What Makes an 'Emergency Ration' & Alternatives?


September 10, 2003, 06:03 PM
I have a couple bricks of those 3600 calorie survival ration packages, they say 1200 calories per day for three days. That makes three 400 calorie bars per meal.

An energy bar (eg Powerbar) is about 250 calories. Can two of those be a substitute for a 'meal'? What makes a 'meal' besides just calorie count?

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September 10, 2003, 06:19 PM
..how about a liter of George Dickle ??? :D

Jeff White
September 10, 2003, 08:27 PM
I think this would be more appropriate in Firearms Accessories.


September 10, 2003, 09:37 PM
I'm no nutritionalist but I would think your 400-500 calorie meal should include roughly:
Carbohydrates: 50 grams
Protein: 25 grams
Fat (mostly unsaturated if possible): 10 grams. Fat makes your food digest slower so it can keep you from feeling hungry longer. Maybe a little extra fat would be good.

To avoid the bars that get a lot of their calories from sugar look at the ingredients. Some will have some sort of food product like a grain as the first ingredient versus some having some form of sugar listed first. Go for the food source.

Check out some of the "meal replacement" bars like Slim Fast and Ensure, these might be better suited. The power bars tend to be high in Carbs or high in Protein rather than balanced. Only thing is the shelf life on these is probably a year as opposed to the 5 of the survival brick. They probably taste better though.

That's my $.02 :)

September 10, 2003, 11:07 PM
they say 1200 calories per day for three days. Unless you have the metabolism of a sloth, that caloric intake is going to limit your activity.


September 11, 2003, 02:17 AM
For a smaller female, 1200 calories would suffice. For everyone else, male and female, it is not enough, unless this survival situation only involves sitting in a bunker and doing squat all day.

My caloric intake for my size (5'10", 205 lbs) is 2050 calories per day base. That means that any physical activity I perform adds calories to the total. Running for twelve minutes burns 250 calories. Walking for one hour at a medium pace burns 400. Strenuous hiking for one hour burns 700. In a survival situation, where you might be walking around for hours, you could easily double if not triple your caloric output.

One pound of fat, btw, is 3500 calories. After about three days of going way over your base total, you will start to lose weight. Fast.

September 11, 2003, 02:37 AM
For a smaller female,

How about for a smaller male? :uhoh:

September 11, 2003, 03:16 AM
Here (http://www.caloriesperhour.com/index_burn.html) is a calculator that can tell you your own calorie output.

To determine your base caloric output, that is to say the amount of calories you'd burn if you did nothing all day, enter your age, sex, and weight.

Then choose "sleeping" from the activities list. Enter the number of hours you sleep, on average. Next choose "sitting - watching TV" from the activities list, and enter the remaining hours in the day. The total calories from both activities will be your base caloric output. Eat less than that, and you will start to lose weight. Eat more than that, and you will start to gain weight. At least, that's the theory.

There's even "Shooting - Range" on the activities list. :)

September 11, 2003, 10:44 AM
depending on your current body fat and how long you panned on being "OUT", you could survive on beef jerky and dried apples if you have a source of clean water. i once knew a fellow who kept beef jerky in his M16's buttstock. his idea was that everone else had a cleaning kit but who had beef jerky?

September 11, 2003, 12:10 PM
Neat calculator...so if I make sure I eat enough calories then I'm good to go? Or is there more to the equation?

September 11, 2003, 01:09 PM
Over the long term, I you might want to think about the vitamin situation. I know Power Bars don't have a lot of vitamins. Not sure about the survival rations. Lack of certain vitamins will affect you, long term.


September 11, 2003, 02:37 PM

It truly pains me to say this, as I know first hand how bad it is to depend on them for a primary food source, but you might want to think about MRE's.

The newer ones are actually getting pretty decent in the variety and taste departments compared to the original ones. The .gov has spent untold millions of dollars making sure that MRE's have sufficient calories and nutrients for a very active person's needs. Also, they have quite a long shelf life, require no refrigeration, no preperation (although heating with the included heater makes them more palatable), and are readily transportable. One of the more popular techniques is to 'rat-f$$$' them, throwing away the parts you don't like, while keeping the parts you do like. The entrees easily fit into a butt pack or the medium sized pocket of say, a Camelback Motherlode for example.


September 11, 2003, 02:53 PM
Ever tried making pemmican?

The binder is honey and it lasts a long long time, since honey is bacteria free. Do a web search. You basicly grind nuts/berries/grain and beef or deer jerky to sawdust and bind it all with honey.. worked for the indians for hundreds of years.

As far as power bars go. Lose 'em. Most high calorie energy bars are just suger, not carbs. Carbohydrates are more complex foods and sustain you longer. A good alternative to a power bar is a meal bar, like a Carnation breakfast bar. While the calorie count is a little lower, the fat/carb/protein mix is more balanced, and will keep your tummy from rumbling.

