10 Foods To Have on Hand When You're Snowed In - Live Like a Mensch
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10 Foods To Have on Hand When You're Snowed In


Photo courtesy of Denis Jacquerye


2014 started off with a bang. Well, at least it started with a polar vortex.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Doesn't a polar vortex sound like the kind of storm Luke Skywalker had to ride out inside of a taun-taun on the ice world of Hoth? (And was that the single geekiest sentence I've ever written, or does the fact that I even have to ask if that's the case just show that my writing is riddled with geekery?)

In any case, the polar vortex had a perfect sense of timing, as it arrived on the very week that LO was due to return to school. If he can't get into college in 15 years, I'll know it's because of the amount of brain-rotting television I allowed him to watch last week.

Since it was not only snowy but also colder than a wampa's ice cave, I did not venture out of the house for a week. We quickly were reduced to eating the random cans of food that somehow come with every pantry. (I don't think anyone has ever actually bought capers or anchovies--they've simply found them in their pantry).

This got me thinking about the best foods to have on hand for such a weather event. Of course, the standard list is milk, bread, eggs, and toilet paper. I suggest that the following foods are just as important:

  1. Hot chocolate. No 3-year-old wants to warm up with a cup of tea after a rousing romp in the snow. I don't care if they are British. Luckily, even if you don't have the pre-mixed kind, it's simple enough to make your own.
  2. Chocolate chips. (Not all of these will be chocolate related, I promise!). This is a must for when even your screen-addicted toddler (or tween or teen) is sick of staring at the TV/computer/iPad. If you've got a bag of chocolate chips on hand, making cookies can be the fun snow day activity that keeps you from going Jack Nicholson-in-Shining on each other. And they go great with hot chocolate, if you'd like a sugar coma.
  3. Frozen fruits and vegetables. We eat a lot of produce in our house, and the idea of going a week without fresh greenery makes me feel scurvy-ish. Frozen fruits and veggies will allow us to keep up the rabbit food intake.
  4. Chicken broth. Soup is the best food to have when it's cold out, and I can throw together any number of soups from a base of chicken broth (or boullion, in a pinch). Our favorite is matzo ball soup, although my matzo meal is generally kind of stale by this point in the year. (J assures me that he actually likes matzo balls better that way: heavy and chewy. He's either sadly misguided or the most diplomatic husband ever).
  5. Canned tomatoes. Like chicken broth, these can be the basis of any number of delicious meals, like tomato soup, spaghetti and marinara sauce, chili, etc.
  6. Lentils. These are the only kind of dried beans I've ever had any luck making, and they are remarkably versatile. We can make a delicious lentil curry, lentil soup, or lentil-based fritters.
  7. Rice. We need something to eat underneath several of our lentil and/or tomato dishes or in our soup dishes.
  8. Cheese. Unfortunately, this, like the chocolate chip cookies, would not last the entire week in our house. But while it lasted, it would make for wondrous grilled cheese sandwiches, topping for tomato based dishes, and snacks.
  9. Oatmeal. Not only does this make for an awesome hot breakfast on a cold day, but it also gives you a second cookie-baking opportunity should the chocolate chip cookies not be enough.
  10. Butter. If you're going to be doing all this baking/grilled cheese making, you'll need plenty of Julia Child's favorite fat.

If I had all of these ingredients in my pantry prior to a Hoth-level snow event, I believe we could ride out the storm quite deliciously. What 10 items do consider essential when you're snowed in?

Published Jan 16 2014, 03:53 PM by Emily Guy Birken
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gardenlady said:

I found this so very interesting, and just had to add a few thoughts.

1)  milk ruins so easily  and is used up so quickly that I had to come up with an alternative--The Dollar Tree sells wonderful 1 quart milk that does not have to be refrigerated until opened, and it also has a long shelf life.  I cannot tell the difference, and it is wonderful to just grab a quart out of the cupboard when I cannot get out in the frigid weather.  I have seen it at other stores.  

2) I make chicken salad often  from chicken cooked slowly in a crock pot. I just freeze the broth from the cooked chicken and it makes a good base for soup on a cold day.

3) self rising flour.  I can whip up a batch of hot bread in no time.

4) cabbage.  It seems to keep forever in the frig, and can be used in soup,  coleslaw, and cooked cabbage.

I liked all of your ideas, but have found many types of beans to be great.  Cannot beat black beans if seasoned well.  Thanks so much for the tips.

January 18, 2014 7:49 PM

haverwench said:

All of the items on your list are staples at our house year-round, but here are a few more we wouldn't be caught without: flour, sugar, powdered milk (comes in a big 20-quart box so you never run out), and canned soup. We don't do chicken broth unless it's free-range, but a can or two of clam chowder comes in handy when you've got to cook up a makeshift meal using only the stovetop, lit with a match, in mid-power outage. Speaking of which, if your heating system is one that won't work without power, little chemical heat packs are another good staple to keep on hand. I kept one tucked in my shirt during a 6-hour outage when the temperature outdoors was in the teens, and that plus a blanket poncho plus multiple cups of hot tea made the experience reasonably tolerable.

January 27, 2014 9:27 PM

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