How To Ration Food In Emergency?

How To Ration Food In Emergency?

We are all very familiar with the growing uncertainty that this world offers.

Many of us have faced problems with food availability during the global pandemic. As the food is the most vital part of our living, storing and rationing it for the future is always a good idea.

Several occasions might need food rationing like a weather emergency, natural disaster, local food shortage, war, family emergency, etc. A prepared human will face fewer difficulties in uncertain times.

Even if things are fine now, it is always good to have some basic food rationing knowledge.

Food rationing is a process in which you ration the available food to you, calculate the available food by dividing it among all the family members, and the number of days you will need to provide for them.

Few people make the naïve mistake of rationing the food supply after the food is near its depletion days. You should always calculate and ration the food as soon as you bring the groceries.

Grocery Buying Tips & Tricks

Grocery Buying

When you buy groceries for rationing, it is essential that you quit your regular grocery list and habits.

You cannot buy food that is expensive and easily perishable. Try to shop in bulk as the rates will reduce, and you can save up money.

Bulk buying is a perfect option for grains, oats, and pulses. Take out your heavy seal air-tight containers to store the food, as this will increase your food’s shelf life.

Make sure to keep them in a cool and dry place, away from pests. Consider allergies of your family members while buying food. Get rid of desserts and gourmet food.

Rationing Process

Categorizing the food

Take out a paper and start categorizing the food into the following groups:

  • Canned, cured, dried goods
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Dairy products
  • Grains and pasta
  • Spices and additional supplies
  • Meats and fish
  • Miscellaneous

After you have categorized, start listing the number of jars, bags of the products you have in each category. Make it a point to finish perishable goods like milk, vegetables first.

If you want to eat vegetables and fruits for an extended period, try freeze-drying them. Buy milk powder instead of regular milk as it will serve you for a long time.

Refer to this sheet every day to see how much stock is remaining. Maintaining this list will come in handy when you get a chance to top up your groceries.

You can check the list and buy items that you are running low without wasting time and energy.

The number of people you are rationing for

Numbering is the next step that you have to follow diligently. Rationing becomes easy if it is for one person. When the number increases, you have to categorize them according to their importance.

Each person eats differently, so that distribution can get tricky. Follow the guide below for the approximate minimum calories a person can eat to sustain.

Don’t forget to add your pets to this list. Pets need to eat too. If the situation worsens, you can think of letting them go.

Amount of food each individual will consume

Amount of Food

The amount of food that a family member eats changes according to their body, height, weight, sex, etc. but below is a chart that states the approximate minimum calories each person can eat.

  • Male adult:  1700
  • Female adult:  1328
  • Male elderly:  1475
  • Female elderly:  1100
  • Male teenage:  1655
  • Female teenage:  1486
  • Baby/Toddler:  500-1000

These are the minimum calories, and you should increase the calorie quota according to that person’s needs. A pregnant woman needs more food, so she should eat for two. Accordingly, set her food rationing.

If you are situated somewhere that requires heavy manual labor like wood cutting for fire or cattle farming, consider increasing working people’s quota.

Chances are people who sit at home might not need more calories, so try to transfer their calories to people who are doing manual labor work.

After counting individual calories, try counting calories that each can or bowl will serve you. It is essential to calculate the calorie intake of each person. Suppose any food item doesn’t have a calorie chart mentioned.

You can Google per serving and maintain a record of everyday foods. This process will help you in the longer run. Remember that calorie intake isn’t the only important thing.

A balanced diet is necessary too. Try including all food groups in your meal. Frozen vegetables and fruits come in handy for this reason.

Time and meals

After determining the amount of food, you already have and the number of people you need to feed, you can calculate how long your food storage quota will last.

Take into account how much each meal will reduce the ration supply. You can then calculate it to find out the number of days you can eat.

Accordingly, make some deductions and try to stretch your allocation. It is ideal to assign food rationing tasks to a single person to maintain consistency.

If your food storage is finishing sooner than what you have calculated, try asking people to eat less and recalculate the quota. Little food is better than no food. Keeping track might seem tedious initially, but it will help you in the longer run.

Food You Can Preserve Up To Years

Rice Select White Rice

White rice

It will stay fresh as long as it is packed well and stored in a cool and dry place.

You can even store brown rice, but brown rice’s shelf life is a little less than regular white rice. White rice also cooks fast; thus, you will save gas.


A good quality unadulterated honey bottle will never go bad. Ensure that you are not buying commercial honey packs as they might have added preservatives and chemicals.

If you have access to a local farmers’ market, try buying from there. Always purchase honey in glass bottles; if it is in a plastic bottle, consider transferring it to a glass jar. Chemicals and toxins in plastic seep into honey after few years.


Everyone loves a fresh, refreshing cup of tea. You might be sacrificing all your eating habits and choices, but drinking tea can stay with you even during food rationing.

Dried tea leaves can remain fresh and edible for years. Never store it in a wet or damp area, that will make your tea leaves go bad.

Powdered milk

If you have no means of getting fresh milk, powdered milk will be your best friend. Powdered milk doesn’t go bad for 4 to 5 years when it is packed. If it’s open, it will stay for 3 to 4 months.


Oats might not seem the tastiest option, but they are super nutritious and last more than 30 years. They are perfect for breakfast or casserole dinners. Add spices or ingredients accordingly to make them taste good.

Cacao powder and dark chocolate

Cacao powder that is pure and original can stay with you for years. It is perfect for baking and making hot chocolates for special occasions.

Dark chocolate bars won’t remain edible for that long, but they can easily stay in good condition for more than two years.

Consider Growing Food


Even if you have a little or ample space in your yard or near your house, try to utilize it by planting vegetables and fruits. A personal vegetable garden will give your family the required nutrients, and you can eat fresh food every day.

If you stay in such conditions for more extended periods, try composting.

Whatever scraps are left, put them in a ventilated bin along with worms, and in few months, you can use this compost as a natural fertilizer for your garden.

Research foods that don’t require much water if you have a water shortage problem. Try to be as strict and frugal as possible in such problematic situations.

Things Worth Considering

  • Avoid consuming salty foods when your water storage is limited or low. Sodium present in the food will make you thirsty. This tip saves a lot of water during the water shortage crisis.
  • Apart from food, keep all the other essentials with you. A battery-operated torch should come first. Don’t forget to invest in a first aid kit and female hygiene products.
  • Conserve energy as much as you can. If you are eating minimum calories, try to restrict yourself from unnecessary extra strenuous activities. You won’t feel tired and will save food for people who might be doing additional activities.

Ready-Made Food Options To Consider

If you are a single person or want to include ready-made meals you can use for years, keep reading. These meals are readily available and will save you time. The pack mentions each total serving and calories on the back.

Freeze-dried meals

Freeze-dried meals are devoid of moisture and water content as they evaporate to make these meals. They are very light in weight. You have to add hot water to it, and they will get back to their normal consistency and flavor.

MRE packs


MRE is the short form of meals ready to eat. Military personnel and camping enthusiasts eat these kinds of meals. They come in reasonable portions and can have variety like self-heating meals and others.


That’s it!

It was a detailed guide on understanding food rationing and preparing one. If you are ready, start prepping so that you can take care of your family and yourself during uncertain times.


Greg - Prepping Insider

Hey, I'm a prepping enthusiast. Prepping for me is simply something of a passion. I have personally lived in many different rural properties that have given me a wealth of knoweldge and experience in practically living out survival and preparation situations. It’s not about getting the latest survival gadgets or buckets of food as its more of a lifestyle.

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