Why Your Carefully Calculated Prepper Food Supply May Not Be Enough (And What You Can Add)

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By Daisy Luther

We all prep for different future scenarios. Some of us worry about losing our jobs. Others live in drought-stricken areas and put extra food back to see them through the next lean time. Some believe war is coming…there are almost as many reasons for preparing as there are people actually doing the deed. But the common thread is that many of us are working hard to build a prepper food supply to see us through an emergency.

Maybe you’ve been storing extra food for quite a while and feel confident that regardless of what the world throws at you, your family won’t starve. Your stuff is stored in the best conditions you can provide. It’s bagged and tagged, dated and rotated…what could possibly go wrong?

You aren’t going to like the answer.

In an all-out epic disaster, what would be a plentiful supply with our usual cushy lifestyles won’t go nearly as far to keep us well-fed. The increased energy requirements of your new lifestyle could mean that you need double or even triple the calories you are consuming now. Not only that, even the least nutrition-conscious among us have grown accustomed to instant access and a wide variety of foods that keep us fairly well nourished.

But luckily, there are some clever additions you can make now to help boost calories, nutrition, and variety.

What works now wouldn’t work after a massive collapse.

We all need a basic number of calories just to stay alive – this is called your Basal Metabolic Rate. But basing your food storage supply on this is an enormous mistake.

Most folks have purchased and stored based on the reality in which we currently exist. But post-collapse, we’d be living a very different reality. In my book, The Pantry Primer, I wrote about the need for more food than you think you require:

…it’s very important to remember that once you think you have a one year food supply, you should continue to build your pantry.  Disasters don’t go by the books, and no formula can tell you how much you will need to eat. Stress increases your need for calories, and epic events are nothing if not stressful. Furthermore, you may be doing a lot more physical labor to produce food and repair structures, which will also increase your caloric need.  A supply that would last for a year during non-eventful times will probably not stretch that far if you are completely reliant on your pantry.

A post-collapse lifestyle would be much more labor-intensive.

  • Moving around on foot or by bicycle uses way more calories than driving a car or taking the train. A pedestrian reality could be the result of an economic collapse (no money for gasoline) or an event that takes out electronic components in engines, just to name two examples.
  • What if you were responsible for providing your own food supply? It takes a lot more effort to grow vegetables, preserve them, to raise and butcher livestock, or to hunt than it does to make the trip to the grocery store.
  • Providing your own heat is also calorie-intensive. Chopping wood increases the energy you need by thousands of calories per week over the current lifestyle of flicking a switch to turn on the central heating. Even if someone else provides the wood, you’ll still have to stack it, carry it in the house, and keep the fire going – which still requires more physical work than turning the thermostat dial.

So while you’re probably off to a good start, let’s look at some factors that may cause you to revisit your stockpiling plan.

Input needs to match output.

If you are at a healthful body weight, maintaining it boils down to one simple fact – the energy you take in needs to match the energy you expend going about your daily life. A deficit of 500 calories a day will mean you lose one pound of body fat a week – which is great for some of us and not so much for others.

So if you currently need 2000 calories a day to keep everything ticking over and to maintain your current weight but your new lifestyle means you will need 3000 calories a day by eating the 2000 calories you currently consume you are going to lose two pounds a week…every week.

While this might be nice for a while, for many people, it isn’t going to be nice on an ongoing basis. Not many people carry enough excess weight to be able to handle a loss like this on an ongoing basis. To put a real-life face on it, over the past year, the average weight loss of Venezuelans has been nearly 20 pounds. And if that’s the average, it means half of those people lost more than that.

And then there’s a lack of nutrients.

In addition, although you wouldn’t starve to death eating a diet of rice and pasta, you would reach a nutritional deficit in a short period of time. This could lead to depletion of vital vitamins and minerals, which in turn will lead to weakness, debility, and deficiency diseases that are rarely seen in the United States.

Don’t forget rabbit starvation. If you haven’t heard of that, it’s a term that was coined by Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson, who took part in the ill-fated Greely Exploration in the late 1800s, during which only 6 of the 25 original explorers survived. Stefansson observed that those who ate only rabbit, a very lean meat, ate incessantly but were never satisfied, but those who ate fattier meats like moose, beaver, and fish were satiated. There have been many cases in which “rabbit starvation” – a diet that was absent of fat – was considered the most probable cause of death.

Fats will play an important part in a post-collapse diet. Having just over twice the calorific value of carbohydrates and proteins fats can add a calorific boost to diets that are deficient in the overall calories consumed.

So what should you add to your stockpile?

There are things you can add to your stockpile to help stave off the nutritional effects of collapse for a bit longer. Most of these items will last a very long time if properly stored. These items can help to stave off malnutrition, starvation, and food fatigue in the event of a long-term situation in which our lives dramatically change.

The links below are to the products we keep in our own stockpile. Feel free to substitute with your own favorite brands or locally sourced items – this will give you a starting point if you are looking for high-quality choices.

