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A 30-Day Emergency Food Supply
(2,000 Calories per Day)

Copyright September 1, 2010 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
Revised January 1, 2014.
Revised May 2, 2016.
All Rights Reserved.


30 Day Emergency Food Supply Note: All food prices in this article were obtained on May 2, 2016.

It would be nice to have two different types of emergency food supplies as follows:
  1. A 30-day or one-month emergency food supply.
  2. A one-year emergency food supply.
Some emergencies are short-term and they do not last very long. A 30-day food supply would be very useful in this type of situation. In most short-term emergencies electrical power is not available, and water may or may not be available. Under these conditions cooking a meal from scratch would be extremely challenging. In this type of situation it would be nice if you had a decent variety of canned foods that you could simply heat and eat.

On the other hand, a long-term hard times event is different. Although eating from a can is a reasonable option for a short period of time, after awhile it becomes very boring. That is when your body will crave "real food" that you prepare from scratch. Therefore, a one-year emergency food supply will need to contain a broad variety of food items that include some canned foods and some foods that you can prepare from scratch, such as a loaf of fresh baked bread. Information about a one-year food supply is at the following link:
One-Year Emergency Food Supply.

One reasonable option for storing your emergency food supplies would be as follows:
  1. Store your 30-day food supply at your current residence. If something unexpected happens then you would have immediate access to your food and you could make the decision to either stay exactly where you are, or you could quickly load your 30-day food supply into your car and go somewhere safer.

  2. Store your one-year food supply with your parents or children or close relatives who live in a country area. You could arrange this with them ahead of time and perhaps they could set aside a spare bedroom just for your family in the event of an emergency. Then you could stack your one-year emergency food supply in the closet of that bedroom, or put some of it under the bed or beds in that bedroom. This would provide you with food to eat when you arrived at your more desirable back-up location. (Or you could store some of your food at a temperature controlled warehouse in a distant small rural town.)

Important Criteria for Selecting Food Items for an Emergency 30-Day Food Supply

If an emergency were to occur unexpectedly and you had to provide for your family until the emergency was over, then you should have enough fresh drinking water and enough food stored ahead of time to get you through the emergency.

If the electrical power is off, then cooking a meal from scratch would be far more challenging than simply opening a can of food, heating it, and then serving it to your family.

In this type of situation your canned foods should meet all of the following criteria:
  1. The food item should be one that your family members have enjoyed eating in the past. During a short-term emergency it would be really nice if your family knew that their daily meals would be something they have enjoyed eating in the past. It is okay if different members of your family have different taste preferences. You should consider purchasing and storing the food items that each person in your family really likes because in most situations one can of food is just barely enough for one person.

  2. The food item should have a reasonably long shelf life, preferably at least five years or more.

  3. The food item should not require refrigeration or freezing. You should be able to safely store the food item at normal room temperatures.

  4. The food item should be relatively affordable.

  5. The food item should be ready to heat and eat.

  6. The food item should be a complete meal in a can that includes meat, vegetables, and a few vitamins.

  7. The food item should contain a lot of calories, fat, carbohydrates, and protein. Your body will need and crave all of these basic ingredients and therefore your food items should contain all of them. In other words, don't just look at the calorie content of the food item. Also consider the fat, carbohydrates, and protein of the food in order to provide a truly balanced meal that will satisfy your family's hunger. After you have eaten a meal you should not feel hungry again for several hours. This is extremely important because some foods only relieve your hunger for a very short period of time and you become extremely hungry again rather quickly. Therefore, the foods you select should be ones that can keep you from feeling hunger for at least 5 or 6 hours. If the food contains reasonable levels of calories, fat, carbohydrates, and protein then hunger should not be a problem for several hours.

  8. For each food item read the nutritional data on the label. Multiply the number of servings in the container by the number of calories, fat, carbohydrates, and protein per serving. This will yield the total nutritional value of the entire food container. This is important because different canned foods show a different number of "servings per can" and therefore you must convert this into the total food value of the can instead of just comparing the food value per serving. For example, consider the following:

    Food ItemServings Per CanCalories per ServingTotal Calories per Can
    18.8 ounces Chunky Soup2170340
    12.5 ounces Canned Chicken660360
    15 ounces Canned Pasta2250500
    16 ounces Canned Ham880640
    15 ounces Chili with Beans2350700
    12 ounces Canned Spam61801,080

    The last column in the above table is the important column because it shows the total number of Calories in the entire Can. You would need to do the same calculation for the total Fat per Can, the total Carbohydrates per Can, and the Total Protein per Can.

