I was recently asked to help many of the families in our congregation decide what the best food for a 72 hour kit would be.
I thought I’d post a bit about what I came up with here as it would be helpful to anyone trying to put together 72 hour food kits for a large group. (If you are LDS too, think, “This would be a fantastic Relief Society meeting!“)
Before I get started on the food you might consider including in your kit, I want to mention that the food that goes in your kit is only one small part of a full 72 hour kit.
If you would like, I can walk you step by step through what to include (and what not to include), in your 72 hour kit, how to make it fit your budget and your family’s individual needs.
What You’ll Find in This Post
- I’ll start by telling you what my goals were with these kits and why I created them the way I did.
- Then I’ll give you the details: I will tell you what you will be eating for each meal each day, where I bought everything, and what it all cost. (Yes, you have my permission to scroll down right to this section if you’d like to right now.)
- Last, I’ll give you links where you can download menu labels for each day and handouts that you can use when planning your kits with your group!
1. A BIG Undertaking: My Goals
This was quite a project as I really wanted to meet a few basic needs:
1. I wanted to keep the cost of the food for this 72 hour kit as low as possible.
The cost of food adds up quickly. Having to buy three days worth all at once in addition to your regular spending can seem daunting, especially for large families, which there are many of in our congregation. I did not want the cost to deter people from taking this important step.
I set a goal to keep the cost for each meal at $2 or less per person. I ended up beating this goal!
2. I wanted to keep the calories in the food for this 72 hour kit as high as possible while not sacrificing too much nutrition.
In most disaster situations, you actually would not need your kit. For example, in a house fire, you’d likely be able to go to a friend or family member’s home. You wouldn’t grab your 72 hour kit and go camp out at the park! Or, in an earthquake, you’d likely still stay at (or near) your home once it was over and have access to all the food in your home, not just your kit (well, at least anything that isn’t destroyed).
So, in reality, the only time you’d actually use your kit is if you had to quickly evacuate, and the evacuation radius was wide enough that you couldn’t quickly get to a family/friend’s home. This means, you’d likely be expending a lot of energy and would need calories. I looked at many other 72 hour food kit lists online, and most offered only 600-1000 calories a day. Hunger makes both my kids and me (and maybe you, I’m guessing?) terribly grumpy! In my opinion, a large scale disaster is not the time to cut your calorie consumption by half or more.
I set a goal to get calorie consumption at 1500 calories a day or more while including at least some nutrient dense foods. I also ended up beating this goal!
3. I wanted all the food for this 72 hour kit to be “non-cook” type items.
I wanted this for a few reasons.
First, many items that need to be cooked (canned soups, stews, chilis, etc.) are heavy, and would add significant weight to your packs. In addition, “just add water and cook” type meals require extra water…and water is HEAVY! Ideally, since you may have to carry them, your packs should be as light as possible.
Second, if you truly are evacuating on foot, simple will be best. I know that even in my nice home when I have a bad day, I prefer making a simple meal to a complicated one. During an evacuation, it will be much easier to pull out a granola bar, open it and give it to my child than to pull out the stove, the fuel, light it, then the can opener, open the can, wait for it to cook, then dig through my pack to find bowls, cups, spoons, etc.
Third, many families do not already have a small portable stove, light weight mess kit, etc. This would be an added expense to them and may again deter them from getting their kits altogether.
I completely met this goal! None of the food requires cooking!
4. I wanted foods for this 72 hour kit that tasted good!
Again, multiple reasons for this.
First, and most obviously, you are more likely to eat food that tastes good. This is especially true of children. As adults, if we know we need to eat, we are likely to eat most anything even if it doesn’t taste great.
But children are different. They may not understand how serious the situation is and will react just like they would at the regular dinner table. They will whine and complain if they don’t like something and end up not eating much. That may not regularly be a huge issue when tomorrow morning they will wake up and have pancakes, but in a true survival situation, they need to eat all they can.
Second, you are more likely to rotate food you like! When we rotate the food in our 72 hour kits, we have a PARTY! It is fun! We get out all that yummy food (stuff we don’t usually eat otherwise) and have FUN. Then, we re-stock it with more yummy food. But if the food in our kits is gross, we won’t likely rotate it. Then, it might not be useable when we need it.
This was tricky because everyone has different tastes. Also, not everything that tastes good and is high in calories is extremely nutritious! Some things in my kit are things that I might not want my kids eating every day (sugary, salty, processed, etc), but it is stuff they really enjoy. Other things are relatively nutrient dense. I figured this would work for most families without serious allergies in a survival situation.
2. The Results & Details
1503 Calories per Day and $1.32 per Meal!
I created a 1503 calorie a day non-cook food kit for $11.86! That is just $1.32 a meal! Seriously! I was so proud of myself I had to call my mom to brag. It took hours to figure it all out, but I really think it is a great kit!
In addition, if you can afford a few more dollars, you can get that kit up to over 2200 calories per day for $16.29. That is still under $2 a meal at $1.81!
