Food supplies

“He that lives upon hope will die fasting.” — Benjamin Franklin

Stock up on foods that do not require refrigeration, are nutritious, can be prepared under primitive conditions, are agreeable to the palate, and are reasonably priced. Again, the duration estimates of the pandemic waves imply that you should obtain enough food to last your family at least 3 months. When shopping, think carefully about the size of the food containers. For example, a very large jar of mayonnaise would be much less desirable than a dozen very small jars, as it will require refrigeration after opening. Since the electrical grid is expected to be unreliable at best in the event of a pandemic, 95% of the mayonnaise in a large jar could go to waste. So think of the amounts that you will be serving of your perishable-when-opened food items and purchase only the appropriate sized containers.

Nutritional requirements

To begin with, let us examine how much and what types of food you need to maintain your health. It is very important for those responsible for feeding their families to understand the minimum nutritional requirements for maintaining good health, so don’t just rush out to the grocery store in a panic to fill up your shopping cart in a semi-random manner (though that is a common reaction).

The USDA released its 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provides an overview of the USDA Food Guide and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Eating Plan. This diet plan, while designed for people with high blood pressure, is actually an excellent and nutritious diet for anyone. It is based upon a caloric prescription of 2000 calorie/day, with adjustments for gender and age. During a pandemic, activity levels may increase or decrease significantly, so modify amounts accordingly.

Estimated Daily Caloric Requirements Per Person

  PROTEIN CARBOHYDRATE
Food Pattern (calories) Target age/gender group(s) RDA (grams) AMDR (%) RDA (grams) AMDR (%)
1000 child 1–3 13 5–20 130 45–65
1200 female 4–8 19 10–30 130 45–65
1400 male 4–8 19 10–30 130 45–65
1600 female 9–13

female 51–70, 70+

34

46

10–30

10–35

130

130

45–65

45–65

1800 male 9–13

female 14–18, female 31–50

34

46

10–30

10–30

130

130

45–65

45–65

2000 male 51–70 70+

female, 19–30

56

46

10–35

10–35

130

130

45–65

45–65

2200 male 14–18

male 31–50

52

56

10–30

10–35

130

130

45–65

45–65

2400 male 19–30 56 10–35 130 45–65
26001 male 19–30 56 10–35 130 45–65
28001 male 14–18 52 10–35 130 45–65
30001 male 19–30 56 10–35 130 45–65
32001 male 14–18 52 10–35 130 45–65

1 - Denotes increasing activity levels to moderately active and active.
(Nutritional goals based on Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA); Adequate Intakes (AI); Daily Values (DV); Upper Limits (UL); Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges (AMDR); or Dietary Guidelines (DG) recommendations. AMDR are shown as a percentage of total calories.)

There are a number of sources of information that describe the basic nutritional needs; the FEMA nutritional guidelines are intended for short duration disasters (up to 4 weeks), while others are for longer durations and therefore more varied and more precise with respect to age and gender. The following table provides an overview of some of these recommendations.

Minimum Food and Water Requirements per Month

Category FEMA1

(before2006)

LDS3 Stevens5
Water (gallons) 28 28 28
Wheat (lbs) 20 33 52
Corn (lbs) 20
Powered Milk (lbs) 202 1.34 17
Honey/Sugar (lbs) 5 8
Iodized Salt (lbs) 1 0.75
Soybeans (lbs) 10 5 7
Vitamin C (grams) 15
Cooking Oil (quarts) 10 7.5
Sprouting Seeds (lbs) 0.8
  1. - Current FEMA Guidelines
  2. - Especially for babies/infants. Buy in nitrogen-packed cans
  3. - Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
  4. - More for infants, pregnant or nursing women
  5. - Making the Best of Basics: Family Preparedness Handbook, James Talmage Stevens, Origin Books Sales, Inc.; 10th edition, July 1997, ISBN: 1882723252.

It is one thing to have enough grain and beans to barely eek out an existence. It is another to have enough variety in your family’s diet to make meals something to enjoy. Make sure to vary the foods available so your family is not eating the same meal repeatedly. Too little variety can result in appetite fatigue, where people can actually stop eating because of the repulsiveness associated with eating the same food several days or weeks in a row. There are a host of different grains and legumes to choose from, so spread your stockpile across as many as possible. While the amount of comfort foods will depend on your budget, include lots of stews, thick soups, tuna, meat, chilies, gravy, and any other canned foods that will provide a sense of continuity in your family’s meal plan. Bullion is an inexpensive seasoning enhancer that comes in different flavors.

Evaporated or powdered milk can be livened up with a drop or two of vanilla extract. With powdered milk, you can also make cheese, yogurt and kefir.

Fruits and vegetables are a necessary part of any balanced diet. Obviously, fresh fruits and vegetables could be few and far between if stores close, unless you maintain an all-season garden. Dried fruit is an excellent alternative. Canned vegetables are not quite as palatable but they have a long shelf life and will provide an otherwise unobtainable variety to the meal.

Vegetarians can also prepare meal plans with non-perishable food items. And since fresh dairy products are likely to be scarce, ovo-lacto vegetarians can stock up on dry milk powder and powdered whole eggs.

Whatever diet you choose, don’t fret over little details; you need to complete at least an initial food acquisition plan to begin purchasing and storing now. If you are unsure of any items, buy small quantities now and work them slowly into your meal plan. If anything causes allergies (e.g., wheat sometimes can) or is unpalatable (not just fussiness), modify your diet plan. If you are new to whole grains and beans, start now and give yourself about a month to adjust gradually. Some people have an allergic reaction to wheat (children under two are susceptible to developing wheat allergies); find out immediately, before buying large quantities of whole grain wheat, or simply have a contingency plan to trade for something else later if an allergic reaction occurs. If WHO has raised the pandemic alert level to Phase 4 or 5 and you are in a hurry to acquire, it makes the most sense to purchase primarily the foods that your family is accustomed to eating.

Many people follow the popular South Beach Diet by Dr. Arthur Agatstan for health reasons. This diet emphasizes whole grains, legumes, lean meats, vegetables and fruits, and follows an initial set of phases necessary to realize weight loss. Though it requires an adjustment from the typical diet many people have drifted into, the author found it is easy for most people to follow and is consistent with both a healthy lifestyle and the restrictions placed upon us by pandemic conditions.

Each family needs to tailor their own specific plan to suit their situation. With so many variables, a software package pr spreadsheet can be of considerable value, as it can adjust quantities to reflect the family’s age and gender variations, help to track inventory, and even help to estimate the budget for the desired time span (i.e., 2 months, 4 months, etc.).

Several food storage and nutritional planning programs/spreadsheets exist, and the following is just a sample:

Keeping track of the family’s food storage from the beginning reduces confusion and frustration later on, as it promotes clear planning readjustment and decision making in troubled times.

Page last modified on December 25, 2006, at 10:31 PM by Will