One of the biggest questions in prepping is that of how much food each of us should have in our stockpiles. This basic question is magnified by the basic fact that none of us really know what specific disaster we are preparing for. Oh, we might have some sort of scenario that we use as a framework for our prepping, especially our long-term prepping. We might even know what sort of natural disaster we are most likely to face in our area. But part of the idea of prepping is that we try to prepare for anything and everything which might come our way.
Of course, this question doesn’t just affect how much food we stockpile, but everything else as well. Granted, we may end up deciding to stock more or less of some items, than we do food, the food is our starting place.
Since we don’t know for sure what sort of disaster we are preparing for, we kind of have to take a two-stage look at this question. Then we combine the results of those two stages into one complete stockpile. Using a two-stage approach is useful, as the way we plan on eating during a short-term survival situation and long-term one might be different.
When we’re talking about a short-term survival situation, we’re talking about surviving a natural disaster and the aftermath. I like using a hurricane as a basis for this scenario; although you might choose something that’s more appropriate for the area you live in. But the thing about a hurricane is that surviving the aftermath could be much harder than surviving the storm itself. The storm lasts only a few days, while it can take a few months for infrastructure and supply chains to get back to normal.
We can see this from what has happened in past hurricanes. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, some people were without electricity and digging in dumpsters for food for as long as six weeks. The same thing happened after Hurricane Sandy, although Hurricane Harvey was much better. But the worst was Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria. Six months later 10% of the population was still without power.
If we’re trying to survive this sort of scenario, we’ll probably want to keep things as “normal” as possible, with a diet that at least approximates what we normally eat. Yes, we’ll be eating canned and dried foods, rather than fresh and frozen; but it will still be as normal as we can possibly make it.
Looking at a long-term survival situation, such as in the wake of a TEOTWAWKI event, is a whole different thing. In that sort of scenario, we’re talking about sustenance eating, not eating our favorite foods. Our overall caloric intake will decrease considerably, and the selection of food might as well.
In that case, our diet will need to focus on giving us enough calories to work, more than anything else. So it will consist mainly of carbohydrates. At the same time, we’re going to need to look at what we can do to grow our own food, gradually shifting over from stored food to food we produce ourselves. So, we need to make sure that we have enough food to last us as long as it will take to get our food production going, as well as enough of some specialty things, like sugar and salt, to last considerably longer.
For most, that usually means a year’s worth of food. Building such a stockpile is a challenge; but should be looked at as a long-term project, not something to be completed in a matter of months. At the same time, it’s just as important to work on developing the means to produce our own food, even while trying to build that stockpile.