How to Stock Up on Food for a Hurricane when You're Broke

It is possible to stock up on food for a hurricane when you're broke. One thing about a hurricane is that there a few days advance notice before it hits. Take advantage of that time by preparing. This list won't cover everything but it will help Hurricane Isabel came into North Carolina about a week before payday in 2003. At the time, we lived over 150 miles from the coast but officials told us to prepare anyway. Their advice helped us come through the storm despite power outages and a flooded yard.

Listening to the authorities gave a clearer idea of what was needed. I believe that everyone should comply with local and national authorities. Stock up on food for the hurricane but be ready to evacuate if you are told to do so. We put most of our food, water and a manual can opener in a plastic tub close to the door. The plan was to grab it and head out the door in case of an evacuation.

Water is an absolute necessities. Ready.gov says you need a gallon of water for each person in your household for a three day minimum. A family of four will need 12 gallons of water.

Stocking up for a hurricane when you have not money it means stretching what you have on hand. Food and water may already be in your kitchen. If you already have some bottled water on hand save it for the storm. Tap water can be put into kitchen pitchers, empty 2 liter soda bottles and clean milk jugs. Bathtubs and buckets can be filled with water for flushing or sanitation needs.

Check the pantry before you stock up on food for a hurricane. When you're broke every dollar counts. Taking inventory keeps you from buying what you already own and filling in gaps. Obvious choices to pack include ready-to-eat products like dry cereal, canned meat, crackers and chips. If you don't have enough to cover your family for a few days you may need to get creative.

My husband laughed when he saw me cooking before the hurricane but he was glad for it when the power was out. Then it was our turn to laugh at him.

We found out that flour and sugar don't taste good by themselves but make yummy shelf-stable cookies. What good is oatmeal if you can't cook it when the power is out? Use it make cookies. Two bananas make breakfast for four when they're turned into banana bread.

Granted, these are not the healthiest food choices. They each do contain sugar and carbohydrates. However, this article isn't about healthy living. It is about how to stock on food for a hurricane when you're broke. All of the items can be made a few days ahead of time and frozen until the last minute.
Some people who are broke will need to visit a food pantry. This needs to be done as soon as you realize you may need help. Services may be cut off a few days before the hurricane arrives because the volunteers left town.

Now it's time to decide what to purchase. When you stock up on food for a hurricane when you're broke it helps to at least mentally plan the meals. Instead of randomly grabbing food from the shelves think about how you will use what you buy.

Both powdered and evaporated milk can be mixed with water for cereal. A few cans may be less cumbersome and be more cost efficient. Saltine crackers have a longer shelf life than bread. They can be eaten with peanut butter, Vienna sausages, canned meat or by themselves. Apple sauce and dried fruit are less fragile than fresh and have a longer shelf life.

Paper goods and plasticware are essential when water service may be disrupted. When you are broke it is important to look for the best deals. Search online for coupons if possible and look for the best deals. Think about buying disposable cups instead of bowls. They are cheaper and less likely to be knocked over. Paper cups can be burned (which can be important when trash pickup is disrupted.) 

Save your plastic bags from the trip to the store. They'll be needed for the extra trash over the next few days. Large plastic bags can be used as tablecloths, temporarily storage, for added water protection or as makeshift rain ponchos.

Would you guess that a permanent pen can help you save money during a hurricane? Kids are notorious for leaving cups scattered. Although they aren't food, permanent markers are great to have when you are broke and stocking up for a hurricane. Writing everyone's name on their cup means that you'll use fewer of them and stretch your purchases a little further.

It's never fun to be short on cash. Hopefully neither situation will last very long and normal life will resume soon. Stay safe.

Previously published on the Yahoo Contributor Network.