Food Storage: Prepping by the Numbers, by R.M.

Some years ago, I felt the need to begin prepping and I wondered how my skill set would be beneficial during a Schumer Hits The Fan (SHTF) situation. For a long time, I felt as if I had nothing to offer. You see I am a bookkeeper, and I was sure that practically everyone would have skills more preferable than mine. I mean after all, when you’re lost in the woods with nothing to eat, what good is a bookkeeper? I guess you could count the days until you starve to death.

I was a soldier many years ago and during my tenure in the Army I had two jobs. For the first couple of years, I was an Infantry Soldier and for the last two years I was a Logistics Clerk. This is where I realized what my true skill set is, organization. Fast forward about 30 years to the time in my life where I have made the decision to prep. I feel that it is my responsibility as a father and husband to be prepared for my family’s sake. The last thing that I would want is for my family to suffer needlessly during some SHTF situation. Especially if I had the opportunity to prepare beforehand. So, I began talking to extended family members about prepping and various SHTF scenarios. Basically, I received the same response from everyone. Prepping is crazy because it is impossible to store enough food, water, ammo, and anything else that you may need for a SHTF situation. Also, the scenarios that I had presented, namely a nuclear attack, they stated are not survivable. So, undaunted by the pessimism, my bookkeeper skills kicked in.

You see a great bookkeeper is great at a few things. These skills include organization, numerical analysis, and research. As I began my research, I had discovered that a nuclear attack, and many other SHTF scenarios, are very much survivable. As a matter of fact, if a nuclear weapon is ever detonated on American soil, more Americans will die from ignorance than those that will die as a result of the explosion. All that it takes is a little preparation beforehand. My research also uncovered much more. Food can be stored for long periods of time. There are various ways to collect, purify and store water. How to make a plan for various SHTF scenarios and the importance of many otherwise unthought-of aspects of the plan such as “OpSec”, “Gray Man”, etc.

The next thing I learned was that the first thing to do in preparation is to plan. Planning means that you carefully consider all of the information uncovered in your research, assess your needs, make a decision on what you feel you need to plan for and how much you want to prepare. Afterward, you must reduce your needs to a number and then create a budget on how to meet the need. This is true with many, if not all, aspects of your preps. Whether it’s food, water, ammo, or something else, it doesn’t matter. You must determine what you need and then develop a plan.

So, for example, prepping for food, you need to first know how long you desire to prep for, what is the caloric intake needed by each family member, how many family members are there, what is the caloric value of the food you desire to store and what is the monetary cost is of that food. All of these bits of knowledge are reduced to a number. You then develop a plan to systematically address each need. One thing you must absolutely understand is that no good decision was ever made in a panic. Thus, panic buying will not make you prepared and will most likely end up in simply wasting money.

The following is an example of prepping by the numbers. We are going to calculate the amount of food and water necessary for one adult male to survive 30 days. Keep in mind that the caloric intake will vary depending on the age, gender, and activity level of the person in question. Let’s examine water first since there is much less to the equation.

According to the Mayo Clinic and the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, one adult male should consume approximately 1 gallon of water per day. If you add another gallon for hygiene, then for a 30-day prep you should have 60 gallons of potable water. Obviously, prices vary around the country but assuming the cost per gallon is $1 then the total cost for your 30-day water prep for one adult male would be $60. Obviously, there are other factors that need to be considered when storing water, or anything else for that matter, such as location, heat, light, etc. but this article is simply about understanding the numbers.

Next, let’s examine food. According to WebMD the estimated daily caloric intake for a moderately active, middle-aged adult male is 2,500 calories. Keep in mind that 2,500 calories a day is a lot. If you’re not active, or if you are female, or if you are elderly, your caloric intake will be less. You need to do the research for your specific situation. The following diagram will show the amount of food needed to meet daily caloric intake requirement and the cost for a one-month prep for one adult male.

Daily Food Ration
Food Serving Size Calories
Instant Oatmeal
Apples & Cinnamon
2 Packets 320
Honey 2 Tablespoons 130
Granola Bars 2 Bars 190
Cooked white rice 1 Cup 206
Vegetable Beef Soup 2 Cup 360
Lentils, Boiled 1 Cup 230
Cooked white rice 1 Cup 206
Peanut Butter 4 Tablespoons 380
Cracker 4 Squares 100
Canned Peaches 1 Cup 140
Oreo Cookie (Snack Pack) 6 Cookies 320
30 Days Food Requirement
Food Amount Cost
Instant Oatmeal 60 packets $15.00
Dried White Rice 10 lbs. $7.50
Honey 50 oz Jar $14.00
Granola Bars 5 Boxes $15.00
Vegetable Beef Soup 30 Cans $54.00
Lentils, Boiled 6 lbs. $6.00
Peanut Butter 4 16oz Jars $9.00
Cracker 1 box $2.50
Canned Peaches 15 Cans $26.00
Oreo Cookie (Snack Pack) 3 boxes $15.00

Obviously, the tastes and preferences of individuals will vary. The purpose here is to show that the ability and costs of prepping are within the average person’s means. It isn’t necessary to buy expensive food buckets to prepare for what may lie ahead. Actually, that would most likely end up as a waste of money. What is needed is that you rationally think about and plan around what your needs are and what event you are planning for. One last calculation, or consideration, is the space needed for your preps. Simply dedicate some space in your home then begin prepping little by little, day by day, month by month. Create a plan and stick to it.

Along this journey, I was reminded of one of the greatest bookkeepers of all time, Joseph. I know. You’re probably thinking; “Joseph? Like the Joseph in the Bible?” Yes, that’s exactly who I am talking about. In the story we learn that Joseph is the ultimate prepper. Pharaoh had a dream in which God shows him, through Joseph’s interpretation, that there will be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Pharaoh then gives Joseph the job of preparing the nation for the coming calamity.

In the biblical story of Joseph, we learn that he had many great attributes. He was faithful. He was obedient. However, we learn in the story that he had to be a great administrator. You see he was given authority over all of the house of Potiphar. This means that he managed all the affairs of Potiphar. Later he is given authority over all of Egypt, and he is second only to Pharaoh himself. I sort of understand how this works. For many years I have been fortunate enough to work for a gentleman who owns several businesses. My job for him has been to manage his money and report to him the health of his various endeavors. Over the years I have learned something. Many highly successful people are what I would call “Big Picture” people. They are great at seeing the lay of the land and calculating a strategy for moving forward. What they’re not so great at is details. This is where a great bookkeeper/administrator comes in. Every great leader needs someone to handle the details.

One last thing that I have learned that there is one skill which is more valuable than any other. There are many skills which are very beneficial in a SHTF situation. The value of combat skills and/or weapons training are more than obvious. Bushcraft skills such as building shelters, trapping and plant identification would go a long way in SHTF scenarios. However, I believe God has shown me that there is a skill that is more than a skill, it is indeed a calling. That one skill is TEACHING. It is laudable for an individual to learn the many valuable skills that will help him, help his family and even his fellow man in times of need. But the greatest skill must be the ability to pass this knowledge onto others. I believe one could even argue that civilization itself would not exist if we did not teach the next generation all of the skills we have learned and thus give them a better foundation on which they can build a better society. So, my last thought/suggestion is this: Learn, then teach. Oh, and don’t forget to “Prep by the numbers”.