Tag Archives: emergencies

72 Hour Kit: Food (With Calorie Count)

72 Hour Kit: Food (with calorie count). Don't get led astray — active adults need a lot of calories to stay on the ball in an emergency. How does your kit stack up?

The last thing I want to do is discourage anyone taking concrete steps to be prepared. But I’ve been on Pinterest looking at people’s 72 hour meal kits, and the contents of some of them were making me feel desperate just imagining.

According to Web MD, an “active” adult woman who is 19-30 years old needs 2400 calories per day. Kids need less — starting at 2-3 years they need 1000-1400 calories per day, and then it climbs from there until they are adults.

So, when I was seeing emergency kit “meals” like this…

Breakfast: applesauce, snack bar, hot cocoa packet

Well, I was disturbed to say the least.

Let’s break it down:

• A container of single serve applesauce in my pantry (4 oz) has 50 calories.
• One serving of Nestle Rich Chocolate Cocoa mix has 80 calories.
• A Nutrigrain snack bar (strawberry) has 120 calories.
Total: 250 calories.

What if you ate all 3 main meals in a similar calorie range? That’s 750 calories for your entire day — not enough to meet the needs of a sedentary two-year-old.

I would say that this is an exaggerated example, but actually it isn’t. I saw a lot of emergency kit “meals” hovering in the 250 calorie range. Not to mention people putting in hot drink powders and canned meals like stew or ravioli with no apparent way to heat them up. (Yum!)

But in case you aren’t on board yet, here’s another example. Imagine yourself strapping on your hiking boots and hiking for three hours. At the end of those three hours, you finally spot a McDonald’s. You’re huuungry! You go in and order… what?

How about the cheapest, smallest dollar-menu style hamburger — the one with the pathetically thin patty that doesn’t even have a slice of cheese on it. You eat it up in about 5 bites (no fries, I’m afraid). Then you get up and hike for another four hours. Good thing you took in all that nutrition, right?

The MacDonald’s value menu hamburger is 250 calories, the same as a common emergency kit meal like the one above.

Not enough for anybody, and definitely not enough for me.

So, I figured I would get off my duff and finally sort out my own 72 hour food kit. (I hadn’t done anything before because I hadn’t taken the time to figure out what to do.)

Here were my conditions:
1. At least 2400 calories per day.
2. Nothing that needs to be refrigerated OR heated. (Not even hot-water-added like cocoa.)
3. Won’t make me puke — much. (For example, no canned liver pate or room temperature spaghetti.)
4. Stuff you can get on a shopping trip at a regular grocery store.

For your convenience, I have laid out my plan by day and meal, with calories tallied at the end of each day and individually for each food item. At the end, I have a snack and dessert section that fills in the gaps in the calorie count. (I’m assuming strenuous activity, because that is the worst case scenario, so I have a fair amount of sweet stuff as trail food. If I was sitting still, I wouldn’t need this full amount of calories, except possibly as comfort food.)

Here goes:

Goal: 2400 calories/day

Day 1:

Breakfast
Organic Valley Aseptic Chocolate Milk 8 oz – 150 calories
Tillamook Country Smoker Teriyaki 1.44 oz – 160 calories
Kind bar Maple Glazed Pecan 1.4 oz – 210 calories

Lunch
Jif To Go Natural Peanut Butter 1.5 oz – 250 calories
Welches Fruit Snacks packet .9 oz – 80 calories
Brunswick Tuna Salad with Crackers 3.0 oz – 260 calories
Club Crackers Original (4 crackers) .5 oz – 70 calories

Dinner
Jif To Go Natural Peanut Butter 1.5 oz – 250 calories
Club Crackers Original (13 crackers) 1.75 oz – 233 calories
Valley Fresh Chicken Breast 5 oz – 113 calories
True Lime Black Cherry Limeade Packet .11 oz – 10 calories

Day 1 Main Meals Calorie Total: 1786 calories

Day 2:

Breakfast
Organic Valley Aseptic Chocolate Milk 8 oz – 150 calories
Tillamook Country Smoker Pepperoni 1.44 oz – 170 calories
Kind Plus bar Dark Chocolate Cherry 1.4 oz – 170 calories