  • Vitamin and mineral supplements – get the best quality ones you can and store them optimally in a cool dark place.
  • Nutritionally complete meal replacementsthese are useful to have around if someone has been ill and is not yet able to return to a solid diet. While perhaps not the most “whole food” choice, they make a great addition to bug-out bags and backpacks as they have a high calorific value and are protein based. If you get the individual packets as a dry powder to mix with water they hardly add any weight to a pack.
  • Dry milk – this adds protein in a shelf-stable format (as well as a sense of normalcy for kids – or grown-ups – who like cereal and chocolate milk.) I use this brand.
  • Additional stored food – I like a combination of buckets of dehydrated food that take up little space in your stockpile and are already packaged for the long term along with healthy additions like freeze-dried fruits and vegetables. We also keep on hand some vegetable soup mixes, freeze-dried meats, and freeze-dried eggs that can easily be added to other dishes for extra nutrients.
  • Protein powder – An unflavored version can be added to all of those rice and pasta emergency dishes for a healthy dose of protein. This brand, while expensive, is completely free of additives and chemicals. We also stir it into creamy soups and mashed potatoes. Flavored protein powders can be added to water for a sweet beverage with some nutritional value.  There are less expensive brands you can add instead, but be warned that they may contain chemicals, additives, HFCS, and fillers that some people will not wish to consume. “Gainers” are used by bodybuilders to get a lot of calories in one shot and can be used post-collapse for the same reason. This one adds 1600 calories per serving.
  • Fats – I stock coconut oil by the gallon – literally. Not only does it last basically forever, it has about a million different uses. You can get “peanut butter powder“(assuming there are no allergies in the house) to add to shakes or baked goods for more healthy fat. The powder can be reconstituted with water in a 2:1 ratio. Also, if you raise animals for meat, be sure to render the fat for many future uses.

Take a look at the prepper food supply you have put back.

Factor in the extra calories that will be required during an emergency and look at the range of nutrients. You may discover, to your dismay, that you need to top up your supplies to cover the deficit. Of course, wouldn’t you rather find out now that you haven’t got enough than five minutes after the store shelves are stripped bare during the first two hours of a crisis?

Do you have any clever additions to your stockpile that others might not have considered? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • This article is a good reminder.

    Another thing to consider is additional family members who may join you during difficult times. Plan accordingly.

    Last year my daughter and her two young children (under age 3) moved back to our area. They often join us for dinner.
    Our food budget has increased and we are using items quicker from the pantry.

  • I was thinking last night about making coffee in an emergency situation and got to wondering – I like a small amount of milk in my coffee. Can you use dry milk by just adding the powder to your coffee? Say if you had no way to store mixed milk, as in no refrigeration or now power? Probably sounds like an idiot question, but I really would like to know, if you don’t mind.
    Also, I have a propane stove and a propane oven. also for emergency use. Both had the ignition-type that is electronic, I am not sure of the word. That is the only part on both of them that I presume would be wiped out in the event of an EMP. Can they still be used without the electronic ignition thingie? Is there a method to over ride that and ignite them manually? Do you need to have extra parts on hand to still be able to use them should the electronic ignition thing be made nonfunctional?

    • Yes, you can add dry milk to coffee if it’s “instant.” I have a teeny wire whisk I use for this purpose. It can sometimes be a teeny bit lumpy (which isn’t my favorite texture in coffee.)

      I’m sorry, I don’t know the answer to the question about your stove, but hopefully someone else will chime in.

    • I have had experience in the past with a stovetop with a broken electric start, and I can tell you now that the stovetop can be lit with a match or lighter, but it takes a bit of practice to start the stovetop without getting too close to flames. Don’t worry, the stove will work and you should be able to light it easily. But, if the propane won’t flow, then you’re stuck. A good way to test your stove before an EMP is to turn the little knob on the stove. Most stoves will let out a hissing sound of the gas escaping, and you would then press the know down to light a spark, but can be lit with a match. Be careful not to let the gas to escape into an unclosed area unless you are actively burning the propane. I hope that this helps 🙂

      • We used matches to light our kitchen stove the last time we had a power outage, and it worked fine. Here is a trick to avoid burning your fingers: as soon as the match is lit, grasp it with a pair of pliers, which gives you the same reach as those special 6-inch long matches without the extra cost. (If you don’t have pliers handy, a pair of kitchen scissors will also work.) First hold the burning match-head right next to the burner, then turn on the gas.

    • I too am one of those folks who could not face a normal day in normal times, let alone the zombie apocalypse, without a good dose of coffee in the morning (my mug holds half a quart – I need two mugs before i can attempt to shower, dress, or talk in the morning! I cannot drink coffee black – I need milk. While I do store a LOT of instant milk powder, it does not taste the same. Things I add instead if there is no milk (it is not uncommon in Ontario to be unable to get out to the store for a couple of weeks due to snow) include tinned unsweetened condensed milk (will last a couple of years in an unopened tin) or vanilla ghee (lasts for years). There’s an organic vanilla bean chee you can buy in jars on Amazon – I tend to order a dozen jars at a time. Mt morning coffee this morning has a short tablespoon of vanilla ghee and a heaping tablespoon of condensed milk.

    • Try dry coffee creamer. It’s not the healthiest thing to use normally but the added fats could be nice during SHTF.

  • Thank you for the link to bulk coconut oil. My pantry is well stocked with smaller jars of ghee and coconut oil, but I am sure it is cheaper to buy by the bucket like this. Does the shelf life become limited once you open the bucket??

    A couple of my other favourite fats to stockpile are Red Feather butter (way more delicious that the butter I get from the grocery store – it is hard to force myself to keep it for emergencies!!) and Yoders Canned Bacon. As long as I have my coffee, bacon, and “survival chocolate”, I can face any catastrophe!

  • Daisy can you please tell me the shelf life for the Naked Whey. I looked on your link but could not find it. thank you

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