Phoenix Bird

Food Storage - One Alternative

Note: The pricing in the last table has not been updated yet, so use it just for a rough reference. ~WW

Subject: Stored food

Date: Wed, 16 Dec 1998 10:20:37 -0700

From: Gary S. Marbut/TOS/MSSA


Dear MSSA Friends,

Some people have asked, "How much food should I store for an emergency (hurricane, blizzard, etc)?"

The answer has three primary variables. How many people will you feed, how long do you anticipate you will need to feed them, and how generous will the diet be?

Concerning how many people you will need to feed, you may choose to ask the question, how many people could I not possibly turn away if they came to me hungry and asked to be fed indefinitely? The answer to this question probably includes near or extended and nearby family members, and maybe a selected few close friends. Your planning number should probably also include strangers who wander by and need to be fed occasionally.

How long you need to feed them depends entirely your analysis of how long an emergency may last. A weather emergency could last for days, but probably not more than a week or two at the most. An economic collapse or Y2K crash could have nutritional implications for months or more. Mormons have traditionally advocated storing a year's supply of food.

Concerning the generosity of the proposed diet, 1,000 to 1,200 calories per day will prevent starvation, but will not allow an average-sized adult to do much work. To do heavy, physical work, especially in cold weather, may take as much as 3,500 calories per day. For planning purposes, you may want to pick a target calorie intake of 2,000 or 2,500 calories per person per day for the duration of the emergency. (Depends on whether you are just waiting out the emergency, or are physically active with gardening, hunting, gathering, etc.)

To offer a better grasp of how this calorie intake might be apportioned among various foods, see the following prepared by friend Dennis.

Using the Tables in Joy of Cooking:
Item Qty Calories Protein
Rice, cooked 1/2 cup 100 22 g
Rice, raw 1 lb. (6 cups cooked) 1200


Beans, kidney, navy, pinto, cooked 1/2 cup 115 7 g
Beans, dried 1 lb.
  2 to 2-1/2 cups dry
  5-6 cups cooked
1200 80 g
Oil, Vegetable 1 TBS. (1/128 gal.) 110


Milk, skim, reconstituted, Costco brand
  (~160 cups)
1 cup 82 8.2 g
Potatoes, mashed, instant, Trio brand,
1-1/2 cups prepared
  1/4 cup dry or 1/47 can
180 3 g
Cereal, Cream of Wheat (farina), cooked 1 cup 107 3 g
Cereal, Cream of Wheat (farina), dry 1 cup
  (yields 6-7 cups cooked)
~700 20 g
Oatmeal, old-fashioned, cooked 1 cup 130 6.8 g
Oatmeal, old-fashioned 1 lb. dry
  5-1/3 cups uncooked
  9 cups cooked
1170 61.2 g
Sugar, granulated 1 TBS 48


Sugar, granulated 1 lb.
  2 cups
  32 TBS


Possible daily adult survival diet, moderate physical labor:
Item Qty Calories Protein
Rice (prepared) 1 lb. raw 1200 22 g
Beans (prepared) 1/4 lb. dry 300 20 g
Oatmeal, cooked
  (or substitute farina)
1/4 lb. dry 290 15 g
Milk, skim, prepared 2 cups 164 16.4 g
Oil, vegetable 4 TBS (1/4 c.) 440
Sugar 2 TBS (1/16 lb.) 96
Potatoes, instant, prepared 1/47 can dry 180 3 g
TOTAL   2670 76.4 g


Per person-year with some Costco prices, based on above:
Item Amount Cost
Rice 365 lbs. $84
Beans 91.25 lb. $26
Oatmeal or wheat cereal 91.25 lb. $24
Milk, skim 4.5 boxes
730 cups
45.6 gal reconstituted
Sugar 22.8 lb. $9
Potatoes, instant (8) #10 cans (44 lbs.) $29
Oil, vegetable 5.7 gal. ~$20

For bare survival, quantities could be cut in half. Other grains, flours, and pasta could be substituted pound for pound I think, except corn must be prepared with lime for proper digestion. If soybeans or any source of animal protein were included milk could be reduced, it is included more for its protein and other nutrients than its calories, and is probably the most expensive part. The oil could be increased by 50% for a calorie boost, or replaced by other fats. Children under 12, and women who are not pregnant or nursing, could use 2/3 the above, except that children should not have the milk ration reduced. Nursing mothers should have the milk ration doubled. And don't forget the salt! Rice, beans, and cereals are pretty blah without salt. 5-10 lb per person per year ought to be plenty. If wheat for bread is included, yeast/baking powder/soda also. Add Vitamin C, or some multi-vitamins even, and it should be a fairly well balanced diet. The protein requirement is met, there should be adequate calcium and phosphorous, and essential fatty acids.

If you are beginning to think about preparedness, don't forget to think about drinkable water, shelter, heat, light, protection, and other needs (and maybe other basic human needs such as beer, books and sympathetic others with whom to share the emergency).

Also, if you don't already have a food storage program, and wish to begin one, do it soon. Some kinds of storable foods, like military surplus MREs, are getting hard to find, as are some axillary implements, such as grain grinders. The time may come when the amount of food you are allowed to buy at the stores will be rationed because of shortages (Costco recently rationed "Furbie" dolls when they had a limited supply).

Whether or not you believe there will be a Y2K crisis, there will very likely be a food-buying panic (and shortage) precipitated in 1999 by the talk of a pending Y2K crisis. If you think food storage is useful and affordable insurance, get yours before a panic hits.

Best wishes,