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Some foods last ages when stored properly, some don’t last very long at all. In a pandemic situation you don’t want to be putting yourself and your family at risk by having to go out to find food. You may have all the PPE in the world, but it will do you no good if you starve to death. This article is all about stocking up, choosing food that will last and making sure you keep enough on hand for a pandemic.

Neither do you want to risk malnutrition or vitamin deficiencies. Not much point trying to avoid a pandemic if you are going to starve to death in the process.

There is an old adage you should follow.

Dig your well before you are thirsty.

That means you should make sure you have plenty of stored food to see you and your family through a pandemic.

Choosing the Right Balance of Foods

So what should you be stocking up on? There are 5 main food groups, and you should stock up on all 5. Be sure to pick food that will last.

  • Carbohydrates: breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles and other grains
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Dairy: milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives
  • Proteins: lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts and legumes

It is important to eat a balanced diet, so your calories need to be split across your 5 main food groups.

Balanced Nutrition

Most food plates that identify a balanced diet are worked out by volume (the amount of food on your plate) not by calories. It makes it quite difficult to work out how much you need to store, so we’ve done the math for you. Don’t forget, when you are stocking up you need to choose food that will last.

Balanced Nutrition
By VolumeBy Calories
Carbohydrates40%47%
Vegetables30%8%
Fruit10%5%
Dairy8%18%
Proteins12%22%

Foods that Will Last

Now you know the food groups, the next challenge is to identify foods that will last. Those foods need to last long enough to keep you and your family fed without the need to go out.

Carbohydrates: Breads, Cereals, Rice, Pasta, Noodles and Other Grains

Don’t bother stocking up on bread, it goes off far too quickly. Instead substitute in flour and yeast so you can make your own bread.

The rest of this group is easy, you just need to make sure you store enough. Below is a ready-reckoner of the calorific value of 100g of some of the easiest carbohydrates to store.

  • Dry Egg Noodles – 380cal / 100g
  • Dry Pasta – 370cal / 100g
  • Dry Rice – 370cal / 100g
  • Dry Rolled Oats – 380cal / 100g
  • Dry Yellow Corn – 360cal / 100g
  • Wheat Flour – 360cal / 100g

Vegetables

Vegetables are going to be more challenging than the grains and cereals above. They need to be canned, pickled or dried. Dried is the most storage efficient, but not all vegetables can be dried. Without preserving in some way they will not keep long at all.

  • Canned Aparagus – 20cal / 100g
  • Canned Beets – 30cal / 100g
  • Canned Carrots – 25cal / 100g
  • Canned Mushrooms – 25cal / 100g
  • Canned Sweetcorn – 70cal /100g
  • Dehydrated Carrots – 340cal / 100g
  • Dehydrated Green Beans – 360cal / 100g
  • Dried Mushrooms – 300cal / 100g
  • Pickled Beets – 65cal / 100g

Fruit

Unless it’s canned, pickled or dried you can forget about storing fruit. Dried will keep longest provided you can keep it dry. Fruit is a good source of vitamins and minerals. So, you definitely want to store some, or you will become ill due to vitamin deficiencies.

  • Canned Peaches (in syrup) – 75cal / 100g
  • Canned Peaches (in water) – 25cal / 100g
  • Canned Pineapple (in syrup) – 80cal / 100g
  • Canned Pineapple (in water) – 30cal / 100g
  • Dehydrated Apple – 340cal / 100g
  • Dehydrated Banana – 340cal / 100g
  • Dried Apricots – 240cal / 100g
  • Dried Cranberries – 300cal / 100g
  • Dried Figs – 250cal / 100g
  • Raisins – 300cal / 100g

Dairy: Milk, Yoghurt, Cheese and/or Alternatives

Fresh dairy products are not going to keep for long without spoiling. Of these, cheese will keep the longest, especially hard cheeses in wax.

Dried milk powder is much better quality than it used to be and is quite palatable.

A good longer-term alternative is soya milk. Dried soya beans can be stored almost indefinitely. To use them, re-hydrate by soaking overnight. Then boil and blend. You can sieve the liquid drink the milk and use the filtrate in other foods such as biscuits.

Proteins: Lean Meat, Fish, Poultry, Eggs, Nuts and Legumes

These are all going to give you protein. Some are easy to store, such as dried beef, powdered eggs and dried beans or peas.

Fresh meat is difficult, but there are readily available canned meats such as spam, hot-dogs, tuna, sardines etc.

Stocking Up, How Much Food Do I Need?

The amount of food you need to store depends on a few variables. How long you want to be self-sufficient for, how many men, women and children are in your family, available storage and how much money you want tied up in food stocks.

How Long Should I Plan For?

SARS and Swine Flu H1N1 both took a year before they were fully under control. However, you don’t need to isolate yourself for that long. Ebola tends to burn out more quickly and a recent epidemic was over in 42 days.

SARS was first fully identified in March 2003, and by June 2003 was fairly well controlled, to the point where it was mostly safe to resume normal activities.

How long is really going to depend on the individual pandemic. Though, if you plan for up to 3 months you should cover most eventualities.

How Much Food Do I Need Per Day?

Men, women and children all have different daily calorie requirements. Those also vary depending on activity levels too. For a general guide you should budget on the following standard requirements.

  • Adult Men: 2500 calories per day
  • Adult Women: 2000 calories per day
  • Adolescent Children: 1400-3200 calories per day
  • Young Cildren: 1000-2000 calories per day

You should aim for the higher end of the ranges, giving you a buffer.

So, What Does That Equate to in Actual Food?

The properties of food that is ready to eat is different to the properties of the food you store. So, you need to bear that in mind when you are comparing what a balanced diet food plate looks like with what you have on your shelves.

Total Calories Per Day
Young ChildrenFemaleMaleAdolescent
10001500200025003000
Carbohydrates47370994511821418
Vegetables82123164205245
Fruit456891114136
Dairy182273364455545
Proteins218327436545655