Meals to Make During a Power Outage

This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.

If you are looking for some ideas on what to make and what to have on hand during a power outage, here’s a must-read list of supplies and meal ideas!

Need some ideas on what to make and what to have on hand during a power outage? Here's a must-read list of supplies and meal ideas!

Meals you can make during a power outage can be as simple as sandwiches or as hearty as soups. The most important thing is that you are prepared with things on hand to not only make those meals, but the food as well, since a power outage can come at any time.

Meals to Make During a Power Outage

A power outage can happen at any time of year for so many different reasons. It’s pretty typical to get a power outage from a bad storm (like during Winter Storm Atlas we were without power for 3 days) or for random reasons as well (We lost power for a day once because a farmer hit a power pole).

Whatever the reason, it’s always something difficult to deal with because you are usually just trying to figure out how to stay warm or cool depending on the season that the power outage occurs. But of course, during these times your family still needs to eat too!

This article has that has meal ideas to have during a power outage has been one of my most requested-to-write articles lately. I’m not totally sure why, but I’m always glad to help! I hope that you will find some of these ideas useful. Of course, you will probably want to write these down or use the “Print Friendly” button at the bottom of the page to print this off now because during a power outage you won’t be able to look this article back up.

Home Canned Soup

Meals To Make During a Power Outage

Anything that is a combination of shelf-stable goods that don’t require refrigeration will make a great meal during a power outage because you won’t have to open the fridge. Here are some suggestions of easy to make meals for a power outage.

  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

Sandwiches are one of these most simple things to put together during a power outage. Most of us keep bread on hand at most times. You can then add peanut butter and jam for a full meal. We like using our home canned jellies to switch up the flavors and not make it boring. Of course, if you can’t have peanut butter, be sure and have sunbutter or almond butter on hand instead.

  • Tuna Sandwiches or Tuna with Crackers

Tuna is easy to keep on hand because you can always find it in the store in the shelf stable cans or pouches. You can make a simple tuna salad if you have a little mayo and herbs that you can get to or just go really simple with the tuna on crackers. You can stock different flavors of tuna to make different flavored meals.

Another option here if you don’t like tuna would be to stock some cans of salmon to make sandwiches or to have on crackers instead.

  • Canned Chicken Sandwiches

Our family actually enjoys a good chicken sandwich, even when the power is on! We usually keep it simple, just mixing together canned, shredded chicken plus mayo, chopped celery, and a little garlic powder.

If you don’t want to open the fridge for the mayo and happen to have an avocado sitting on the counter instead, you could use that in the place of the mayo.

  • Canned Soup

There are so many canned soups that you can have in your pantry! It’s always good to stock up on a few from the store if you are anticipating a power outage. Soups are hearty and filling and always great if you power outage is on a cold day.

We have a few soups from the store, but we also like to make and can soups to stock as well. Our favorites are a basic tomato soup and a good hearty vegetable soup. Both recipes can be found in the Ball Blue Book of Canning.

Soup will need to be heated on a gas stove or another non-electric stove.

  • Canned Vegetables

If the power outage hits you unaware and you haven’t been to the store in a while for fresh veggies, it’s good to have canned veggies on hand. Things like canned corn, canned green beans, canned carrots, or canned peas are all good to have on hand because you can simply heat (on a propane stove) and eat as a side dish to your meal.

  • Oatmeal 

All you need to have on hand is oats, water, and a little sweetener like honey or maple syrup. Oatmeal can be soaked overnight (like overnight oats) or heated on a camp stove.

  • Tacos

If you have taco shells (hard corn shells at the best since they are shelf stable), some kind of canned meat like canned chicken or beef roast, and a few toppings like olives, peppers, onions, and salsa. If you have cheddar cheese and sour cream in the fridge you can grab those too if you have a chance to open the doors but make sure to generally keep your fridge and freezer doors closed while the power is out.

  • Bean and Corn Salsa

For this, all you need is a drained can of black beans, drained canned corn, a drained can of diced tomatoes, and a bit of lime juice and salt. This is a super easy dip to make for tortilla chips but it still tastes nice and fresh, even though it comes from a can. It’s also a good source of protein and carbs which can help keep you feeling fuller.

  • Salad

This one might seem too simple but a fresh salad always tastes good when you are mostly eating out of a can for a little while. It would just take a quick second to grab lettuce or spinach from the fridge OR you can always have some growing on your counter all year round to pick. (I grow it in a shoebox tote.)

You can also skip getting the salad dressing out of the fridge if you have olive oil and vinegar on hand. Just mix those together in a 2:1 ratio and you will have yourself a very basic dressing from shelf-stable ingredients.

You can find even more recipes to make during a power outage here:

Canned Soups

Foods to Get for a Power Outage

If you have frequent power outages, here are some things you should keep on hand at all times.

