For 15 years I was a member of the Volusia County Emergency Management team that helped during hurricanes.

It’s that time of year again and this hurricane season may be a little busy, so let’s get ready.

First, be sure to get the Hurricane Preparation Guide that is available each year from Hometown News; it provides great information.

Let’s talk about how to get ready. My wife is great about getting ready for the storm season. She starts buying disaster food in March and April a little at a time. She follows all the sales and two for ones and we are ready by June.

How do you plan to cook without power? Do you have an outside grill? Great! Is it gas-operated or charcoal? Make sure you have the fuel available to cook. I recommend everyone have a small gas cooktop as a backup.

Chefs use them all the time for chef stations at catered parties. They are not expensive, about $20-$25, and operate on a small gas tank the size of a hair spray can. They are big enough to handle a large frying pan or pot.

You will be able to cook for days and cook almost anything. The local restaurant supply stores have them. I give them as gifts during Christmas. Look on the internet as well.

A coffee pot also is important; one that isn’t electric. People will be upset without their coffee. Buy a French press coffee pot. Place ground coffee in the pot, then add hot water and let it steep a couple minutes. Press down the plunger top separating the grinds from the coffee. This makes great tasting coffee, and be sure you have ground coffee not k-cups.

A good-sized ice chest also is helpful. Have a good supply of disposable plates, cups, plastic ware and paper towels. You also need trash bags and lots of water.

Here are some shopping ideas: buy protein drinks; shop for the highest protein value you can find for high energy. Oatmeal variety packs are great, because you just add water and heat. How about cereal with milk? Powdered milk is OK or try to find shelf-stable milk in cartons. Evaporated canned milk is milk that has the water taken out. Add a can of water to a can of evaporated milk and it will be regular milk.

Plastic portion cups of fruits are great; get a variety and get juice mixes. You should start stocking up on canned goods like vegetables, canned chicken, tuna, corned beef hash, chili no beans (you’ll thank me later). Also consider Spam, and canned pasta with meatballs or meat ravioli.

Think about getting canned soups, dry spaghetti, boxes of rice mixtures, and mac and cheese. Make sure you have all the staples, too, such as herbs, spices, sugar, cooking oil or sprays, chips, pita chips, and nachos. Did you know corn bread mix can be fried in a frying pan for bread?

Now let’s think about the food in the refrigerator. After a few hours, the cooler will be too hot to keep food safely. Cook everything you can that is fresh. The freezer may last up to two or three days if you keep the door closed.

Refrigerated eggs have been washed so their protected cover is removed. Leaving them out is not a good idea. Do you know a local farmer? If you have farm fresh eggs from the farm that have not been washed, they can stay on the counter for many days.

Soft cheese needs to be refrigerated; hard cheeses like Gouda and parmesan do not need to be refrigerated.

Finally write a menu of meals and snacks for three to six days consumption. When you plan, everyone will be happier knowing what to expect. My recipe this week is: step 1 -- begin today to stock up, step 2 – be prepared.

Costa Magoulas is dean of the Mori Hosseini College of Hospitality and Culinary Management at Daytona State College. Contact him at (386) 506-3578 or magoulc@daytonastate.edu.

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