Lunch
Jif To Go Natural Peanut Butter 1.5 oz – 250 calories
Welches Fruit Snacks packet .9 oz – 80 calories
Brunswick Tuna Salad with Crackers 3.0 oz – 260 calories
Club Crackers Original (4 crackers) .5 oz – 70 calories

Dinner
Jif To Go Natural Peanut Butter 1.5 oz – 250 calories
Club Crackers Original (13 crackers) 1.75 oz – 233 calories
Brunswick Kippered Herring 3.53 oz – 160 calories
True Lime Black Cherry Limeade Packet .11 oz – 10 calories

Day 2 Main Meals Calorie Total: 1803 calories

Day 3:

Breakfast
Organic Valley Aseptic Chocolate Milk 8 oz – 150 calories
Tillamook Country Smoker Teriyaki 1.44 oz – 160 calories
Kind bar Dark Chocolate Nuts 1.4 oz – 200 calories

Lunch
Jif To Go Natural Peanut Butter 1.5 oz – 250 calories
Welches Fruit Snacks packet .9 oz – 80 calories
Brunswick Tuna Salad with Crackers 3.0 oz – 260 calories
Club Crackers Original (4 crackers) .5 oz – 70 calories

Dinner
Jif To Go Natural Peanut Butter 1.5 oz – 250 calories
Club Crackers Original (13 crackers) 1.75 oz – 233 calories
Valley Fresh Chicken Breast 5 oz – 113 calories
True Lime Black Cherry Limeade Packet .11 oz – 10 calories

Day 3 Main Meals Calorie Total: 1776 calories

Snacks, Dessert, and Trail Food

Blue Diamond Almonds Honey Roasted 6 oz – 960 calories
Vanilla Creme Lunch Cookies pack 1.1 oz – 150 calories each (3 packs total)
Sour Patch Watermelon Gummies 2 oz – 210 calories (1 pack)
Lifesavers Hard Candy (individually wrapped) .13 oz each – 15 calories (20 pieces)
Watermelon Gum – 5 calories (15 sticks)

So for each day…
320 calories of almonds
150 calories of vanilla creme cookies
75 calories of lifesavers (5 candies)
70 calories of sour patch watermelon (1/3 of a bag)
10 calories for 2 sticks of watermelon gum
= 625 calories of snacks/carb-heavy trail food/desserts in one day

Totaled, that comes out to 2401 calories on my lightest meal day (1776 + 625 = 2401)

Note that some of the best calories come from healthy fats — nut butter and honey roasted almonds. All these are also flavorful and comforting. Yum!

You could also use seeds like sunflower seeds and trail mix packets. You could get more snack bars too — just read the nutrition info so you don’t have any surprises and know what you are getting.

Don’t Forget to Add:
Disposable spoon(s) (peanut butter, stirring drink packet into water)
Disposable fork(s) (Kippered Herring and Chicken)

Full View of Kit

If you’ve ever been camping, it will be much easier to imagine using these kits. For example, there was a point in my life where I convinced myself that it was a good idea to bring yogurt or cold cereal camping for breakfast. In reality, I have never in my life woken up next to a lake in a tent and thought to myself, “You know what I want? Something nice and cold for breakfast.” It was always, “Pancakes! Eggs! Hot things! Meat! Heat, heat, heat!”

Of course, this list is a strictly no-heat plan. The next best thing is really solid stick-to-your-ribs fare for breakfast. The meat stick helps there. It helps fill that psychological/physical niche. Plus, it takes time to chew, which gives you time to start feeling full from the rest of the breakfast.

As a side note, fat is good for keeping warm — that’s why some mountain climbers put big chunks of butter in their hot cocoa. When you are cold, think fats (preferably healthy ones like natural nut butters), not just protein and carbs.

The main weakness of this setup is how much salt you would be taking in. That would increase your water needs. In the desert, that would be a big deal. In other locations, not as big a deal if you carry water purification methods (like the Sawyer Mini or enough purification tablets).

Of course, it is also heavy, since the food is “water in” rather than dehydrated. But to do backpacking meals (or even hot cocoa), I would need a stove and fuel and a cook pot. I want that setup, but I don’t have it now, and I don’t want to have my goal to be ready three months after a disaster, I want to be ready three months before it.

I could imagine myself going for an impromptu 3 day weekend camping trip and not gagging on the food I have here, at least for the first day. The weakest point in this area is lack of variety in the meals. Some of that is due to the cost.

