St. Petersburg Times
Special report
Video report
  • For their own good
    Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
  • More video reports
Multimedia report
Print Email this storyEmail story Comment Email editor
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Your name Your email
Friend's name Friend's email
Your message


Food for the storm

Rather than rush when a hurricane is upon us, gather the groceries you might need, just in case.

Published April 15, 2007


Putting together a hurricane food kit is time consuming and it can put a dent in your grocery budget.

But you'll be glad you set aside a few hours to plan and shop sooner, if a big storm blows through the Tampa Bay area later.

If you get what you can out of the way now, you'll leave more time as the storm approaches to prepare your house and get cash and gas, among other last-minute chores. Lines are long everywhere when the Weather Channel folks start showing up.

Remember, the tuna and peanut butter you buy today will still be edible in September. Pick up a few items every time you food shop to keep the sticker shock to a minimum.

Put your food in something portable in case you have to evacuate. If you are able to stay home, you may be dealing with long-term power outages rather than structural damage after the storm. This is often the case and can be quite frustrating when everything seems fine but you have no refrigeration and can't use your stove.

Keep in mind whom you will be feeding when making a list of storm-ready food. Do you have young children, or perhaps a newborn? Are there dietary concerns that are about more than losing weight? For instance, diabetics and people allergic to wheat will need special considerations since so many shelf-stable foods are harmful to both because of their high carbohydrate and grain content.

Everyone needs water no matter the dietary predilections. You should have at least a seven-day supply of food and drink for each family member.

"At least" are the important words there. It may be several days before grocery stores can restock and get back to normal after a storm. You'll want to have enough food to keep going until roads are clear and shelves are full.

Here are some guidelines on what to start stockpiling now as well as what to toss in the cart as the storm draws near.

- Don't buy food your family has never eaten and won't eat after the storm. In the next months, grocery shop with an eye on what they will eat in a storm. Pay special attention to the "tuna aisle." There are many shelf-stable protein items that have broad appeal, such as canned chicken and lemon-pepper tuna kits that include crackers.

- Go easy on salty foods such as pretzels and chips. They make you thirsty.

- Give yourself permission to indulge in some junk foods. Every storm threat brings a run on Twinkies and the like.

- Look for foods that can be eaten with minimal preparation and without cooking. Visit stores that carry camping equipment and look through their selection of dehydrated foods. Meals Ready to Eat, what soldiers eat in the field, can be purchased at military surplus stores or online. Check out

- Think individual portions fruit, pudding and small sizes. They're easier to fit into an ice chest than the giant economy-size, and you won't have to worry about storing leftovers.

- Load up your freezer with bagged ice. It will keep the contents cold if the power goes out and can be used in coolers.

- Don't forget a manual can opener and any other equipment (cooking and eating utensils and pots/pans). Paper products are good to have on hand, too.

Janet K. Keeler can be reached at (727) 893-8586 or


Food kit

Use this checklist to determine what you've got in the pantry. Then take it to the supermarket to finish stocking your hurricane grocery kit.

Canned soups, chili, vegetables, stews

They can be eaten cold but can also be heated in a pot on the grill.


Vitamin-fortified cereal can be eaten dry or with boxed or powdered milk.


Juice, power drinks and enhanced water offer an alternative to plain water. Starbucks coffee drinks come in cans if you won't be able to live without your daily jolt. Check out Hillside self-heating coffee drinks online at Push a button at the bottom and in just minutes you have piping hot coffee or even chai.


For snacking or eating with cheese and cold cuts from the fridge just after the power goes out.


Mayonnaise is generally a no-no because of refrigeration issues, but buy the smallest jar you can and make tuna or chicken salad. Look for condiments - ketchup, hot sauce, mustard, relish, salt and pepper - in individual packets.


One gallon a day per person for drinking, more if you'll be using it to reconstitute powdered milk.

Fresh fruit

When a storm is a few days away, buy apples and oranges. They last a while, and it is nice to eat something fresh.

Healthier snacks

Granola bars, Fruit Roll-ups, dried fruit, nuts and trail mix offer nutrition and have a long shelf life.

Comfort food

You might as well buy the Twinkies (or Pop-Tarts, doughnuts, Nutter Butters or Little Debbies). You know you're going to crave them.

Other foods to consider

Peanut butter

Individual applesauce and fruit cups

Rice cakes

Dehydrated food (from camping stores)

Meals Ready to Eat (from military surplus stores)


A single glass of wine or beer may be calming, but too much is a bad thing. During and after a storm you'll need all your faculties to deal with dangerous situations.


Garbage bags and ties, paper towels, wipes, fuel (charcoal, lighter fluid, matches) or a full propane tank for the grill, hand sanitizer. Don't forget the manual can opener. Plastic wrap or storage containers.


Paper plates, napkins and paper or plastic cups; plastic forks, knives and spoons; a couple of serving spoons, forks and knives for food preparation and serving.

Food for pets

Food and drink for your pets, and their familiar dishes. Vitamins and medications.

Preserved meats

Beef jerky is high-protein, low-carb and good for diabetics. Canned tuna, chicken, even Spam also provide protein.


[Last modified April 10, 2007, 17:59:20]

Share your thoughts on this story

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Subscribe to the Times
Click here for daily delivery
of the St. Petersburg Times.

Email Newsletters