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Emergency Meals When The Power Goes Out

June 25, 2012 by  

Emergency Meals When The Power Goes Out
A reliable camp stove is one way to prepare meals if the power goes down.

What we learn from our parents and grandparents from yesterday helps us to be more prepared for today as well as the future. Learning the old-fashioned skills of the past is very important: skills like chopping wood, building fires, using kerosene lamps, gardening, preserving or bottling food, root cellaring for the winter months, fishing, raising and butchering cattle, pigs and chickens.

Our grandparents knew how to preserve their meat by smoking, bottling or drying it. Our ancestors knew how to survive off the land. It was a necessary skill and everyone did it.

Back then, everyone had family farms with chickens. Every morning they gathered the fresh eggs and milked the cow or goat so they could make breakfast. They knew how to bottle meat and turn it into strips of dried jerky for the winter months. Food and water storage was a necessity, and most of the daily activities centered around staying warm and gathering enough food to make meals to feed the family. Many times the older children had the task of gathering and chopping wood, keeping the fire and wood-burning stove going, lighting the kerosene lanterns and helping with the younger children.

What Would We Do Without Electricity?

I do product research for my business. I own every gadget and product I can find that will make life easier in an emergency situation. I use them and evaluate them and pass this knowledge on to my readers.

If the power grid goes down I will be using these items along with many of the skills passed down from my grandparents. We need to think ahead and have items on hand that we can use in our daily lives that do not require electricity. These include a non-electric can opener, a hand-cranked food processor, a hand-cranked wheat grinder or grain mill, an old-fashioned egg beater or wire whisk, a solar oven, a non-electric food dehydrator, and cast iron Dutch ovens. We will need hand tools and gardening equipment, bicycles and ways to get around.

What would we do if the power went out for a week or two? We would not be able to get gas because the pumps run on electricity. The grocery stores would not be able to sell products because the computers wouldn’t work. We would all be greatly inconvenienced. It would be overwhelming and very stressful.

It is a good idea to have alternative cooking methods such as camping stoves, with propane or white gas. Any recipe calling for food to be cooked on a stovetop can easily be cooked on a camp stove, in a pot, pan or on the griddle. Backyard grills are also great as a backup when the power goes out. Be sure to store enough fuel for at least 2 weeks.

In my previous articles I have listed many of the other items that are necessary for being prepared. I am listing a few of my favorite products. They are available on the web and in most sporting goods stores

Sun OvenA Solar Sun Oven is a great way to bake and it uses the power of the sun. You can bake anything in the sun oven that you can bake in a conventional oven. It comes with a dark enamel pot with a lid and is similar to a roasting pan. You place your pot of food in the oven and point the oven toward the sun. It heats up to 375 F quickly and cooks your meal without electricity. There is a cookbook that you can purchase with recipes designed for the sun oven.

Dehydrated And Freeze-dried Foods

Food and water storage is very important in an emergency situation. The types of foods that you will not have access to include fresh produce, breads, meats and dairy products. You will need to have canned meats on hand to make meals that contain protein. You will need bread-making ingredients and the skills to make your own bread. The meals you make in an emergency will be much different than what you are used to cooking.

Dried food will store much longer than wet-pack canned food. I suggest that you store a wide variety of freeze-dried and dehydrated foods. I recommend storing individual gallon-sized cans of dehydrated fruits, vegetables and dried dairy products. A variety of grains, such as wheat, oats and rice, as well as beans and legumes are great storage items because they last a long time on the shelf. They only require water and simple heat to prepare.

Pre-made Meals (Just Add Water)

In an emergency situation we will need simple meals that are easy to prepare yet nutritious. I like to store meals that are already pre-made and dehydrated or freeze-dried and contain all the ingredients. These are so simple to make because you just add water and cook for 15 minutes and the meal is done. The pre-made meals that I have been storing are called Go-Foods. These are so-named because they are ideal for families that are busy, on-the-go and need fast, easy and nutritious meals. When choosing meals to store, keep in mind that they need to be packaged for long-term storage. GoFoods have a shelf life of 15 years. These meals can be rotated and used for everyday cooking as well. This helps prevent the food from expiring and getting thrown away, which is a waste of money.

I research all the different food storage companies and their products and I am in the business of helping people become self-sufficient. I have now found a program that I am very impressed with. You can set up a monthly auto-ship to receive a box of food per month to store away so that over a year’s period of time you will have a one-year supply of emergency food. This company has new concepts in storable foods that are delicious, nutritious, affordable and convenient for daily use as well as for storing for up to 15 years.

3 Cheese Chicken Alfredo PastaGoFoods pre-made meals are dehydrated from premium-grade fresh raw foods.

They have no genetically modified food items (GMOs). The food has no hydrogenated oil or monosodium glutamate (MSG). And it is not imported from countries using illegal fertilizers and insecticides. Just click here to learn more.

