Having lived through Hurricane Sandy with five kids under 10 in the house, I can tell you, feeding kids during a hurricane is not for the faint of heart. Kids are picky, needy creatures, and that isn't going to change regardless of whether or not there's a huge storm pounding down on you. They want their chicken nuggets and they want them now. Coming up with yummy, non-perishable meals for little ones isn't easy, but hurricane food for kids doesn't have to be impossible, either. (Especially if you're evacuating.)
The trickiest bit is coming up with foods they'll eat without a lot of waste. One thing most people don't think of when they're preparing for a hurricane is that your garbage collection service isn't going to be coming for a while, nor are you likely to want to brave the rain to take it out. Also, make sure you have a manual can opener, and if your stove is electric, get a camping stove and fuel so that you can heat your food. Cold sandwiches are fine, but after a while, you'll want a hot meal. The baby aisle is your best friend in this scenario. It's full of shelf-stable meals for toddlers and babies that children will usually still eat, and that taste pretty great if you're eating it yourself as well. Just make sure you have plenty. And if you're planning on evacuating, these snacks can be packed for easy on-the-go meals.
1. Meal Kits
Meal kits like this one from GoPicnic will be your best friend. They are shelf-stable, full of foods kids like, and nutrient dense. Protein and complex carbohydrates will fill your little one's tummies up faster and help them stay that way longer.
2. Jarred Pasta Sauce & Pasta
It's nutritious, all kids like it, and some of them even have meat or sausage already included. Also, now is not the time to experiment with weird pastas made of unusual ingredients. Stick with what you usually cook so that none goes to waste.
3. Nut Or Seed Butters
There's a good reason why it's hard to find peanut butter in the stores leading up to a hurricane. It provides a ton of energy, always tastes good, and it's reliably shelf-stable. Sunflower seed butter, almond butter, and even Nutella can hit your cart as well.
4. Instant Noodles
Ramen isn't just for college kids on a tight budget. Instant noodles, be it Top Ramen, Cup of Noodles, or Lipton are quick and easy to make, and you can add in fresh or canned veggies to bulk it up a bit.
5. Canned Fish & Meat
Canned tuna and salmon is easy to make palatable. Add some packets of mayo and relish, and you have a yummy salad to put on crackers or bread. However, other canned and preserved meats can be prepared and taste great, too. Canned chicken added to salsa and avocado is great scooped up with tortilla chips, while spam can be cubed and fried with potatoes or yams, or made into hash. It's really much better than you're thinking.
Cereal is delicious no matter how it's eaten. You can eat it dry, with shelf-stable milk cartons, reconstituted powdered milk, evaporated milk, it doesn't matter. It's just yummy.
7. Shelf-Stable Milks
Cartoned and canned milk is what you're looking for in this. Soy and almond tend to be a bit cheaper than the shelf-stable cow's milk, but dry and evaporated milk also work in a pinch.
8. Canned Vegetables & Soups
Corn and green beans taste the best as far as canned veggies go, but canned and boxed soups have come a long way. Heck, you can find pretty much any soup you like in cans. Canned beans are the only kind I eat because cooking beans is never something I think of ahead of time. Get a variety.
Rice stays forever, it cooks up quickly with just water or stock, and it goes with absolutely everything. Mix it with some canned coconut and serve it with spicy black beans. Toss it with soy sauce, spam, and veg, and fry it up. Serve a bowl of white rice as a side dish, or drizzle it with honey for breakfast. It's good stuff.
10. Long Lasting Fruits & Veggies
Fruits like apples and pears, and veggies like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, yams, and onions are great to have around. Keep them in a cool, dark place, and you'd be surprised how long they last.
11. Fruit & Veggie Pouches
Individual jars and packets of applesauce are always a hit with kids, and when a hurricane hits, it's great to have these on-hand. The jars can be washed and reused to hold tea lights, and the packets lay flat without taking up much space.
12. Dried Potatoes
They're not likely to be your favorite mashed potatoes, but when you add some jarred gravy, they're not terrible. It's hot and satisfying when your potato-loving child is in french fry withdrawal.
13. Crackers & Bread
Kids eat a lot of crackers and bread even when there isn't a crisis and they aren't cooped up in the house. If there's stress in the air and they're stuck inside? Stock up on Goldfish and bread — you're going to need it.
14. Juice Boxes
Kids can and will get bored of drinking when they don't have their precious milk supply — trust me. Get the 100 percent juice box or juice-water blends and let them have it. You can be grateful they're getting vitamin C. (If necessary, get your own wine boxes of the alcoholic variety.)