No one plans on their power going out, but it happens. When the power has been out for a while, or when you return from an afternoon away to see that flashing clock on your stove you may find yourself wondering, what can I still eat, what should I eat first, and what do I need to throw in the garbage? It’s frustrating to waste our money and throw groceries into the garbage, but it’s better to be safe than sorry and get ill from eating something we shouldn’t.

For those who haven’t kept their fridge running during a power outage with CarGenerator we’ve created a little cheat sheet to help you keep your food fresh longer, plan your meals accordingly, and in turn save some money.

Keep It Shut
Keep the fridge and freezer door shut as much as possible to avoid letting out the cold.

Monitor Time & Temperature
Fridge food will still be safe for about four hours without power. If your power goes out often, in addition to investing in a generator or other power solutions, you may also want to get a refrigerator thermometer to make sure temperatures stay in the 1.5 to 3-degree Celsius temperature range.

During power outages, instead of storing your food outside where it can be contaminated with dirt or animals looking for a free meal, make your own ice using plastic jugs and reusable containers, and gel packs. You can continue to refreeze these outside and place them in your fridge (or freezer) to help keep food fresh longer, or even pull your camping coolers out of the garage to store frequently used food there, preventing you from opening and closing your fridge or freezer door as often.

Set the Clock
Once your four-hour window is over, and the temperature reaches and exceeds 4 degrees Celsius you’ll have two hours to plan your next meal with the following ingredients (or need to throw them out).
High Risk food that will need to be eaten or thrown out after six hours without power include:
-Soups, stews, & casseroles
-Meat & seafood
-Dairy products & softer cheeses (or any cheese or cream-based desserts)
-Eggs & any foods containing egg products
-Cut fruit & pre-washed or cooked vegetables
-Creamy dressings, fish sauces, or any mayonnaise-based dressings and sauces

The US Department of Health and Human Services Food Safety lists that the following items will also need to be thrown out after four hours if the fridge temperature is over 4 degrees Celsius:
-Lunchmeats, hotdogs, bacon, sausages
-Baby formula
-Opened Tartar sauce
-Cooked pasta, fresh pasta, rice & potatoes

Know What will Last the Longest
Foods that will keep without power the longest include:
-Hard & processed cheeses
-Butter & margarine
-Fruit juice & whole fruits
-Nut butters, jams, ketchup, mustard, olives, hot sauce, BBQ sauce, soy sauce and vinegar-based salad dressings
-Raw veggies & herbs
-Breads, bagels, pancakes & waffles

In the Freezer
Just like the fridge, the freezer will stay cold longer if you keep the door shut and make sure the temperature maintains at a solid -17 to -18 degrees Celsius. Foods in your freezer will remains frozen (and safe to eat) for 48 hours in a completely full freezer, and for 24 hours in a half full freezer. If your freezer is not full, move the food closer together to keep it colder, longer. Health Canada says that to ensure safety when your power comes back on note that you can refreeze any food that has ice crystals or feels, at minimum, ‘refrigerator cold’.

A Final Note
When it comes to food, if you’re in doubt, just throw it out.