Storing food and water is one of the basics of emergency preparedness and you have to go through this step if you want to survive during an emergency. Deciding how much food and water to store may become a daunting task for some, but it doesn’t have to be if you follow a few simple rules.
Before you storm the grocery store and fill your shopping cart with all sorts of supplies, you need to ask yourself this: How many people will be using my supplies when a crisis arises?
If you have a clear answer for this question you are ready to start with the next logical step. This would be to figure out how much food and water to store based on the storage capacity you have in your home. While FEMA recommends having a minimum three-day supply of food and water, your safest bet would be to store a week’s worth of supplies. You will be surprised to find out that more than 55% of the population lacks the necessary supplies to survive a week if a disaster hits their area.
The battle with calories
On all commercially prepared food there is a label indicating the serving sizes and most people think that building up a survival pantry based only on that information is all it takes. This is a wrong approach and if you do this, you will run out of food faster than you would expect. When deciding how much food and water to store, one should estimate the caloric needs for their family’s members rather than counting the serving sizes. Each of us has different caloric needs, based on our gender, age and the activity we’re undertaking. Weather plays also an important role when it comes to the calories intake of a person, and if you are very active during harsh weather, you should probably double the calories you consume. Here is how to establish how much food and water to store based on the caloric needs:
Children (between age 2-3)
If the child is sedentary the caloric intake should be between 1,000 and 1,200. For moderately active and active children, the caloric intake should be between 1,000 and 1,400.
- Age 4-8; Sedentary type: 1,200-1,400 Moderately active type:1,400-1,600 Active type: 1,400-1,800
- Age 9-13; Sedentary type: 1,400-1,600 Moderately active type: 1,600-2,000 Active type: 1,800-2,000
- Age 14-18; Sedentary type: 1,800 Moderately active type: 2,000 Active type: 2,400
- Age 19-30; Sedentary type: 1,800-2,000 Moderately active type:2,000-2,200 Active type: 2,400
- Age 31-50; Sedentary type: 1,800 Moderately active type: 2,000 Active type: 2,200
- Age 51+; Sedentary type: 1,600 Moderately active type: 1,800 Active type: 2,000-2,200
Suggested article: 10 Best survival foods at your grocery store
- Age 4-8; Sedentary type: 1,200-1,400 Moderately active type:1,400-1,600 Active type: 1,600-2,000
- Age 9-13; Sedentary type: 1,600-2,000 Moderately active type: 1,800-2,000 Active type: 2,000-2,600
- Age 14-18; Sedentary type: 2,000-2,400 Moderately active type: 2,400-2,800 Active type: 3,000
- Age 19-30; Sedentary type: 2,400-2,600 Moderately active type: 2,600-2,800 Active type: 3,000
- Age 31-50; Sedentary type: 2,200-2,400 Moderately active type: 2,400-2,600 Active type: 2,800-3,000
- Age 51+; Sedentary type: 2,000-2,200 Moderately active type: 2,200-2,400 Active type: 2,400-2,800
The table below can be printed and added to your pantry notebook
Once you figure out how many calories you need to consume daily, you need to organize your meals so that every family member gets a proper nutrition. To assure a balanced diet you need to make sure that all major nutrients are provided. Although it may sound complicated at first, you should remember that your body needs five categories of nutrients: protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber and water. While fiber and water are important for your health and well-being, these nutrients are an independent addition. Your body cannot function without a proper intake of protein, fat and carbs. Here is the recommended intake percentage for your family:
Young children (of age between 1 – 3 years):
- Protein: 5 -20%, Fat: 30 – 40%, Carbs: 45-65%
Older children (of age between 4 – 18 years):
- Protein: 10 -30%, Fat: 25 – 35%, Carbs: 45-65%
Adults (19 years and older):
- Protein: 10 -35%, Fat: 20 – 35%, Carbs: 45-65%
This is an important thing to consider when establishing how much food and water to store because an imbalanced diet can cause health problem and will trigger food fatigue much faster.
You should only store things that your family eats and you should customize your food pantry using common sense. Buy the food that your family is accustomed to eat and food that you use daily, rather than stockpiling items that you think (and hope) you will use.
Look at your favorite recipes and figure out how you can adapt them to the items you store in your pantry. You should be able to make a balanced meal planning and storage based on the eating habits of your family. If you want to settle on how much food and water to store, the following rations are a good example of foods that would provide a balanced diet:
- Protein: 15% of your pantry supplies. Here you can have items such as meat, peanut butter and assorted nuts.
- Grains: 35% of your pantry supplies. Here you can have items such as cereals, pasta, rice and even breads.
- Vegetables: 20% of your pantry supplies. Here you can have items such as corn, carrots, peas and other vegetables.
- Dairy: 15% of your pantry supplies. Here you can have items such powdered milk and hard cheese.
- Fruits: 15% of your pantry supplies. Here you can have all sorts of canned and dehydrated fruits.
Related reading: Pros & Cons of various survival foods
How much food and water to store for a one year emergency pantry
I remember when I first started doing my long-term food storage plans and how confused I was. Establishing how much food and water to store was one of the most difficult things I had to deal with. At that time I knew that I need to include fundamentals such as grains, beans, fats, dairy items, sweeteners and basic baking ingredients in my pantry. I remember reading that every adult needs a pound of dry food in order to survive. Dry foods such as legumes, sugar, pasta, rice and dehydrated vegetables or fruits were constantly on my shopping list. Here is what my one year emergency pantry contained, which was more than enough to feed a family of two:
- 25 pounds of flour
- 120 pounds of whole grain wheat
- 25 pounds of oats
- 15 pounds of millet
- 50 pounds of rice
- 25 pounds of pasta
- 30 pounds of dried beans
- 5 pounds of lentils
- 5 pounds of split peas
- 25 pounds of cornmeal
- 10 pounds of soy beans
- 5 pounds of peanut butter
- ½ gallon of dehydrated eggs
- 10 pounds of textured vegetable protein (TVP)
- 40 pound of sugar
- 10 pounds of honey (I store a lot of honey as I use it for other purposes as well)
- 4 pound molasses
- 4 pound jam
- 40 quarts of vegetable oil
- 50 pounds dry milk
- 4 pound baking powder
- 4 pound baking soda
- 10 pounds salt
- 2 pounds yeast
- 3 gallons of vinegar
- 10 pound dry soup mix
- A large variety of spices and seasonings
Water storage guidelines
While calculating how much food and water to store can take some time at the beginning of your prepping journey, things become much easier after some time if you manage to master the basics. Storing water is much easier than storing food, but there are some things you also have to keep in mind when deciding how much water is enough for your family needs. Most experts agree that you need to drink half of your body weight in ounces in normal conditions to keep a proper hydration. So let’s say that you weigh 160 pounds, half of that is 80. Therefore you should drink at least 80 ounces of water per day. FEMA recommends keeping at least on gallon of water on hand per person per day. This water quantity should be used for both drinking and sanitation needs.
Over the last couple of years I’ve adjusted my water storage so accommodate at least one gallon and a half per family member. I’m doing this because I like to have a backup plan and be prepared if heat waves hit our areas. Of course that emergency water storage shouldn’t be your only preparation when it comes to your family’s water needs. You also need how to find additional water source (both inside and outside your home) and have the means to make the water drinkable. If you manage to include a water generator in your plan, you will be way ahead of most of your neighbors.
A final word
The information provided in this article should become basic knowledge for all those beginner peppers that have a hard time establishing how much food and water to store for when it hits the fan. If you know someone that is just starting with their prepping plans, share this article with them and I guarantee you will make their life easier.
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