A primary concern of most preppers, food storage seems easy. But have you tried living for a year on the stuff that you stored in your pantry? Survival food storage is actually somewhat of a science because you need to store the right amount of calories and have sources of protein, carbs, fiber and fat. Having a year worth of food is like an insurance policy and I don’t know about you, but it makes me sleep really, really well.
You need to calculate your calorie needs. You will need to do the calculations for each family member and take into account their preferences, as well as any allergies that they may have.
When figuring out how many weeks or months worth of food you have stored, you need to make sure you include “calories per person” in you calculations. Different members of your family have different calorie needs. Although the traditional recommendation from the FDA is the 2000 calorie diet, it is likely that it does not fit the needs of any of your family members precisely. Younger children will need fewer calories and people who do physical work will need more. Overweight people can handle a reduced calorie intake to lose weight and a slightly higher one to maintain their health weight.
You don’t have to have the full amount of calories you need every day. People can survive weeks without food. However, you do need to know your limits and your family members’ limits. Going without sufficient food for too long will cause dizziness, headaches, stomach aches and, ultimately, malnutrition. A starved organism eventually begins to break apart the fat tissue to fuel itself. When all of that is gone, it will move on to the rest of the tissue types. A starved human body has to be slowly returned to the normal amount of food. Try to not dip below 1200 calories per family member to avoid crashing and debilitating effects of malnutrition.
To figure out how many calories your family needs daily (and subsequently to figure out how much food to store), you can use 2 methods. You can either estimate the calories at, say, 1500 calories across the board per family member and multiply that by the number of family members or you can calculate the needed calories scientifically by using what is called the Mifflin-St Jeor Equation. The equation calculates the basal metabolic rate, which means that it is assumed that the person stays at rest the entire day. Keep in mind that these rates are just the basis and add calories for each family member based on the amount of energy they exert. The equations for men and women are below. Keep in mind that you need to express weight in kilograms, height in centimeters an age in years to arrive at the correct answer.
For men: (9.99 x weight) + (6.25 x height) – (4.92 x age) + 5
For women: (9.99 x weight) + (6.25 x height) – (4.92 x age) – 161
To convert inches to centimeters, go here: http://www.convertunits.com/from/inches/to/cm
To convert pounds to kilograms, go here: http://www.convertunits.com/from/pounds/to/kg
When figuring out how much food to stock, keep in mind that when it comes to nutrition, it is not just the number of calories that counts, but where the calories are coming from. For example, you don’t want to stock only noodles and oil, despite the fact that they come with a high number of calories. Good nutrition involves a balance of protein, and complex carbs, with a little bit of simple carbs (or simple sugars). You also want to make sure that you provide your family with a diet that offers at least the minimal necessary amount of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Try using both estimation and calculation to figure out how many calories your family needs daily. How many calories worth of provisions will you need in your first year?
Based on my experience, you will spend about $1000 per person for a year’s worth of food for approximately 1900 calories per day. It may be higher or lower depending on how many calories you want to provide and what sources you choose to use to provide them.
Below is the list of top items to store. They have high caloric and nutritional value.
- Long grain white rice provides 1500 calories per pound and has better caloric value than brown rice.
- Enriched pasta noodles provides approximately 1700 calories per pound, although this number fluctuates depending on the brand.
- Dry beans provide about 1300 calories per pound and are rich in protein and fiber. Buy a variety of dry beans: pinto, black, kidney, lima, northern.
- Cornmeal contains approximately 1600 calories per pound and is great for all sorts of good stuff, especially breakfast.
- White flour has near 1500 calories per pound and is also very versatile.
- Oatmeal provides 1700 calories per pound.
These are your basic “filling”, “carby” foods. By all means, feel free to add brown rice, dry potatoes and other dry cereal types to the mix. Keep in mind that whole wheat flower does not store for very long.
Next are the other necessities, like sugar, salt, yeast and oil, as well as meats and canned, dehydrated or freeze dried produce.
Sugar and salt are important preservatives and I recommend you store 50 pounds of sugar per person (that’s more than you need for a year by the way) and always have 20 pounds of salt on hand (you can buy rock salt in bulk and grind you own. It is great for preserving meat, and will be useful in an extended disaster scenario.
The easiest way to store 1 year worth of food without breaking the bank:
- Obtain storage supplies: Mylar bags or Mylar wrap, 5 gallon buckets, other jars and containers.
- Buy a few bulk bags of rice and beans.
- Buy rock salt and sugar.
- Watch the sales and obtain other survival foods when they are sold at significant discounts. For example, grocery stores will frequently sell baking supplies at deep discounts around the holidays; spices and marshmallows are cheaper during the grilling season, etc. Each time you shop, try to buy 1 week worth of certain food group for survival needs.
Use the caloric values I provided to figure out how much rice, beans and noodles your family needs to cover its caloric needs for 1 year and begin obtaining these products.
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