Survival Food & Water - Feed Your Family No Matter What

Survival Food & Water - Feed Your Family No Matter What

New to emergency prepping? Start with the basics: stock up on survival food and water.

In emergency situations, adults need to consume a minimum of 1200 calories per day (preferably 2,000 calories or more, depending on your level of physical activity) and need to have at least a gallon of water a day for drinking, cooking and washing. Again, this should be adjusted for your environment and level of exertion.

Building an emergency rations stockpile is all about simplicity. You need shelf-stable, non-perishable goods that can be stored for years without refrigeration.

Today’s long-term food storage options can offer a shelf life of up to 30 years. Manufacturers accomplish this by either dehydrating (good) or freeze-drying (better).

What's the Difference Between "Dehydrated" and "Freeze-dried" Survival Food?

Dehydrated foods have had the water slowly “cooked” out of them. I use the word “cooked” loosely, as it simply involves circulating hot air (around 95 - 160 degrees F) around the food with a fan.

This same process can be accomplished by placing food on a drying rack in the sun on a warm summer day. (This food preservation technique has been in use for thousands of years.)

Freeze-dried foods are quickly frozen (called “flash frozen”), then cooked under a low heat in a vacuum. This process is one of the best ways to preserve the nutritional value, not to mention the texture, color and flavor, of fresh foods. Once moisture is completely removed, the food is vacuum-sealed in air tight packaging, usually cans.

This process is costly though, so when buying survival food, it is best to choose items you’d have difficulty preserving as a shelf-stable product on your own.

For instance, dairy products are good choices, along with meats and fruit. While it is possible to dehydrate and vacuum pack fruit on your own, freeze-dried fruits can last five times longer (or more) than other methods.


If you have sticker shock (a year’s supply of freeze-dried meals can cost thousands of dollars), think of it as insurance.

How much do you spend each year on health, dental, vision, life, home and auto insurance? Hundreds? Thousands?

Why not spend the same amount on food? The worst that happens is 30 years from now you eat it. Think about it: If the stock market crashes or you lose your job, you and your family can still eat.

Which brings us to the next question:

How Long Could You Survive If All Your Refrigerated and Frozen Food Spoiled?

It’s a rare household that keeps a year’s supply of food on hand. Usually, it’s a few week’s worth, maybe a month.

Answer honestly. If you’re unsure, take a quick inventory of your non-perishable food supply. The reality usually takes people by surprise.

How Much Water Do We Need Everyday?

However, food supplies aside, the one issue people don’t take seriously enough is water.

Ask your self this: What if I can't get clean drinking water?

Serious survivalists should keep at least a month’s worth of shelf-stable water, for the entire household, on hand at all times. Think that sounds like a lot? For a family of four, that’s 120 gallons.

  • 4 people x 1 gallon/day x 30 days = 120 gallons

That’s the bare minimum. Take a look at your last month’s water bill. Water companies charge you per thousand gallons used. The amount of water a family of 4 uses in a typical month is actually around 3,000 - 4,000 gallons. Probably more.

Now, in an emergency you obviously won’t be watering the lawn, washing the car, or doing laundry every few days. But even if you cut your water usage by 75 percent, you’re still using 1,000 gallons a month.

Let me repeat ‘cause it’s important: 1 gallon per person, per day is the bare minimum. The Mayo Clinic reports that adult men, on average, need about 13 cups of fluid per day, while women require roughly 9 cups. (There's 16 cups in a gallon.)

That doesn’t mean you have to build a cistern in the backyard or pack your garage with stacks of bottled water. If you have access to a fresh water source, you can get by with less water on hand if you have a water purification system.

This can be as simple as boiling water filtered through a t-shirt or as sophisticated as a whole house high-end reverse osmosis filtration system.

Either way, in order to drink water from unreliable sources, you must filter out particulates and kill viruses and bacteria.

That said, those living in a one bedroom, fourth-floor walk-up, miles from the nearest bubbling brook, should still have a reliable means to purify water. Cities give boil orders more often than you’d think.

When stockpiling survival food and water, as with all aspects of emergency preparedness, take advice, then tailor it to your specific needs.

For more information on survival food and the proper ways to stock your pantry for emergencies, read the articles below.


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