How Many Calories Should We Plan For Food Storage?

When planning and shopping for food storage one might wonder exactly how many calories per day would a person need to get by? If hard times were to hit a family or a disastrous event were to come its way would their food storage really cover them nutritionally?

According to the FDA, the average adult male in the USA burns about 2,200 to 2,400 calories per day and females about 2,000 to 2,200 calories per day. Your food reserve should reflect this daily average if you want to maintain your current health. The number of calories that you should eat depends of your weight, age, height, and your activity levels.

The data below estimates the number of calories a typical person (based on age and gender) should consume each day. While there are clearly exceptions this is a pretty solid general estimate.

Children     2-3 years old 1000 calories
Children     4-8 years old 1200-1400 calories
Girls     9-13 years old 1600 calories
Boys     9-13 years old 1800 calories
Girls     14-18 years old 1800 calories
Boys     14-18 years old 2200 calories
Females     19-30 years old 2000 calories
Males     19-30 years old 2400 calories
Females     31-50 years old 1800 calories
Males     31-50 years old 2200 calories
Females     51+ years old 1600 calories
Males     51+ years old 2000 calories

In terms of calories, if you're not eating enough, your body will most likely go into a "storage" mode. Basically the moment your body thinks it’s not getting enough food, it will hold onto calories and  fat since it thinks it’s going into starvation mode. Your body will also slow down its metabolism because it thinks a "fasting state" may be close and it will want to preserve as much energy as possible but your body can only live like that for so long. Adequate food stores will be needed to ride out the current predicament.

Assess Your Pantry

You will likely have some food when a natural or man-made disaster hits. Your pantry may have enough food in it right now to last a few weeks or more but you really should do an inventory of your food and see how many days it will last your family. Fresh food and the food in your fridge and freezer will go bad quickly so plan to use this first. Once these options are spent you need to turn to your long term food storage to get you by.

After your inventory is complete, try calculating how many calories your family will need per day and see how it matches up to your current food stores. Decide how long you want to prepare for and think about back up plans for when it is all consumed. One key to living a peaceful life is to be ready for what life throws at you, as the popular adage says "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst" and by taking these steps and building a sufficient storage plan you and your family will be able to rest easy at night

7 thoughts on “How Many Calories Should We Plan For Food Storage?”

  • Marianne

    2,000-2,200 calories daily for the "average human female adult" is exactly the reason that most Americans are FAT! I am an "average human female adult" and my calorie intake must be restricted to approx 1100-1300 calories/daily! otherwise I GAIN weight! and considering that most Americans are in the same predicament, I'd guess that they might need closer to 1600-1800 calories, but not as much as is recommended. Men, too, are in the same boat. these guidelines were drawn up when we didn't have "modern conveniences" such as vaccuum cleaners or automatic dish/clothes washing machines. most labor was still more physical and so, more calories were needed. housework is still physical, but when was the last time the "average adult human female" worked 6 hours per day doing housework? Consider what you are doing and what you may be doing in a disaster when calculating the calories you will need.

  • Get off the couch
    Get off the couch December 19, 2011 at 2:57 am

    If you need this food it's because of a disaster, so you most likely won't have all the modern conveniences. Hence you might be forced to hunt and gather. Read the last sentence of paragraph above "....activity level". The reason your fat is because you want an exact number and an alarm to tell you its time to get off the couch.

  • prepperman


    The avg for the women in this data is more like 1750, the highest of 2000 (nowhere does it say 2200 for a woman) is when they are 19-30 years of age. I know my daughter who is 17 easily eats more than 2000 but the again she has volleyball and dance classes so she is very active. I am sure these numbers would be high for her plumper friends whose only "exercise" is moving their thumbs while texting.

    I do too agree that these numbers are a little high for what you should eat day in and out but I think these numbers are spot on for what you should prep for since you are likely going to be doing some manual labor in an emergency.

  • sara

    I agree with prepperman, these numbers sound right on, especially for a natural emergency. Better to be more prepared then less! This article was very informative.

  • Dave W

    If you are going to sit there and count calories for every meal?You are crazy.In the time of a crises you will eat what is put on your plate and hope that you get another meal the next day.Rationing will help you with this.
    You better get up some hunting and trapping skills up.You don't even need a big powerful gun to get some food.Start with a BB gun.You can kill small animals and do it quietly.
    Add long term to your plan.

  • Linda

    Get off the couch is right. Without modern conveniences; people would necessarily have to do things that would cause them to expend much more energy to survive. I am not disparaging Marianne's comment, but she has not thought this out.

    As for Dave, no one is going to be counting calories, however in planning; it is a good idea to take into consideration how much and the kinds of foods which would fortify subsistance and provide the nutrients needed to keep a level of health. However, Dave is correct, regarding honing or learning skill sets that would be crucial day to day to day survive.

  • Daniel

    Indeed in a shtf scenario energy levels will be much higher not to mention the stress. Washing all your clothes by hand with a brush is tedious as we done it in Marine Corps boot camp in the 60's and 70's for 3 months. Water collection even using rain gutters will be a chore if your building your own water filter system using rock, sand and charcoal if you have no store bought filters. Getting rid of even your human waste will exert energy if done properly to prevent disease. If it's long term those food supplies are going to run out soon if not supplemented by hunting, gathering, gardening or canning. Even if we may only need only 2 quarts of water to survive a day short term if we want to cook and clean ourselves you'll need more like 2-3 gallons a day per person so having a bit extra of everything will make for more healthy and less disease free living if things do go south. Critters will eventually be thinned or hunted out, or stolen so your meat sources will be gone in the emergency if it last very long. So having some protein will be problematic in the long term and you will most likely need a combination of certain vegetables to replace protein, like rice and beans, soy or quinoa to maintain health. Happy survival.

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