Power outages: Check what’s in your pantry

Peter Biss

California needed the rain more than ever, with 87.9 percent of the state in an “Extreme Drought,” 45.7 percent in an “Exceptional Drought” and the risk of wildfires ever-present. What they didn’t need, however, was excessive flooding, heavy winds and power outages which affected over 20,000 Marin County residents on the week of Oct. 24. According to PG&E’s general announcement and 2021 Wildfire Mitigation Plan Report, future Public Safety Power Shut Offs in Marin County and the larger Bay Area are a real possibility if extreme weather conditions, like the atmospheric river, become the norm.

To get ready for these possible outcomes, here is a list of flood-ready foods that can be easily stored and prepared during a power outage.


Canned Bean Salad

Most homes are stocked with miscellaneous canned goods, making the classic corn and black bean salad an enjoyable, widely accessible and versatile meal during a power outage. The Middle Eastern Balela, a chickpea salad, is commonly made with olives, tomatoes, chopped vegetables and olive oil. The classic three-bean American salad is most often made with garbanzo beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans or quinoa. Whatever you decide to put in your salad, this flood-ready food option is probably healthier than alternative dried goods. But something to consider when planning this meal is that additives such as fresh vegetables with expiration dates should be incorporated into your bean salad before non-perishables.


Shelf-stable Milk and Cereal

Of all the foods you can make during a power outage, shelf-stable milk with your favorite cereal might offer the greatest deal of comfort. If brand cereals like Frosted Flakes, Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Special K aren’t to your liking, consider trying a bowl of overnight oats, which can be made by adding either shelf-stable milk or water to a jar of rolled oats the night before consumption. When using shelf-stable milk, it’s most important to remember that once opened, it does not last, making it your responsibility to purchase serving size containers or to find other ways to keep expirable foods cold without power.


Spam Sandwich

During World War II, Spam was a staple food on the front lines and in every household across the U.S. It comes pre-cooked, doesn’t need to be refrigerated and has a long shelf-life, making it the ideal crisis food. Consider having a sliced Spam sandwich with your choice of condiments for a flood-ready option that’s both cheap and reliable.


Shelf-stable milk, Spam and canned goods should be in everyone’s pantry on account of their use and versatility during emergency situations. Non-perishables, contrary to popular belief, do not always have to taste bad, you just need to plan ahead and be prepared before PG&E cuts the power.