The Three Day Menu:
- Breakfast: Oatmeal to Go Bar, Annie’s Bunnies, yogurt raisins
- Lunch: peanut butter and animal crackers, fruit leather
- Dinner: 4 Slim Jims, 2 chewy granola bars, Fig Newtons
- Breakfast: soft baked breakfast bar, Annie’s Bunnies, Craisins
- Lunch: trail mix, Annie’s Bunnies, Fig Newtons
- Dinner: peanut butter and animal crackers, crunchy granola bar, yogurt raisins
- Breakfast: breakfast cookie, animal crackers , applesauce
- Lunch: tuna & crackers, Goldfish, fruit snacks
- Dinner: bag of peanuts, animal crackers, yogurt raisins
If you are like me and want a few more calories/snacks, you can add the following. You may only want to add some to your adult kits and keep the kids kits smaller, or you may add the candy to the kids, but not the adults, etc., etc.:
- Additional bag of nuts per day: Adds 170 calories per day, $0.96 additional cost per kit
- Three additional Slim Jims per day: Adds 130 calories per day, $0.96 additional cost per kit
- Six pieces chewy candy per day: Adds 130 calories per day, $0.37 additional cost per kit
- One pantry can Peach Drink for three people: Adds 306 calories per day, and LOTS of vitamins. Enough for one cup peach drink at each meal per person. $2.66 additional cost per kit.
So, for my family of six, I would purchase the basic $11.86 kit for everyone, add the nuts and candy for everyone and two pantry cans Peach Drink. My total cost would be $100.86 or $16.81 per kit ($1.87 per meal). Total calories per day per person would be 2236 per day!
Where to Buy/Prices
Note: these prices were accurate in the fall of 2013. Current pricing may be different. Also, I try to update links in this post 2-3 times per year, but some may have changed. Use this as a general guideline.
Amazon (Using Amazon Prime for Free Shipping):
Note: Prices on Amazon change frequently
- Quaker Breakfast Cookie 36 Pkg: $14.77
- Quaker Oatmeal to Go 36 Pkg: $16.72 (this product is no longer available from Quaker – so SAD, I’ve linked to granola bars instead, but they are not quite as high in calories)
- Animal crackers 36 Pkg: $14.95
- Kar’s Trail Mix 72 Pkg: $32.42
- Fig Newtons 48 Pkg: $27.96
- Slim Jims 100 Pkg: $24.36
- Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars 48 Pkg: $21.89
- Planter’s Peanuts 48 Pkg: $14.99
Local Walmart (or Online with Free Shipping if Spending $55+):
- Yogurt raisins 6 Pkg: $2.98
- Craisins 6 Pkg: $2.98
- Quaker Soft Baked Breakfast Bars 6 Pkg: $2.18
- Jif Peanut Butter To Go 8 Pkg: $2.47
- StarKist Tuna Lunch to Go: $1.41 each
- Peach Drink Pantry Can: $7.99
- Annie’s Bunnies 36 Pkg: $8.65
- GoGo Squeeze Applesauce 20 Pkg: $6.99
- Fruit leather 48 Pkg: $10.59
- Goldfish crackers 24 Pkg: $7.99
- Welch’s Fruit Snacks 80 Pkg: $7.99
- Chewy Granola Bars 60 Pkg: $8.99 (Quaker brand currently on sale for this price (regularly $10.99); but Costco brand regularly $8.79 for 60)
- Hi-Chew Candies 104 Pkg: $6.39
A Few Important Notes
- Obviously, the prices in your area may vary a bit, or you may end up reading this post months or years after I post it. But, unless there has been some sort of HUGE inflation since I posted this, I believe you can easily get this 72 hr food kit for under $2/meal.
- Part of the reason I was able to get these prices was because we were buying in bulk. I went to Costco and shopped online in bulk. So, if you are to do this, it will be best to get a large group of people together! You could get your church group together or a few families in your neighborhood. You can even all rotate at the same time each year and buy your re-supplies together too!
- Also, because things are packaged in different sizes, you will NEVER be able to buy just exactly what you need for “x” number of kits. You will always have a little extra of something. You can roll that extra cost into the cost of the kits or whoever is in charge can front the extra cost and keep the extra food. (That is what I will be doing.)
I have two downloads for you:
1. Printable Daily Menu Labels
Print, cut, and put on each day’s bag so you know what to eat when. Print by clicking HERE or on the image!
2. Informational Handout
Give this handout to anyone you’d like to invite to join your group. It should help them understand what it is you are trying to do and why you are building the kits this way! Download by clicking HERE or on the image!
Spread the Word
This was a lot of work to put together! Over the last three years, I’ve received many requests from group leaders (mostly LDS Relief Society leaders) for such a post. So, if you know a leader of a group who could benefit from this, send it to them! Share it on Facebook or pin it to Pinterest (you can use the pink buttons below).
It will save them a LOT of time (and hopefully money) while helping them create truly valuable kits for their families! If you make these, please tell me about your experience in the comments. Thanks!