The meals ready to cook include soups like cheddar broccoli, Italian chicken, vegetable beef, tortilla soup, corn chowder, minestrone, chicken noodle, chili and potato cheddar. Entrées and other baking items include chicken pasta alfredo, cheesy chicken rice casserole, Santa Fe fiesta rice, creamy Tuscan pasta with sundried tomatoes, beef stroganoff, au gratin potatoes, instant seasoned potatoes, pancake mix, corn muffin mix, cornmeal dumplings, granola, powdered milk, wheat bread mix and buttermilk biscuit mix.

Each package of food is ready to go with everything except the water. It only takes 15-20 minutes to cook and the meals are delicious. The packages feed two to four people and come packed in Mylar® bags for long-term storage of up to 15 years. The cooking instructions are on each package. The company offers samples of their meals for people to try before they buy. All they ask is that you pay the shipping.

Hybrid FlashlightIf The Power Goes Out

If the power goes out it is always a good idea to have several flashlights around. I keep one in all my vehicles as well as my home. I love the solar-powered hybrid flashlight that recharges itself in any kind of light. It can be recharged each day by exposing it to sunlight or indoor lighting. It has a very bright light with 120 lumens of power and is waterproof. It floats, is non-breakable and works in extreme hot or cold temperatures. You never need to purchase batteries and it holds a single charge for three years before it needs to be recharged again by simply exposing it to sunlight. It is the best solar powered flashlight I have found so far.

Being prepared for whatever life’s emergencies might bring means, not only storing prepping items, but also having the skills to use them. Knowledge and skills will help us to be more emotionally balanced as well. If you are prepared you will not panic.

–Peggy Layton

Peggy Layton

a home economist and licensed nutritionist, holds a B.S. in Home Economics Education with a minor in Food Science and Nutrition from Brigham Young University. Peggy lives in Manti, Utah with her husband Scott. Together they have raised seven children. Peggy owns and operates two businesses: One called "The Therapy Center", where she is a licensed massage therapist and hypnotherapist, and the other an online cookbook and preparedness products business. She is nationally known for publishing a series of seven books on the subject of food storage and also lectures and teaches seminars about preparedness and using food storage products. Peggy practices what she preaches, has no debt, grows a huge garden, lives off the land, raises chickens, bottles and dehydrates food and has time left over to operate her businesses. To check out Peggy's cookbooks and self sufficiency products go to her website To get a free sample of three different storable meals that have a 15-year shelf life go here.

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  • Silas Longshot

    Good article.
    Among the resources you should have for emergency plannng are good books on the subject. This one connects to supply sources.

  • Peggy Layton

    I have written a book called Emergency Food storage and Survival Handbook, published by Random House in New York. It has a list of suppliers from all over the US that sell emergency supplies in the back of the book. Check it out at

  • Sanders

    Excellent article, Peggy. I read one of your articles a couple years ago and really got me thinking of how poorly prepared I was in case of long term power outages and what appears to be an upcoming major economic collapse. I have since started preparing and have nearly completed my survival arsenal complete with heirloom vegetable seeds.

    Thank you, Peggy. I must say you may have saved me and my family from certain doom if all unfolds as many are predicting.

  • independant thinker

    While i am not a fanatical prepper I do have a prepper mind set. When I purchased my current house I made sure it had propane for cooking and then I put in a propane fireplace for auxilery heat. I also have a wood burning fireplace that I could cook in if neccessary. I have both large and small charcoal grills that I could use for all cooking if needed and know enough about campfire cooking that we could do that as well.

    I have developed many skills to the point I could get by using them to survive if neccessary. I am speaking of everything from safely felling, de-limbing, and cutting up a tree to rudentary blacksmithing to building a house or cabin using only hand tools and many others.

  • Peggy Layton

    Dear independent thinker, my hat goes off to you for learning the skills necessary to be independent. You truly practice what you preach. Thanks for sharing.

  • Beno

    Have a propane cook stove and lantern for light and keep a lot of propane handy.

  • T Crump

    One good item to keep on hand is a bunch of the typicall solar garden lights sold everywhere these days. They just have to sit out side in the sun, and will provide considerable free light inside after dark.

  • texastwin827

    Please keep in mind that I am writing from the viewpoint of a senior on a fixed income. While there is alot of info online, for those who can afford to purchase, outright, their stockpile of food, many older people and younger people who earn less, often feel intimidated at trying to stockpile, without any forethought that much of what you can stockpile is inexpensive, IF you are willing to learn to learn to make stuff “from scratch”.

