This post may contain affiliate links, which means that if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, I’ll receive compensation at no extra cost to you.
When calculating the amount of food your family needs for a SHTF disaster, it’s often better to overestimate, but most people underestimate the amount necessary. Building a huge stockpile isn’t easy or cheap, plus it requires a larger storage area, particularly if you have a big family. That can be a deterrent, especially if space is at a premium.
However, there is a way to estimate the amount to use and several food calculators on the internet to help make it easier, but those don’t take into account your family’s preferences and eating habits. Some adults and children burn calories like an oven, while others burn far less than average. To get a good handle on what you’ll need for long term food storage, do a test run at home. Some people are intolerant or allergic to certain foods, to add to the problem. You can start with a list of foods recommended to store and build off that.
It’s not all about calories if you’re planning to stock up for several months, but is when you only choose a week’s worth of food. Long term food stockpiling requires paying attention to both calorie intake and nutritional requirements. If you’re like most people I know, including myself, I’ve lived on a diet that lacked all the essential nutrients for a week and aside from feeling bloated, I survived. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try or settle for a huge stash of M&Ms. It means you don’t have to plan as meticulously for the disaster food rations.
Start by going through the list of recommended foods for long term food storage and find ones your family love or at least like. You can list all the foods you buy for a month (including the size of the container) to give a good idea of what you eat. Don’t forget to include spices and foods you didn’t have to buy because you had them on hand, but were necessary for meal preparation. That will tell you approximately how much you need. If you have milk on your list, as many families do, convert it to the amount of powdered milk and water necessary. This can give you a good idea of the amount of calories your family uses in a month and the amount of food necessary.
One thing we found helpful, was to use the calculator to identify the amount of bulk food we should have and then set about to learn new recipes to use those bulk supplies. Some of the recipes required additional spices or supplies. If the supplies or spices were suitable for long term storage, I added those to my stockpile. I also considered the ease of cooking the meal. We have a wood burning stove in the basement, so it’s not a problem. I can cook almost anything as long as I have wood to burn. I had thought about using a barbecue grill for cooking outside, but decided based on our weather and the scent of cooking food the barbecue grill emits that lets every hungry neighbor know we have food. I now have four weeks of recipes in a folder sorted by main ingredients that I can repeat six times before our stock dwindles.