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Preparing for an emergency is the smart thing to do. 

We originally ran this story early in 2011 after the catastrophic earthquake and aftershocks in Christchurch (NZ), the big freeze in Europe, blizzards in the US and disastrous floods in Australia, Brazil and Sri Lanka. Super-storm Sandy and its aftermath reminds us that you can be without electricity or gas for several weeks. It’s vital to have ready-to-eat food on hand to keep everyone fighting fit until the disaster has passed. And this is where canned foods come to the fore, enabling you to whip up a variety of healthy, tasty low GI meals in minutes. Opt for low(er) salt/sodium products when there is a choice and check use-by dates. Drain canned foods and rinse if you have clean water. Tip: Make sure you have a can opener! Because you can’t depend on refrigeration after cans or jars have been opened, buy sizes that you and your family can consume at one sitting. Here are our 10 top pantry picks.


  1. Canned beans, chickpeas and lentils and bean dishes such as chilli beans, refried beans, lentil and pea and ham soups – OK cold but quickly heated on a camp stove 

  2. Canned fish –such as tuna, salmon, sardines, crabmeat, prawns, mackerel, herrings 

  3. Canned meats and meat dishes such as chilli beef and beans, ravioli, spaghetti Bolognese and broths (OK cold but quickly heated on a camp stove) 

  4. Cans,  jars or tubs of fruit in natural juice; dried fruit such as apple, apricots, dates, peaches, pears, prunes, sultanas, fruit and nut mixes, fruit straps 

  5. Cans and jars of vegetables such as artichoke hearts, asparagus, bamboo shoots, beetroot, cabbage/sauerkraut, capsicum, carrots, corn kernels, mushrooms, peas, tomatoes 

  6. Nuts (not salted) and nut/seed mixes 

  7. Dry cereals such as fruit and nut muesli (natural or toasted), muesli bars 

  8. Grainy crackers and crispbreads, oatmeal biscuits and shelf stable flat breads and wraps such as white corn tortillas and reduced-carb wraps 

  9. Powdered milk, small containers UHT milk, 

  10. And if you have a heating source such as a camp stove or gas bottle barbecue, you can expand your options to include foods that don’t need much water to cook such as instant noodles and ready to eat basmati brown rice 

What to drink? Bottled water, single-serving-sized juice that doesn't need to be refrigerated, diet soft drinks.