Preparing for a winter storm: Here are the groceries you should have in stock

Make sure you’ve done the basics: Learn how to keep your pipes from freezing (for example, you can open cabinets in places like under sinks to let in heat or let faucets drip), test smoke alarms and detectors carbon monoxide, have batteries for radios and flashlights, charge electronics, and consider the specific needs of everyone in your home, such as medications.

And make sure you have all the grocery supplies you need.

These types of storms, and their aftermath, can cut off heating, power or communication services. Because we don’t yet know how severe the impacts will be and how long they’ll last, and amid supply chain issues that could further exacerbate difficulties buying groceries this weekend, have at least three days’ worth of food and water for everyone in your home, says Joann Sands, a clinical assistant professor at the University at Buffalo School of Nursing, who trains students in disaster and emergency preparedness.
Choose foods that have a long shelf life, don’t require cooking, and aren’t overly salty or spicy, because those foods mean you’ll likely drink more water, recommends the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This is what you need to make sure you have in your home.

High-protein, non-perishable foods

Those include foods like energy bars and protein and fruit bars that don’t need to be refrigerated or frozen, Sands said.

Dry cereal, granola, peanut butter, dried fruit, and non-perishable pasteurized milk are also good to have while you snuggle.

Canned products

Remember that power may be out as the storm hits your region, so have ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables, and juices, as well as a manual can opener, according to
Canned diet foods, juices and soups can be especially helpful for the elderly or sick, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

If a can is swollen, dented, or corroded, don’t eat from it.

comfort food

Although not essential, experts recommend that you keep comfort foods and anti-stress foods on hand while you weather the storm.


Store at least a three-day supply of water for each person in your household and for each pet, the CDC recommends. FEMA recommends storing at least one gallon of water for each person in your household per day.

Unopened commercially bottled water is the safest and most reliable water supply, the agency says. If it’s store-bought water, be sure to check the expiration date.

Plastic bags and containers

Make sure you also have plastic bags on hand, as you can wrap perishable foods like cookies and place them in sealed containers, according to FEMA.

Disposable paper plates, cups and utensils

If you don’t have electricity or water, having paper plates and utensils can help you prepare and eat your meals safely, the CDC says.

Think about babies and pets

As you prepare, don’t forget about babies and pets in the house.

Make sure you have a sufficient supply of baby formula, as well as anything else a baby might need, like diapers, Sands said.

Make sure you also have several days’ supplies for pets, such as medications and non-perishable food.

(And maybe some treats, since storms can be stressful for them, too.)

hygiene products

Make sure you have the hygiene products you need, including feminine items, toilet paper, baby wipes, paper towels, and hand sanitizer.

Have an emergency kit

It’s always good to have a disaster kit ready in a portable container near your exit.

These should include: non-perishable food and a three-day supply of water, a battery-operated radio and flashlight, extra batteries, a first aid kit with a manual, hygiene items, matches in a waterproof container , a whistle to signal for help if you need it, clothing, blankets and sleeping bags, identification cards, credit cards and cash, paper and pencil, baby and pet necessities, and any special items such as medications, contact lenses, glasses, hearing aids and activities for younger children.

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, it should also include things like face masks.

Know this about items in the refrigerator:

It’s important not to panic, shop and try to fill your fridge, Sands said.

“How are you going to be able to store this food if you don’t have energy?” Sands, adding that stocking up on extra groceries can not only lead to food waste, but could also harm others who may not be able to find what they’re looking for.

If the power goes out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to prevent cold air from escaping. If it’s not open, your refrigerator will be able to keep food cold for about four hours, according to

Throw away any perishable food, such as meat, poultry, eggs, or leftovers, that has been left in temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours.

fill your gas tank

During a winter storm, you should try to minimize travel as much as possible to avoid being stranded on the road. If you have to go out, make sure you have a full tank of gas, Sands said.

It’s also a good idea to keep an emergency kit inside each of your family’s vehicles, in case you get stranded.

Here’s what to pack in your car to stay safe.

Tips to keep in mind before the storm

  • Have important documents available in the event of an evacuation, including home or renters insurance, social security cards, birth certificates and passports, Sands said.
  • Create a family communication plan for how you can get in touch if you get separated during the storm.
  • Do not bring portable generators, camp stoves, and grills into your home. Keep them at least 20 feet away from your windows, doors, and vents to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. This is how they might look.
  • Plan to see how your elderly or disabled neighbors and friends are doing.


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