Just Enough Calories to Kill Ya

A Frank Exploration of Buckets of Emergency Food Supply



If you have food storage accumulation on your radar, you’ve no doubt been tempted (or already beguiled) to purchase the so-called 3 months supply of food that comes in a 5 gallon bucket which you’ve seen in emergency preparedness stores or your local warehouse.  With these products claiming to be a 3 months supply of food for 1 person at approximately $85 to $125, you’ve not doubt thought that this would be a much easier way to get your years supply of food storage as opposed to accumulating huge bags of wheat, sugar, rice, beans and all of the other necessities and then trying to find room for them.  Well, I hate to tell you this, but you’d be wrong.  In fact, in light of a true emergency, relying on this type of nutrition in a volatile time, you may even find yourself dead wrong.  


The minimum amount of wheat storage for one person for a year is 400 pounds.  Forget the rice, beans, sugar, seasonings, and other items that you should be storing as well.  If you divide the 400 pounds of wheat by 4, you’ll get 100 pounds of wheat per person, per quarter, minimum. There is no way that you’re going to get 100 pounds of nutrition in one of these 25 pound buckets--dried up and dead or otherwise.


Let’s also take a look at the survival bars that the military eat for survival basis only.  These bars come in 2400 or 3600 calorie versions.  They are intended for the intake of one per day in extreme survival situations.  Clearly, there’s no way you’re going to be able fit 90 of these in a 5 gallon bucket.  Keep in mind your caloric requirements increase in times of high stress, fatigue, depression and emotionally climatic situations.  Again, let me stress that the survival bars issued by the military are for a minimum amount of survival until rescue comes.  If you look at the caloric intake of the meals that come in these 5 gallon buckets, at two meals per day as the package recommends, you will get a total of only 660 calories, and that’s if you eat the most caloric dense meal that the bucket provides 3 times a day. That’s less than 25% of an adult’s minimum caloric intake needed in a time of crisis.  There’s no voluntary dieting or calorie skimping in a time of crisis. You will be a useless human being if you attempt to take that route.  If you want to see how many calories you should have daily, without the crisis consideration, just use this link here. http://www.hpathy.com/healthtools/calories-need.asp It may be a good eye opener to many of you.  In spite of this common sense information, I see so many naively buying up these buckets and thinking that they’ve got their food storage for the year.  It’s a sad commentary to discover that the Orem, UT Costco sold more of these food storage buckets than any other product in their history of specialty products!


The majority of the meals included in the bucket require 20 to 25 minutes of simmering.  If you are using fuel to boil this water, that’s an awfully long time for one meal. There are at least 100 different meals that come to mind that are healthier, tastier, and that don’t take nearly that much prep time, fuel usage, or water usage.  Remember, in a crisis you need to preserve your energy, your fuel, and your water.


If you’ve already accumulated this kind of bucket food storage, don’t fret. There are some good aspects of it.


1)It is a START. Considering that there are so many that don’t even start on their preparation, you should give yourself kudos for taking a step in the right direction.  But please remember it is in only a start. Please do not allow yourself to have a false sense of security in thinking that you or any member of your family has enough nutrition and calories with this kind of storage.


2)It’s a good add-on to wheat, rice, and beans.  Making up some of the contents in these buckets may be a perfectly good way to spice up your other plain staples.  One thing you do want to be aware of is guarding against “appetite fatigue.”  You don’t want your loved ones refusing to eat simply because they are “sick” of the same old food.  This has happened on many occasions even in 3rd world nations where they are starving. And I’m sure we’ve all heard of the occasional story of the 4 year old who will only eat 3 items…chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese or pizza.  Clearly it’s important to prepare yourself to utilize ways to make your food as tasty as possible (I can’t tell you how many people I talk to who have completely forgotten to store any kind of spices).


3)These kinds of meals may come in handy for trade, and since they are a trade item and take up a small amount of space that gives them a decent value to have on hand. Remember, in a true emergency that is expected to last a while, currency will have very, very little value.  In fact, there are many studies that show a bucket of wheat will be worth more than a bucket of gold.


