The Prepper Journal

How to Avoid Starvation On A Budget

Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Bobcat-Prepper.

When is the last time you missed a meal? I mean really had no food for, say, 12 hours? Like most of you, I have been well-fed my entire life, and the only time I ever missed a meal was when I was sick.

Reading the news about the continued flow of refugees from Syria to Europe got me thinking about how it would feel to go hungry post-disaster. It seemed a bit scary, and you know what they say about your fears – the best way to conquer it is to learn more about it, and be prepared for its arrival.

With that goal, I picked the modest challenge of skipping dinner tonight. Sounds easy, but it was no fun…

  • 4pm – Haven’t eaten for 4 hours. Thoughts of delicious Cheese Doodles drift through my mind.
  • 5pm – I feel a little light-headed, even though I’m just doing easy work around the house.
  • 6pm – Time to fix dinner for the wife and kids. I keep thinking I should taste the dishes as I make them, but I force myself away from the spoon. The distractions of mealtime help the time pass, although I am tempted to sneak a forkful of leftovers during cleanup.
  • 8pm – Drank two cups of hot tea to curb my hunger, got a little cranky as I helped the kids with their homework, and wrote this post.
  • 10pm – Bedtime. Nothing like the sweet escape of sleep to let the hours pass until I get to “break my fast” in the morning.
  • 8am (next morning) – I ate last night’s dinner leftovers with gusto. Life is good again.

Lesson #1: Being hungry sucks! I don’t want anyone in my family to go hungry.

Lesson #2: After reviewing our food inventory, we are not prepared to survive a large SHTF event.


If our country’s electrical grid were to go dark due to cyberterrorism, an X-class solar storm hitting Earth, or an EMP strike from one of our country’s growing list of enemies, our whole industrial food production system would grind to a halt within a few days to a week. There is no telling how long it would take to restart, or if it could be restarted, and millions of Americans would die in the meantime.

I encourage all of you to skip a meal today, and see if a little personal experience with hunger motivates you to accelerate your food storage efforts, like I’ve planned below.

Food Storage Plan to avoid starvation

Here’s the worst-case scenario for food storage: Something bad happens in July or August of year #1, and the grocery stores are out of food in a hurry. With a lot of sweaty work, you could plant a huge garden by converting your whole yard, but by then it’s too late to plant corn or most other grains and have them grow to maturity. You would be unable to harvest substantial calories until October or November of year #2. To avoid starvation, you need to store 15-17 months of food and grow enough in year #2 to feed your whole family and account for barter, pestilence, and theft.

Do you have 15-17 months of food stored? I sure don’t, and that scares me!

Here’s the “cheapo” plan I came up with to boost our supplies to a safer level at a minimal cost. Your caloric needs, costs and storage needs may differ, but this will give you the outline to crunch the numbers yourself.

  • Daily Calories Needed – Using this age-gender chart, I found my family of four needs about 7,000 calories/day with moderate activity. That’s probably low, given all the wood-cutting, gardening, and water hauling that we would be doing post-disaster.
  • Total Calories Needed – calculate the additional calories needed to make it 17 months. Let’s say I have three months of food stored. I need at least 14 additional months, which would be 14x30x7,000 calories = 2.94 million calories – wow!
  • Pounds Needed – my bare-bones diet will be equal parts deer corn, rice and beans. Deer corn is perfectly edible for people, cheap, and can be used to plant if you have enough to eat. These grains can keep for years if kept cool and dry. The three items together will provide enough carbohydrates and protein, but this diet is low on fats. Gallons of frozen olive oil or cheaper vegetable oil can fill that role.

Corn has about 1600 calories/pound, rice has about 1500 calories/pound, and pinto beans have about 1100 calories/pound. The average of the three items is 1400 calories/pound.

Total number of pounds needed:

2.94 million calories/1400 calories/pound = 2100 pounds.

2100/3 = 700 pounds of corn, rice, and beans.

Food Storage Needed

Corn – Weighs about 5.8 pounds/gallon. 700 pounds/5.8 pounds/gallon = 121 gallons, about two 50-gallon drums plus 4 5-gallon pails, or 24 5-gallon pails.

Rice – Weighs about 7.6 pounds/gallon. 700 pounds/7.6 pounds/gallon = 92 gallons , about two 50-gallon drums, or 18 5-gallon pails.

Pinto beans – Weighs about 6.8 pounds/gallon. 700 pounds/6.8 pounds/gallon= 103 gallons, about two 50-gallon drums, or 20 5-gallon pails.

What does all this food storage cost?

All items bought at Wal-Mart, only the deer corn was taxed. If you have access to a Costco, Sam’s Club, or other bulk/discount store, you may be able to get better prices.

  • Corn – $6.39/40# = $.16/pound x 700 pounds = $112
  • Rice – $8.92/20# = $.446/pound x 700 pounds = $312
  • Pinto Beans – $16.32/20# = $.816/pound x 700 pounds = $571

Plastic Food-Grade Drums – These were obtained at the local soda bottling plant. They are air-tight, and I could use oxygen absorbers to keep the food fresh longer: $20 ea. X 6 = $160

Five Gallon Pails – $3 each at Lowe’s x 4= $12.

Total Cost = $1167   “Normal” canned food would cost $5000 or more for the same calories.

Daily Cost = $1167/(14 x 30) = $2.78/day for the whole family – what a bargain! It will be boring, but this diet will keep you alive. Pack an additional 20 pounds each of corn and beans to plant an acre-size garden, a large supply of various garden seeds, bottles of multi-vitamins, and with some foraging skills, your family won’t have to starve post-SHTF.

Now get busy! Please click on 5 stars below if you found my article helpful.

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