How Many Calories Do You Need for a Year?

Today I may make some people mad, but I strongly feel that this needs to be said.  I see a lot of recommendations for what equals a year’s supply of food.  Some of these recommendations would kill you.  For instance, I recently saw the following list suggested as a year’s supply for a family of four.

Calories for a year

  • 90 lbs. of white rice
  • 22 lbs. of kidney beans
  • 22 lbs. of barley
  • 22 lbs. of yellow lentils
  • 5 lbs. of split green peas
  • 5 lbs. of garbanzo beans
  • 1 lb. of salt
  • A big box of beef and chicken bouillon.

I thought that this seems very light on the calories so I broke it down to how many calories this amount of food provided.

  • 1616 calories x 90 = 145440 rice
  • 1510 calories x 22 = 33220 kidney beans
  • 1597 calories x 22 = 35134 barley
  • 1525 calories x 22 = 33550 lentils
  • 1547 calories x 5.5 = 8508 split peas
  • 1651 calories 5 5.5 = 9080 garbanzo beans
  • Total calories = 264932 divided by 365 = 725 calories per day.

As you can see this provides only 725 calories per day for four people.  At 2000 calories a day for four, you really only have about 33 days of food. 264,932 divided by 8000 calories = 33 days.

I would consider 8000 calories x 365 days, the minimum caloric intake for one year for a family of 4, that is 2,290,000 calories for the year.  Now 2000 calories per day per person may not be enough if you are performing strenuous labor.

Many people and businesses are putting out false information on what actually constitutes a year’s supply.  Some of the packaged year’s supplies that I see for sale are at best very marginal and some border on the criminal.

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I have heard some people say that my product is nutritious that you can live for weeks on small amounts. Nutrition is important and needs to be taken into consideration, but you still need the calories. You need both good nutrition and enough calories. The average male needs a minimum of 2000 calories a day and if doing hard physical labor may need more like 4000.

Unfortunately, some people will die as a result of this bad information that is being distributed, often for personal gain.  Be sure you have enough food and don’t be one of them.

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18 thoughts on “How Many Calories Do You Need for a Year?”

  1. So when TSHTF was it your intent to sit and watch TV for the year? I think that the article was a good one. It was obvious that they weren’t talking about the Platinum years supply of food for $10,000 they were talking minimal as a starting position. My belief is that what anyone needs is some basics and the ability to supplement it. Garden greens seriously lack calories but are rich in vitamins. Game; squirrels, pigeons, rabbits, deer, ducks, geese, etc. are rich in protein and most of what we need to survive with the exception of a few key vitamins. Where I live I could harvest enough blackberries in August to keep a family of four in jam for a year. I see apples still on the trees even in Februrary. There is so much food that could be foraged that a years supply of food only needs to be the basics. I don’t expect to sit in front of the TV after SHTF I expect to be foraging. I would rather have the minimalist years food supply than nothing. And I can do the math too and could simply multiply the minimalist food supply by three. Or I could add my own favorites. Or I could raise chickens and plant a garden to supplement it. In my experience I find that no one has ever written an article, a theory, a plan a thesis without leaving some things out and being less then clear in some areas. The trick is what you do with what the author wrote NOT what is wrong with what the author wrote. By the way, every morning I eat a big spoonful of blackberry jam. I can’t wait for next August to do it all again. Lots of calories in that jam.

    1. You are missing a few points, number one the article I was quoting was telling people that this was a year supply for four people. This misleads people. Many people do not live in an area where they can get that much wild game and other foods, without waiting for crops to grow. Many people are older and are more dependent on what they store. This list would have been a good list if they told people it was a starting point. Howard

      1. It’s not that I disagree with what you said it is that it didn’t “add” to the discussion. In my humble opinion every food storage plan has faults not the least of them is the LDS plan. I have wheat stored but even though I “could” eat it mostly what I think about the wheat is what am I gonna do with it. It is the KEY to the LDS plan and it isn’t really all that practical. I have an electric and a hand powered grinder and I have used them to grind the wheat and used the flour to bake bread. Would I do that in a SHTF situation? I don’t know how practical that would be. Rice on the other hand is awesome; easy to use/prepare, versatile and easy to store. Food storage for survival is both “simple” and very complicated/frustrating. Are you surviving in a home with utilities and reasonable police protection or on the road with what you can carry or any of the infinite possibilities inbetweeen? No food storage plan can assure survivability across the spectrum on scenarios. In most scenarios some form of foraging is required. Maybe not deer hunting but some form of supplementing available food will be necessary. The one concept that I think should be emphasized in survival eating is this: One good meal a day plus whatever can be foraged to augment the diet. One of the best ways to do this is a; soup/stew/gruel that contains whatever you have be that a cup of rice, beans and dandelion leave or rabbit.

