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Lockwood: Preparing food during a power outage | Local News |

Lockwood: Preparing food during a power outage | Local News

Cooking and eating habits will change during a power failure. You may have no heat, no refrigeration, and limited water. Health risks from contaminated or spoiled foods may increase. Remember that those who have gas ranges and/or ovens cooking may still be possible but refrigerated and frozen foods may not be safe to use.

Plan Ahead

Below are some quick-to-prepare canned foods that do not need to be cooked or refrigerated before opening. You can store all canned foods for up to 1 year without loss of quality. Freeze-dried and dehydrated items, if kept dry, can be stored indefinitely. In addition to food, stock at least 10 gallons of drinking water—enough to reconstitute at least 4 quarts of dry milk per day for at least a week—and for other drinking purposes.

Nonperishable Commercially Canned Foods

Main Dish Items

beef chili with beans

chicken a la king

chicken and dumplings

macaroni and cheese

pork and beans

pork luncheon loaf

potted meat


refried beans



spaghetti and meatballs


Vienna sausages

chicken stew

corned beef

ham loaf

Fruits and Juices


fruit cocktail





fruit juices


beans, all types

black-eyed peas



green peas


mixed vegetables

mustard greens


sweet potatoes, yams

tomatoes, tomato juice

turnip greens

yellow squash


Dehydrated Foods (you only have to add water or some form of reconstituted milk)

instant breakfast

instant chocolate drink powder

instant puddings

nonfat dry milk powder

Ready-to-Eat Foods

bottled hot sauce

bottled salad dressing


cheese spreads (in jars)

corn chips



dry cereals

evaporated milk

graham crackers


packaged taco shells

peanut butter



salt, pepper

tartar sauce

Spanish peanuts

sugar, honey


Worcestershire sauce

Cooking Alternatives when the Power is Out

Consider the amount of cooking time needed for particular foods. If you have limited heat for cooking, choose foods that cook quickly. Prepare casseroles and one-dish meals, or serve no-cook foods. Here are some alternative cooking methods you can use:

Fireplace—Many foods can be skewered and roasted over the flames. You can wrap food in foil and place it in the hot coals, cook on a wire grill over the flames, or cook over the flames in heavy cookware, such as cast iron or heavy aluminum. A Dutch oven is probably the best piece of cookware because you can use it to bake, boil, stew, or pan fry.

Electric utensil—If gas is cut off but you still have electricity, use electric plates or coffee makers to heat food.

Candle warmers—You can use devices with candle warmers, such as fondue pots or chaffing dishes, if no other heat sources are available.

Outdoor grill—You can cook on outdoor grills, but use the grills outside. Do not use them in closed areas, not even in a garage.

Fuel burning camp stoves and charcoal burner—Use these cookers outdoors only. Never use fuel-burning camp stoves or charcoal burners inside your home, even in a fireplace. Fumes from these stoves can be deadly.

Do not cook frozen foods unless you have enough heat for cooking. Some frozen foods require much more cooking time and heat than canned goods. Also, if power is off, it is best to leave the freezer door closed to keep food from thawing.

You can eat commercially canned foods straight from the can without heating. Even if they don’t taste as good they will be safe to eat.

Rachel Lockwood is the Family Consumer Science Extension Educator with Pittsburg County OSU Cooperative Extension Service. For more information related to this topic or related FCS programs contact Rachel at 918-423-4120, email or on Pittsburg County OSU Website or find Pittsburg County OSU Extension Center or Pittsburg County OHCE on Facebook.


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