(Editor's note: This post was written, in real time, right before Hurricane Irma in 2017.)
Living in the Southeastern United States puts one at yearly risk for some sort of natural disaster. We have sink holes, coastal floods, tropical storms, sometimes tornadoes, and once in a while we get a hurricane.
At the time of publishing, I may be incommunicado from the much dreaded Hurricane Irma, as I live in the path of the storm (not on the coast, though, and am on high ground so no fretting on my behalf is necessary) and power and internet/cell service could be out depending on how things blow through, so to speak. However, because being able to properly prepare for disaster is a thing, I figured I'd take some time to share with y'all the things I did to not only prepare for the worst, but to keep it keto, too!
I do want to note early on that if you find yourself in the middle of a true emergency and are in danger of actually starving to death, no one is going to fuss at you over food. Staying alive is priority number one, so if you've found yourself in a shelter or taking food from a rescue agency, hey do what you have to do to survive. No one expects you to be scouring package ingredients if your house is ruined and you're out of power for weeks. This post is strictly about the things to look for when you have notice that something nasty is coming your way.
One of the most common questions we get from "preppers" is: How on earth do you begin to prepare for disaster or emergencies with keto foods? After all, we may love bacon and steak, but if the power goes out you may have no way to cook those things before they go bad in the fridge and freezer. I've put together a list of things I picked up during the past week that are shelf-stable (some shorter-term and others long-term) and will help you stay keto when riding out emergencies. Some of these ideas will be suitable for longer-term prepping as well.
1. Easy to Find Goods
Salt, pork rinds, nuts and seeds, almond butter, coconut oil, butter, avocado oil, mustard, mayonnaise, olives, pickles, canned sparkling waters, and mineral water
Some of these may seen fairly obvious, because they're commonly eaten keto foods and condiments, but many people I've talked to, in their semi-panicked state, simply didn't think of them at all. Every single one of these things will keep without refrigeration (butter can be left on the counter for quite some time, just be sure to get salted and don't go overboard with more than you can eat over a few days), and were all available in abundant quantities through my last dip into the local grocery stores (Friday morning, two days before the storm). Because most people are focusing on sandwiches, cereal, chips, and other shelf-stable junk foods and tend to overlook these goods, you shouldn't have much trouble finding any of these items. In fact, in the case of the olives and pickles, between the four or five different grocery stores I frequented over several days the shelves in that aisle were completely full. The jars I bought were literally the only ones missing from the display.
You will notice, I added salt to this list. Don't forget your salt! It's necessary for ketonians and I had no trouble obtaining it. Also, while many people panic when they arrive at the store to find the cases of bottled water are all gone, I had zero trouble finding canned sparkling water in a variety of brands. Canned and bottled mineral water was widely available, too. While they're fizzy drinks and most people kind of mentally classify them as sodas, they're really just water and if you get the unsweetened ones they will more than suffice for fluid intake in an emergency.
2. Of Variable Availability
Meat jerky, meat sticks, all varieties of nuts and seeds, canned keto friendly veggies, peanut butter, and real bacon bits
These items were a little more hit and miss. I didn't have any particular trouble getting them, because I started a week in advance, but those that, for whatever reason, wait longer to do their shopping may need to shop around to acquire these items.
Of note is that, while I found that these items were more scarce in the grocery stores, when I would swing through the convenience stores at the local gas station, they had a very thorough stock of all these items through my last shopping day (early Friday). Keep that in mind, as a lot of people forget about convenience stores as a potential shopping source.
3. Hard to Find/Stock Up Early/Keep on Hand
Canned meats and plain bottled water
No doubt about it, the items that I had the hardest time finding were canned meats and bottled water. In store after store, the shelves were bare in the areas where these items were normally displayed. I did manage to find one location that still had some canned tuna in oil and canned sardines, and had I not started preparing a hair before the official state of emergency was issued, I would have been completely out of luck. Thankfully, because I'm a nerd and watch the Weather Channel, I grabbed a whole pile of extra water and canned meats several days before the prepping chaos began.
In my estimation, it may simply be a good idea to have some extra of these items on hand regularly, so that if you do find yourself facing an emergency your need for them amidst the mad dash of last minute preppers won't be so pressing.
Some Final Thoughts
When I began preparing my home and family this week, I made sure to focus on grabbing things we were going to eat anyway. When I shopped for canned meat I grabbed tuna and chicken, and I picked up nuts that we already regularly eat, etc. and so on, because if we ride this out with no problem and don't need this food to survive, it also won't be sitting on our shelves collecting dust or going bad. If there are keto-friendly specialty products you normally use that are shelf-friendly but need to be ordered in advance, it may be a good idea to keep extras on hand at all times, so you won't run out unexpectedly in an emergency.
You will also notice that while some of these items are suitable for long-term prepping, others are not so please keep that suitability in mind when assessing your needs and whether your emergency preparations for a less immediate event or are expected to go for a much longer duration.