Freeze Dried Food is a BIG subject. There are so many different factors to take into account – nutritional value, cost, serving size, allergies, and more – that it can make even our veteran heads spin. Luckily, we have plenty of practice explaining the ins and outs of freeze dried food and we can help you make your food storage choices with confidence.
Critical Things to Look For
When preparing any kind of food storage, but especially when dealing with freeze dried food, there are two things to watch for above all else: Calories, and Protein. There are other factors that come into making an informed choice, but when it comes down to bare survival these are the biggest pieces of the puzzle.
We’ve all heard of calories, usually on ‘skinny’ food or the cover of a glossy magazine, but few of us ever think about getting more calories, instead trying to cut them left, right, and center. A calorie, at it’s most basic form, is food energy. It’s the unit of measurement for the get-up-and-go we get from our meals (or afternoon chocolate). It comes in three forms (fat, carbs, and protein) and all three are important.
With modern food production techniques people have no trouble finding enough (too many) carbohydrate and fat-based calories, but protein can be more difficult to come by. This is why protein is the second of our top priorities when looking into your food storage.
Our bodies don’t have a mechanism for storing protein and when we don’t have enough our bodies will actually break down existing muscle to make up for it. This leads to feeling tired easily, difficulty focusing, slower healing of injuries, increased risk of anemia, and other less pressing symptoms. Many people unknowingly suffer from minor protein deficiencies, but with poor food planning and a lack of access to alternatives things can escalate quickly. Even if people are still eating lots of carbs and fats we can only live for about 70 days without protein (and an unpleasant 70 days at that!)
If you use a fitness tracker, or count your calories in an app, you’re a step ahead of the game and probably already have an idea of how much energy you use in a day. Remember that you’ll be under duress in an emergency and pack a few more calories than you would usually need. Even if you find you’re satisfied without the extra, you’ll wind up with a couple more days of food – or enough to share.
For the rest of us, the answer is… it varies. But good news! There are averages we can draw on!
For men, Total Prepare recommends planning around 2000 – 2600 calories per day. Women, we recommend between 1600-2100. Activity levels will be the biggest determining factor of how many calories you need, so keep in mind what labor you expect to be doing. For reference, a coma patient gets about 1100 calories to keep them alive, while a first responder will burn through 3600 calories with a hard day’s work.
Protein is a little trickier. The average adult requires 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight. Here’s the math to see how many grams your one-of-a-kind body requires:
Weight in pounds / 2.2 = Weight in kg
Weight in kg x 0.8 = average daily protein requirements in grams
Once you know how much protein you need look out for the nutrition fact labels on your food for the amount in each serving. If you’re planning for a long period of time this can be tedious, so I recommend finding averages for different types of food to work with. Health Link BC has lots of great information on average protein amounts found in foods as well as tips to fill out your protein intake.
How can Total Prepare help me?
Our Freeze Dried meals from Wise, Legacy, and Augason Farms offer a great way to get your calories, and have some protein in to boot. Our highest protein options are detailed below and make great supplements to your emergency food planning.
For meat-eaters Total Prepare carries a selection of Freeze Dried Meats, which are the fastest and most efficient way to add lots of protein to your emergency diet. Each can has a 25 year shelf life and the ingredients are usually one or two familiar words (eg: Beef or Chicken). They taste good to boot!
If you’re a vegetarian, vegan, or if meat is just not your thing, we carry several high protein options for you too. Powdered peanut butter is our first go-to as it comes in bulk, can be added to most meals, and has 4 grams of protein for 2 tablespoons. If you’re looking for prepared meals, we have those too! Our Backpackers Pantry line has several vegetarian, high protein options like Lasagna (19g), Mac & Cheese (20g), and Pad Thai (staff favourite and 20g of protein).
Thank you for reading and stay tuned for next week’s article detailing the differences in our Freeze Dried Food brands.
Article written by Zenia Platten – Writer and emergency preparedness professional.