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!


The TRUTH about Shelf Life, Expiration Dates, and Use-by Dates

Milk Expiration Date


What is the difference between all these crazy dates posted on our food and water???

SHELF LIFE-    refers to the length of time a food/water product can be stored, IF properly canned, stored, and proper temperature is maintained.  Example-  Freeze Dried Food in a sealed #10 can stored in a cool, dark, moisture/pest free environment can last up to 25-30 years.  Root crops (carrots, potatoes, turnips, beets, etc) store for very long periods of time if kept in a root cellar (somewhere cool and dark with very, very, little moisture).  IDEAL STORAGE CONDITIONS-  COOL (40F to 60F- temps higher than this destroy nutrients and cause spoilage), DARK (no sunlight that destroys nutrients), DRY (no moisture that causes rust and bacterial growth, and PEST FREE (no bugs or rodents).


EXPIRATION DATE–  by law (USDA/FDA) require only infant formula and medications to have a true expiration date.  This is to prevent food-borne illnesses in infants that are incapable of fighting off a severe case of food poisoning as well as to maintain high nutrient values for those growing little bodies and brains, and because some medication will deteriorate into a dangerous chemical form past the expiration date and should not be taken. (Example- Amoxycillian antibiotics will deteriorate past its expiration date into a deadly poison).  Product that has an expiration date that is not baby formula or medications/chemicals, is not regulated by the USDA/FDA and is printed by courtesy of the manufacturer of the product.


BEST IF USED BY DATE-   Also known as SELL BY DATE, this date is put on food and water products for several reasons.

1) The grocery store wants to move that item as quickly as possible so they can re-stock their shelves with incoming food orders. They are all about making money and selling products at their freshest insures the grocery store will make money with not a lot of waste.

2) Some foods, while they do not go “bad” (rancid/rotten), they do tend to lose a little quality or texture. Example-  Lettuce or leafy greens may not be as crisp, but are still edible.  Bread may be a little stale, but is not moldy.  Bananas turn soft and oxidize (turn brown/black), but are perfectly edible.

3) Some foods will go bad about a week after the SELL BY DATE/ BEST IF USED BY DATE. Example-  milk will begin to curdle or sour.  Some folks use soured raw milk (not pasteurized) for baking and other cooking uses

4)This date is to inform the consumer when the “peak of freshness” is in relation to the product there are purchasing.  Example- We know that canned beans might have a SELL BY DATE of a year, but those beans can easily last between 5 to 7 years on the shelf if the can is not dented, bloated, or rusted, and is stored properly. See above Shelf Life for Ideal Storage Conditions.



THEN DO IT THE FOOD SERVICE INDUSTRY WAY-  Want to be safe with the foods in your refrigerator and pantry?  Then follow the Food Safety protocols that restaurants and other food service locations do-

1) Rotate all your food.  This is called FIFO- First In First Out.  This means if you bought a half gallon of milk on Aug. 18th, and then purchased another half gallon of milk on Aug 24th, you should use up the milk bought on Aug 18th FIRST, prior to OPENING/USING the milk bought on Aug 24th. This rotation method insures you don’t use product that is extremely old (because it keeps getting put/shoved to the back of the fridge or pantry.

2) Label and date Everything!  In conjunction with food rotation above, restaurants label what a product is (you can use some plain tape and a marker to do this) with the name of the product, the date is was made/purchased/delivered, and a date that is no more than 7 DAYS past the date it was made/purchased/delivered as the date it needs to be consumed by or thrown out.  Example-  I made an apple pie and store it in a plastic pie container in my refrigerator. I put a label on the container with the following:  APPLE PIE, Made Aug 10th. Use by Aug 17th.    This lets me know that as long as the apple pie is stored in the refrigerator, I have until Aug 17th to eat the pie or throw it out.  Don’t let someone convince you that you have to use certain items in only 3 or 4 days. You have up to 7 days (if you store it in your refrigerator) to consume that item before wasting it in the trash can. This includes left overs that you cooled down immediately, and then labeled and stored in the refrigerator. (Never put hot food in a container and throw in the refrigerator, you are asking to make yourself sick) Always cool the food down quickly either with an ice bath or by spreading it thin in a large container, before refrigerating.)

 3) Time & Temperature Control-  I could go into a lengthy section on Time & Temperature Control that restaurants use in every step of food production (prepping, cooking, cooling, storing, etc) and perhaps I will in another post at another time, but I will hit on one major point,  If you have food product that is not meant for storage outside of a refrigerator (crackers, baking mixes, spices, unopened canned goods, etc are all fine sitting in your pantry) then remember to not leave it sit out of the refrigerator for more than 4 hours!  When you hit the 4 hour mark, you should assume that it has been contaminated with bacteria and needs to be thrown away.  Remember that Apple Pie I labeled up above?  Let’s assume I take it out of the refrigerator, I cut a couple slices out of it for my family to eat.  I have only 4 hours to eat those slices (and the entire pie!) or get them back in the refrigerator, otherwise at the 4 hour mark I need to throw them away because they are contaminated with possible bacteria that cause food-borne illness.  Yes some folks have kept food out on the counter top longer than 4 hours and lived to tell about it, but let’s be safe for safety’s sake and stick to the 4 hour rule that the FDA and restaurants all over the country are mandated to follow.  It’s just easier.



