The weather outside is frightful, but the freezer inside is so full. So, if you’ve got food to store, let’s learn more, let’s learn more, let’s learn more… about getting the most out of your food when there’s a power outage!
Despite the Christmas carols bouncing around my head, Summer is here. With the weather beginning to really heat up we’re going to talk about how to preserve and use the most food possible from your fridge and freezer in the event of a power outage. You spent money on that food and we want to help you get every cent of value from it!
A full freezer will keep food cold for 48 hours after the power goes out, and a half-full one will keep it chilly for 24 hours. The fridge only stays cold for a mere 4 hours. But what’s a food-lover to do when the power’s out for 72 hours or more?
1. Think Ahead
Not all emergencies will give you warning, but some are a little more considerate. If you suspect a power outage might happen in your area there are some things you can do to be a step ahead of the game.
- Take stock of what you have – it curbs how often you’ll need to open your fridge and freezer. Keeping the door closed will keep things cool for as long as possible.
- Eat your perishables early. If you have a fancy gelato that you’ve been looking forward to, this is a good time to eat it. Once the power goes out the pressure will be on. Don’t put that stress on your gelato. It doesn’t deserve that.
- Top up on fuel for your barbeque or camp stove. Even if the outage is caused by a storm, and cooking outside is inadvisable, the power might not return for a while after the weather settles.
- Add containers of water/bags of ice to your freezer to keep everything cool longer.
2. Where’s the Beef? (And Pork, and Chicken)
If things flicker to black before you’ve had a chance to prepare, then it’s time to prioritize your perishables. Focus on meals that will use up your milk, meat, and eggs first. These are the items most likely to become unsafe if they warm up. This is one of those times where the ‘if in doubt, throw it out’ rule is king. Alternatively: ‘if the smell has funk, that stuff’s junk.’
3. The Outage Lingers
So, you’re stuffed to your gills with filet mignon, but there’s still a whole chicken in the freezer you haven’t touched. The outage is dragging on, and you don’t want to lose it, but there’s simply no room left in your belly. You’re in luck! According to the Canadian government, there’s still time!
If things are getting toasty in your fridge (higher than 4C) or freezer (above 0C) it’s time to transfer your food to something with better insulation. A cooler works well for this. Add ice if you have it, or if it’s snowy outside put some of that in with sealed food (not unsealed as it could contaminate things.)
Do NOT store your food outside in the snow. Even if it’s freezing out, the sun can still thaw food left outside, and animals can get to and contaminate food stored outdoors. Feel free to put the snow in a sealed container and add it to your fridge/freezer/cooler though.
4. Left with the Leftovers
During your meal planning before and during a power outage, do your best to avoid meals that create leftovers. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to get a hot meal cold enough to store safely, and room temperature food is a big invitation to bacteria. Bacteria are deplorable house guests, so let’s avoid that.