Thoughts After Sandy – What Should We Eat in Emergency?

By Lin Kong, Master of Nutrition Science (from

How did you go through Sandy in the past two days? Being so lucky that no power outage happened to me on Monday, I just curled up in my coach and watched 3 movies. Obviously I was not prepared at all-no water was stored and I had only 3 cans of bean at home. Although I was lucky enough to be unaffected by the hurricane this time, the absence of coworkers the next day and the sad stories on the news made me think-what should we prepare before the crisis to carry us and our family through?

According to U.S. government, we should be informed, make a plan, build a kit for our family, and get involved in the community preparedness ( And let’s look closer into some tips on food and water:


“You should store at least one gallon of water per person per day, and keep at least a three-day supply of water per person. It is recommended you purchase commercially bottled water, in order to prepare the safest and most reliable emergency water supply. Keep bottled water in its original container and do not open until you need to use it. Observe the expiration or “use by” date. Store in cool, dark place.”


  • “Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.
  • Choose foods your family will eat.
  • Remember any special dietary needs.
  • Avoid foods that will make you thirsty.
  • Choose salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals and canned foods with high liquid content.

Following a disaster, there may be power outages that could last for several days. Stock canned foods, dry mixes and other staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water or special preparation. Be sure to include a manual can opener and eating utensils.”

Suggested emergency food supplies:

  • “Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables and a can opener
  • Protein or fruit bars
  • Dry cereal or granola
  • Peanut butter
  • Dried fruit
  • Nuts
  • Crackers
  • Canned juices
  • Non-perishable pasteurized milk
  • High energy foods
  • Vitamins
  • Food for infants
  • Comfort/stress foods”

We can see that protein and energy are always the top 2 factors we think about for emergency food, given enough water supplies. Dry and canned food are shelf stable so that you can store them without your fridge and freezer, which are useless during power outage. If the outage lasts long, vitamins and minerals supplies should also be ensured-dry fruits, nuts and seeds, even multivitamin supplement becomes essential for maintaining the health.

It is also good to know that canned foods are as nutritious as cooked fresh and perhaps more so if fresh aren’t handled properly. We should really appreciate this timeless invention by genius in early 1800s.

And it is good to see the comfort food at the end of the list, isn’t it! Of course everyone will be stressed out during the disaster and a little bit comfort food may make a huge difference. As long as we don’t overdo and make the salty crunches or sweet softies your main meal–we all know they are low in nutrition value.


Well I don’t have kids yet, so my my bunny Bunbun is my precious right now =) The bottom line here is that, never leave your pet behind during a disaster-most likely they can’t survive by themselves or will get lost. If possible you can prepare an emergency kit for your pet, if not at least keep the pet traveler handy so that your lovely pet can go with you.