The rats which have been causing problems got into our 72-hour kits. Grrr. They pretty much destroyed them, so we are starting over in many ways. Here's what we have or are working on getting.
Polar pure: We can use this to purify the larger amounts of water we will need to prepare our dehydrated food. It kills all living organisms, treats up to 2000 qts of water from one bottle (that's super affordable compared to other options), has an indefinite shelf life (so I don't have to rotate or replace it), it's super easy to use, and is supposed to have little taste. It doesn't filter out sediment.
All you do is fill the very small bottle with water, wait one hour, treat the water you are going to drink and wait 20 min.
Tip: dissolve a vitamin-c tablet in the water after the 20 minutes to make the water clear again, instead of iodine colored. It can be a magic trick for your kids. I've linked an example of vitamin-c here for reference, but really any cheap vitamin-c tablet will do. Any dose.
Life Straw: These can be used for individual drinking water. You just stick in the water and drink through the straw. Works great for everyone who can drink through a straw. If you have an infant or small child, you'd need to use the polar pure to clean their water.
Additional Water: I'm including a sealed bottle of water for each person to get us started. Plus, we are storing water in clean used soda bottles in case we shelter in our home. It's lots easier to access that then go find water. Don't use milk containers. They decompose and leave you with a wet mess!
FOODYou can calculate how many calories you need per person using this handy dandy chart at WebMd. http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/estimated-calorie-requirement It lists calorie needs by age starting at age two, sex, and activity level. But, I kept it simple and went with an average of 2000 cal per person per day. I considered several options.
MINIMALIST OPTION People have different opinions about food. My mother says she doesn't really care if she's hungry as long as she has the nutrients she needs. So she packs high energy, low weight, high calorie, but not very filling energy food like the S.O.S. Rations bars shown below. Personally, I have kids and I don't want to see them crying because they are hungry. Neither approach is wrong. Pick what works for you. The advantage to her approach is that the bars take little space in her pack, are comparatively light weight, require no prep, no heat, and no water (but they are dry, so you probably will want water to wash them down with.)
LOW COST OPTION You can easily put together 72 hours of food using top ramen, oatmeal packets, jars of peanut butter, and canned tuna. This is inexpensive and a little can be purchased at each grocery trip. Just make sure to rotate it every year (and keep it away from the rats.) I didn't want to go this route. It's what I've had and I'm ready for an upgrade. I don't want to have to rotate all the time. Plus, honestly, I don't like top ramen all that much. Not that I wouldn't eat it in a disaster. I've included a link for the picture, but honestly, I'd wait until it goes on sale at your local grocery store and buy there.
EASY OPTION I also considered a pre-made kit like the 72 Hour Emergency Kit by Legacy below. Its calorie amount is right and it has a good feedback on taste. Plus, it includes everything you need for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But, to feed seven of us, I'd need to purchase four kits which adds up. This is a great route to go, but you do need to read the fine print and do a little math when decided what kit to purchase. The kit I selected below has the right calorie count, but a lot of the kits don't. When you calculate the calories per serving, they'll work out to 1000 or so per day. That's not a problem as long as you are aware of it and plan your food accordingly.
MINIMALIST LOW COST EASY OPTION
CHOOSE YOUR OWN OPTION Finally, I decided to choose our own food. I choose number 10 cans because they have the longest shelf life (25 YEARS) and are relatively rat resistant. Plus, when feeding seven people, it's cost effective to buy a larger size. In addition, the cans be used to cook in, carry water, store things, etc.
But, everything I chose is available in smaller sizes as well (just click the link and select the smaller pouch.) The shelf life isn't as long (12 years) but still lasts many years. You can rotate it out an a camping trip. Here's what I chose.
MAC'N'CHEESE BEEF STEW RICE'N'CHKN
SPAGHETTI PRIMAVERA STROGANOFF
Frankly, I chose these flavors because they were ones my kids would eat that were on the lower end cost wise. But, there are some others that sound delicious, too: Chicken Teriyaki, Sweet and Sour Pork, Mexican Style Rice and Chicken. I chose Mountain House because everything I've ever tasted by them is pretty good, they've been around forever, and have a great reputation. I also added in one can of oatmeal from the LDS Church Cannery. We'll eat that for breakfast.
We are putting one can in each person's bag and think it won't be too heavy since they are dehydrated foods. If we are separated, one person will get tired of whatever she or he has, or will trade with other people, but will be nourished. If we are together, we'll open one can at a time and all eat it.
COOKING GEARThe food can be rehydrated with cold water, but it takes longer and will taste a lot better warm. If we are home, we have a gas stove that we can light with a match if the electricity is out. We also have a propane BBQ.
TIP: keep an extra propane tank in reserve. It's good for emergency storage and for when you are cooking and run low. In addition, we have a camp stove that runs off those little propane bottles. Finally, we could have a wood fire in our fire pit.
But, for our 72 hour kit, none of those are easily portable. After looking at the options, I decided to go with:
*6 Sterno cans: one in each of the oldest people's packs. These can be used and put out, then used again.
*1 Cute little Sterno Stove: Just the right size for a number 10 can. If we are separated, those who don't have the stove will have to make due using rocks or found objects.
*Some metal cups to eat out of: We had some already, but I needed a couple more. We can use these to heat the food, but I really plan to heat the food in the number 10 cans. If you are getting pouches, you will probably want to get a small mess kit that includes a small pot.
*Multi-function flatware: These are forks/knives/spoons. The knives aren't very sharp, but won't be used to cut anything that needs it. I love that they are in different colors. Each person knows which is his or hers. I like these well enough, that I plan to order some more for camping.
*7 P-38 Can Openers: I already had a couple but needed a few more so that I can duct tape one to each can in case we are separated. These are dirt cheap.
*Matches and lighters! Be sure to remember these!
*Ziplock baggie to put the dry food in, so I can use the number 10 can as a pot.
STERNO=HEAT STOVE CUPS
FLATWARE CAN OPENER
If you buy though clicking on any of my links, I do get a small commission at no cost to you. I appreciate it, but that's not why the links are there. They are there to help illustrate what choices I made and help others find what they are looking for. Pictures are just so much easier than words sometimes. :)