The best thing to do is to follow the Expiration Date if the product is baby formula or medication; trust your eyes, nose, and tastebuds on everything else that has gone past the Best If Used By/Sell By Date; and do everything you can to extend the Shelf Life of your food (especially if you are putting the food up for long term storage  ie- prepping).   If the food has an off-odor, doesn’t look right (looks oily or off-color), doesn’t smell right (your nose will let you know), or has turned into a fur-bearing mammal (mold), you probably should throw it out.   As for medication- NEVER throw medication down the toilet or sink!!!  This contaminates our water supply and reduces the effectiveness of the water treatment at the treatment plant.  Always throw meds in the trash or give to your pharmacist to dispose of properly.

WEB RESOURCE FOR SHELF LIFE:   has great references for Shelf Life of food!


What Does Bleach Kill?

Water label


(Besides your favorite little black dress or pair of jeans if spilled?)

It does not kill mold.   It is not 100% effective against Giardia, but darn close. Use white vinegar to kill mold.

It does kill: 

Numerous bacteria, fungi, and viruses-

Staphylococcus aureus  (Staph infection)

Salmonella choleraesuis  (Salmonella poisoning)

Pseudomonas aerugenes   (bacterial infection)

Streptococcus pyogenes  (pneumonia)

Escherichia coli 0157:H7  (E. coli)

Shigella dysenteriae   (Dysentery)

Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus    (MRSA)

Trichophyton mentagrophytes    (Athlete’s Foot, Ringworm, Jock Itch)

Candida albicans  (yeast infection, Thrush)

Rhinovirus type 37  (common cold)

Influenza A   (Bird Flu)

Hepatitis A virus  (effects liver, found in bad water, fecal matter)

Rotavirus  (infectious diarrhea, especially in babies)

Respitory Syncytial virus   (RSV- bronchitis/pneumonia in babies/children)

HIV-1  (STD leads to AIDS)

Herpes simplex type 2   (mouth, face, lip, eye blisters)

Rubella virus  (German measles)

Adenovirus type 2    (Conjunctivitis/Pink Eye, stomach flu, ear infection, croup)


Info courtesy of and the CDC in Atlanta, GA.

Water Purification

Global Warming or Nuclear War Water Filtration Reserves Purification Survival Dirty Nuclear War Chlor Floc Chlorine Tablets   WP-T160-221x300


Boiling Is Best
Short of using a very high-quality water filter, this is the most reliable method for killing microbes and parasites. Bring water to a rolling boil and keep it simmering for at least several minutes. Add one minute of boiling to the initial 10 minutes for every 1,000 feet above sea level. Cover the pot to shorten boiling time and conserve fuel.  The flat taste of boiled water can be improved by pouring it back and forth from one container to another (called aeration), by allowing it to stand in a closed container for a few hours, or by adding a small pinch of salt for each quart of water boiled.

When boiling is not practical, chemical disinfection should be used. Common household bleach contains a chlorine compound that will disinfect water. The treated water should be mixed thoroughly and allowed to stand, preferably covered, for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight chlorine odor; if not, repeat the dosage and allow the water to stand for an additional 15 minutes. If the treated water has too strong a chlorine taste, it can be made more pleasing by allowing the water to stand exposed to the air for a few hours or by pouring it from one clean container to another several times.

Guide to using 1% Bleach to disinfect water

 (Clorox Bleach like you buy to do laundry or scrub/disinfect bathrooms, etc.)
First let water stand until particles settle. Filter the particles if necessary with layers of cloth, coffee filters, or fine paper towels. Pour the clear water into an uncontaminated container and add Regular Clorox Bleach per the below indicated ratio. Mix well. Wait 30 min. Water should have a slight bleach odor. If not, repeat dose. Wait 15 min. Sniff again. Keep an eyedropper taped to your emergency bottle of Clorox Bleach, since purifying small amounts of water requires only a few drops. Bleach must be fresh for best use and results. See below suggestions for storage bottle replacement.

Don’t pour purified water into contaminated containers. Sanitize water jugs first.
Without water and electricity, even everyday tasks are tough. In lieu of steaming hot water, sanitize dishes, pots and utensils with a little Clorox Bleach.  Generic Bleach is fine as long as it is 1%.

Ratio of Clorox Bleach to Water for Purification
2 drops of Regular Clorox Bleach per quart of water
8 drops of Regular Clorox Bleach per gallon of water
1/2 teaspoon (or 40 drops) Regular Clorox Bleach per 5 gallons of water

1 teaspoon (or 80 drops) Regular Clorox Bleach per 10 gallons of water
If water is cloudy, double the recommended dosages of Clorox Bleach.

Only use Regular Clorox Bleach (not Fresh Scent or Lemon Fresh). To insure that Clorox Bleach is at its full strength, rotate or replace your storage bottle minimally every three months.  If using old (or unknown age bleach)- double the recommended dosages of bleach.