  9. Your food supply should contain a wide assortment of foods. If possible, you should not have to eat the same exact food item until at least seven days have passed. This means you should have enough variety so you could serve different meals to your family every day for one week.

A Recommended 30-Day Emergency Food Supply for One Adult

In my opinion the following food items are ones you should consider for your 30-day emergency food supply.

I strongly recommend that you purchase one can of each of the following foods and serve it to your family during normal times to determine if they enjoy it. If they like it then you could purchase additional cans of that food item for your 30-day emergency food supply.

The following suggestions would be a reasonable starting position for the average family. However, since each family has unique taste and dietary requirements, each family will probably need to remove some items from the following list and add other items that they enjoy more.

Note: All cost data in the following table was obtained on May 2, 2016.

Cost per
Total CostTotal Nutrition per ContainerTotal Nutrition for 30 Day Food Supply
2 CansCampbell's Chunky "Beef Base" Soup18.8 ounces$ 1.98$ 3.96280 Calories, 9 Fat, 38 Carbs, 14 Protein560 Calories, 18 Fat, 76 Carbs, 28 Protein
2 CansCampbell's Chunky "Chicken Base" Soup18.8 ounces$ 1.98$ 3.96360 Calories, 16 Fat, 38 Carbs, 16 Protein720 Calories, 32 Fat, 76 Carbs, 32 Protein
2 CansLaChoy Asian "Meat and Vegetables"42 ounces$ 3.48$ 6.96360 Calories, 10 Fat, 54 Carbs, 15 Protein720 Calories, 20 Fat, 108 Carbs, 30 Protein
4 CansChef Boyardee Pasta (Spaghetti, Ravioli, Lasagna)15 ounces$ 0.98$ 3.92500 Calories, 24 Fat, 54 Carbs, 18 Protein2,000 Calories, 96 Fat, 216 Carbs, 72 Protein
4 CansArmour Beef Stew24 ounces$ 2.48$ 9.92630 Calories, 33 Fat, 60 Carbs, 24 Protein2,520 Calories, 132 Fat, 240 Carbs, 96 Protein
4 CansHormel Roast Beef Hash15 ounces$ 2.36$ 9.44780 Calories, 48 Fat, 44 Carbs, 42 Protein3,120 Calories, 192 Fat, 176 Carbs, 168 Protein
2 CansChili with Beans15 ounces$ 1.88$ 3.76700 Calories, 36 Fat, 62 Carbs, 34 Protein1,400 Calories, 72 Fat, 124 Carbs, 68 Protein
2 CansRanch Style Black Beans (or Pinto or Kidney)15 ounces$ 0.72$ 1.44385 Calories, 2 Fat, 66 Carbs, 21 Protein770 Calories, 4 Fat, 132 Carbs, 42 Protein
2 CansTaco Bell Refried Beans16 ounces$ 1.28$ 2.56420 Calories, 3 Fat, 70 Carbs, 24 Protein840 Calories, 6 Fat, 140 Carbs, 48 Protein
2 PouchesTaco Bell Taco Seasoning Dry Mix1.25 ounces$ 0.64$ 1.28120 Calories, 0 Fat, 18 Carbs, 0 Protein240 Calories, 0 Fat, 36 Carbs, 0 Protein
2 PouchesCountry Gravy Dry Mix (or Brown Gravy)2.64 ounces$ 0.62$ 1.04320 Calories, 16 Fat, 40 Carbs, 8 Protein640 Calories, 32 Fat, 80 Carbs, 16 Protein
2 CansPork and Beans15 ounces$ 0.66$ 1.32385 Calories, 3 Fat, 88 Carbs, 21 Protein770 Calories, 6 Fat, 176 Carbs, 42 Protein
