice for tuna, chicken, etc.
Single serve packets of mustard, mayo, etc.: Packet of mayo, bit of celery and small can of tuna = tuna salad.
Low carb meal/energy bars: My favorite is a whey based protein bar Pure Protein, in chocolate or peanut.
Protein shakes: Most protein shakes can be made with water and a shaker bottle. They taste better cold, but without ice they are still quite palatable. Chocolate and cappuccino flavors are nice heated.
Sugar free beverages, including single serve drink mixes: You’ll be drinking at room temp, but it adds variety with the bottled water.
Bottled sparking water: Again, nice change from plain bottle water, especially if its flavored.
Instant tea, coffee, sugar free cocoa, etc.: If you like brewed coffee and can heat water, a French press or traditional drip maker is helpful.
Low carb granola and shelf stable almond or coconut milk: If you have a day or two to
prepare, consider making some low carb granola or granola bars. Once opened, the almond milk and coconut milk needs to be used, but should be ok for the day.
Low carb chips/snacks: There are some soy and cheese based products on the market that are pretty good.
Low carb breads/wraps: We like Flat Out lite wraps and Mission Carb Balance tortillas
Low carb candy/treats: These items may not normally be part of your plan, but consider that if your situation does not allow you to cook at all, they might be helpful in keeping you away from other temptations.
Lower carb options
These are items you might not normally eat in your eating plan, but in emergency situations they are still lower carb options than cracking open the instant white rice and cans of potatoes. After several days of eating jerky and protein shakes, they might be a welcome reprieve.
Stewed tomatoes, other veggies: Get veggies that you are ok with eating warmed up, or cold from the can. I avoid corn and potatoes but I’m ok with peas, beets, carrots, etc.
Beans: Black soy are low carb, but many low carb plans allow for other beans at later phases. I’m partial to chickpeas, kidney, black eye peas, and regular black beans. Mix beans with canned green beans and bottled vinagrette for a tasty salad.
Soup: There are some lower carb options. I stick to the basics like tomato, creamy mushroom, chicken, chili, butternut squash, etc. Instant beef, onion, vegetable, etc. are ok too. All packaged soups have some ingredients you might normally avoid, but again, do your best. You can add shelf stable meats to up the protein content.
Canned fruits: Look for whole fruits with no sugar added.
Dried fruits: I’m more apt to use these in cooking, so they are normally on hand. Prunes, apricots, freeze dried fruit combos, dried strawberries, blueberries, raspberries… Most dried fruits have concentrated natural sugars, 20-25 carbs per ¼ cup so go easy.
Sugar free puddings and gelatin: Buy the the shelf stable kind, like “Snack Pack.” These have about 4 carbs each, plus sugar alcohols, so use in moderation. The Jello brand stuff needs to be refrigerated, don’t buy it.
Red wine: Tastes better room temp, although after 6 days of no power in the summer, you’d be surprised at your willingness to drink warm low carb beer and room temp cocktails.
In addition, if you drink it never hurts to have some low carb mixers for the bar: vodka, gin, whisky, brandy, scotch, cognac, tequila are all low carb liquors. For mixers: sugar free tonic water, diet cranberry drink, lemonade mix, diet colas, diet ginger ale, seltzer, etc. Stock up on some lemons and limes too. Alcohol is not strictly a low carb diet item as it interferes with fat burning in the body, but if you do indulge, stay away from the sugar based booze.
Dreamfield’s pasta: Some folks don’t do well with it, but if its ok for you its easy to cook if you have access to water and a stove.
Whole grain couscous or wheat bulgar: Again, if whole grains are possible on your plan, couscous cooks up instantly with boiling water as does whole wheat bulgar.
Lower carb/gluten free snacks: Lentil chips, fried/dried veggie snacks, sweet potato or taro chips, nut&rice crackers, multigrain crackers all are lower glycemic and lower carb than potato or corn chips.
Other ideas: If you have a day or two to prepare, consider baking up a loaf of low carb bread or some low carb brownies or cookies to have on hand.
Don’t forget the pets! Make sure you have enough pet food and plain water on hand for them. I don’t know about you, but my cat is not going to drink lime flavored seltzer.