Food Storage for Survival: Carbs, Protein, Fat

I’ve seen many different survival and survivalist blogs discuss this fundamental prepping topic: Food Storage. Typical recommendations include: grains, canned goods, dried beans, powdered milk, freeze-dried fruits and vegetables, etc.

Sometimes they tout particular food items as good choices, due to cost or longevity in storage or the vitamin and mineral content. Sometimes they recommend military MREs and complete meals that are freeze-dried. OK, fine.

But my main food concern is this: Will my stored food provide sufficient calories and a balance of carbs, protein, and fat? I can always buy and store a vitamin and mineral supplement, to make sure that I am not lacking in micronutrients. And no one starves to death because they didn’t get enough antioxidants. The nutrients that you need to survive when food is scarce are the three macronutrients: carbs, protein, and fat.

So I’ve developed a 90 person-day food kit which provides a balance of protein, dietary fat, carbs and total calories per day. A 90 person-day supply of food is enough food for 1 person for 90 days, or 2 persons for 45 days, or 3 persons for 30 days, etc. Keeping track of food quantity by the days that you can survive on that food is just very practical.

90 Person-Day Food Kit (.GIF image, opens in new tab/window)

The entire kit fits in less than 9 cubic feet. My cost was right around $300.00, but I got some items on sale. Also, I can’t give you any guarantees as to what your cost will be. Once the SHTF, food prices may increase dramatically.

I used the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference and in some cases the label on the food in order to figure the approximate macronutrient content of the stored food. The idea macronutrient content (carbs, protein, fat) in a healthy diet is a range, not an exact number. From the USDA website, you can download a PDF of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report:

Dietary Reference Intakes: Macronutrients
National Academy of Sciences. Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board.
DRI table for carbohydrate, fiber, fat, fatty acids and protein.

Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range
as a Percent of Daily Total Caloric Intake

for Carbs: 45% to 65% , for ages 1 to 100

for Fat: 20% to 35% for adults; 25% to 35% for children and teens; 30% to 40% for kids 1 to 3 years old

for Protein: 10% to 35% for adults; 10% to 30% for children and teens; 5% to 20% for kids 1 to 3 years old

My food kit has the goal of providing:
50% to 60% of calories from carbs;
25% to 35% from fat;
10% to 15% from protein.
The actual kit, as analyzed by a spreadsheet using USDA Nutrient data, has:
60.9% of calories from carbs; 27% from fat; 12.1% from protein.

The far right column of the food kit spreadsheet lists the amount of lysine, an essential amino acid, in each food by total quantity of that food. When you have a diet that provides sufficient total protein, it still might not provide enough of each and every essential amino acid. In particular, a diet based on grains as main the staple food is most likely to be lacking in lysine. An insufficiency of lysine or any other essential amino acid will limit the ability of your body to make full use of all the protein in your diet. My 90 day food kit provides about 90% (as far as I could determine) of the lysine recommended by the Institute of Medicine (5.1% of total protein as lysine is recommended). However, the United Nations WHO and FAO organizations have a lower standard for lysine at 4.5% of total protein (which is 88% of the IOM standard). So 90% of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) standard is sufficient.

My kit costs only about $30 to $35 per 10 days. It takes up only about one cubic foot per 10 days. I packaged the food in sealed containers, then in cardboard boxes (12″ x 12″ x 10.5″), then wrapped in plastic. Remember that stored foods should be kept cool, dry, sealed, and be used before any relevant food expiration dates.

For the tuna and salmon, I bought the foil packet type, and threw them in the freezer. They keep fine without any refrigeration, but in the freezer they will keep indefinitely. You can supplement your stored food by keeping your freezer well-stocked, especially with foods that can be eaten without further cooking (e.g. pre-cooked chicken or steak) if the power should go out. But the food kit and its spreadsheet only considers foods that don’t need refrigeration or freezing.

The food kit focuses on macronutrients, so it is lacking in fruits and vegetables. However, I consider that, if I ever have to use my stored food, I will still be buying some food, in so far as it is available and affordable. And I can always grow some fruits and vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, etc.) to supplement my stored food. So it is not intended to the sole source of nutrition for 90 days. Instead, the kit provides me with some measure of food security, so that I know I will have enough calories, carbs, protein, and fat for 3 months (or 1 month for 3 persons, etc.)

An honest disclaimer, not merely for legal purposes: I can’t check and recheck every number and calculation in the spreadsheet in order to be absolutely certain that every number is right. So the information is not guaranteed. Also, I’m definitely NOT telling you to spend this amount of money, or to store these exact foods or these exact quantities. This is simply a discussion of what I have decided to do. You should do your own research, use your own reasonable and prudent judgment, and take responsibility for your own decisions. Your food prices and choices can and should vary from mine, according to your particular circumstances. (Also, this food kit is not for sale. We don’t sell any products at

– Thoreau

3 Responses to Food Storage for Survival: Carbs, Protein, Fat

  1. Thoreau:

    Do you keep a spreadsheet of your food stores with purchase and expiration dates? I created one and then forgot about it for some time and only just opened it to find out I have had a variety of items pass their “expiration” dates i the final three months of 2011. While I am a firm believer that most “expiration” or “best by” dates have a built in cushion, it is a bit intimidating that I know have four pounds of peanut butter with a “best by” from last September.

    My wife and I will be more diligent about watch the spreadsheet for near-term dates. I added a couple of conditional formatting formulas that highlight the expiration dates when they are within 90 days of the current (printing) date.

    How do you track such dates?


  2. I would NOT use the USDA site for the percentages of carbs, protein, fat. You will do far better with what historically works: Fat and protein, google pemmican recipes, think about what bugging out will entail energy wise and the fact that carbs and protein are less than half as dense as fat. My favorite reminder of what to do is: if it is the accepted norm, it’s probably wrong. There are too many examples, from the lamestream media, medicine/big pharma, to politics, (the founders of this country would already be in jail or Gitmo) Just stirring the pot, and making my own pemmican, since carbs are what animals destined to slaughter are fed, I’m not going to be one of them, LORD willing of course.