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Best Foods to Stockpile for an Emergency

Natural disasters—a flood, hurricane, blizzard—often come with little or no warning. Stocking up now on the right nonperishable food items will help you weather the storm with less stress.

By Vanessa DiMaggio
Can Strainer Aya Brackett

What to Buy Right Before an Emergency

If you’ve been given ample warning that a storm is coming, there’s still time to run to the market and pick up fresh produce and other items that have shorter shelf lives. Most of these foods will last at least a week after they’ve been purchased and will give you a fresh alternative to all that packaged food. Make sure to swing by your local farmers’ market if it’s open; because the produce there is fresher than what you’ll find at your typical supermarket, you’ll add a few days to the life span of your fruits and vegetables.

Apples
Apples last up to three months when stored in a cool, dry area away from more perishable fruits (like bananas), which could cause them to ripen more quickly.

Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits
Because of their high acid content and sturdy skins, citrus fruits can last for up to two weeks without refrigeration, particularly if you buy them when they’re not fully ripe. Oranges and grapefruits contain lots of vitamin C and will keep you hydrated.

Avocados
If you buy an unripe, firm avocado, it will last outside the refrigerator for at least a week.

Tomatoes
If you buy them unripe, tomatoes will last several days at room temperature.

Potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams
If you have access to a working stove, these root vegetables are good keepers and make tasty side dishes. Stored in a cool, dark area, potatoes will last about a month.

Cucumbers and summer squash
These vegetables will last a few days outside of refrigeration and can be eaten raw.

Winter squash
While most are inedible uncooked, winter squashes, such as acorn squash, will keep for a few months. If you’ll be able to cook during the emergency, stockpile a bunch.

Hard, packaged sausages, such as sopressata and pepperoni
You can’t eat canned tuna and chicken forever. Try stocking up on a few packages of dry-cured salamis like sopressata, a southern Italian specialty available at most grocery stores. Unopened, they will keep for up to six weeks in the pantry, says Van.

 

 
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Quick Tip

Aluminum foil and plastic wrap in a drawer

The flan can be baked up to 3 days in advance; refrigerate, loosely covered with plastic wrap. Unmold just before serving.