Discussing the merits of wheat is an entire book practically, but I will address a few aspects of it quickly lest you think that the recommendation of wheat storage is fostered by some maniacal men who desire to make your life miserable or to challenge your creative storage techniques.


wheat-sproutWheat has numerous uses, and not just in the berry or flour form. Wheat, especially when it’s sprouted, is a fabulous nutritional resource. In fact, when you sprout wheat it is 600 times more nutritious than the wheat ground down into flour. In fact, if you’d like, the wheat can be sprouted, then dried, and then ground down and made into whatever you’d like, thus manifesting that much more nutritional benefit.  1 cup of sprouted wheat has 8 grams of protein.  It’s also a great source of nutrients, amino acids, and good carbohydrates. Sprouted wheat has been used to cure scurvy and birth defects.  Let’s see if your bucket of empty calories can do that.


In future blogs I will share with you how to cook with wheat, what to substitute if you are allergic to wheat, and so much more! Glad you’re reading to get better prepared.



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I'm not new to food storage but I'm finding it harder to be smart about it than I thought.
One question I have is what are the pros and cons of the FoodSaver vacuum system or any type of system like FoodSaver? I have bought a bag of soup beans with flavor packet and sealed it in a FoodSaver bag and it's now hard as a brick.
I now question what I have done to the moisture content long term! I have also taken spices (in their plastic bottles) and have sealed them thinking 'No air, longer life'.
Any thoughts or comments would be greatly appreciated.

Don't worry. You're actually just fine. I use a Foodsaver nearly religiously. When I do so some items do end up feeling as "hard as a brick" but the majority of that is because all of the air is sucked out of it. I've used the FS to store dry noodles mixes, beans, etc. And they have all been just fine. (Taste and otherwise) Technically speaking the Foodsaver method is mimicking manufacturing methods, just on a smaller scale. Once you add the necessary moisture, you won't notice a difference. Just an idea, while I use the Foodsaver, many times I used it in addition to the product's original wrapping, just as an added measure and to help me from having to re-label items as well.
Thanks for you question. Keep up the great work.

I know you don't like the term "Food Storage" so I won't use it. Instead I like to think of the two tons of wheat in our long term storage as a life boat. I also have a 5th wheel that I feel the same about. We consider it our life boat and hidden in unused spaces is 400 pounds of wheat, rice, beans and thirty cans of Augason Farms products.
Twenty five tears ago I received a cassette tape by a Bishop (Weston?) in California that talked about wheat and it's value. Soon after I had the opportunity to meet Barbara Salsbury and my mind was set in which direction our families food supply should go. With the help of a great guy named Glen Weeks, we soon had 4000 pounds of hard red winter wheat canned up in square 33 pound cans. Being nitrogen packed they will out live any of my kids or feed them for many years. As Emergency Response Communications Specialist with Welfare Square, my original thoughts are confirmed everyday as I deal with local disasters.
Thank you for the great work you put in bringing us daly information that saves lives.

Love your Blog, and follow you on facebook. My question is similar to Marlene's. I use my food saver all the time, mostly for freezing, or to seal things in jars.

Question; do you use Mylar bags to store food, and do you think they are better than the plastic ones from food saver?
I put all my cereals in mylar bags and sealed them up, and noodles, rice, etc.....
Anyone have comments on this???

Well, my answer is the same as what I gave Marlene, however, you can put in "foodsaver" with the quotation marks in the search bar and get more information on how I use it. Remember, plastic is not air-tight. It still breathes which is what you want in the case of seeds or sprouts or grains you intend to sprout.

How about a follow up on sprouting wheat berries? Are there any special tricks or traps beyond sprouting other sproutable seeds? I germinate and sprout several types now for parrots.

Thanks, good stuff

If you put in the word "sprouting" in the search bar, you'll see my suggestions for successful sprouting.

if i grow some wheat this year how do i process it? drying... just wait till it dries naturally in the garden????

