Food Storage for 30 Days
I’m an Engineer and really like solving problems. Especially, when there are lots of variables leading to a number of potential solutions. That allows me to put some of my personal preferences into the mix and develop what I believe is the best solution.
One of my sons asked me to put together a food plan for him out of our stores for an upcoming trip he is planning. The basic requirements are to feed two 30ish young men who are very active for 2 weeks. There were several parameters I was given to create the plan:
- Water was not an issue
- Prep time was not an issue
- Variety was a minimal issue
- Space was a significant issue
- Weight was a significant issue
- Stability and shelf life were significant issues (they didn’t want to take a cooler)
- Nutritional value was an issue (eliminate the need for multi-vitamin if possible)
- Durability of packaging was a significant issue (boys will be boys)
- Basics such as salt, sugar, coffee, and spices were already accounted for in their camping gear
I started with a basic plan – feed an active adult male for 30 days (I added a little fluff for emergencies, spillage, and rounding errors). That gave me a starting point of 3,000 calories per day for 30 days or 90,000 calories.
My first thought was to supply them with several cases of MRE’s. At 1,200 calories each they would need 75 meals to total 90,000 calories. However, at approximately 1.5 pounds per meal this solution would have weighed about 110 pounds. Further, this solution didn’t provide much variety (24 different meals), didn’t address the durability issue, required the boys to consume partial meals (and store the remaining food) in order to meet the 3,000 calorie daily requirement, and supplied them with basics which they already had covered.
Delving further into our home storage I decided to use #10 cans of freeze dried foods. Since the foods are freeze dried, they are substantially lighter then MRE’s. The steel cans are much more durable than plastic packaging. The shelf life of the food was more than sufficient. The 6-pack boxes the cans came in were fairly space conscious. And, a wider variety of menus would be available (mix and match from various cans).
I decided that to ensure a reasonable variety I would only include one can of any particular food (even though I really wanted to get rid of 5 cans of banana slices my wife got on sale a few months back). Also, I set my goal on achieving the FDA daily serving recommendations for each food group – 2 of dairy, 3 of protein, 4 of fruits, 5 of vegetables, and 11 of grains. Further, the boys asked me to try to keep the calorie mix as follows: 15% protein, 55% grains, and 10% each for fruits, vegetables, and dairy. The percentage of calories from each food group was slightly more important to them than the servings per food group.
After a bit of trial and error (Excel spreadsheets are wonderful planning tools), I came up with the following food list:
- 9 grain cracked cereal
- Egg Noodle Pasta
- Instant Brown Rice
- Instant White Rice
- Pearled Barley
- Quick Oats
- White Flour
- Whole Wheat Flour
- Chopped Onions
- Chopped Spinach
- Green Beans
- Potato Chunks
- Red & Green Bell Peppers
- Apple Sauce
- Pineapple Chunks
- Sweet Cherry Halves
- Chopped Chicken
- Instant Black Beans
- Whole Egg Powder
- Instant Milk
- Shredded Colby Cheese
Although there are a number of really good suppliers of freeze dried food products, all of the above was supplied by Thrive using their serving and calorie information. I included one can of each food product. This totaled 24 cans or four 6-pack boxes.
So, how did I do in meeting the requirements and solving the problem?
Here is the final analysis:
- Total calories – 90,950 (101% of goal)
- Protein – 14.6% of calories, 10.2 servings per day
- Grain – 54.7% of calories, 12.7 servings per day
- Fruits – 10.0% of calories, 5.9 servings per day
- Vegetables – 9.9% of calories, 7.2 servings per day
- Dairy – 10.8% of calories, 3.3 servings per day
- Total weight – 57.21 pounds (about 60 pounds including packaging)
From my perspective, the protein and dairy items are very limited and would tend to get boring very quickly. The use of smaller pantry sized cans would have allowed for a greater variety, though at the expense of more space and weight.
Extrapolating this into information a typical prepper could use is fairly straightforward. If one person (active adult male in this example) needs 24 cans of food for one month (30 days), it follows that a one year supply of food would be approximately 288 cans. Depending on the actual calorie and nutrient content of the foods you select as well as your total calorie needs that number may be more or less, but it does provide a starting point.
Now, what did I do with that banana bread recipe?