Friday, November 27, 2009

Some Thoughts on Survival Food

Now that I have come out of my food coma from yesterday...let's talk about food.
Knowing what to buy as far as survival supplies go is relatively simple. You know that duct tape, para cord, and sheet plastic all have hundreds of uses. You know that it is a good idea to buy a battery operated radio, have flashlights on hand, and that you can never have too much ammo. But when it comes to planning for your emergency food needs, the mind boggles.

Basically I stock up on food that we will eat anyway (canned soup, canned meat, canned vegetables, and grains along with some MREs and freeze dried food on the side that can be used for the occasional backpacking trip). The problem comes when you try to plan for long term food needs, say of about a year or so. That is often as far as most people get before they become overwhelmed with what to buy, how much to buy, how to store it, etc. When you start to calculate calorie needs per person, per day, for 365 days, along with assuring an assortment of food that covers all of your macro nutrient and micro nutrient needs...well you can see how people can end up throwing up their hands.

And then I watched an episode of Surviving Disaster that gave the most succinct explanation of long term food storage that I ever heard of. It was such a simple idea I nearly fell off of my chair. Basically what the guy said is that for three months of food for one person at 1800 calories a day, you need three gallons of oil, 100 6-ounce cans of tuna fish, and a 20 pound bag of rice. This simple stockpile would cover all of the fats, proteins, and carbs an average person would need to survive for three months. Aside from the fact that should you be forced to live on this food, you would never want to see another tuna fish or grain of rice again, the concept simplifies emergency food storage to something that everyone could understand and do. For a year's worth of food, simply multiply these items times four.

If you can't fathom eating these three items for a year (and you are worried that you will miss some significant dietary nutrients), consider how you can substitute items that fall into the three categories.

For fats, consider: butter, mayonnaise, salad dressing, cheese, milk (dried), meat, nuts, eggs.

For protein, consider: meat (dried, canned), fish (canned), milk (dried), eggs, beans and rice, soybeans.

For carbs, consider: rice, whole wheat flour, beans, oatmeal, barley, pasta.

You'll note that some of these foods overlap categories (ie: canned sardines packed in oil cover both the protein and fats categories). Throw in some canned/dried fruits and vegetables and some spices and you will be set. Also, don't forget a good multi vitamin.

The bottom line is that emergency food storage doesn't need to be overwhelmingly complicated.Theoretically someone could go to Costco and buy 100 pounds of rice, 15 gallons of oil and 400 cans of tuna and be set for a year. Most of us like a bit more variety in our diet and would substitute canned sardines, beef jerky, Spam, beans, and other sources of protein for 300 cans of the tuna but when you look at the simple equation that makes up your food needs, everyone should be able to have enough emergency food stores on hand to carry them through both short and long-term disasters where your food supply could be interrupted.


  1. A nice review of the disaster show emergency ration recommendation but I believe that it is important that people remember to buy tuna packed in oil when buying for a survival situation, not packed in water. You will need the fat (oil) to cope with the high protein or you may get rabbit disease.
    I keep 10 lbs of canawa pemmican on hand. At 200 calories per ounce, real pemmican can't be beat for nutrition and keeps well in the car too from fall through spring.

    Peanut butter is another excellent food to keep on hand and it can keep for years. Lots of nutrient in it as well.

  2. I've never heard the formula of rice, oil, and tuna before. I guess those three basics aren't a bad place to start. There's really no BAD starting point. Even buying a few extra cans of soup each time you go to the store is way better than nothing. It's astonishing how quickly it all adds up.

  3. I likeed that the show presented how survival food can be simple, however I would recommend as wide a variety of food as possible, otherwise people are prone to the diseases that a limited food supply cause such as scurvy, beriberi, goiter, etc. Supplementing with things like multi vitamins, wild edibles (dandalions, et al), and other wild caught food, are other options.

  4. I agree that some variety is important. Appetite fatigue can make things tough psychologically. If there's any way of sprouting beans or grains, I'd recommend it for live food that's packed with vitamins and minerals. Canned bread or even fruitcake keeps well and can provide a sweet treat now and then, too.

  5. how do you cook the rice with the oil?

  6. I am guessing you would cook the rice with water first then after it is cooked, fry it in oil in the way that you would make fried rice.