Thursday, October 22, 2009

Review: Adequate Nutrition During An Emergency

While perusing the Ensign this week, a monthly magazine published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I came across this article written by a nutritionist on having adequate nutrition during an emergency.

I was immediately interested because the food in my 72 hour kits is mostly ramen noodles, peanut butter and saltine crackers. For review purposes, I am copying and pasting the article here, but please remember that the actual article was published in the October issue of the Ensign. My notes are in red.

Adequate Nutrition during an Emergency

Miriam Blackham Een, Nevada, USA

Miriam Blackham Een, “Adequate Nutrition during an Emergency,” Ensign, Oct. 2009, 70–71

If you have a three-day emergency supplies kit, does it contain nutrient-dense foods? During perilous times, your body would especially need adequate nutrition. As a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition, I have developed a simple, healthy emergency meal plan for our family. The items should be rotated regularly for best results.

My minimum calorie goal for the three daily meals is 1,200 to 1,500, with 60 to 72 grams of protein and approximately 40 grams of fat, a combination that enhances satiety. The ingredients for each meal plan are simple:

I had never given much thought to nutrient dense foods in my 72 hour kit, I’ve always been more concerned with just having food, and cheap food to boot. But think, during a disaster you could be exerting yourself physically and making sure your body can cope with these exertions is important. Your body needs protein to rebuild its muscles after exercise. Just something to think about.

Meal replacements and supplements. Include shelf-stable protein drinks, instant powdered breakfast drinks, powdered milk, and energy bars. You may want to use more than one type. Each should provide 250 calories or more. Look carefully at the labels; snack or cereal bars are not as high in calories and protein.

The main reason I like the idea of protein drinks is for space and weight. Think how much lighter my pack would be if it just consisted of powdered mixes. Its good to know that maybe the cereal bars aren’t what we are looking for. You aren’t necessarily looking at calories as much as you are protein content. The higher the grams of protein the better for the bar. While my kids eat clif bars like crazy, I don’t know how well they would like protein drinks. Although they love smoothies, so maybe I could focus on getting fruit flavored varieties and mixing the water with powdered milk first and THEN the protein powder just to make it more palatable for them. The older they get though, the less taste will be an issue. And with all children, when they get hungry, they will eat.

Dried fruit. Raisins and other dried fruits are good.

Raisins are easy and my kids love them. I would love to find dried fruits in little snack size packages—not the boxes, but in little pouches. Does anyone know where to find those?

Peanut butter. This is a great shelf-stable source of protein. If you have peanut allergies, you could substitute it with another nut butter or small bag of nuts. Or find other shelf-stable protein foods.

Now, peanut butter I’ve got. I buy them in the small 18oz sizes and we have one in each pack, although that might be overkill. My kids eat PB by the spoonful, so I’m not worried about that being an issue.

Crackers. Include soda crackers or other crackers, preferably whole grain. You could also include granola if you won’t be using peanut butter to spread on crackers.

We also have saltine crackers in our packs. These crackers are easy to rotate because we eat them by the buckets when we are sick.

Drinking water. Ideally you should have about two quarts or almost two liters of water for each person to consume each day. Store what you can comfortably carry in your emergency bag, and add a portable water purifier so you can use available water sources.

So for one person you would want to have 6 quarts or 6 liters for the whole 72 hour kit. That’s a lot to carry. Mountain Man was happy to hear her suggestion of water purifying sources. We live by a major river and several lakes, and he doesn’t understand why I want him to carry 16 liters of water around in a pack. So I will be repacking our packs with Een’s suggestion of enough water we can comfortably carry and then a purifying system. Mountain Man has a system for backpacking but we generally keep that with our camping gear and it would be nice to have one JUST for our 72 hour kits, so if we had to really run, we could grab our kits and not worry about rifling through our camping gear to find the purifier.

I think I’ll look into the different types of purifiers and do a review post on them. I don’t know much about them, but I'd like to find which one would work for our family.

Utensils. Include one cup with a lid (to be used as a shaker for mixing powdered meal replacements) and a butter knife.

So this is something else I need to look for. Shaker cups with lids for the protein drinks—one for each person. Cuts down on the amount of utensils by using this meal plan too.

A sample meal plan for one person for three days would include nine meal replacements plus 1½ cups or a 12-ounce bag of dried fruit, peanut butter to provide at least six two-tablespoon servings, and about 40 saltine crackers or another cracker equivalent.