Now if you are talking some food for a couple of days IF needed (like in a day pack) you can get as exotic as you feel like carrying. In my survival kit/hunting pack I've usually got a big bag of gorp ( a mix of cheerios/raisins/peanuts and m&m's) a few breakfast bars and some beef jerky. The intent is NOT to snack on this stuff as you go though your day (though this often happens with trail mix) but to keep it in case you need it. A lightwieght high calorie MRE might fit the bill if you are willing to spend the $. You can survive on 1200 a day, but you'll wish you had 3000 when its cold, or you are doing strenuous exercise.

More important than any of that is water. A camelback is good, as it doesn't slosh, but a filtration system AND a canteen of some sort is better. Pumps/straws/iodine/bleach.. whatever system you choose, you should have it with you.

Good thing about purification tablets they take up little room.. bad thing they make water taste awful and can still give you the runs, and you must remember to 'dribble" the caps of the canteens, they also take a while to work.

September 11, 2003, 02:54 PM
As Wundergore said, there is more to the equation than simply calories. In a survival situation you can feed your body crap 24/7 and get away with it, but before too long you'll start to become deficient. Sailors on long journeys were plagued with the Scurvy, a simple lack of vitamin C but quite devastating.

Eating an inordinate amount of carbs or saturated fats will offset weight loss to some extent, although I can't quantify this as I'm no expert. Some say that almost any carb intake is bad, such as the Atkins diet. My dad lost 40 pounds in 6 months on the Atkins diet, but he's over 50 and not very active. If you're running around alot of carbs are a good thing, to be sure, but if you're sedentary they will be converted to flab.

Some claim the Atkins diet is too much of a shock to the system and since more meat is consumed, one is at higher risk for heart disease. I am dubious of this claim, but for the simple purpose of calorie counting I avoid fatty foods.

As you might have guessed, the best solution IMO is a combination of things. I diversify my food intake (yes, my diet is PC) and eat a combination of carbs, protein and fats. Fats are extremely high in calories so if you're trying to stay under a daily limit, you'll have to avoid them. Two spoonfuls of peanut butter has as many calories as three apples, five carrots, or three slices of bread. The amount of salad dressing we usually use can triple the number of calories of the salad!

I do think that any survival kit should include a pack of multivitamins. The food itself should be extremely high in carbs, moderate in fat, and high in protein (10-15 grams a day).

September 11, 2003, 03:00 PM
"I have a couple bricks of those 3600 calorie survival ration packages, they say 1200 calories per day for three days. That makes three 400 calorie bars per meal."

These are meant to be true EMERGENCY rations, not meals in themselves. I have some also (they actually taste fairly good). They are the type of rations you keep in an emergency kit so that you have something with you in the event you get caught flat-footed and without your BOB. For example the last power outage in NYC and other eastern areas. If you absolutely could not get out of the city and had access to nothing else, you would at least have some food and water to keep you going for a few days.

September 11, 2003, 03:09 PM
Short term needs are very different from long term survival needs. Your best bet is to just get some MREs and don't worry about it. You should know by expereince that you can survive on those for quite a while!

The twenty-four different varieties of meals can be seen in the menu table. Components are selected to complement each entrée as well as provide necessary nutrition. The components vary among menus and include both Mexican and white rice, fruits, bakery items, crackers, spreads, beverages, snacks, candy, hot sauce, and chow mein noodles for the pork chow mein entrée. The fruits may be applesauce, pears, peaches, pineapple, or strawberry. The bakery items include a fudge brownie, cookies, fruit bars, a toaster pastry, and pound cake in flavors of lemon, vanilla, orange, pineapple, and chocolate mint. Each meal also contains an accessory packet. The contents of one MRE meal bag provides an average of 1250 kilocalories (13 % protein, 36 % fat, and 51 % carbohydrates). It also provides 1/3 of the Military Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamins and minerals determined essential by the Surgeon General of the United States.

Information From...

Why look anywhere else? :D With the MRE you can tailor your indivdual caloric intake and save whatever you don't immediately consume. There is also enough variety to keep you somewhat satisfied. I've been on several restricted diets trying to get into shape and I can tell you that they are no fun!

Oh..stay away from beef jerky and too many fruits on an "Emergency " short term ration. Beef jerky is great tasting, but it is also has an extremely high salt content. This would make you use up even more of a limited water supply. You want a relatively low residue diet for a survival ration and certain fruits tend to compound a certain problem..that being having to take a dump. Things aren't going to be good if you have to take a poo poo break too often.

Good Shooting

September 11, 2003, 04:36 PM
Things aren't going to be good if you have to take a poo poo break too often.
Story of my life :o

I got 6 of those HeaterMeals to try...I gotta look at what's in 'em, I still haven't opened them yet. I think the MRE's are cheaper but I gotta get the dairy-free MRE's :o

September 11, 2003, 05:03 PM

If you're lactose intolerant, you may want to consider keeping a bottle of Lactaid or something similiar in your survival kit. You never know what you may have to eat in order to survive. Besides, the biggest problems with lactose intolerance are mostly gas and a need to go to the slit trench. In a true survival scenario, I doubt too many people will complain about some gas, and MRE's are infamous for binding a person up. That's why they include the Chiclets. The gum contains a slight laxative to help things go through, as well as helping keep your mouth moist and cleaning the crud out from between your teeth.