400 pounds of wheat for one person for a year? Wow, 3 of the 6 of us in my family are allergic to wheat. One kid can't eat any grains at all (or potatoes or corn or sugar). I'm realizing that I don't have enough stored and I can't store the "easy" stuff. I know that lots of other people are gluten and grain free and I wonder what they are doing instead of wheat.

Liz, sounds like you need to focus on legumes them. Those are still members of "The Easy Stuff." *grin* Are your kids gluten intolerant? I specifically have purchased millet, quinoa, amaranth (and seeds for all of those) so that those that I need to feed who have those allergies can still survive. Just so you know, around General Conference time, The Bosch Kitchen Center that's near you has specials. I've taken advantage of those specials to acquire these alternative grains. And they are every bit as delicious!

Kellene, thanks for the response. My daughter and I are severely gluten intolerant. She can eat most other grains. I don't do well with any grains, although in an emergency situation, I would have to deal with it. I have lots of gluten free items to make sure that we all have enough. I can't even have wheat around me - no flour or anything - because I get so violently ill with the tiniest speck. Everything in our house and storage is gluten free. My son can't have any kind of grains or starches, so he's the tricky one to plan for. Coconut flour, egg crystals, meat, legumes (they have to be soaked for 24 hours and cooked for a long time or he can't even eat those) and other really basic foods are the only option. At least legumes are inexpensive! Everything else is pretty spendy, but we don't have an option. I will have to look into getting some more quinoa and other bulk items in bigger quantities.

OK. I'd suggest you look into coconut flour, focus on the legumes, and also find out if SPROUTING the grains makes enough of a difference for you. Most folks who have grain intolerances CAN still enjoy the grains in a sprouted form, which you then dry, grind into a flour, and make your goods with, etc. I'd also still check into amaranth and sorghum flour too. Lastly, I'd also look into doing some proactive measures with alternative health approaches to help heal what the heck is going on with you guys that you're so sensitive. Mind you, I KNOW full well that there's a lot of garbage in those things nowadays, however, it's clear to me anyway that there's also something going on with the amino acid balance and the hormone balance that's making you guys so miserable when exposed to grains.

I can't eat Gluten at all so my choices are much narrowed and I have to be very careful regarding cross contamination. I have to be bright about subs and have thought of some but still working on it.

Looking forward to the substitution articles since i am gluten intolerant. :) interesting read for sure.

I agree with PrepperGirl--do post lots of articles on gluten intolerant prepping!

I'm trying to get to it all... my goodness, it's a lot of work. There are over 800 articles already on this site. Hopefully you'll find something valuable until that time.

Thanks. I do a ton of baking with coconut flour and have a good quantity of it stored up. It would take a book to explain what I've done to heal up. I'm supposed to be in a wheelchair, with failing kidneys, but instead I teach PE, coach basketball and am active and healthy. The restricted diet is no problem, compared to what I've been through and what my prognosis was. My kids are also active and healthy, as long as they avoid what they can't tolerate. Way healthier than all of their friends in most ways. (My son has a serious digestive disease and has been able to avoid surgery and any type of medical intervention just by dietary changes.) We've been eating a whole foods diet - mostly organic, no processed anything, etc. Type 2 diabetes runs in my family and I eat low carb to keep my weight down and to lower my chances of getting it. Seeing my grandmother with her legs amputated and my dad go blind from diabetes is motivation to eat well and take good care of myself and my family. I appreciate your website and all of the valuable information you have here! Prayers for your dad.

Kellene -

Kellene -
Thanks for all the hard work you do. You totally rock.
I would LOVE it if you would ask Liz Wolf to guest post on how to store enough for a family with grain intolerance. That has been my biggest hurdle!!

Becky Riding - I just now saw

Becky Riding - I just now saw this. I do have some ideas about how you can store gluten and grain free food. I wonder how we could touch base off this thread.


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