As the U.S. Northeast gets used to a new normal (of being slammed by several massive storms in a row), it’s good to have an action plan as one heads to the grocery stores for the mandatory panic shopping.

When Hurricane Sandy arrived, I thought I was prepared, having moved stuff out of the basement and run down our fridge weeks in advance. But we still flung out 6 large bin bags full of food that was in the freezer (there’s only so long the freezer remains cold, and we were 9 days without power). This was sad and I hate wasting food.

So, lesson learnt, here are some tips for future pre-storm shopping, with the full expectation that power may go out again (see pic of lovely neighbor’s house above, as latest storm begins):

-if you have an electric oven, get rid of it and get a gas-fired one. Especially if the power goes out regularly in your area. Gas-fired stoves allow endless creative meals to come forth from your kitchen, as the winds howl and century-old trees crash all around you (gulp).

-plenty o’ pasta and dried noodles will be useful, as will high-quality prepared sauces in jars

-if it’s winter, buy a few things than can safely be stored just outside your kitchen door or on in a raccoon-safe bin on the porch – like hummus, milk (don’t go crazy), maybe some meat or fish that you can use up within day 1 or 2. Come hell or highwater, WE are having salmon tonight.

-get lots of crackers and bread – pita, challah, sandwich thins – these are always useful for tuna, PB, hummus and other quick meals

-buy apples, grapes, oranges, avocadoes and other whole fruit

-I remembered bananas this time because, before the recent big gasoline shortage, there was a BIG BANANA SHORTAGE pre-Sandy. They’re perfect for snacks because kids who are cooped up and not expending energy tend to ALWAYS be hungry. (photo shows long lines of folks with their jerry cans at the local gas station last week, after Sandy.)

-there are lots of other things capable of surviving outside the fridge for a few days: Tomatoes, whole mushrooms, whole peppers, green beans, zucchini and chilis (yeh, what sane person does NOT have chilis on their grocery list?!)

-my storm supplies list always includes soy sauce and Thai curry paste. You never know when you need an emergency Thai green curry.

-Some frozen veg items won’t go amiss – some spinach perhaps, and peas. Easily added to pasta sauce to boost veg factor. These may be stored outdoors during a storm like this one, when temperatures will be below freezing. Just be ready to share a nibble or two with Mr Raccoon outside.

-For flavor and interest, sundried tomatoes, anchovies, capers and pickles keep both in or outside of the fridge.

-Canned sardines and baked beans; former great with pasta, latter on toast or baked potato.

-Forget perishable. Buy eggs, buy butter. There is no hope left if baking cannot be done.

Be safe, everyone! Let’s hope power lines and trees hold up this time.