September 11, 2003, 07:17 PM
I'd supplement those almost-all-carb Powerbars with some beef jerky to round out your meals with protein and fat.

September 11, 2003, 07:44 PM
What's the shelf life of potato chips and double stuff Oreos? :p

Navy joe
September 11, 2003, 10:26 PM
I luv MRE's! Eat them by choice sometimes. Haevy though.

My 3 day ration is pretty darn simple. It's one of those two lb. 18" long pepperoni sticks. Lotta salt for water retention, some protein and a lotta fat. fat is the short term survival calorie. Protein and carbs use too much energy up in processing. One 3500 calorie pepperoni stick and a lot of water.

Long term I'm gonna find me a cow, man cannot live on mashed potatoes alone.

I find it interesting that people have actually starved to death in the wild with plenty of food. Two foods that can do it are freshwater fish and rabbit. Very lean and unless you are industrial you expend more energy catching and digesting the food than the food gives you.

September 12, 2003, 03:09 AM
Survival kit.....
Water, with knowledge to find water and means of purification of same.
Lactaid if applicable.

If going to be self dependant for any length of time...
Recommend NOT bypassing unwanted parts of the MREs, the whole kit works together to give a ballanced diet.

If you have no knowledge of the edibility of local stuff....don't do it. Some nasty looking things are good for you and some good lookin stuff can do you in. IE...some tasty lookin succulant buds taste like brussels sprouts but will give you a dehydrating, debilitating, deadly case of the three day runs.


September 12, 2003, 12:18 PM
Problem for me is it isn't that cheese gives me gas, it makes me throw up. I can't tell the difference in smell between cheese and a dead animal. :confused:

Milk makes me sleepy and gassy and kills my appetite but I won't die from it.

I'll check out the military MREs. Are the ones on the market junk gimmicks like the gas masks these places sell?

September 12, 2003, 02:24 PM
Don't worry Skunk, I have the same proble with ham slice MREs.

On a break from a fire mission back in the first Iraqi fiasco I decided to eat an MRE. As luck would have it it was the ham slice. Well I opened the MRE and thought..my god..this thing stinks!! Against my better judgement and because I was hungry I decided to choke down a few bites while surveying the scenery around me. Well I saw a boot sticking up out of a wady not far from me and yep..you guessed it..dead iraqi. And yep..I was downwind.

To this day I still can't choke the things down.:barf:

Good Shooting

September 12, 2003, 02:30 PM
If you check out MRE's, ask them what year they were made. The individual entrees and side dishes have a 4-digit code on them, and the first digit is the last number of the year. The next three are the Julian day of the year. For example, "1033" means it was made in 2001, on February 2nd. Also check out the shelf life chart: how long they last depends on the storage temperature. I seem to recall that at 120 degrees, they last a month. At 60 degrees or less, they may last 10 years. Try to get 2002 or 2003 dates, although 2001 isn't terrible--they just won't last as long.

If you buy the "full meals", you'll get the entree, side dish, and snacks all packaged in a heavy-duty plastic liner, and there won't be a four-digit code on it--you'd have to cut it open and look at individual dates on each item.

My favorite sources online for best prices and selection are Epicenter and Long Life Depot. You can also get good deals on ebay, but check the seller's history.

The MRE snacks are great to take for whitewater kayaking--I can have them in the pocket of my PFD (life vest) and get repeatedly knocked over, and roll back up, and those snacks don't get water in them (unlike Clif bars and other ones.)

September 13, 2003, 11:06 PM
Can't say enough good things about MRE's. I keep a case of them in the back of my pickup (tonneau-covered bed). I like them because you get a full, balanced meal w/o having to worry about spoilage or space. And the flameless heaters are great too--even though I find that the Texas summer sun heats them up w/o any help. And the cheese in them is more like Cheese Whiz than the real deal...

If space is vital, you can order the entrees separately from Cheaper Than Dirt. You can also get the full MRE packages & even the large ones to feed multiple persons (for those romantic dinners, you know...;) )

As for emergency rations, the bars are OK, but there are better options. I'd opt for trail mix, nuts, or dried, unsalted jerky (turkey jerky is great) rather than the manufactured stuff.

Keep the emergency rations for the direst emergencies, but keep the MRE's for the "ordinary" emergencies.... :D

Elmer Snerd
September 15, 2003, 01:57 PM
Just my $.02:

The lifeboat rations are intended to be a last resort. They are designed to need little water to digest(IOW, they are low in protein). IMHO, their main advantage is that they have a 5 year shelf life in temperatures up to 150 degrees F(like your trunk in summer).

MRE's are handy, but their shelf life is drastically reduced by heat.
The Government frowns on non-veteran civilian purchases of GI MREs.
Many "MREs" available to civlians are repackaged components, I don't know how this affects the shelf life.

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