I love that Een laid out a meal plan for one person. So for four people (my family) I would need 36 meal replacements, plus 6 cups of dried fruit or 48 oz, 48 Tablespoons or 3 cups of PB (that doesn’t seem right? maybe my tablespoons are larger than others) and 160 crackers. Or one package of saltines/per person.

Calculate the food amounts needed for your family and round to the nearest convenient product size that is commercially available, taking care not to round down too much.

These emergency kits are easy to assemble with readily available items. The meal replacements are nutrient dense and fortified with vitamins and minerals so you can reach or approach nutritional adequacy and meet special dietary needs. They don’t need to be heated, and you can easily store everything in a moderate-size duffle bag or backpack. Best of all is the peace of mind in knowing you’ve prepared for your nutritional needs should an emergency evacuation ever occur.

I think I’m going to redo my 72 hour kit. I’ll have to do it slowly because protein drinks and bars aren’t cheap---but I’m excited to have this goal because I think it will be a space saver, and I’ll know that we’re getting the right nutrition. Not to mention this eliminates the need to have a stove or something to cook with.

What are your thoughts about 72 hour kit nutrition?


Anonymous said...

We have cheese-and-cracker packs, raisins, small cans of fruit, small cans of beans, some of those tuna fish-with-crackers packages, fruit snacks, peanuts, and clif bars in our 72-hour packs. The cans are individual size and all have pull-tabs so you don't need a can opener.

Anonymous said...

I would love to hear more about water purification. I've been skeptical because it seems like water could become really contaminated (beyond help) in an emergency. Also, would they work with frozen water? (winter emergencies with lots of snow and ice) I guess we could melt it and then purify it....

deafnsmart said...

What is the powdered milk used for?

Mary said...

I loved this article and LOVED your comments! Just last week I used this article to plan food for our 72 hour kits based on calorie, fat and protein amounts, rather than cheap food like Raman (I totally relate to you!). It made me feel so much better to know that nutritionally, we would do great, and that my kids would feel satisfied. To affordably do it, I just bought the CostCo packs of raisins and craisins, the snack sizes were just too costly. Someday it would be nice to have everyone carry their own, but for now we're just spreading out the different items by weight. I think it's better to have something than nothing!

Shayleen Lunt said...

I also found this article very informative when I read it last week. I just finished repacking our 72 hours kits a few weeks ago (Conference weekend) and so I'm going to wait until April to adapt this peanut butter emergency lifestyle ;)

SarahJane said...

I also would like to warn you about water being contaminated. Even though you have a river and lake nearby, they could be contaiminated by sewage, diesel or gasoline and other run-off in an emergency.

That said, however, I live next to a major mountain stream, less than a 1/2 mile from its source (in a rain forest, no less) so we have water filters and do not keep two weeks worth of water on hand.

One of our filters is a day hiker filter that is super light - Katadyn Hiker. We were able to find this $75 filter at a garage sale for $2! The other is a heavy duty, high output filter - Katadyn Pocket - that my husband used for boy scouts.

For snow - if it's fresh snow, there's usually no need to purify it. You will want to purify ice or crusty snow.

We just switched from crackers and cookies to dehydrated foods in our food storage. The initial cost is high, but I won't have to rotate for 5 - 7 years, so it's definitely worth it to me. We also have some ready to eat beef jerky, trail mix and raisens stashed in the tote.

Jody M said...

I've been eyeing the Amazon grocery subscription program lately, and noticed that Sahale fruit/nut snacks are available this way. I love love the Valdosta pecans (and I don't normally like pecans!).

You can set them for 6-month delivery, free shipping, 15% off, and that makes their 12-pack of 2oz snack bags about $1.70/bag.

For me, that's an ok price because I know I don't like nuts much, but I love these and I will eat them.

If I set them for 6-month delivery, I'll just put the new pack in the emergency kit, get the old one out, and I'll have snacks for work!

Michelle said...

