With the current COVID-19/Coronavirus and flu outbreaks, much is being made of people hoarding and panic buying food. In a perfect world, you would have already been prepared. There are plenty of things you should always be prepared for – hurricanes, floods, fires, earthquakes, and yes, a pandemic. Even the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) posted a tongue-in-cheek article titled “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse“. All kidding aside, whatever it is you need to be prepared for, the key is to PREPARE!
One of the many things you need to prepare with is food. Here at MREInfo.com, our recommendations are these:
Four types of food to have
1. Normal food – stuff for your fridge, perishables, stuff for your freezer – frozen meals, frozen vegetables, etc. – things that will store for a few months. This will mostly be things you normally eat and shouldn’t constitute a change in your diet. You should hopefully have at least two weeks worth of this kind of food on hand. You don’t have to buy all of this food at once! Buy some now, buy some a few days later…this way you won’t be “panic buying” and after going to the grocery store a few times, you’ll see that the shelves are being restocked and this should help relieve some of the anxiety that food is running out (it isn’t!).
2. Longer term dry goods – canned vegetables, canned meat, rice, pasta, beans, oatmeal. These items can easily last for 1-2 years and will be useful if your regular everyday foods from #1 above start to run low and you can’t get out to the grocery store to restock.
3. Emergency meals – MREs and freeze-dried meals. MREs will stay good for 3-5 years while freeze-dried foods can be good for 10+ years. Keep these on hand for if your supplies of #1 and #2 above run out or if you need food you can take with you in case you need to evacuate in cases like hurricanes, fires, floods, etc. Modern MREs are actually very tasty and are often nutritionally balanced…but even then you really don’t want to have to live on them for many days in a row…unless you have to. So keep a supply of these “ready to eat” meals and save them for a true emergency situation.
4. “Sick food” – If the unfortunate situation arises that you find yourself quarantined at home with the regular flu or a manageable case of coronavirus, it’s a good idea to have a selection of “sick food” on hand – things like soups, broths, crackers, hot tea, honey, oatmeal…the sorts of things that you’d want to have if you were sick and normal food didn’t appeal. While grocery stores will continue to stay open and the stocks of these foods shouldn’t be low, the last thing you want to do when you find yourself bedridden and feeling the effects of being sick is to have to go out to the grocery store and potentially spread your infection. If you do find yourself or a member of your family in this condition, it would be handy to have at least a two-week supply of these types of foods available.
It’s not about hoarding, it’s not about panic buying, it’s about “being prepared”. Don’t feel like you need to run out to the grocery store right now and fill up your shopping cart with all the canned goods you can fit – buy what you reasonably need and leave some for your neighbors.
How much food do I need?
Recommendations will vary from person to person as to how much food you really need to have on hand at home. Two weeks worth of regular meals and another 2-4 weeks of longer-term, non-perishable (canned goods, rice) is not a bad idea.
How many MREs do I need?
This is a trickier question. MREs were designed to be consumed by soldiers in the field who are usually undertaking constant physical activity. A typical military or civilian MRE is intended to be consumed by ONE PERSON for ONE MEAL and contains around 1300 calories. The recommended daily calorie intake for a person is around 2000-2500 calories. If you’re just staying at home, you really don’t need 3 MREs (3900 calories) per day per person. You could easily eat part of one MRE for breakfast, the rest of that MRE for lunch, then a whole MRE for dinner. If you have children, they could split a single MRE.
So use these guidelines as you see best to estimate how many days worth of MREs you want to have on hand. A single person could get by with 2 MREs per day, or 14 per week. For a couple, that would be 4 per day, or 28 per week. For a family of four – two parents and two children – that would be 5 MREs per day or 35 per week.
Consider that most MRE cases contain 12 MREs…though some can contain 14 or 16 MREs. If you stick with the 12-per-case MREs, the family of four above would need 3 cases of MREs for one week.
Using this information, look at the prices of MREs (anywhere from $6-10 per MRE) and see how many MREs you can afford to keep on hand. Ideally, you would do this over a period of months to slowly grow your stores. If you’re on a more limited income and can’t afford to stock up very much on MREs, concentrate your resources on your normal food and your longer term dry goods – you’ll need those well before you even get close to needing MREs.
COVID-19 Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash