Functional Friday: 10 Things - Where Was Moses When the Lights Went Out?

Everyone knows he was down in the cellar eating sauerkraut. But he could have been enjoying something a bit tastier if he had planned a little.

Did the earthquake and tsunami in Japan make you take a second look at your emergency supplies? Does the thought of storing a full 90 days of food, water and household supplies seem to be too much? Start Small! Here are my top 10 picks of food to keep in your pantry. (And when the "lights go out", you won’t be forced to eat sauerkraut.)

Water. Adequate water is so important. Everyone in your household needs 1 gallon/day. Store, at a minimum, 3 days worth. When you have that, strive for 7 days, then 21, and so on. You can go a long time without food. Not so much on the water. You can buy a gallon of drinking water for about $1. So for a family of four people, for way less than $20, you can store over 3 days of water.

Nutrition Bars. Individual snack pouches of crackers are nice, but many aren’t very nutritious. Have a look at the nutritional information. Nutrition bars are portable, and yummy. My favorites are the all-natural Zone Perfect Bars.

Fortified Breakfast Cereals. These require no preparation and have a significant shelf-life. Many have protein, and are fortified with vitamins and minerals. They’re mostly portable, lightweight if nothing else, most people are accustomed to the taste. My favorite is Kashi Go Lean. Cereals are often found on sale any given week at the grocery store. Sometimes you can get a box of something substantial for less than $2. If you eat cereal regularly, then this is just planning ahead for normal use.

Peanut Butter. Unless you have an allergy in the family, peanut butter is a great shelf-stable item full of protein, fat, and flavor. It goes well with lots of other snacks you might have, or just from a spoon. My favorite is Smuckers Natural in the glass jar.

Crackers. Crackers can serve as a great substitute for bread. If you happen to have cheese and ham, make a tiny sandwich, same for peanut butter or nutella. I’m a fan of good old Ritz, and if you find them on sale, you can store a few boxes of them.

“Canned” soup. It requires minimal preparation, and feels like a homecooked meal. (crumble some crackers on top!) My pick is a carton of Trader Joe’s Red Pepper Bisque or TJ’s Latin Black Bean (spicy!).

Pouched tuna. It’s a great source of protein, the pouches require no can opener, so it’s very portable. Make yourself a little tuna sandwich out of the crackers or add tuna to your soup.

Dried Fruit. An easy, portable snack full of energy, kid friendly, and it stores well. My pick is prunes and apricots.

A treat. Whatever that means to you and your family: a 2 liter bottle of soda, big bag of M&M’s, Little Debbie Snack Cakes, Chocolate bars, Starbuck’s via instant coffee, pudding cups, chips, gummi worms. It’s going to raise your spirits to have a little indulgence when the lights go out.

Multivitamins. This should probably be part of your normal routine anyway. There are numerous studies showing that people who regularly take a multivitamin have a lower incidence of cancer and other diseases. But if you don’t eat an adequate variety of foods, a multivitamin will fill in the gaps.

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