Make Ahead

A Food Plan to Prep for Hurricane Matthew (and Eat Well Without Power)

October  5, 2016

Hurricane Matthew, which has swept through Haiti and other parts of the Caribbean, has already had devastating effects. Hurricane-force winds are expected to be felt in Florida starting tomorrow, with Matthew continuing to impact the Southeastern coast through the weekend. So Laurel turned to the Hotline to see how others are preparing for the coming storm.

If you’re in an area that isn’t encouraged to evacuate, but you still have a high chance of losing power in the coming days, h​ere’s a few ways to prepare ahead of time and still eat reasonably well:

Storm Prep

  • Locate your cooler(s) and get your freezer's ice machine on overdrive (or go buy bags of ice).

  • Next, cook the refrigerated ingredients you already have on hand: Roast vegetables, sauté greens, etc. No, this won’t save them if the power goes out (you’ll still need to move them to the cooler), but at least you’ll have semi-prepped items to build meals with rather than raw ones.

  • ​Now make yourself something really comforting for tonight's dinner. (Maybe make a double-batch to help clear out the fridge and invite your neighbors over to share.)
  • Then, make snacks and breakfast bars that will keep well at room temperature.
  • Finally, if you still have power (and the energy to keep going), make a treat to two—they'll​ make the hours or days ahead a little sweeter.

Power's out

  • Make salads using whatever fresh ingredients made it into a cooler (like those vegetables you took time to roast!) along with canned items. BerryBaby says she loves making salads out of pantry ingredients like canned potatoes, green beans, tuna, and black olives, dressed with salt and pepper, oil, and vinegar.
  • Put stuff on a single slice of bread (it will still be good even though you can't toast it), call it a tartine, feel like you're eating something fancier than a PB&J.
  • Make a full-on sandwich—like an overstuffed Dagwood-style one with as many pantry ingredients as you can muster—just bypass any meats or cheeses and any steps to "refrigerate for a few hours." Nancy calls canned beans “a lifesaver” for sandwiches (or even eaten on their own with some dressing).

And we're not discounting the PB&J—it's a good option, too.

  • A bag of chips, a jar of salsa, and guacamole definitely counts as a meal. Bonus points if you can mix up a margarita (neat? or with any ice that's still in the cooler).
  • Make a tapas spread with any fruits and vegetables that can be eaten out of hand (crudité!), crackers, cured meats, tinned seafood, jarred olives and pickles, and anything else you can scrounge up.

What are your favorite meals to make when you don't have power? Tell us about them below!

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Laurel
  • Jamie
  • GorillaGrilla
  • lilroseglow
  • Lulu Edwards
    Lulu Edwards
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


Laurel October 13, 2016
Thank you so much Food52 for your help! I really appreciated the thought you put into this article. Meal planning was the last of my worries when it came to prepping for Hurricane Matthew. Your advice and reminders (to bake an extra batch of cookies) made the ordeal bearable for my family:)
Lindsay-Jean H. October 14, 2016
That's so nice to hear, thanks Laurel. Hope all is okay in your neck of the woods!
Jamie October 6, 2016
I'd recommend having a 'marine' cooler for emergencies - they have better insulation and will stay cold longer. I'd also suggest (if there's time to do so) to get bricks of Dry Ice instead of regular ice. It'll keep thing colder and instead of having everything floating in cooler-juice that's contaminated with any/all food leakages. Also, never, ever, ever drink cooler water from where you store your food.
GorillaGrilla October 6, 2016
Its fantastic
lilroseglow October 6, 2016
Martha Stewart? Is that you??
Lulu E. October 5, 2016
Wow! This is such an excellent article about Disaster Preparedness. I am a fan of FOOD52 that lurks out here in the ether trying to be as good a cook as you have here. Thank you for this solid good information that will help anyone facing no electricity hard times.