Food storage is a key component to your family’s preparedness plan. There are many decisions that need to be made. Which foods are best for storage? Which will my family prefer? How do I store it properly?
Freeze Dried Foods?
Every Day Pantry Foods?
Buckets? Cans? Gamma Lids?
UReal Meat or TVP?
GMO Free? Gluten Free?
I could go on and on. Ultimately, there is no RIGHT answer. Every family’s needs are different as far as what to store. But there is ONE issue that affects us all that MUST have our attention: Calorie Count.
Notice I did NOT say “Number of Servings.”
Food storage calories vs. Number of Servings
The majority of food and kits marketed for preparedness purposes tout their products as “30 day kits” or “100 servings per bucket” or something similar. Red flags pop up in my mind if there is no calorie count listed plainly and without research. If you can’t find the calorie count per serving, you MUST do the math yourself.
For example, there is one company (I’m not going to name names) that has what they advertise as a “One Month One Person Ready To Go Bucket” that includes 72 “servings.” Just based on the name, one would assume that a single person would be able to eat for one month, right? Let’s do the math.
I had to search for quite a while to find the calorie count information for this company’s foods. When I finally found it, it was on an unrelated website. The average calorie count per serving for the specific foods included was 185. Multiply that by the total servings (72) and you get 13,320 calories. Divide that by 30 to get your daily allotment and you’ll discover that you get to dine on just 444 calories per day to make this kit last the full month it claims to hold.
That’s not survival. That’s slow starvation!
Based on my height, weight, age and gender, my Basal Metabolic Rate (how many calories I burn per day doing nothing but resting) is about 1,500 calories. (Determine your personal BMR by using this calculator.) In a SHTF situation where I would need to use my food storage, I would likely be very active doing what I needed to survive, not laying in bed all day. How well will 444 calories sustain me? What I would need is a minimum of 2,000 calories per day… which means this “one month” bucket would only last me FEWER THAN SEVEN DAYS.
A friend of mine owns 12 of these buckets. He thought he had a full year of food until I asked him about calorie count. He realized that based on his caloric needs, he actually had just short of three months of food in his stash. That’s less than a quarter of what he thought was on hand. Three months of food on hand is an excellent food stash. It might even be sufficient for the majority of disasters and emergencies he would face. At least now he has an accurate assessment of what is really on his shelf.
TIP: Learn more about common food storage myths by reading Top 10 Food Storage Myths and watching the embedded videos.
Another example of a food storage plan that is shy of providing the necessary calories is a blog post claiming that you can “feed your family of four for one year for less than $300.” It included a specific list of very simple items to buy, how to cook and serve it, and even how to store it. Overall it contained good information, except for one thing: when I did the calorie math, the “one year for four people” provided under 100 calories per person per day! Based on a flat rate of 2,000 calories per day, that one year plan would last that family of four only 16 days! If you want a two-week food stash, it’s an excellent option. But I fear for those who falsely believe they have a full year of food on their shelves.
When it comes to food storage plans, companies, and claims, be skeptical and remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
How to figure food storage calories for your family
So what should you do to ensure you have enough food storage?
- Decide how how many weeks, months or years of food you want to have as part of your preparedness plan.
- Calculate the number of calories needed for each member of your household.
- Go through your current food stash and do the calorie math.
- If you’ve planned your food storage around specific recipes, how many calories per serving will those recipes provide?
- Determine if you have enough food or if you need to add more.
- Through use and rotation, continue to keep track of your total calories on hand and make purchases as needed.
It’s is important to note that I am not saying that you shouldn’t buy foods that “hide” their calorie counts. Some of them are good quality, tasty, and/or economical choices despite the lack of full disclosure about calories. You just have to know how many calories are in each of those servings so you can make an informed choice on both the dollar value and how long it will truly last your family.
Have you worked out a calorie count for your food stash?
Refine your food storage pantry with these resources
- “A Round-Up of Food Storage Resources“
- Food Saver — vacuum system for storing food long-term
- Food Saver Mason jar sealer
- Food Storage for Self-Sufficiency and Survival by Angela Paskett
- Oxygen absorbers, 100 cc
- Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage by Gaye Levy
- The Preparedness Planner (Print this out and prepare a customized planner!)
- The Prepper’s Cookbook by Tess Pennington
- Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Emergencies and Worst Case Scenarios by Lisa Bedford
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