Load shedding doesn’t have to leave your family in the dark… – By Abigail Courtenay

Posted: 11-11-2014

In recent weeks, Eskom has warned that there is a risk that load shedding might rear its ugly head. This time around don’t be caught unprepared! Below you will find tips on meal ideas for those dark nights, how to make sure your cold food stays fresh, when to throw out certain foods and finally a few activities to keep your kids entertained entertained.


Be prepared for an emergency

Have items on hand that don't need to be in the fridge that can be eaten cold or heated on your braai.

Load shedding staples:

  • Crackers, provita’s, cous-cous and bread
  • Peanut butter, marmite/ bovril
  • Tinned foods
    • Baked beans, chic pea’s, pilchards/ sardines
    • Long life boxed milk

*If you know when the powder will be out, boil your kettle and keep some hot water in a flask to make some of the staples (like cous-cous), alternatively you can boil water on the braai or on a small gas stove.

Meal ideas:

  • Cous-cous salad with chic pea’s
  • Sardines on crackers with a quick tomato, onion and green pepper salsa
  • Tuna mayonnaise salad on rolls


How to make sure your cold foods stays fresh

Load shedding usually only occurs for 2-3 hours at a time, but as we know, this is not always the case! If the electricity is out for 4 hours or less then the food in your fridge and freezer should be safe to eat. To keep the food as cold as possible, keep the doors closed.

If the electricity is out for longer than 4 hours, follow the guidelines below:

  • For the fridge section: Pack milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs and spoilable leftovers into a cooler bag/ box surrounded by ice or ice packs.
  • For the Freezer section: A freezer that is half full will hold food safely for up to 24 hours. A full freezer will hold food safely for 48 hours. Do not open the freezer door if you can avoid it.

*A food thermometer is incredibly useful in these situations, to check the temperature of your food right before you cook or eat it. Throw away any food that has a temperature of more than 5⁰ C.


Which foods should you throw away if >5⁰C for more than 2 hours

  • Raw/ leftover meat, chicken, fish/ seafood
  • Soft cheeses, cottage cheese, blue cheese
  • Milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk and yogurt
  • Creamy- based salad dressing
  • Cooked pasta, rice/ potatoes
  • Cooked vegetables or pre-cut/ pre-washed greens


Can food be refrozen if it has started to defrost?

If the food still contains ice crystals and is below 5⁰C then yes. However, you will have to check each item separately and always be sure to throw away any items in either the freezer or the fridge that have come into contact with raw meat juices. Partial thawing and refreezing may decrease the quality of some food, but the food will remain safe to eat.


What to do with the kids:

  • Make collages from old magazines

Go through all the magazines in the house and cut out pictures and words to make themed collages! Once they have all their pictures, let them lay them out and glue them onto a piece of paper.

  • Finger knit

You don’t need much equipment to finger knit -just your fingers and some wool. Here is a tutorial to help you with idea’s to get started:


  • Build a fort

What a great time to make a fort! Grab some towels, sheets, pillows and a few flashlights and books and you are ready for fort building. You could even try sleeping in your fort for a real adventure!

  • Play board games
  • Talk about your day or tell some spooky stories


Load shedding schedule:

For more information on the load shedding schedule visit the Eskom website at:



Safety warning:

* Be very careful not to leave any open flames (candles, gas stoves, braais) burning longer than needed and never leave them unattended!





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