    Having lived on the Gulf Coast of Texas, most of us know to stock up on non-perishables, before a TS or Hurricane comes in, however, for long term survival needs, that’s not always financially affordable for many who are on fixed or lower incomes. As anyone who had a parent who went through the Great Depression will tell you, basic items to cook “from scratch” are the most important such as flour, sugar, salt, etc but our younger generations no longer know how to prepare many “from scratch” items.

    If you have never come from a “from scratch” household, there is nothing that prevents your from researching ideas, on the internet, currently. I have amassed a large collection of “Homemade” items and concentrate on accumulating the items necessary to make them. This includes homemade laundry detergent and cleaning products, as well as foods. While I could print the pages, I prefer to transfer the info to a Word Doc and then print it as it cuts down on the “volume” of pages printed plus I can save it to a memory stick to take with me, for later reference, if I have access to a computer.

    If you older folks have younger people in your family who have adopted “ready made” food stuff, as the means of feeding their families, do as I have done for my children….provide instructions on how to cook things, from scratch. As an example, being from a Southern family, I as well as my children, grew up eating dried beans, however, only my oldest daughter knows how to prepare them. Since I live with the oldest daughter, I am building a stockpile for all my daughter’s but have left cooking instructions with the dried beans and other items, for the other two. LOL

    For those who are older and can not “move” heavy supplies, should you need to leave your home, might I suggest you google “backpacking recipes”? While camping recipes might be good, once you get where you are going, backpacking recipes are usually made up in Ziplock Freezer bags and made up from instant or dehydrated items., usually requiring only hot water added to the bag, to reconstitute. They are light weight and also most backpacking “meals” meet what a hiker needs in calories, etc so they usually will supply daily needs. There again, I copied/pasted both backpacking and camping recipes onto a Word Doc that I printed out but also saved on a memory stick, that can be taken with me should my family need to “bug out”.

    For those who are on fixed or low incomes, you can make your own “solar oven” from an aluminum windshield shade and a few strips of velcro! These types of solar ovens were developed to be used in rural areas of Mexico (and other nations) who do not have electricity available, all the time. Stock up on cooking bags to put your pot in. While these may not be as ideal for our Northern neighbors, year round, who don’t get as much sun, they are ideal for anyone who lives in the southern part of the US. These solar ovens can reach cooking temps of 350 so you could cook anything that you would cook in a range oven, on that temp. You can find the instructions for building one here:

    While I just recently purchased a Nesco dehydrator (from Walmart’s online store not the local store) for less than what Nesco sells it for, on their website. For those who don’t feel they have time to “blanch” veggies (necessary to do) before they dehydrate, buy frozen veggies as they’ve already been blanched.

    Anyone who is familiar with electricity should be able to build a number of solar items, including solar panels, dehydrators and even a solar window heater. While they are “blemished” and can’t be sold retail, a search of ebay will bring up blemished solar cells for purchase. They work just like the unblemished ones do…they just aren’t as “pretty” as the ones sold, retail. While it’s good to have solar lights to use inside, the more expensive ones that have small solar panels attached to them are brighter and can be used by installing the light inside and the solar panel, outside the home to provide light at night. This eliminates the need to move them outside, every day to be recharged.

    Hope this helps someone!

    • http://Yahoo Ann

      Great ideas. If you can afford to get a generator, that will be a big help for many purposes, cooking being the main one. You can hook up your stove to the generator to prepare a meal and/or you can hook up your refrigerator to run for short periods at a time. Just be sure to have plenty of gas on hand to run the generator before a storm approaches, because once the power is out you are just out of luck! Gas stations can not pump gas unless they also have a generator. This worked for us when Wilma hit South Florida in 2005.

      • Jailman408

        Get a solar panel generator!

  • Beau

    I’m not an obnoxious prepper either, but live on a small farm in western Oregon, and have everything I would need to survive already: large garden, wood stove, wood, well,fire arms etc., all in an ultra liberal state!

  • SJJolly

    Get on as many political and junk mail lists as possible. If the Postal Service can function at all, you’ll get a regular supply of fuel! (Posted half tongue-in-cheek)

  • Bimbam

    Most of these survival foods are LOADED with salt, msg, hydrolyzed (everything) and none seem GMO free at all. Not even the ones that say they are GMO free.

    I have eliminated everyone of them as food. Instead I just went to the grocery store and picked up dried hydrolyzed saimin, salt and MSG canned goods, cottonseed oil crackers since it’s the same stuff and heck of a lot cheaper!

    If I’m gonna get fake food it has to be cheaper than the overpriced premade fake food.

  • JimH

    Most people who lik to go camping already have alot of the stuff and skill needed to last a few weeks.
    A little extra prep and things will work out.

  • Gber

    Texastwin827, you are amazing! Would love to know more!

  • L

    Great news to pass on

  • Pingback: Are you ready? |




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