Friday, May 17, 2013

Basic Prepping - Food


When you start to talk about Prepping and food . . . . a lot of folks go just a bit “off the rails” in my opinion. They start talking about a pantry full of a year’s worth of food, root cellars, canning, drying meat, buckets of dehydrated food . . . . . it’s enough to overwhelm someone just starting to think what they would do in the event things go sideways in a really big way. My approach to the food issue?

Start with your tummy . . . . “What do you want to eat today?”

We’re “menu people”. We always have been. Each week’s shopping trip begins with a conversation around the dinner table about what we want to eat this week. That begets a menu which begets a shopping list.

The same is true for preparing for a trek or paddle . . . . what do you want to eat. And that’s the format I want to share for building a prepper’s food supply. We will start with a day, which can easily be expanded into a week and then “cookie-cutter’ed” into a month. Past a month?? Up to you really, just “cookie-cutter” your daily/monthly menus into a time period you wish to prepare for . . . . nothing tricky here folks, nothing tricky.

A couple day’s menu:





Coffee / Hot Choc

Coffee / Hot Choc

Coffee / Hot Choc

Crystal Lite

Crystal Lite

Crystal Lite

Eggs (2 per person)

Bagels (cinn. & blue berry)


Bacon (3 Slices per person)

Eggs (2 per person)

Dry Fruit



Coolaid/Crystal Lite

Coolaid/Crystal Lite

Coolaid/Crystal Lite




Sausage (1/4 stick per person)


Chicken Salad (chicken/ranch dressing/relish)


Bagels (1 per person)

Pita Bread

Spread Cheese

Trail Mix



Coolaid/Crystal Lite

Coolaid/Crystal Lite

Coolaid/Crystal Lite

Beef Stew (8 oz per person)


Chicken/Wild Rice


Mashed Potatoes

Nut Roll



Granola Bars

This is a couple days of a week-long paddle a few years back. Paddles offer some nice alternatives to backpack treks – mainly you can carry more food and not be so weight conscious. I carry food in “food barrels” – usually two barrels will handle a crew of 8 for 7 days.


Weight becomes less of an issue because most portages are typically less than a mile with the majority of the paddle seeing the barrel ridding in the bottom of a canoe. I’ll “splurge” a bit on paddles because of this.

Backpack treks – weight is definitely an issue. My rule of thumb – 2 pounds of food per person per day, less water. A minimum of 96 ounces of water at the beginning of the day – 3 Nalgene’s worth add another 6 pounds max per day.

Prepping?? If you are “on the move” – the same travel considerations for a paddle or a trek come into play. How many days of travel are you planning on and how are your carrying your gear? If you are “sheltering in place” – a well-stocked pantry with a rotating food stock is simple to build and maintain.

I would suggest you begin with a week’s menu/supply and then expand to a month. Once there, work with your pantry, work out the kinks and then expand as you see fit. But a one month supply of food for your family is a minimum you want to plan for.

As you can see from the example above, each meal is detailed – number of eggs, pieces of bacon, bagels, snacks, drinks – detail, detail, detail. Remember, you only have to do this once. Build a spreadsheet, total quantities per week and use that to build a shopping list. Or, use one of the many menu planner websites that will accumulate the shopping list for you.

Some examples of food that can be used for “prepping” would include:

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I like breakfast bars as part of breakfast. I am also fond of instant oatmeal packets on the trail or regular oatmeal if I have time. Notice the expiration date on this pack, it’s about 1-month from the date of purchase. Honestly, the bars are packaged in sealed foil wrappers, I would have not hesitation of stretching this out quite a bit. That said, expiration dates need to be part of your rotation.

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Foil packets of tuna and chicken make easy snacks or meals. In this case though, the expiration date on the tuna is 2-years into the future making this a very flexible item in your prepper food kit.

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Hamburger Helper is also quite flexible. The expiration date is about 1-year in the future. A broad range of game meat would work well with this packet as well as many canned meats.

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What good prepper kit would be without SPAM?? Expiration date nearly 3-years into the future, this works well for many dishes. I find it’s best fried first, that helps firm up the slices. But for taste, I like it!

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Pastas have very long self-lives – this package of macaroni has a “use by” date nearly 3-years into the future.

So there is your process. Begin with a day’s menu. Expand that to a week. And finally, expand it into a month. Use that period of time to prepare a pantry. Obviously this is a mix of long-term food and consumables – fresh fruit, meat, eggs, milk and the like. But, there are longer shelf-life foods that can easily be mixed in. Remember, you can consume your pantry over the storage life of the food, whether that food has a shelf life of 6 months or 3 years.

If you are willing to do this, you will have a “window” of time – a month or so – go survive the initial “incident” whether it is a severe storm or a meltdown of society. You will have bought yourself time to react.

Of course, we are all susceptible to the “we must get the hell outta Dodge” event. A 1-month pantry is easily transportable as well. (“bugging out” is a whole series of posts that will come in the future). Plan for this event as you are building your pantry.

Of course, there are “bucket” solutions. Buy a bunch of buckets filled with meals with a shelf-life of a decade, you are ready to roll. The biggest downside here – they are expensive. I am very fond of Mountain House Foods. These are the dehydrated packs I take on all my treks and paddles. Their quality is excellent, their price is in-line with alternatives. My only caution is to double their serving size. A packet is typically billed as a 2-person packet – not so much. When you are on the trail, your calorie count climbs and I can easily down a packet by myself. One packet equals one person.

You’ll note they have everything from single packets to “grab and go” buckets. Try some packets, do some weekend treks, work your kit. Then settle on what works for you. Their meals are typically rated for a 10-year shelf life. Plenty of time to replace them periodically by using your stores on your treks and paddles.

Obviously, the whole other part of food storage is raising and storing your own fruits and vegetables. We’ll touch on that later as well. This post is to get you to a 1-week and then 1-month pantry as soon as possible. You will be surprised how comforting this little cushion is.

Remember . . . . you have all the time in the world TODAY to prepare . . . .

. . . . do it!!


  1. This is the best series on (my favorite term) Survivalist preparation I've seen in a long time. I especially liked you water articles. Well done, my friend.

  2. Thanks Stephen, I appreciate it. Food always seems to throw folks for a loop and then go right to the "survival" foods. Lots of alternatives to that path. Next up . . . shelter! Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. Your blog provides a great deal of USEFUL information. Depending on where you live, the storage needs change a bit. If you live in the middle of a desert (watered by piping water as much as 300 miles away), having enough water is just as important as having enough food. Maybe more important? A month of potable water--or water that can be made potable needs to be stored IMHO.

  4. Good points, and you're right 'tomorrow' is too late!

  5. Always learning something here, thanks so much for putting it out there!

  6. Larry - thanks for the kind words and the thoughts on water. I'm working on the next post and it will make sense to include this consideration.

    Jim - yep, all we are certain of is today. "You snooze, you loose" as they day.

    Brighid - hanks, that is exactly the point of this blog, to share my thoughts and hopefully teach some folks some new skills.