Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Planning Your Food Supplies

Planning your food supplies for emergencies takes more than just stuffing cans or boxes on your shelves.


First, because you can't count on being able to just pop back out to the store to pick up something you forgot.  

Severe winter weather could make using roads crazy talk.   Trucker strikes could halt food shipments into your area.  Power outs could force stores to shut down.  Godzilla could decide to walk through your city and squish everything. 

The point is, you might not be able to just go pick up something from the store.

And second, because your food supplies need to do more than just fill your stomach--they actually have to take care of your needs.

So what are your needs?

Well, to find out what your needs are, start by considering the following twelve factors:

*Group Size--How many people do you need to plan for?  Could there be any unexpected additions to this number?

*Duration of Need--How long could you need to rely on your food supplies without the opportunity to restock?

*Exertion Levels--What is the maximum level of physical work you might need to do?  Over how many hours, days, weeks, or months?

*Weather--What is the worst possible conditions you could be exposed to?  For how many hours, days, weeks, or months?

*Nutritional Balance--What foods do you need to stay in prime health?  Are you planning a food supply which will let you do everything you might need to do?  Have you planned correctly for the nutritional needs of any special groups in your home--children, elderly, pregnant females, etc?

*Individual Dietary Needs--Are there any special dietary requirements you need to plan for?  Do you need to compensate for any allergies, illnesses, diseases, religious requirements, or any other necessary food choice alterations for yourself or anyone else? 

*Food Preferences--What do you and your people like to eat?

*Expense and Availability--What is your financial budget for building your emergency food supplies?  Are there items which may become unavailable to purchase before others?  In what order of importance should you acquire items?

*Storage--What foods store well over long periods of time?  Where will you store your food supplies?  Are the places you choose, secure and pest (or other threat of damage or loss) free?  Do you have the skills and materials to properly and safely store additional food as it becomes available?  Can you protect your supplies in these locations?

*Preparations--What do you require to prepare these supplies for eating?  Do you need any repair, maintenance or replacement items for this?  If there is no power, do you have sufficient fuel stored to prepare your foods?  What is your alternative preparation means for when you run out of fuel?  What skills do you need to use your supplies?

*Mobility--Can you relocate your food supplies quickly if needed?  Do you have the equipment or physical assistance needed to help you do this?  If you can't move all of your supplies, what portion is your designated evacuation supply?  Where is it kept?  Where will you move your supplies to?

*Safety Net--Do you have any extra supplies for unexpected losses or needs?  What safety margin have you given yourself to counter any errors in food storage planning?  Do you have the knowledge, skills and equipment needed to add to or replace your food supplies?

Once you have considered these factors, you need to look at your base calorie requirements. 

What is your base calorie requirements?

It is simply this:  You need to eat a certain amount of food, containing a certain amount of calories-- based on the type of weather you will be exposed to and the amount of exertion you will be performing.   This is something the military knows very well for feeding its troops in the field--and it works very well for you in planning for your emergency food supplies.

I recommend the following guide, which comes from NOLS to give you a good idea of how much poundage and calories you need to aim at for each person per day.   Personally, I really recommend planning for the absolute maximum possible need you might have--rather than risk planning too little.  Think of Murphy's Law and go for a planning counter!

NOLS Guide:

*1.5 lbs, 2,500-3,000 calories for leisure days with hot days/warm nights
*1.75-2 lbs, 3,000-3,500 calories for moderate to active days with warm or cool days/nights
*2-2.25 lbs, 3,500-4,500 calories for heavy work days with cool days/cold nights
*2.5 lbs, 4,000-5,000 + calories for extremely strenuous work days with cold days/extremely cold nights

So now that you know your needs, sit down and plan out your food supplies.  Take your time and do your research--consider the above factors and your base calorie requirements in this planning.

Remember that you are planning to take care of yourself and your people in emergencies--so plan well!

And get started now.

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