So the SHTF and you have successfully bugged in or bugged out according to your contingency plans. Now what? Is this going to be a longterm crisis due to war, asteroid strike or solar flare EMP? What is longterm for you...a couple weeks, months or several years?
I suggest that there are three distinct duration intervals for which you should stock supplies:
72 Hour Events
Something has happened while you are at work, school or stuck at home. It may be a riot, power outage or minor earthquake. You may need to use your BOB, GHB or GOOD kits to get home or stay at home until the crisis passes. Most people already have food and beverages at home to make it through a three day event. Of course food is just one supply that is needed to survive. In winter, sufficient heating is critical and power, lighting, communications are important at anytime.
Recently there have been several events affecting people in the United States that impacted their lives for weeks and months at a time. Winter blackouts have lasted for weeks on end and are often combined with lack of running water, no heating and impassable secondary roads to suburbs. Floods and hurricanes often destroy houses, clothing, vehicles and much needed supplies such as food. These events often call for relocation to a BOL (Bugout Location) where you have put away supplies in advance or to a prepared relative's home several hundred miles away from the impact area.
The devastation of war, catastrophic natural disasters and economic collapse can make your current home and lifestyle into nothing more than a memory. The Tsunami of 2004 and New Orleans Katrina Flooding are two examples of events that leave the survivors with nothing but the clothes on their back and no choice but to relocate and start over. This migration and rebuilding can take years to complete and many survivors will be refugees relying on others for assistance for much of their lives.
How do you prepare for a longterm event? Can you trust that your supplies will be safe and available in your current home? Should you split your supplies across several locations to hedge against the impact of the possible disaster? What can you do now to prepare for the recovery and rebuilding of your life?
Those with unlimited financial resources, can buy bunkers and stock them with all imaginable types of supplies to last for decades.
But for most people that work just to get by with perhaps only a paycheck or two between their current lifestyle and bankruptcy, each decision and purchase towards longterm preparation has to be beneficial by cost and ultimate value.
Ideally, you should have a bugout location already identified and stocked with basic supplies. This could be a vacation property, family farm or the home of a relative. The bare minimum supplies for a bugout location are food and water to support the number of people and length of time needed.
For just a family of four over a year's time, that will be a lot of food and water. It's possible to buy and put away that amount of food but it is costly and actually takes some room to store. Can you live off of stored food indefinitely? Obviously, no you can't. If the infrastructure that you use to acquire food is broken or unavailable to you, how do you feed yourself?
Well, we can look to the 19th century for the solution. Small scale farming and keeping of animals will be the lifestyle post-SHTF.
If you are at your BOL longer than a year and committed for the near future to that location, then gardening and farming should become your new occupation. A couple of acres of land can produce a great deal of food. You should plant a variety of foods to take advantage of seasonality and nutrition.
Now if you start farming and raising animals in year two of your new life, there won't be much food produced until the following year. If there is bad weather, flooding or disease you might lose most of the production from that year.
You should prepare to live off of your food cache for at least two years to give your new farming and ranching efforts a chance to bear fruit. The first year of cache is just to get you over the initial devastation of the longterm event and the second year is to feed you while you are busy transforming your BOL into a self-sustaining farm.
What should go into your two year cache?
It turns out that an adult needs over 2,000 calories per day to maintain their current weight and health. If you are active during the day, you should actually double that requirement.
How do calories equate to the volumes of food that you can purchase by the pound or gallon? Well, it varies by the food type, but generally a serving as documented on food packaging is about 250 calories. That would be two and half cups of rice, or a cup of beans, or a can of chili. Each of those servings is about one pound in weight after preparation.
Here's a good food storage calculator provided by the LDS:
As you can see, a single adult requires about five hundred (500) pounds of varied food per year. If you focus equally on white rice, pinto beans, rolled oats and canned meats, you should have the right mix of food staples to survive.
In order to add some variety and supplement your required intake of nutrients and minerals, you should also include a case each of real maple syrup, domestic honey (not from China), iodized salt, black pepper, assorted spices and powdered drink mixes.
This food cache needs to be purchased and stored at your BOL ahead of time. Most of the items I suggest have near indefinite storage lengths, if kept cool, dry and airtight. Rice and pinto beans will last for decades, while honey and salt have been discovered to last for THOUSANDS of years.
You can supplement your food staples with freeze-dried and nitrogen packed foods that come in various flavors and meals. These are often more expensive than the bulk staples, but may be worth it to you by providing some mental and emotional health benefits. Macaroni and cheese or tuna casserole are great comfort foods that the family can enjoy while settling into their new lives.
Given that a one (1) pound bag of rice or a can of chili seem to be going for about a $1.00 nowadays, it is reasonable to estimate that the cost per person per year will be about $500.00. If you look for sales and buy in bulk, you should be able to come down from that by as much as 25% or more.
You don't have to buy all of that food at once! Get into a routine of double buying when you go to the grocery each week. Look for sales and deals and buy then. If you keep at it, you'll be surprised how soon you will have six (6) months or even a year stored up already!