10/21/2014 12:33 pm ET Updated Dec 17, 2014

How to Survive an Unpredictable Winter

In West Virginia, winters are unpredictable and often brutal. Having enough nonperishable food in the house is important. Right now, I am planning to have enough nonperishable foods to last 16 weeks. I count the three months of December, January and February as 12 weeks. Then I add the last two weeks of November to cover for an early snow and the first two weeks of March to cover for a late snow. I then figure out how much Mom and I will eat of each item per week and plan to buy that amount. Canned fruits, vegetables, tuna, chicken, soups, and peanut butter are all important items. I am stocking up on powdered milk because I do not particularly enjoy the taste of canned milk. I am also choosing dry goods, such as cereals, pasta, flour, raisins, and coffee.

Snacks are also important. I want to think beyond chips and snack crackers and include healthy snack options. One healthy option is Kind Bars. I like the Kind Almond Coconut, the Cranberry Almond, and the Dark Chocolate, Nuts and Sea Salt flavors.

It is also important not to run out of personal care and household items. For example, I am buying some extra laundry detergent. Also, be sure to have some extra dish soap, hand soap, shampoo, and batteries on hand. I am definitely stocking up on toilet paper and paper towels!
You must also find ways to amuse yourself, particularly if the electricity goes out. Your e-reader will only last for a certain amount of time. However, books are ready for you to read at any time and do not require electricity (at least not if you read them during daylight hours). You might want to expand your horizons by trying a different author. For instance, during the summer 2012 derecho, I read a Stephen King book for the first time. The book was The Wind Through the Keyhole. I was instantly hooked, and am now a Stephen King fan!

When you must stay inside, keeping a few small toys around is a good idea to amuse children. Finger puppets are great for creative play. In addition, I like to choose toys that are well made and durable. The Folkmanis Mini Monkey and the Folkmanis Mini Red Dragon are two such toys.

With a little planning, you can not only survive, but also thrive this winter!