Pot Luck

This Hurricane Season, Stock Up the Right Way

Weather agencies across the nation are predicting a much busier hurricane season this year than usual. NOAA predicts up to 10 hurricanes between now and November, with three to six of those being major hurricanes.

Remember Hurricane Ike? Remember living off canned tuna and biting your spouse's head off every time he went to open the fridge after the power went out? Goddammit, we can get at least an extra day's cool air out of it if you'll JUST LEAVE IT ALONE. Let's not go through that again.

Get your Costco card and stock up now, so that you don't have to risk mariticide or long lines and pitchforks at your local Walmart when the next storm starts forming in the Gulf. Below are our suggestions for stockpiling this summer.

Water. This can't be emphasized enough. Please stock up on water. Bottled stuff, be-jugged stuff, filtered stuff, however you like to purchase and store water in mass quantities -- just make sure you have lots of water. I also like to fill bathtubs before a storm hits; this is handy for washing off (with washcloths; don't actually get in the tub) and for filling toilet tanks so that you don't have to use your precious bottled water supplies for these activities.

Buy food that's high in protein and complex carbohydrates; you'll need the energy. Cleaning up a storm-damaged house, backyard, carport, etc. can be draining, and you don't want to live off Lay's potato chips while you're doing this. Canned tuna, canned chicken and canned salmon can all be eaten alone or used to make good salads, especially eaten on wheat bread. Granola bars (the healthy kind, please), trail mix, dried fruit and the like are basics.

Make sure you have 72 hours worth of food on hand that doesn't require any light or heat to prepare. That often means granola bars, as seen above, but it doesn't have to. Think about cured meats and hard cheeses with olives or dried fruit, or bread covered with butter and slices of avocado. Think outside the box. And, no, butter doesn't need to be refrigerated.

Look through anything you may have stockpiled from last year. What is the use-by date on it? Throw away anything that's expired or has been stored in the heat. Especially get rid of any cans that are dented or look swollen. No one wants botulism on top of a hurricane.

Whatever you buy, make sure that it's capable of being stored at room temperature...and then store it that way. That means don't store your food in the attic, in the garage, in the garden shed, etc. Store it in your house, preferably in a cool, dark place. Under your bed, in a spare closet, in your enormous pantry (I hate you), wherever keeps the food at a steady temperature and out of direct sunlight.

Other thoughts for the days following a hurricane...

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Katharine Shilcutt