Basic Foods to Have on Hand for Power Outages

  • Canned Fruits and Vegetables (can be from the store or home canned)
  • Canned Meats (can be from the store or home canned)
  • Canned Soups (same)
  • Canned Beans
  • Peanut or Nut or Seed Butter
  • Bread
  • Shelf Stable Milk (if you use it)
  • Packaged Dry Food or Homemade Mixes
  • Fresh Fruit (like bananas or apples, easy things to grab and eat)
  • Easy to East Fresh Vegetables (like cucumbers or spinach)

Here are a few more optional items you might want to stock up on just to add an extra boost of flavor to your power outage meals. They aren’t as basic as the list above but might help provide a comforting element to what you are making.

  • Parmesan Cheese (shelf stable kind)
  • Bacon Bits (shelf stable)
  • Pickles

Supplies to Have for Cooking During Power Outages

You can find more ideas on what supplies to have on hand on my article about How to Live Without Running Water. If you are planning for future power outages, that article is a MUST read.

Granola Bars

Things to Make If You Have Advance Warning About a Power Outage

Sometimes you might know in advance that a power outage will happen (often for a predicted storm). In this case, you have time to prep meals that your family can enjoy when the power goes out.

If you’ve been able to prep freezer meals and things like muffins for breakfast, your time during a power outage will be much less difficult. Just remember that the freezer meals will have to be somewhere cold but accessible (I’d recommend in a “7 day” cooler with ice) and they need to be able to be cooked on a stove top since the oven in a gas stove still requires electricity to work.


Tips for Your Other Food During a Power Outage

Try to avoid opening the fridge and freezer as much as possible during a power outage.

If you have advance warning of the outage, freeze or prepare anything you can in the fridge (including milk and eggs).

If your freezer is not full, fill ziplock bags or other plastic storage containers with water and freeze before you expect the outage in order to fill up the space. It’s important to keep your freezer full to keep the temperature level. You can also stick a couple of these frozen containers in the fridge to help keep that area cold as well.

If you are unable to keep the food in the fridge cold and you didn’t prep it in advance. Transfer it to a “7 day” cooler with ice packs or if it’s cold..bury it in the snow. We have 2 of these Lifetime Brand Coolers and they work very well.

Cooking Kettle Corn on the Stove

FAQs About Cooking During a Power Outage

How do I cook indoors during a power outage?

You can use a gas/propane stove during a power outage to cook. If you don’t have one, a camp stove will also work and possibly a grill if that’s all you have. If you are concerned about using propane indoors without being able to use a vent fan, crack a window close to where you are cooking.

This camp stove is powered by butane instead of propane if you are concerned with having propane in the house.

Does the stove still work without electricity?

If you have a propane stove, you can still use the top burners during a power outage. Just remember that you will need a lighter since most igniters use electricity. Just turn the knob to light and quickly hold the lighter up by the burner to light the gas. Once the burner is on, turn it to your desired temperature setting.

An oven (even on a gas stove) will not work during a power outage, however, some old propane stoves (and some new ones that are made for off-grid living) are equipped with a battery-powered ignitor and they will work. It’s good to turn off the power and test your stove when you do have electricity so that you can be prepared and know what to do when the power is off.

What should I put in fridge food during a power outage?

You can have frozen water in freezer containers that you store in your freezer and can transfer to your fridge when the power goes out. This will help give it a “cooler effect” and can keep the temps lower in your fridge to keep food good longer.

How long does food stay good in the fridge without power?

The CDC recommends that you toss food from the fridge after 4 hours without power, however, this time can be extended if you do a couple of things.

Once you know the power is going to stay out for a little while, place ice containers or ice packs in the fridge to keep it cooler. If it’s cold outside, transfer the most perishable food (meats, dairy, etc) into a snow bank or possibly into a cooler that is buried in a snow bank. You could put a few things in the freezer if you absolutely need to, but otherwise, keep your freezer closed. The warmer food of the fridge won’t help your other freezer items stay cold.

If the power has been off for more than 4 hours and you were not able to do anything to bring the temp down in the fridge, toss all of the more perishable items (meats, dairy, etc) and give the sniff test to other items. Many condiments and fresh produce will be just fine unless they go a very long time out of the cooler temps.

There are plenty of healthy and filling meals that can be made during a power outage! All it takes it a bit of planning ahead to have foods that you can prepare and have a way to prepare them and then you will never have to worry if the power goes out unexpectedly.

I hope this post helps to give you some ideas and I’d also love to hear your best ideas for yummy meals to make during a power outage in the comments section as well!

