No-Cook Meals for When the Power Is Out
Residents of the southeast US know that hurricane season is no laughing matter. These literal forces of nature can plague the region from June until the end of November depending on the year. Although these storms have become an expected consequence of living so close to the Gulf, over time they can become a major inconvenience to your day-to-day life.
One of the biggest concerns during hurricane season is the potential for losing power. When Hurricane Irma was heading for Florida in 2017, nine million people (out of ten million power users) were expected to lose power for some period of time. Losing power for just a few hours is bearable, but losing power for days or weeks at a time can seriously disrupt essential functions like cooking.
No power means no hot showers, no air conditioning, no perishable foods, and no electronics. Few things are worse than losing power in your home, especially when you’re least expecting it.
Because hurricanes are known to cause widespread damage and long-term power outages, people have taken to preparing for hurricanes in advance. That’s where “no-cook meals” come into play. By always having certain non-perishable ingredients on hand, you’ll always be able to come up with something to eat. Learn how to take advantage of “the calm before the storm” and prepare some no-cook meals in case you lose power.
Stocking Your Kitchen for No-Cook Meals
So what’s a “no-cook meal” exactly? As the name suggests, no energy is required to create any of these recipes. So no microwave, toaster, cooktop, grill, or oven is necessary.
The name “no-cook meal” can turn some people off before they fully realize what it means. While the name might have a negative connotation, these meals are packed with filling ingredients and flavor. All you’ll need are a few ingredients and some creativity!
How to Prepare Your Kitchen for a Power Outage
There are multiple levels of preparedness for a power outage. Many people simply stock up on canned foods, but there’s far more you can do. Below are some general food items and accessories that will come in handy when you’re without power for an extended period of time:
Stock Up on Clean Drinking Water
If you’re the type who drinks water from the tap or refrigerator (and hopefully you are), you could be in trouble if you lose power. During Hurricane Irma, many in South Florida were left without access to clean drinking water. Floridians had to boil water before drinking as the storm left many water sources contaminated.
Rather than relying on power to boil your water supply, prepare in advance with water jugs. These jugs will serve multiple purposes as they are great for drinking, cooking, and hygiene. Just pick up several 3- or 5-gallons containers and store them in the pantry or a closet for safe keeping.
Buy or Freeze Extra Ice
Southeastern natives know that once a town has lost power, ice can be hard to find. Because ice is used to help keep perishable foods safe longer, people start looking for it as soon as it’s safe to drive on the roads.
Rather than joining the masses on a hunt for ice, prepare in advance by making an abundance of ice in your freezer. Keep it there until your refrigerator loses power and then transfer it to a cooler to help keep perishable foods at the proper temperature longer.
Get a Large Cooler
It’s all fun and games until your refrigerator loses power and your food starts melting. Eat the items that will go bad first and move other perishable items into a cooler full of ice.
Find Your Food Thermometer
Regarding food safety, it can be difficult to assess the safety of eating certain foods when you aren’t sure how warm they have gotten. By having access to a food thermometer, you can check the temperature of foods to ensure they are still safe to eat.
No-cook Food Options
Now that you’re prepared with the knowledge on how to plan for a power outage, it’s time to shop. Here we’ve listed some versatile non-perishable options and ingredients that are perfect for a power outage.
Meals-ready-to-eat, also known as MREs, are self-contained meals. These individual serving sized meals are designed to last between 5-7 years and provide the right nutrients to survive rough conditions, making them an ideal addition to any emergency food supply.
Whether it’s vegetables, fruits, beans, or meats, canned items are well-known for having a long shelf-life. We recommend you choose a variety of different foods that you’ll be happy eating for an extended period of time.
Be aware of the preferred temperature of the canned items. If you don’t like eating your beans cold and don’t have a way to heat them, choose a different canned item that you’ll enjoy cold or at room temperature.
Having a supply of canned juices and soups can come in handy during a power outage. Whether it’s a way to make a meal more robust or someone in your household came down with a stomach bug, it’s a surefire way to introduce more liquid into your power outage diet.
Bread, Bagels, Muffins, and Rolls
Plenty of breads freeze well enough that you can keep them in your freezer for a month or two. Keep a frozen loaf in your freezer in case the power goes out. All you have to do is thaw the bread and you’re ready for PB&Js, a blueberry muffin, or a breakfast bagel.
If the standard peanut butter and jelly just doesn’t do it for you, consider other popular options like cookie butter, Nutella, tapenades, and salsas. While items like nut butters and fruit preserves don’t require refrigeration after opening, some salsas do. So either toss what you don’t eat or share a container with everyone to use it all up at once.
Cereal and Granola Bars
Where would we be without our handy, on-the-go breakfast bars? Whether you prefer protein bars, breakfast bars, energy bars, granola bars, or just plain-old cereal, these are excellent items to have in your pantry. These are especially handy if you need to head to work before your home gets power and you still need to pack a lunch.
Nuts and Dried Fruit
Other pantry options that last a while include dried fruits and protein-packed nuts. Popular choices include peanuts, cashews, pistachios, raisins, cranberries, and more. Another benefit? You can easily mix a variety of these options together to make your own custom blend of trail mix.