For example, as far as I know, the Jif naturals only come in a package of 8, which means two packets per day for three days, plus 2 leftovers to eat at home after packing the kit. If I did something else and only used three packets, that would leave five leftover peanut butter packages, and I would have to make a different purchase to make up for the three I took out.

However, it is also simply hard to figure out really good eat-cold, shelf stable food. That’s where the tuna salad and kippered herring on crackers are nice, because those are things I might eat at home at room temperature.

If I wanted to get creative, I could include mayo and relish packets for making chicken salad in the field. As it is, I’m assuming I would put the chicken right on the crackers with no adornment. That probably wouldn’t be my favorite meal of the three days.

One Ziplock

Let’s face it, if you really want to get nice variety, you should consider getting an MRE with a heating packet or backpacking meals and stove, etc. However, the advantage of my list is that you can snag these items on an ordinary grocery run, stuff them in ziplock bags, and call it a day. Much less intimidating, far more likely to actually happen. And you can upgrade to MRE style solutions later if you really want, when you are rotating your current items out.

P.S. That reminds me. Make a note of when the items you buy are going to expire and set a reminder in your calendar to eat and replace at that time. Or set a date every 3 months or 6 months to check all your emergency food. Just make sure that it pops up without you having to remember it on your own.

Good luck!

Revisited: January 2020

I’ve come a ways since 2016, so here are my tweaks on the method for the new 2020 decade:

Get two roughly grocery sized bags — reusable ones that can be stuffed into themselves, or 5¢ plastic ones that are billed as reusable but are mostly just extra thick, or $1 Dollar Tree string backpacks — basically whatever works for you and won’t have to be replaced because of rips and tears in 6 months.

Label one bag as “6 months” and the other as “12 months +.”

When you are shopping for the kit, only buy products that are at least 6 months out on the expiration date, and things that you are certain you could eat 6 months from now when it is time to cycle out the kit contents.

When you get home, divide them into ones that will expire in 6-12 months (put those in the 6 month bag), and then put the ones with more than a year on the ‘best by’ date in the 12 + bag. Boxed individual items like granola bars can be un-boxed to use space more efficiently if they are packaged securely and not delicate (though for the ones where you discard the box, you may want to tear off the flap that has the name and expiration date and put it in the sack as well).

Set a reminder to go off in 6 months. At that time, dump the contents of the 6 month bag into your pantry (after all, you already know they shouldn’t sit around for another full 6 months), and eat them over the next couple weeks or months depending on the expiration date. Go through the 12+ month bag and put any items that now have between 6 and 12 months on the expiration date into the empty 6 month bag. Set a new 6 month timer, and jot down a quick shopping list to replenish what is being cycled out.

Mistakes I made originally:

I didn’t set a timer or reminder. (Yes, I know — I said to do it and then I didn’t.) So of course, I still have most of the original go bag items (now years past date), and I’ve also eaten some in the past to get rid of them before they got too old without having an organized plan or schedule for replacement. So when I removed an item, it just stayed removed, meaning that the kit got smaller and less useful over time. (The items I just bought tonight already have a expiration reminder set up.)

Things I learned:

My kippered herring tasted wonderful in 2020, despite expiring in 2017. (Not too big of a surprise — canning is pretty effective as a storage medium.) I can’t speak for yours, though. Much better to just cycle food through effectively in the first place.

I suggest you go with my new method and not parcel out meals in advance. You are not stupid, and 3 zip lock bags with repeats of the same item are harder to handle and can’t be as easily sorted by ‘time to cycle’ date in the way that my new 2 bag system can be. If you really must, print out a menu, and include it in the bags. That may help reduce temptation to eat more than you should. Packing the food by day on the menu is unnecessary.

Since I made these kits in 2016, there are a lot of new foil pouch item options in the seafood aisle that would do well eaten cold on crackers. I found foil pouches of plain tuna, but also of tuna salad, chicken salad, and other more uniquely flavored varieties (especially of tuna). These are both easier to deal with and more appetizing than my original cans of plain chicken in water, and some of them had dates a couple years in the future, so they won’t need to be cycled every six months.

I also found some black olives packaged like a fruit cup with no water in them (not canned) and they had a pretty long expiration date as well.

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