Clorox Bleach Sanitizing Solution
To sanitize containers and utensils, mix 1 tablespoon Regular Clorox Bleach with one gallon of water. Always wash and rinse items first, then let each item soak in Clorox Bleach Sanitizing Solution for 2 minutes. Drain and air dry.



Guide to Using Tinctures of Iodine to Disinfect Drinking Water

  • Iodine in clear water: 5 drops of 2% tincture of iodine per quart of clear water
  • Iodine in cloudy water: 10 drops of 2% tincture of iodine per quart of cloudy water
  • Other water disinfectant products based on iodine: the label will indicate the number of capfuls of disinfectant to use per quart of water
  • Iodine tablets, such as PotableAqua™ – (50 tablets per bottle) two tablets treats a quart of water and are effective against Giardia lambia.
  • Tincture of iodine: If you have no iodine tablets but have liquid iodine such as would be used to treat a wound, (typically this is a 2% tincture of iodine) try a teaspoon of iodine in a gallon of water.
  • Do not use iodine to purify water for certain people:
    • people who are allergic to iodine – possibly including people allergic to shellfish
    • people who have a thyroid disorder
    • people who are taking lithium (a medication)
    • women over fifty and women who are pregnant (without a doctor’s advice)



High-Test Granular Calcium Hypochlorite (Powdered Swimming Pool Chlorine)

In granular formation, this chemical is used to clean the water in pools and hot tubs. In a pinch, you can use it as part of a two-step process to purify drinking water. First, you dissolve the calcium hypochlorite in a smaller amount of water to create a hyper-chlorinated solution. The U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine suggests using a heaping tablespoon of calcium hypochlorite in 2 gallons of water. Once it’s dissolved, that solution can then be added to your main supply of water to disinfect it. The suggested ratio here is 1 part chlorine solution to 100 parts water, or use it like normal Household Bleach at this point, using the disinfectant ration above.



Wait Time & Water Temperature when adding a disinfectant, before drinking the water

  • Typical wait time before drinking treated water is at least 30 minutes from the time that the treatment tablet has become fully dissolved in the water. The necessary time could be longer.
  • Water temperature should be 65 degF or higher before treatment with bleach for best results. You may be able to warm your water by placing it in the sun. If the water is below 40 deg.F. you should double the wait time before consuming it.
  • Water temperature should be 68 degF or higher before treating it with iodine. Iodine is more effective than bleach in killing off Giardia contamination in water.
  • Be sure to read the instructions. Iodine, bleach (sodium hypochlorite), or other water disinfectants will require some wait time to permit the chemical to act on water bacteria before the water can be consumed.
  • Using any chemical to sterilize water will require sufficient contact time between the chemical and the water before the water can be consumed.
  • The chemical, bleach, or iodine, needs time to kill the microorganisms in the water.
  • If you have iodine tablets intended for purifying water, the tablet bottle label should indicate the number of tablets to use per gallon of water and also the length of time that you must let the water sit before drinking it.
  • If using liquid iodine to purify water, let the treated water sit for a day before using it to drink, if you can.
  • If your water supply is very cold you will need to increase the wait time for the chemical disinfectant to act before the water can be consumed.
  • If your water supply is cloudy you will need to increase the wait time for the chemical disinfectant to act before the water can be consumed. That’s why experts recommend filtering the water with a clean cloth first if you can. In an emergency you might also be able to use clean coffee filters or even plain white paper towels, or fabric like your shirt or socks, or a bandana.


Why Store Food & Water?




You have:

Car Insurance

Home Owner’s/Renter’s Insurance

Life Insurance

Medical/Dental/Optical Insurance

Flood Insurance

Retirement/Pension Insurance

All “Just In Case” Insurance for the uncertain future-

So why not have FOOD INSURANCE???

Storing your own food and water properly can guard against unemployment, natural disaster, man-made problems, and economic collapse.


We used to be a mostly agrarian (farming) society- everyone had a water well on their property, a fruit orchard and vegetable garden, chickens and a milk cow.  These people were your grandparents and great-grandparents. For some, this was the way your own parents grew up. These people survived the Great Depression of the 1920’s and 1930’s because even if they didn’t have money or a job, they did have a way to keep food on the table. They turned and mended their clothes. They recycled EVERYTHING.  They lived and helped each other within their community and church group.  They may have been poor, wearing rags for clothes and unable to buy new shoes, but they SURVIVED.  They survived by their own means, their own hard work, and with a sense of community.  The folks who lived in the cities during the Great Depression had no jobs, went homeless and hungry because they depended on the Federal Government to hand out Federal aid in the form of loans, bread lines, and shanty town shacks.  City folk in a lot of ways, had it harder than country folk during the Great Depression. Everyone suffered, but some suffered more than others because they weren’t prepared.

This generation went on to fight and win the Second World War and they are known as the “Greatest Generation”, not because they won a global war by means of inventions, workforce and monetary means, but because they had Gumption. They weren’t afraid to work hard to protect their family, their values, morals and beliefs.  They were smart about their money, their situation, and used their Old World know-how to survive.  We have to become like this generation again. We have to find our way and our will to SURVIVE.