The Top Five Items You Should Have in Your Emergency Pantry

When you least expect it, disaster may strike your household — make sure you're prepared with these smart, healthy choices

by Sara Siskind | Updated 21 Sep 2017 at 9:02 AM

We never really know when disaster is going to strike our towns or our neighborhoods — whether we’re hit with electricity issues, storm damage, rushing floodwaters, fallen trees or anything else.

It’s always wise to be well-prepared just in case. These smart and healthy food items will get you through in a pinch — and help give you peace at mind whether you need them or not.

Stock up on these as soon as you possibly can. Since they’re good for you, too, you can’t go wrong.

1.) Coconut water. This is a great natural water that is lightly flavored, low in calories, and contains nutrients, including electrolytes such as magnesium, sodium, potassium and calcium. You can drink it on its own, and it doesn’t require refrigeration — which is perfect for an emergency pantry.

I also love to use it in smoothies or with oatmeal to add a naturally sweet taste.

2.) Rolled oats. This whole grain is naturally gluten-free for anyone who has gluten sensitivities. Rolled oats have a long shelf life and are filled with fiber to help aid in digestion and in keeping you full. They also provide an excellent source of carbohydrates and have been proven to lower cholesterol.

Rolled oats do not have to be cooked to be eaten. My favorite rolled oat recipe is something I call overnight oats: Use one-third cup rolled oats, one cup of almond milk or coconut water, one and one-half tablespoons of chia seeds, and a handful of berries or dried fruit with a dash of cinnamon. Leave it in your fridge overnight — and enjoy.

3.) Nut butter. Peanut butter has been known as the go-to nut butter; however, now you can find pretty much any of your favorite shelled nuts or seeds made into a butter. Just a small amount (no more than two tablespoons per day) packs enough protein, healthy fat, and fiber into your meal.

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With an extended shelf life, this is the perfect emergency pantry staple. You can spread it on a cracker, add it to a smoothie, or eat it straight off the spoon. Remember to watch for added sugar and salt — and stay clear of low-fat versions, as they add in fillers to replace the heart-healthy fat.

4.) Dried fruit. There are so many types to choose from that provide a nutritional punch of vitamins and minerals and fiber. Though I always prefer fresh fruits during "non-emergency" times, dried fruits are nonperishable and serve as a convenient sweet and healthy snack.

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Make sure to read labels and watch for any added sugar. My top picks are the ones loaded with the most fiber, such as dried figs, apricots and peaches. They give a feeling of fullness and help slow down the absorption of sugar.

5.) Setton Farms Pistachio + Cranberry Chewy Bites. These are my favorite pantry-snack staple; they not only taste great but are full of nutrients as well. With pistachios, cranberries, a touch of sea salt and agave nectar, these snacks are naturally gluten-free and dairy-free, with no added preservatives or additives.

They provide the perfect balance of carbohydrates and protein — and keep your energy sustained throughout the day.

Sara Siskind, a certified nutritional health counselor, is the founder of Hands On Healthy, cooking classes for adults, families and teens based in New York. She's dedicated her career to educating clients on how food and lifestyle choices affect health.

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