2 CansVienna Sausage5 ounces$ 0.53$ 1.06330 Calories, 30 Fat, 3 Carbs, 15 Protein660 Calories, 60 Fat, 6 Carbs, 30 Protein
4 CansVeg-All Mixed Vegetables (or Corn, or Peas & Carrots)15 ounces$ 0.68$ 2.72140 Calories, 0 Fat, 28 Carbs, 3 Protein560 Calories, 0 Fat, 112 Carbs, 12 Protein
4 PouchesIdahoan Instant Potatoes (Add Water Only)4 ounces$ 1.00$ 4.00440 Calories, 12 Fat, 80 Carbs, 8 Protein1,760 Calories, 48 Fat, 320 Carbs, 32 Protein
1 BagEnriched White Rice16 ounces$ 0.60$ 0.601,600 Calories, 0 Fat, 350 Carbs, 30 Protein1,600 Calories, 0 Fat, 350 Carbs, 30 Protein
4 CansChef Boyardee Mac & Cheese15 ounces$ 0.98$ 3.92480 Calories, 20 Fat, 56 Carbs, 18 Protein1,920 Calories, 80 Fat, 224 Carbs, 72 Protein
4 CansPink Alaskan Salmon14.75 ounces$ 2.48$ 9.92630 Calories, 21 Fat, 0 Carbs, 100 Protein2,520 Calories, 84 Fat, 0 Carbs, 400 Protein
4 CansBumble Bee Solid White Albacore (Tuna in Oil)5 ounces$ 1.50$ 6.00160 Calories, 6 Fat, 0 Carbs, 28 Protein640 Calories, 24 Fat, 0 Carbs, 112 Protein
4 CansGreat Value Chunk Chicken Breast12.5 ounces$ 2.38$ 9.52360 Calories, 6 Fat, 6 Carbs, 66 Protein1,440 Calories, 24 Fat, 24 Carbs, 264 Protein
4 CansSpam Lunch Meat (or Dak Canned Ham)12 ounces$ 2.64$ 10.561,080 Calories, 96 Fat, 6 Carbs, 42 Protein4,320 Calories, 384 Fat, 24 Carbs, 168 Protein
4 CansRoast Beef12 ounces$ 3.98$ 15.92350 Calories, 7 Fat, 5 Carbs, 65 Protein 1,400 Calories, 28 Fat, 20 Carbs, 260 Protein
1 ContainerQuaker Quick Oats (or Breakfast Bars)42 ounces$ 3.98$ 3.984,500 Calories, 90 Fat, 810 Carbs, 150 Protein4,500 Calories, 90 Fat, 810 Carbs, 150 Protein
1 ContainerTang Orange Drink Mix20 ounces$ 2.50$ 2.502,160 Calories, 0 Fat, 520 Carbs, 0 Protein2,160 Calories, 0 Fat, 520 Carbs, 0 Protein
15 PackagesKool-Aid Drink Mix (Assorted Flavors)0.13 ounces$ 0.25$ 3.750 Calories, 0 Fat, 0 Carbs, 0 Protein0 Calories, 0 Fat, 0 Carbs, 0 Protein
5 PoundsGranulated Sugar5 pounds$ 2.78$ 2.788,500 Calories, 0 Fat, 2,270 Carbs, 0 Protein8,500 Calories, 0 Fat, 2,270 Carbs, 0 Protein
1 BoxInstant Powdered Milk64 ounces$ 14.98$ 14.986,400 Calories, 0 Fat, 960 Carbs, 640 Protein6,400 Calories, 0 Fat, 960 Carbs, 640 Protein
1 ContainerHershey's Cocoa Powder8 ounces$ 3.18$ 3.18900 Calories, 22 Fat, 135 Carbs, 45 Protein900 Calories, 22 Fat, 135 Carbs, 45 Protein
4 CansFruit Cocktail (or Peaches or Pears)15.25 ounces$ 1.08$ 4.32350 Calories, 0 Fat, 84 Carbs, 0 Protein1,400 Calories, 0 Fat, 336 Carbs, 0 Protein
3.5 Pound BagChild's Play Candy Assortment (150 Pieces)3.5 pounds$ 8.98$ 8.986,000 Calories, 150 Fat, 1,350 Carbs, 50 Protein6,000 Calories, 150 Fat, 1,350 Carbs, 50 Protein
30 EachComplete Multivitamin Tablets30 Each$ 1.12$ 1.120 Calories, 0 Fat, 0 Carbs, 0 Protein0 Calories, 0 Fat, 0 Carbs, 0 Protein
Totals . . .$ 159.3760,980 Calories,
1,604 Fat,
9.041 Carbs,
2,907 Protein.

