Let's face it, when it comes to preparedness, food tends to get treated like the fat kid trying to get picked for dodge ball. People tend to first pick guns, bug out bags, and gear before giving thought to the more mundane basics. It is no secret though that you won't make it far without food (or a fat kid) to eat. I had been paying attention to all my preps equally when I started taking preparedness more seriously. Most of my basics are now at minimum acceptable levels. I decided it was time to reassess and evaluate just how much food I had on hand.
I went about this from a purely caloric angle. Obviously, you want to have a variety of the foods you eat. You would not want to stock up on cans of butter and canned bacon and call it good if it met your calorie total. Okay, maybe the bacon. But my point is that my guiding light to determining how much food I had on hand to see me through a certain amount of days was the total calories I had sitting on my shelf.
So, I had to figure out first how much I was stuffing my face with on a typical day. There are a lot of formulas for figuring out how much you should be taking in. You can get a rough estimate, but for a true daily number, you really need to track your calorie intake, exercise and weight over a period of time to see the correlation between them. Fortunately, I have been tracking my food intake using My Fitness Pal for the past couple years. Most calculators put my caloric intake to maintain my weight at 2400 calories (if I do not exercise for that day). I have found by tracking that the number is really 2300 calories. Keep in mind that I said "net" calories. If you exercise, then you must up your caloric intake. But for the sake of the example, let us assume I am sedentary. Therefore, that is the example I will use to go through the calculations.
Now, here's the part that I found to be a bit tedious. I looked at each item on my pantry shelf and looked at the calories per serving. I then took and multiplied that by how many servings were in that item. the result is that I now had a caloric total for that item. For example:
- Can of Black Beans: 120 calories per serving X 3.5 servings in one can = 420 calories per can
I recorded this into an Excel spreadsheet, noting the item and the calories per that item. I also noted how many of that particular item I had on hand. So, again, for example:
- Can of Black Beans = 420 calories per can X 6 cans = 2520 calories
This gave me the total calories for the total quantity of that particular food item I had on hand. I then moved onto the next item and repeated the process. The advantage to having this all recorded into an Excel spreadsheet is that some of the math can be automated using the Excel functions. For instance, I had Excel add all total calorie per particular items. This gave me the grand total number of calories I had on the shelf without having to use a calculator and punching in all of those numbers.
All that is left to do now is take that grand total of calories and divide it by your daily net calories:
- 500000 total calories / 2300 daily net calories = 217.4 days worth of calories
There you have it. My recommendation is to try and have a variety of food on your shelf so that you have the macronutrients covered (protein, fats and carbs). Stock up on one-a-day multivitamins in order to cover your vitamin and mineral needs. But at the end of the day, calories are king and will really be the number one indicator of how much food you have on hand.
Have you determined how many days worth of food you have in your home? How did you estimate this? Any ideas that I may not have covered that you would like to share?