Merissa Bio

This article on Meals to Make During a Power Outage was originally published on Little House Living in October 2020. It has been updated as of September 2022.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Support Little House Living by Sharing This

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Thank you very much for your concern about power outage.luckyly I lives in Pakistan the weather is too hot too cold but thank God we don’t have power outage problem . But other countries they have this you are doing a very good job. Keep it up.take care

  2. Grew up in a military family, moving every 18 months. Gardening and canning is totally foreign to me. I am now 73, hubby 89 so the work involved in a garden and canning is a bit much. Hubby wanted to be prepared for emergencies (hurricanes, unrest etc) so we bought some tubs of freeze dried meals. They include powdered milk, energy drink, cereal and dessert. Simple, just add water. Also, I selected some cases of freeze dried veg. #10 cans.
    They are very good. The meals are ok, better than nothing. I try improve them with some fresh veg if I can. We are currently using them a few times a week to make sure we use them. We have more than enough to last us. I would buy more of the freezer dried veg, also freeze dried meat if we run out of the meals.
    We live on 5 acres that will soon be too much for us to manage so will soon be looking for an alternative place for us as we age. Takes hubby 2-3 days to just cut the grass, never mind any trimming of shrubbery or look after a garden. We did have chickens initially but raccoons managed to get into the coop and killed them all.

    1. Bummer! That’s too bad. If it were one or even two, it wouldn’t be so bad; but all of them? That stinks! I’m sorry. If I could, I’d get Misty Raney, from the TV series “Homestead Rescue”, to help you build a predator-proof chicken coop. She’s expert at it. I watch that program all the time.

  3. During a power outage years ago,we were out of propane for the gas grill. Only had electric appliances and our woodstove at the time had electric blowers on it. It was my husbands 42nd Birthday and he had to work a 12 hour shift. I had already taken the steak out of the freezer earlier so it could thaw for his Birthday dinner. With needing to let the woodstove go out so it didn’t overheat with out the blowers and no way to cook his steak now….I improvised. I took the ash bucket for the woodstove,filled it with the hot coals,brought it outside to the stone sidewalk…in the middle of a snowstorm,took the metal grate from the gas grill,put it on top of the bucket and diced some potatoes into a cast iron pan and fried those till done then did the steak knowing he should arrive very soon all while holding an umbrella over it all to keep the heavy snowfall from putting out the fire!. He came home before the steak was done and when he came around the bend in our road,knowing the power was out…he thought the front porch was on fire! (he’s also 3rd chief in our local Fire Dept.) But when he ran to the house and saw I was just cooking over the ash bucket he said he couldn’t have been more proud of me to come up with such an idea! Even though I was most certain at the time I was not capable at the time to even try to bake a cake in any cast iron over said fire at the time. But with the candles and oil lamps lit inside the house, he said that with his Birthday steak dinner and a smart wife that it was an evening to remember. We’ve now been married for 21 years and I have had to use my “Little house prairie skills” a lot during those times. Thank you for such great articles and email updates!

  4. Well the worst was nine days when we got hit with derecho this summer it was hot so pretty miserable we have a gas stove so I had to light the burners but I could cook on those…again tho hot very hot feel like a hundred degrees and we were having to work heavy work all day out side clearing storm damage we were able to get a generator at a pawn shop there were none any where to be had thank goodness my husband thought to check pawn shops so that helped to keep frig and freezers and neighbors going too we could see news and charge tablet phone and run a fan but it was costing $35.00 a day in gas which had to be gotten in a town not effected by the derecho which cut a swath thru the center of Iowa from side to side and yes we were still at clean up even today mind you this was during covid butter sandwiches cheese and crackers it was rough

  5. When a hurricane was supposed to hit the Gulf Coast of Florida, I would hard boil all my eggs, boil my raw shrimp, make potato salad, cook some pasta for a jar of sauce that I would heat. Make up my left over egg wash & breadcrumbs stored in a container in freezer into fritters that can be heated. Make some sausage & egg muffins, & also grilled cheese sandwiches cut in half. All can be heated up in the chafing dish. If I have a 16oz can of crab meat in refrig, I make crab cakes.they are good cold. Also salmon, tuna,& chicken patties that are good cold on bread with mayo. Lots of things teady for the power outage.

  6. Love these ideas. I love reading all the stories. Im a country girl living in the suburbs. I have to laugh because years ago we had a bad winter storm and no electric for 8 days. The young girls I worked with were so afraid their food in their fridge would ruin. When I suggested setting their food out in the snow and ice.. They were appalled that I would suggest that.. Hey it worked for my family and food lasted till the electric was back on. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  7. I have white gas stove and lanterns left over from camping days. I dehydrate veges, and make fruit leathers, Flour, powdered milk and dehydrated foods are vacuum packed in mason jars and in extra small freezer. Keep canned meat, beef, and lunch meat, fish, shrimp and crab on hand. A few years ago we had a silver thaw and power was out for 4 days. Got through that with no problems and with good winter clothes were reasonably confortable.