It’s never too early to start preparing for winter.
The cats are in an eating frenzy. The wild animals are stocking up food. August was more like October, with cooler weather. We are mowing in September and haven’t needed the air condition most nights for more than a month.
Everything points to an early – possibly harsh – winter.
It is NEVER too early to start preparing – especially if you have food allergies. It is so much worse to try to pick through what is left at the grocery store during a storm – if you are even lucky enough to get to a store. Add to that, specialty items are usually wiped out, so pickings are slim, and you are more inclined to take shortcuts for food instead of following your food allergy diet.
Below is my list for pantry must-haves when Old Man Winter springs into action. I try to keep a good balance between items that need to be cooked, versus those that don’t, so no power, no problem. This has changed tremendously since I was diagnosed with food allergies. I rely more on non-perishables like nuts, protein bars and gluten-free, no antibiotic, no nitrate/nitrite beef and turkey sticks.
NOTE: Some people ask me about perishable items. If the power goes off, I put them in a cooler and put the cooler outside on the porch, where it is colder than the refrigerator and freezer. I never have an issue. I just need to check it every hour to be sure it doesn’t freeze. You should definitely consider if this will work for you in your area.
Non food items
- plastic utensils
- sturdy paper plates
- napkins, paper towels
- hand sanitizer
- liquid soap
- baby wipes
- toilet paper
- environmentally-friendly litter for cars stuck in snow
- batteries of all sizes
- extra flashlights and candles
- Get a manual can opener that is solely for the winter pantry. This makes is easy to find when the stress of no power hits empty stomachs.
- dry cat/dog food
- wet cat/dog food
- puppy pads (can also be used in doorways to avoid melted snow puddles)
Food that doesn’t have to be cooked
- Nut butters (watch sugar content!)
- No sugar added jellies, jams and syrups
- Gluten-free bread
- Juice and/or dairy-free milk boxes
- Protein and/or snack bars
- Gluten-free granola and snack mix
- Gluten-free, dairy free canned soups
- Readymade coffee drinks
- Corn tortillas
- Gluten-free crackers
- Cheese (cow, goat, non-dairy, etc.)
- Canned fruits (low- to no-sugar) and vegetables
- Gluten-free low sugar cereal
- Nuts and nut mixes low sodium
- Drinking water (Be sure it is kept in a place that doesn’t freeze!)
- Gluten-free, no MSG, no nitrate/nitrite jerky or meat sticks
- Gluten-free deli meat
Items that require cooking or water
- Microwaveable rice packets
- Individual packaged meals
- Family-sized oven meals
- Individual TV dinners
- Dried goat milk
- Dried beans and lentils
- Fresh vegetables
- Gluten-free pasta
- Baking goods like flour, baking powder, salt
- Cooking oils
Other winter weather checklists:
- Check the propane. Make sure your tanks are full for heat or using the stove.
- Check the generator. Be sure your generator is operational, with a full tank of fuel.
- Replenish wood supply (if wood heat is an option). Wood is an excellent heat source. Be sure to keep plenty of kindling and larger, clean pieces near the house and in a dry place.
- Check the chimney. Make sure it is clean and ready for use. Also check your stove pipes for blockage.
- Check water pipes. Make sure they are fully protected, or there is a safe way to get heat to them to prevent freezing.
- Check blankets. Do you have enough for the people who will be in your house when the storm hits?
- Check the shovels. Do you have snow shovels that are in good shape? Is the snow blower working?
- Get on a plow list. If you live near a roadway, DOT plows likely strand your vehicle. Get on a list for private driveway plowing. Many home-based entrepreneurs will take their equipment down streets and dig out driveways for a reasonable fee right when the snow quits.
- Check your gear. Do you have good boots that go above the knees?