If you’re a protein junkie, look no further than jerky. Nowadays, you can keep things interesting by assembling an assortment of jerky types. Whether you’re into the classic beef jerky or the more health-conscious seitan jerky, there’s a variety for everyone.
Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
Yes, fruit is perishable, but there are a lot of different fruits that will keep well on your kitchen counter. Opt for summer staples like grapes, melons, plums, mangos, or peaches to get some much needed vitamin C during a power outage. Tomatoes, avocados, and onions are also fine at room temperature.
8 No-Cook Meal Recipes
Now that you know what staples to have available, we’ll help you find some fun, nutritious, and creative no-cook meals. Whether you’re just looking for a quick and easy recipe or you’re hunkering down for weeks without power, we’ll help you find the perfect meal, no matter your appetite!
No-Cook Meals for Breakfast
Breakfast is well-known as the most important meal of the day. Whether or not you subscribe to this way of thinking, here are some delicious breakfast ideas that don’t require any cooking:
Avocado ‘Toast’ with Tomato, Lemon Juice, and Olive Oil
Before you wonder how to make toast in a “no-cook” meal, we’ll tell you: You don’t. But if you include all of these flavors, you won’t miss the crunch at all. Take a piece of bread (bonus points if it’s multigrain or whole-wheat) and spread some avocado on the top. Then add some thinly sliced tomato, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, some fresh basil from your kitchen herb garden, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Top that with some salt and pepper, and you’ve got yourself a savory and satisfying breakfast!
Greek Yogurt Parfait
If you’ve recently lost power, you’ll want to prioritize eating foods that will spoil quickly. Yogurt is one of those foods that you’ll want to use up early during a power outage. We recommend you get rid of the yogurt you have left by whipping up a delicious and protein-filled breakfast. Spoon the remaining yogurt into a bowl, add a handful of granola, and finish by topping it off with your favorite fresh fruit!
No-Cook Meals for Lunch
Many working professionals tend to rush through their lunches to make it to their next meeting. To help you find a moment’s pause in the midst of the workday, we’ve found some no-cook lunch recipes that will make you want to slow down and take a few moments to savor these tasty meals.
Curry Tuna Salad Wrap
This remix of a traditional tuna sandwich will have you wishing you’d prepped a bigger batch. Start by emptying a can or packet of tuna into a bowl. Then mix in mayo, mustard, and your desired amount of curry powder. If you’re looking to add an additional flair, slice up some green onions and add them in the mix. Scoop out some of the tuna mix, spread it on a wrap, and you’re good to go!
Alternatively, if you don’t have wraps, eat it on crackers or make a sandwich.
Mediterranean Veggie Pitas
If you’ve lost power and you’re looking to use up a variety of leftover veggies, this is the perfect lunch option. Start by cutting a piece of pita in half and spread a layer of hummus inside. Hummus won’t last long out of the fridge, so be sure to pop it in the cooler when you’re done with it.
Then, stuff the pita with spinach, tomatoes, onion, cucumber, yellow peppers, kalamata olives, feta cheese, and any other veggies you might have on hand. Drizzle some balsamic vinegar in the pita and finish by adding a sprinkle of oregano.
No-Cook Meals for Dinner
Dinner is the last meal of our day so why not make it the best one? Here are some easy, no-cook meals for dinner that will have you dreaming of leftovers.
Charcuterie and Cheese Plate
The only thing better than cheese for dinner? Spicing it up by adding some specialty meats! Our favorite charcuterie and cheese plates contain the following: prosciutto, salami, capicola, brie, havarti, gouda, kalamata olives, pickles, grapes, and dry-roasted almonds. If you’re stuck without power, these are some meats and cheeses that you won’t want to go to waste!
Pulled Chicken Sandwich
For this recipe, you can either use canned chicken, leftover chicken, or pick up a rotisserie chicken from the nearest grocery store. All you’ll need to do is take two forks, shred the chicken apart, and add barbecue sauce. Portion some of the chicken on a hamburger bun, and dinner is ready!
No-Cook Meal Snack Ideas
When it’s 2 p.m. and you hear your stomach grumbling, it’s time to make a quick snack. Look to the following ideas the next time you’re looking for something to hold you over until dinner.
Peanut Butter Boats
Never heard of peanut butter boats before? That’s just because it’s a silly name for a common snack—all you’ll need is peanut butter and celery stalks. Simply spread a healthy spoonful of peanut butter in the celery’s groove and munch away!
There’s no better way to fuel your midday cravings than with a healthy snack. Our favorite guacamole consists of avocados, thinly diced onions, garlic powder, lemon juice, a few finely-diced cloves of raw garlic! Then, salt and pepper it to your heart’s desire and enjoy with some tortilla chips or pre-cut fresh vegetables!
It’s times like when the power is out that you quickly realize just how dependent you are on items you typically take for granted. Lucky for you, losing power doesn’t have to reduce the quality of your meals. By preparing for power outages in advance and thinking creatively, your no-cook meals can quickly become recipes you want to repeat.
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