Welches has some small fruit snacks you can get at the regular grocery store near the fruit roll ups and such, however, I would be more inclined to buy a big bag and divy it up into smaller portions for cost savings.
For the shaker cup with lid, wouldn't it work just as well to put one bottle of vitamin water or similar in each pack and then after drinking the contents, you have a 12 ounce shaker bottle with lid to use to mix your other drinks? That way it carries some of your liquid, doesnt take additional space, and the bottle is a multi-tasker! Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE YOUR BLOGS! My comment is 3 ideas - first - look at Walmart and GNC for protein bars and protein powder. You are right about using water and powdered milk then adding the protein powder. My doctor told me to drink Carnation instant breakfast and add protein powder as needed. (Since I am diabetic - I add more than the normal person would.) Second Tupperware used to sell cups with tight fitting lids. They come in different colors and sizes so each family member could have the size appropriate for them and their own favorite color. Thirdly - when I finished Temple Work yesterday I went across to the Beehive Supply Store (for those of you who don't know they sell LDS reading materials, and Temple Clothing) - anyway they had filter water bottles for sale - they were not costly - and the label read that they would filter (I think) 100 glasses of water without filter replacement. I hope this helps someone.
Lastly - I love saltine crackers - but how do you pack them so they don't break into a million little pieces?

The Millers said...

Craisins come in serving size baggies. I love them & so do our kids. www.lds.org has water filtration bottles available. They are very reasonable. I ordered them for my family and feel better about my children being able to carry their own packs with what they need. Don't forget to include foods that your family likes to eat. You will want comforting foods in an emergency. Sustaining life is the main purpose, but if you include some of your favorites it will be easier to endure the emergency.

Stephanie in AR said...

Do you have a friend with a Food Saver system? (or similiar) Couldn't you just seal up small portions for your packs, then the amounts could be adjusted according to needs. Small children have smaller amounts but perhaps more packages while adults have larger amounts.

Marilee Matheson said...

LOVE the protein shake idea. Just make sure you get one designed for sustained energy so you don't end up with an energy crash and hunger pangs an hour later. They’re more expensive, but they beat what’s at the grocery store hands down. Also, pick up a few blender bottles. They come with a wire ball that works as a whisk when you shake the bottle. Nothing worse than little clumps of powder in your shake.

Jarod and Tanya Rollins said...

Trail mix is a great way to get protein and is light! Its got the dried fruits and nuts all in one-you can even make your own with whatever nuts and things you like. As for water purification-we put about 4-5 regular sized water bottles (enough for adding to our food and such) in each pack and than we have a water bottle with a built in filter. My mother-in-law got it at REI and it is suppose to filter giardia and all other kinds of contaminates and can be used more than 200 times before you have to replace the filter. Not sure how much it cost since she was the one who bought it, but we have just one that we can all share after our water runs out that we can carry. I am interested in trying the protein shake idea. I love carnation instant breakfast-they come in easy to store packs, taste great, and have a lot of protein, but I usually mix it with milk and never thought about putting powdered milk in the packs too! What a great idea-now I can add those mixes to my meal plan for our kits! I also love the idea of the tiny jars of peanut butter-I eat it by the spoonful too!

Jarod and Tanya Rollins said...
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Jarod and Tanya Rollins said...

One other thought on water purification. My brother-in-law suggested coffee filters as a great things to keep in your food storage and 72 hour kits. (most LDS people would not have this or even think about it). But a coffee filter is a great way to get water-you can put mud in a coffee filter and end up with good water at the end-of course you will still need to purify it after that before you can drink it-but its just one more way to get fresh water if there isn't a lot of available sources. Plus who wants to drink brown water-even if its been purified-I would rather have "clean" looking water and than purify it!

Shane and Brandi said...

I love all these ideas! Thanks for the post!

Anonymous said...

For our water purification, we went ahead and purchased the water bottles for the distribution center. You have two options, one that has 1 filter, or one that has two filters (so you have a replacement). They are by far the cheapest I have found, and each filter does up to 100 gallons! Beware, they stock out quickly! So place your order first, before you show all your friends!

Aria said...

My mother came across this post a while ago, she wrote the original article. I can't tell you how pleased she was to be able to see feedback on it. Thank you for sharing and making this available, I know it wasn't intended for her, but it brightened her day. We found water purification bottles at REI. I really like the protein powder idea. It's more practical than our old slim-fast shakes. That's what made up most of our food storage, Slim-Fast samples. Ha! Thanks again.

Aria said...
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Rachel said...
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Rachel said...

Thank you for sharing this! I'm trying to get our emergency packs put together and organized, and this post is a big help.

And your math on the PB is right. It seems like 1 Tbsp of PB should be more than a 1/2 oz., but maybe that's because it's such a favorite food. Plus, there's no law that says you can't have more than the minimum amount, right?