If you do not want to cook then omit the rice and potatoes and buy more of the complete meals in a can (Chunky Soups, Pasta, Chili with Beans, Beef Stew, etc.).

Usually one can of food is just enough for one good meal for one person. However, some of the above canned foods contain enough food for two meals (lunch and supper), or for two people at the same time.

Discussion of Some of the Recommended Food Items

  1. The powdered milk and the cocoa powder may be used to make either chocolate milk or hot chocolate.
    On the other hand, if your family doesn't like milk then don't buy it.
    If you prefer coffee or tea then buy it instead.

  2. If you don't like Kool-Aid or Tang and you prefer soft drinks or beer or wine then buy them instead.

  3. White rice can be enhanced with white country gravy or brown gravy.

  4. Instant potatoes can be enhanced with white country gravy or brown gravy.

  5. Armour Roast Beef can be converted into a "Mexican" meal by combining it with approximately one-half package of Taco Mix and then serving it with either Refried Beans or Black Beans.
    If you have some flour then you could make a burrito or tortilla shell.

  6. Chef Boyardee Macaroni and Cheese may be eaten as a side dish by itself, or it can be converted into a casserole by adding canned tuna, or canned chicken, or sliced Vienna Sausages, or diced Spam.

  7. Pork and Beans can be made into "Beanie Wienies" by adding sliced pieces of Vienna Sausage.

  8. The Vienna Sausages may be eaten as a simple meat item, or converted into "mini corn dogs" if you have some cornmeal, or into "pigs in a blanket" if you have some flour.

  9. The Spam may be sliced and fried for breakfast, lunch, or supper.

  10. The Salmon can be made into "Salmon Patties" if you add a little cornmeal.

  11. Canned fruit may be eaten as a dessert item, or you could eat from the bag of candy.

  12. The candy could be hard candies (peppermints, spearmints, butterscotch disks, or cinnamon disks), or caramels, or tootsie rolls or any combination your family prefers.
Note: If you use a standard Vacuum Food Sealer to vacuum seal some of the above items (candy, vitamins, white rice, instant milk, sugar, cocoa powder, and quick oats) then you could extend the normal shelf life of these items by a multiple of approximately five. More information about vacuum sealers is on my website here.

Suggestions for Preparing Meals During a Short-Term Hard Times Event

To prepare a meal from scratch normally takes more time, more fuel, and as the food slowly cooks it emits a stronger aroma than when you simply open a can of food, heat it, and then immediately eat it.

Therefor, having canned foods that you simply heat and eat means you will need less cooking fuel and you will be keeping your cooking aromas to the absolute minimum. The absence of strong cooking aromas may help you to avoid attracting unnecessary attention to your family during a difficult short-term hard times event.

As a practical example,
  1. Breakfast could be oatmeal, or breakfast bars, or fried Spam or fried ham, or you could skip breakfast and eat lunch at 10:00 AM and supper at 5:00 PM.
  2. Lunch could be a complete meal from a can.
  3. Supper could be more like a normal meal such as boiled rice or instant potatoes or beans or vegetables, plus a meat item from a can, such as salmon patties.
Remember, canned foods have been fully cooked and they only need to be heated and served.

However, whenever possible it is advisable to heat your food to at least 185 degrees Fahrenheit (85 degrees Celsius) to kill any potential harmful microorganisms that might be in the food.

It would also be a good idea to put a lid on the cook pot or skillet when you are heating the food. The lid will help to keep the heat and the aroma inside the cook pot. This means you will need less fuel to heat the food to an acceptable temperature, and it will prevent most of the delicious cooking aromas (odors) from escaping and attracting unnecessary attention to your location.

