After intense winds from a hurricane blew far inland and knocked out power in their neighborhood, Gail’s family learned what it was like to live without electricity for a solid week. “At the time we had maybe half a jar of peanut butter, a box of cereal, and a few canned goods in the house,” Gail recalls. “We finally found a store that was open and bought a bunch of items that didn’t need refrigeration. By the time our power was restored, we were thoroughly sick of eating granola bars, pudding cups, and crackers.”
The experience prompted Gail to accumulate a stash of nonperishable food items in case of future emergencies, but those items have been gathering dust in her pantry for several years now. Gail believes she should probably throw them out and restock, but she hates to go out again and waste money on food her family may never eat.
What’s In Your Pantry?
There are all kinds of good reasons to keep your pantry stocked in case of an extended power outage, job loss, or other emergency. Food storage advocates advise that the best way to prep your pantry for the unexpected is to “eat what you store and store what you eat.” Stocking your pantry with the right foods and making them a regular part of your family’s diet can yield multiple benefits:
Waste less. If your loved ones don’t like a particular food during normal times, they won’t want to eat it during an emergency either. Buy items that your family likes, use them on a regular basis and let them do double-duty as emergency rations. If your family doesn’t like tuna, consider keeping a canned ham in the pantry as an emergency protein source that can double as a weeknight dinner entrée. Canned beans, peanut butter, packaged pepperoni, nuts, and processed cheese (such as Laughing Cow cheese wedges) are also shelf-stable protein sources that can be used as everyday meal ingredients. Create trail mix by mixing the dry cereal you eat for breakfast every day with the chocolate chips, dried fruit and nuts you typically use to bake cookies. Powdered milk and evaporated milk are also good emergency items to have on hand, and they can be used in everyday cooking. 
Save money. Plan your meals and your shopping trips according to what’s on sale. Stock up on versatile basics like pasta, beans, rice, salsa, seasonings, and nonperishable family favorites. With a meal plan and a full pantry, you’ll be less stressed about what to make – and less likely to eat out. When there’s a sale, it’s also an ideal time to stock up on essentials like bottled water, toilet paper, and personal hygiene items. If an emergency does happen, you won’t be forced to run out and pay high prices for items you can’t do without.
Eat better. A well-stocked pantry gives you more meal options without running to the store. Pasta, rice, beans, and more can be teamed up with fresh meat and produce to create healthy meals every day. During an emergency, having a variety of food options on hand will help keep your family strong, alert, and healthy.
Avoid illness and discontent among the troops. Introducing unfamiliar foods to your family can backfire during a crisis. Family members already under stress may experience stomach upsets, allergic reactions, and other physical problems. Plus, being able to enjoy a few favorite comfort foods can help calm frayed nerves and help everyone weather the storm.
Don’t Forget Other Essentials. As you work on stocking your pantry, consider different emergency scenarios and the types of tools you might need to deal with each. A manual can opener, matches, aluminum foil, flashlights, and batteries can be invaluable in many situations. A gas grill, camp stove, or other cooking device that doesn’t run on electricity can go a long way toward expanding your meal options during a power outage. In addition, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends that every household should put together a portable disaster kit with at least three days’ worth of nonperishable food, water, and other essentials. 
Donna Parshall writes articles for Allied Cash Advance about online commerce, responsible borrowing, investment, and budgeting. Visit their site to learn more about Allied Cash payday loans and cash advance.
 “5 Reasons to Start Storing Food.” My-Food-Storage.com. My-Food-Storage.com. Web. 24 Jan. 2011. http://www.my-food-storage.com/5-reasons-to-start-storing-food/
 “Build A Kit.” Federal Emergency Management Agency. Ready.gov. Web.n.d. http://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit