How many calories do we need?






There are numerous companies that have chosen to offer dried foods already combined into units. Most of these units consist of large quantities of traditional grains and beans and dehydrated vegetables. Some companies have specialized in freeze-dried and “no cooking required” units with complete entrees, breakfasts, soups and desserts. Units are primarily packaged in #10 (about 7/8 of a gallon) cans and /or large 5 or 6 gallon plastic pails.  Shop around and compare before purchasing an all-inclusive food unit, or find a dealer who will work with you to design a plan specific for your needs and tastes. Most pre-designed 1-year Food Unit for 1-person is what we at the School of Self-Reliance call a Starvation Diet–  meaning that yes, there is food in those pre-designed food units to last 1 year for 1 person, but usually those units only provide about 1,500 calories per day per person.  Since most normal human beings need at least 2,000 calories per day to meet their bodily requirements (in a normal safe situation, not an emergency scenario where you can easily burn over 3,000+ calories in a day), these food units will put you on a “Starvation Diet”- a long, slow and painful route to starvation that undermines your safety, health, and wellbeing.  Old trappers and mountain men used to die of “rabbit starvation” because they lived off of primarily rabbit meat, which is lean and does not contain much fat, vitamins or minerals, just lean protein. Having a bare minimum of calories daily to maintain life is one thing, but having enough calories to burn so you can improve your situation, stave off infection/disease, and survive is an entirely different thing. Take care in choosing what long-term food you store and rotate.  Want a basic idea of calories we burn? Check our my table below:


HOW MANY CALORIES DO WE BURN PER DAY? (numbers may vary depending on type of person, physical activity level, dietary needs, medical conditions, environment, etc).


2000 -2200         NORMAL DAILY REQUIREMENT FOR ADULTS (You are burning this every day at work/home)





Scientists did a study a few years back where they took a few healthy men and women into the Sierra Nevada mountains (the same pass that the Donner Party starved to death in), and hooked them up to ECG/EKG machines and caloric meters, and had them do the same tasks the Donner Party would have had to do in a high altitude snowy environment- look for firewood, hunt for food, collect/make water, stay warm and dry.   After several hours of tramping around in deep snow at the same altitude and location that the Donner Party perished at, the scientists found that their test subjects were burning close to 5,000 calories just doing basic survival skills to stay alive!  And this was only 1 day of performing these tasks.  The scientists concluded from these tests that most people underestimate how many calories they need in a survival situation to stay alive and be able to perform tasks that will ensure their survival- like making shelter, making fire, hunting food, getting water, etc.  It is no wonder the Donner Party wasted away in a high altitude snowy freezing environment- they did not have nearly enough calories in their diet to survive..(which may have resulted in the proposed cannibalism that supposedly took place among the Donner Party).  Researchers who have studied the Donner Party extensively have found that had the Party descended 600 feet in altitude down the mountain pass, they would have come across wild game, wild edible plants, running water, far less snow, and material for making proper shelters.  600 feet and they might have survived the winter!

Lesson of the story- make sure you have enough calories in your Food Storage Plan to account for extreme survival situations like freezing temperatures, combat scenarios, or even common scenarios like a pregnancy. Calories mean life. Water and Food keep you alive so make sure you plan accordingly so you don’t become the Donner Party!



3 thoughts on “How many calories do we need?

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