        1. I agree with you completely that you foraging is a necessity and there are many article in this blog on that subject. It would be nice to start out with a years supply and still have most of it left after a year. Wheat I kind of agree with you on, you have to know how to use it and need to eat it on a regular basis now and not wait for an emergency. My big concern with the list was not that rice is on it, I think rice is a good food, but that too many people believe too much of what they see on the internet and would accept that quantity of food as a years supply, thus giving them a false sense of security.

  2. When will you people stop with the calorie information. You ignore decades of nutritional and medical education and research. You are perpetuating bad information.

    It’s nutrition, the amount of nutrients in food, that will keep you alive; not calories.

    If the calorie myth was in any form true, you could survive on ice cream and Twinkies.

  3. I agree with your comments. I also read the article you are referring to and was first struck by the fact that the list included no oil/fat item and no dried milk. You come much closer to a complete protein and you get a much higher calorie count by those two additions. Gone With The Wind’s comments about supplementing are valid and true, but the original list so lacks some important basics that it makes it useless (and a bit dangerous) – especially for the new prepper just learning the basics. The LDS Calculator really is the gold standard for establishing the basics of any food storage plan.

  4. People are so removed from their food that they have no idea how much food they really eat. They only look at the little they eat at home & never figure up what they eat out. Do some people watching at a buffet in a restuarant. I have been ridiculed many times with ‘what do you do with a whole gallon of dried beans?!’ We (2 adults) go thru that much in a month. I keep wheat & other grains. I grind my own grain all the time. I make yeast breads, biscuits, pancakes, tortillas, cookies – whatever we want. When you do hard physical labor, you need many more calories and the nutrition that should come with those calories. Healthy fats are essential to living. Many died in Europe during WWII because they could not get fats or oils. My in-laws lived thru WWII. Grass Soup, eating cats, etc. was the norm. My father-in-law & his brother were sent out daily to scavange for food for their family. One time they found a 5 gal bucket of corn syrup with ants in it. They ate it – ants & all.

  5. This is one of my pet peeves. The companies which do this should be sued. The other ad ploy is “number of servings” which is also worthless information. People it is calories, carbs, protein and fat. You have to have them all along with vitamins. People will die because of this deception. I have emailed companies about this and NEVER get a response.

  6. I agree, the entire subject of what foods, and how much of those foods, is missed so MANY times when what is needed is discussed or written about. I think you do a pretty fair job of noting that basic nutrition, various fats, AND calories are necessary to surviving and thriving during the time when things go south. Especially when faced with hard work, and the strenuous activity needed just to survive.

    It is calories which turn into energy which allows us to do work, and WORK will be absolutely vital during that time. Eliminate calories (carbohydrates) from your diet and try to work a ten hour day, six days a week, and you will have lost significant weight, move slower and be more lethargic, and have little to no vitality at the end of those six days. Your body will want to sleep the entire seventh day due to being depleted. You need a healthy caloric intake daily to sustain strength and energy. I don’t know how much is needed, but hard working farm families ate heartily with big breakfasts, large dinner meals, and even supper was pretty hearty as well. Each meal needed plenty of nutritious vegetables, protein, and high calorie and starchy foods like rice, potatoes, and the like.

    One thing I hear from people here (Alaska) is that, “When the SHTF and I’m hungry, I’ll just go out and shoot myself a moose.” NOT SO! Sorry, inside of a month there will not be a moose on the hoof except in very remote and inaccessible/forbidden locations. Game will be so scarce it will be virtually non-existent. Do realize that after the great depression in America it took years before wild game populations got back to stable numbers. Hunting was closed and/or extremely limited for a number of years.

    Michael Phelps, US Gold Metalist (swimming) ate 10,000 calories a day during training and competition!!! You may not require that much, but 8,000 a day for hard strenuous outdoor work may not be too much of a stretch.

    I read the other day (re: gardening) to feed (per person) a year to plant about 28 beets, 6 – 8 bean plants, etc., etc. WHAT A BAG OF TRASH!!! I can eat a can of beets with my meals in three meals, (about a dozen beets). Twenty-eight beets would only last me a little over two weeks, eating beets only three times a week! There is so much DISINFORMATION on the net about prepping it is disgusting! I appreciate sites like yours which do supply good sound information.

    Take care, and blessings on you as you warn us of the storm ahead, and mentally help us prepare to survive and thrive.

