Adequate food storage is one of the cornerstones of prepping. While the body can certainly last at least a few weeks without food, the latter part of that time frame will be decidedly less than pleasant. Food is what fuels the body and in the aftermath of a disaster, you’ll need all the fuel you can get.
Look back to the food list you made during week 1. How many days could you realistically feed your entire family using only what you have on hand right now? Dr. Bruce Clayton, one of the true “godfathers” of modern survivalism, has said if you don’t have at least one full year of food stored, you’re wasting your time. Obviously, if you are just starting out, amassing that much food seems more than a little daunting. So, break it up into several easier to reach goals. Strive for a week, then two weeks, then a month, then three months. Keep setting the bar higher until you’re satisfied with the amount of food you have stored.
When we talk about food storage, you want a mix of products. You need not, and should not, just go out and buy several pallets of freeze-dried products and call it a day. First of all, doing so will be extremely expensive. Further, proper rotation is a key element of any successful food storage plan. You need to regularly use and restock your stored food. Always use the oldest product first.
While dumping several boxes of freeze-dried food into your pantry isn’t necessarily the worst idea in the world, you need to condition yourself and your family by introducing it into the diet gradually. Failing to do so could have a significantly negative impact on everyone’s digestive systems. A better idea is to work on stocking up on the foods your family already knows and enjoys. Canned foods like veggies, pasta, stew, chili, and soup. Dried goods like beans and rice. Staples such as flour, sugar, salt, and spices.
Concentrate on buying things that are relatively cheap, so as to get the most bang for your buck. Look not only at the price but the number of servings as well. A can of condensed soup might only cost $0.59 but you’ll be lucky to get two servings out of it. Not a bad deal if you’re only feeding yourself but if you have a spouse as well as growing kids, you’ll need a bit more than just a can or two for a meal.
Rice is still relatively inexpensive, though the price has gone up in the last year or so. Dried beans are an excellent source of protein and easy to prepare. Beans, rice, plus a can of peas and you can feed your entire family for mere pennies.
We’re not talking about gourmet meals here, obviously. Instead, focus on filling bellies with nutrition and calories.
How do you know how much you really need on a daily basis? The scientific way is to calculate the necessary caloric intake per person and plan accordingly. This gets a bit complicated but bear with me.
There are formulas for determining what is called Base Metabolic Rate. This refers to the number of calories your body needs just to maintain your current weight and activity level. You then adjust that number up or down depending upon your desired outcome. Down if you want to lose weight, up if you want to increase weight.
Measure the height (in inches) and weight (in pounds) of each family member. Then, using those numbers:
655 + (4.3 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
66 + (6.3 x weight in pounds) + (12.9 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)
655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years).
66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in year)
You then take each of those figures determined above and adjust them based on the activity level of each person.
Sedentary (little to no exercise): multiply by 1.2
Light (exercise up to 3 times a week): multiply by 1.3 (1.375 for children)
Moderate (exercise 3 or more times a week): multiply by 1.4 (1.55 for children)
Heavy (exercise 5 or more times a week): multiply by 1.5 (1.725 for children)
The final number for each person tells you how many calories they’ll need to consume to maintain their current body condition. Naturally, consuming a bit less won’t have a hugely detrimental effect on most people, at least not in the short term. But keep in mind that during a long-term disaster recovery period, odds are pretty good that activity levels will increase among your family members. Whether you’re out cutting up fallen branches, digging and weeding garden beds, or doing laundry by hand, you’ll probably be burning more calories than you currently do.
This week, you will begin to work on your food storage plan. Again, like past weeks, this isn’t an easy assignment. I warned you at the outset that this preparedness course was going to be a lot of work. Stick with it though as you’ll be happy with the end result. In the weeks to come, we’ll revisit food storage several times and discuss it in much greater detail, including specific nutritional requirements.
1) Calculate the caloric intake for each family member. As you work with the formulas above, remember your Order of Operations from math class. Do the operations inside the parentheses first.
2) Using the food list you made in week 1, determine how many days you can feed your family on what you have right now. Set your first food storage goal based on that figure. If you’re at a week, shoot for two weeks. If you have a month of food, go for two months. Every family is a bit different when it comes to the amount of food they consume so your plan will probably be different from mine.
3) Every trip to the grocery store beginning this week and going forward, buy at least one or two things for your food storage plan. Add to it little by little and you’ll be surprised at how quickly it accumulates. Shop the sales and use coupons as much as possible to stretch your dollar. Pay close attention to serving sizes but know that you can often get by with eating less than that. In America, we tend to have very large servings when we eat, compared to other countries. That’s one of the reasons why we are a country of rather large people.