The Best Foods to Stock in Your Pantry Before a Blizzard Hits

The weather forecaster is clear: snow, wind, and ice are headed your way. Before winter storms arrive, stock up on these foods to make sure you can eat well in the event you're stuck at home.

Winter storm season with snowflake symbol sign against a snowy background and copy space. Snow splattered and angled sign adds to the drama.
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If you live in a cold climate like I do, you've probably learned a thing or two about preparing for winter emergencies. Blizzards, ice storms, gusty wind chills — here in northern Vermont, you name it, we get it (including my personal favorite: temps so low your nostrils stick together).

To be blizzard-ready, you need to stock up on the right foods. A sudden snowstorm could leave you stranded for days, sometimes without power. And trust me, it's no fun to be stuck in the cold and dark and suddenly realize you're all out of cat food.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends keeping at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food items. Some experts go even further. "For folks in high-risk areas, stock up to feed double the people in your family for double the time you estimate any outages," says Angela Lemond, RDN, LD, CSP, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "It's always good to be over-prepared."

Here's a list of long-lasting, easy-to-fix foods that will help you ride out a blizzard or winter storm — as well as some foods to avoid. Plan ahead, so you won't be caught empty-handed when the grocery store shelves are bare.

Snowstorm Prep Pantry Staples

Stock your pantry with healthy, high-energy foods. Keeping a running list of items, and check expiration dates every six months.

Bottled water: You'll need it for drinking, cooking, and washing up. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests a gallon a day for each person and pet. Don't skimp: Dehydration zaps your energy and can even be fatal.

Canned soups: These classic comfort foods provide liquids and important nutrients. Look for low-sodium varieties.

Applesauce and other low-sugar fruit cups: "Single serving, ready-to-eat items are key," says Lemond.

Granola and protein bars: They're easy to stash, last for months, and provide energy-boosting carbohydrates. Some are high in added sugars, so check labels carefully.

Pancake and baking mixes: Even if the electricity goes out, you can still cook if you have a grill or gas stove. Stock up on just-add-water mixes for pancakes and biscuits.

Rice, oats, and other grains: They're easy to cook and can stretch other foods into a whole meal.

Peanut and other nut butters: They fuel you up with healthy fats and protein.

Whole-grain crackers and tortillas: Use them as snacks, wraps, and mini-sandwiches. Whole grain delivers fiber, which helps you feel full and keeps you regular, while carbs provide energy.

Canned tuna, salmon, chicken, and turkey: They provide protein and will last for two to three years in your pantry. Vacuum-sealed pouches are another good choice, but they have a shorter shelf life.

Canned beans: They're an excellent source of protein and fiber.

Honey: It never goes bad.

Sports drinks: They help keep you hydrated and replace lost electrolytes and carbs. Just watch out for added sugars.

Shelf-stable almond or soy milk: Get them in single servings, Lemond says.

Low-sodium canned vegetables: They're cheap, last for years, and provide many vitamins.

Dried apricots and raisins: Loaded with fiber and antioxidants, they make a naturally sweet, healthy snack.

Dry and canned pet food: Pet owners should have more than they think they'll need on hand.

High-heat oils like peanut, avocado, and sesame oil: "With the right pans and grilling baskets, you can do a ton with just a gas grill," Lemond says. "Asian udon noodles can be ready in two minutes when you throw them into a stir fry." Caution: Never use a grill indoors — you could start a fire or risk asphyxiation from toxic fumes.

Apples in a Grocery Store
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Fresh Produce You Should Buy Before a Winter Storm

The fruits and veggies below will stay fresh for days or even weeks without refrigeration. Stock up when you know snow is on the way, and wash them ahead of time.

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, and clementines
  • Tomatoes
  • Avocados

Comfort Foods to Keep on Hand During a Blizzard

They don't call it cabin fever for nothing. Keep treats on hand for when all you can do is hunker down and watch the snow (or Netflix, if you're lucky enough to have power!).

Don't Forget

  • Special needs: Medicines, infant formula, baby food
  • Multivitamins (chewable or gummies)
  • Tools: Can opener, flashlights, candles, and matches
  • Cleaning wipes

Foods to Avoid During a Winter Storm

Alcohol: Booze and blizzards don't mix. Alcohol is dehydrating, and too much could impair your judgement when you need to make quick decisions.

Salty or spicy foods: They can make you extra thirsty.

Junk foods: Filling up on sweets and sodas adds empty calories, makes your energy crash, and wears down your resistance to cold and flu bugs.

Fridge foods (if you lose power): Bacteria grows in temperatures over 40 degrees F/4 degrees C. Toss milk, eggs, and other refrigerated foods that have been at room temperature for two hours or more. Thawed foods are okay to eat as long as they're still cold. Not sure if that salad dressing is still safe? Throw it out.

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