It should also be noted that some foods emit a powerful aroma while they are being prepared, such as coffee and bacon. Therefore, if you truly love coffee then during a short-term emergency then it might be advisable to have a small supply of "instant coffee" instead of "regular coffee." I know there is a difference between the flavor of instant coffee and regular coffee but you need to consider your priorities during a short-term emergency. For example,
  1. Would a cup of instant coffee be okay if it did not attract any attention to your location?
  2. Or would you prefer for everyone within a half-block radius to be knocking on your door and asking you to please, please share some of your fresh brewed coffee?


There may not be very much to do during a short-term emergency and everyone in your family will be truly looking forward to each meal in order to relieve their boredom and to satisfy their hunger.

It is okay to talk about unpleasant topics at other times during the day but each member of your family should understand that all discussions at the dining table will be about pleasant topics. This will facilitate their enjoyment of their meal and it will aid in the digestive process.

Finally, please remember to thank God for every meal before your family starts eating.

Additional Nutritional Information on Some Canned Food Items

Campbell's Chunky "Beef Base" Soup (18.8 ounce cans)
Food ItemCaloriesFatCarbsProtein
Baked Potato, Steak & Cheese400184216
Italian Style Wedding Meatballs & Spinach32064816
Salisbury Steak w/ Mushrooms & Onions28093814
Beef with White & Wild Rice28034816
Beef & Dumplings & Vegetables26034016
Grilled Sirloin Steak with Vegetables26043826
Sirloin Burger with Country Vegetables2604389
Steak and Potato24043016
Slow Roasted Beef with Mushrooms24033616
Beef Rib Roast with Potatoes & Herbs22023414

Campbell's Chunky "Chicken Base" Soups (18.8 ounce cans)
Food ItemCaloriesFatCarbsProtein
Chicken Broccoli Cheese with Potato42022414
Chicken Corn Chowder400204014
Chicken and Dumplings360163816
Grilled Chicken and Sausage Gumbo28064216
Fajita Chicken with Rice & Beans26034614
Savory Chicken with White & Wild Rice22043612

Campbell's Chunky "Other Base" Soup (18.8 ounce cans)
Food ItemCaloriesFatCarbsProtein
New England Clam Chowder460264014
Potato Ham Chowder380223412
Split Pea & Ham38056024
Hearty Bean & Ham36046022

La Choy Asian Meals (42 ounce cans)
Food ItemCaloriesFatCarbsProtein
Chicken Sweet & Sour with Asian Style Vegetables540410515
Chicken Teriyaki with Asian Style Vegetables360105415
Chicken Chow Mein with Asian Style Vegetables300123315
Beef Pepper Oriental with Asian Style Vegetables24033321

Chef Boyardee Pasta (15 ounce cans)
Food ItemCaloriesFatCarbsProtein
Mini Beef Ravioli & Meatballs560246420
Chili Mac500245418
Pepperoni Pizzazaroli500147618
Mini Spaghetti & Meatballs480205818
Cheesy Nacho Twistaroni440146416
Cheesy Burger Macaroni400125618
Mac & Cheese480205618

Chef Boyardee Canned Pasta Note:
I have tried the Overstuffed Ravioli, and the Giant Meatballs, and the Regular Ravioli, and the Mini Ravioli and the Mini Spaghetti with Meatballs.
In my opinion the Mini Ravioli and the Mini Spaghetti with Meatballs are better than the regular pastas or the giant pastas.
The "mini pastas" contain more sauce, and all the food heats more evenly in less time, and the overall taste is superior.
Therefore I strongly recommend the "mini pastas" instead of the regular pastas or the giant pastas.
However, since taste is a very individual experience, your family may completely disagree with me and there is nothing wrong with that.

If you have young children then they will probably prefer the Chef Boyardee "ABC" and "Dinosaur" pastas because they are significantly more fun to eat. The nutritional value of these pastas is almost the same as the other pastas so there is nothing wrong with adding these special pastas to your emergency food supply for your young children.

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Grandpappy's e-mail address is: RobertWayneAtkins@hotmail.com