No one relishes the thought of natural disasters or unforeseen emergencies, but they are a reality we can’t ignore. As I sit typing with hurricane Sandy whipping at my door, I can’t escape the feeling that I’ve forgotten something in my hurricane preparations. It’s that uneasy feeling that nags at you late at night when you know you’re in the path of an impending storm or other natural disaster.
It seems as good a time as any to address how to prepare for emergencies when you layer on the added complication that you or your family is gluten-free.
- Stock Up on Gluten-Free Staples.
My mother always had extra of everything, it seemed, in her pocket book. She called them her “just in case” supplies. That’s a great way of thinking about how to prepare for natural disasters and storms, too.
Even seemingly small events like snow storms can throw a wrench in your plans. It’s just a good rule of thumb to have extra and have a back-up plan.Buy extra shelf-stable staples. Whether you stash them in the garage, a box in the basement, your freezer or under your bed … there’s no excuse not to have extra of shelf stable staples.
Homemade GF pizza crust can even be made with a bowl & wooden spoon!
For me, gluten-free flour and gluten-free oats are staples. With flour, I can make anything we need, even without power. I can make pizza crust with a bowl and a wooden spoon and cook pizza on our grill. With power, I can make literally any food we need or desire if I have my all purpose gluten-free flour. The oats make a warm, filling breakfast, lunch or dinner by just adding boiling water (again, can be done on the grill if need be).
The best, safest and most versatile gluten-free products might not be available at your neighborhood grocery store. If you have to make a trip to an organic grocery or if you order on-line, buy extra! It’s no good not having enough when you need it, particularly with products like flour and oats that have a long shelf life. Also keep in mind that whether you are the one experiencing the emergency or not, if the products you rely on are manufactured elsewhere, a natural disaster or serious storm there could affect you as well. A huge snow storm last winter at our flour manufacturing facility in Iowa caused a serious delay in production and shipping that affected people all over the country who found themselves waiting much longer than they had planned to receive their shipments of gluten-free products. It goes without saying that those who ordered extra not only saved on shipping, but they never had to go without their favorite products!
Think about your staples. Maybe gluten-free cereal or protein bars are your staples – be sure to stock up on whatever will last you safely for several days.
- With Notice, Bake in Advance.
Double batch of GF Blueberry Muffins will hold our family for several days
Before Sandy’s onset, I had already baked fresh gluten-free bread, made quinoa, baked a double batch of blueberry muffins, grilled veggies and even made chocolate cupcakes and pumpkin doughnuts. We may be hunkering down, but we’ll be eating well!
I also hit the farmer’s market and bought extra veggies so we could grill more later, but I plan to use some of my favorite gluten-free sauces (again, bought those ahead of time!) with grilled veggies and my wok on the grill. I even have tofu ready to dice and sauté as well. Extra grilled veggies will go on my fresh bread for sandwiches and we’ll be set for days. I also stocked up on favorite gluten-free bars for snacks and nutrition. Many of these bars have lots of protein and fiber and can fill-in those nutritional blanks when you don’t have access to all your usual food sources.
Fill your car’s gas tank and if you have a gas grill, get a spare refill. If you have a charcoal grill, buy extra charcoal and keep it dry. Be sure to have plenty of matches on hand, as well. If you don’t have a grill, small table-top grills are fairly inexpensive and can be a lifesaver at times like these. (Don’t ever grill inside though, use an outside table-top!) Also be sure you have several containers of drinking water on hand – you can fill gallon jugs in advance, if you have time, or buy them before everyone else does!
Make bags of ice with your ice maker, or buy bags of ice before there’s a run at the store. Prepare a large freezer with enough room for your perishables that are necessary ingredients (cheese for pizza; milk for cereal; eggs for scrambling on the grill, etc.)
Any prescriptions early, in case your pharmacy or doctor’s office is closed due to the weather. It’s no fun to run out of necessary medications and have to wait for days to get them filled. It can also be harmful to your health, so take your prescriptions seriously and fill them in advance.
- Prepare for Shelter.
Gluten-free bars are the perfect “just in case” supply.
If you do need to seek shelter, be sure you can carry with you a bag of bars, cereal, snacks, bread and peanut butter, etc. so you will have safe foods at the shelter, since most will not necessarily be prepared to feed you or your family a special diet.
Bottom line: stay safe and eat well – it’s important to keep yourself nourished and not to be forced to rely on possibly contaminated or gluten-containing foods. When you have your “Just in Case” supplies at the ready, you will weather the storm!