    Son of Liberty

  7. Today I experimented with a batch of Native American pemmican. I dehydrated and grinded up 18 ounces of raisons, 5 ounces of craisins, 10 ounces of almonds, and 6.5 ounces of turkey breast meat and mixed it all with 4 ounces of rendered beef suet; melted of course. In the Appalachian region where I’m from I could use white oak acorns, beechnuts, black walnut (or any other hard mast), wild grapes, black cherries, rose hips, mayapples (or any other soft mast), and squirrel, rabbit, fish, venison (or any other meat jerky). I utilized only enough lard/suet to hold the blended mixture of ingredients together and it all fit tightly into 12 cupcake papers. Collectively the ingredients weighed 43.5 ounces and totalled 5,230 calories. This amounts to 436 calories per pemmican cupcake. They’re crunchy, nutty, jerky”ISH”, with overtones of sweetness from the cranberries and raisins. Essentially, I could live off these twelve little “pemmican cakes” for only 2 to 4 days, depending on my activities, before I would need to forage again. Since the ingredients were dehydrated to the point of actually being brittle and crunchy, they are shelf stable and can be stored for weeks; perhaps even months. I have incorporated them into my emergency food stash; including putting a few into my BOB. Just thought I’d share. Todd

      1. The Indians took similar mixtures and put them in intestine bags. then into rawhide, lasted at least over the winter. Using Vac bags and adding some sugar and O2 absorber I have no doubt they would last years.

  8. I think you did well providing important info. When I started thinking about storing a years worth of food and 30 day buckets, I too thought about nutrition and calories. I tried to get as close to 2000 call/ day along with multivitamins and small extras. I couldn’t put it all in a 30day bucket but when I asked others about their buckets, none of them knew how close they came to supplying needs. One just said whatever was in The bucket would work for one month and they would eat less. That is not a good idea in an emergency situation where you may need to expend calories, I think.
    Also, how easy would it be scavenging when everyone else is doing the same?

  9. Great discussion. I agree that good info is hard to come by. If you haven’t already, you should look into farming duckweed. Darned near unstoppable in a pool/pond/aquarium and grows anywhere on earth. It doubles its biomass every 48 hours- so you can harvest half of whatever you are growing every other day in other words. Doesn’t require fertile land just a container that holds water. You can grow it inside in a window. I have some in my kitchen right now. About 5 percent lipids and 45 percent protein which makes its nutritional profile closer to meat than just about anything plant based except hempseeds and soybeans. It’s easy to prepare in soup or as greens, versatile, a good source of vitamins and minerals, (and like kudzu below) is fit for farm animals as well as humans. You can also forage duckweed but it is a pain to clean and tends to pickup toxins and heavy metals from polluted water. Safer and easy just to grow it yourself.

    Also if you live in the southern US don’t overlook kudzu as free and plentiful eats that you can’t get rid of. The stuff grows a foot a day and is high in protein and vitamins. You can eat young leaves and shoots raw in salad. The roots are a good cooking starch and a gelatin substitute but much harder to prepare. I like the larger leaves deep fried crunchy like taco shells or chips. Good prepping to you!

  10. Ok so I am a secret newbie prepper. Secret because I don’t want family to know I’m as mad as you lot. Don’t ask ! we all know our family right ? So I’ve got 200,000 calories so far stored in pasta, rice, tinned fish & meat, olive oil & sugar. I figure mostly I need protein & carbs to survive initially. Still its not just me because there will be that reluctant survivalist family knocking on my door, 6 of them bless their hearts. Now let me just say i’m with you guys, but trust me you’ve not met my family. Unlike a lot of you i’m not in the USA i’m in the UK so i’m living in a shoe box with a secret prepper attitude & limited space.

    You know i’m not entirely convinced of this 2000 food calories a day, I have far less than that in meals but I do have a chocolate bar & lots of tea with sugar (so maybe 2000). Rice & pasta are about 345 cal per 100 gram but sugar 400 cal, & takes less space. I never hear preppers talking about a nice sugary desert as part of a balanced diet ?

    So I am asking you all for advice & to flip your minds to a different situation of limited space & discrete action. I am in a large town with a 50 x 60 ft overlooked garden, the occupants of which won’t want it dug up without a major catastrophe having already occurred. 2 miles from the countryside with very little woodland. 10 miles from 2 major river estuaries with mussels & oysters. Locally the Oysters are harvested, but I have read bivalves ? filtering shellfish unprocessed are dangerous to eat ? & as for fishing !! I would have to get creative because rod & reel are just an excuse to drink a beer & reel in seaweed. Anyone know of a good way to net across a muddy estuary without a boat ? & the type of net & place to buy ?
    All the best to everyone & thanks for this site

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