How to ration food ( In 6 Easy Steps )

Usually, most people tend to ration food in emergency situations, this way they can stretch out their food stocks for as long time as possible. Generally speaking, most people who live in the western world had never had their food rationed, although there are some exceptions like in a local disaster. On the other hand across the world, there are numerous countries where rationing food is just a normal day.

You can ration food by taking inventory, calculating for how long you have to ration food, making a meal plan with food rations, rationing food for a set number of people, deciding who gets more rations, and by rationing food before it is too late. Most people will start rationing food when they are already low on food, and this will be extremely dangerous so make sure to ration food before you are running low on food.

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During an emergency situation, a lot of people will find it simply impossible to ration food, as the average person doesn’t have food for emergency situations. Most people know that they need to have some emergency money at hand, but far too few people have food for emergency situations. During local disasters like floods, earthquakes, tornadoes it could take several weeks for the government’s aid to arrive.

If you find yourself in an emergency situation where you are not able to buy food for some reason then you have to ration any food that you have in your home. If you have a pantry then you will have a far easier time in emergency situations, and if your pantry has food for several weeks or months then you do not even have to ration it. On the other hand, we have all seen people panic buying, mostly useless things and foods that have a fairly limited shelf life.

Ideally, you should set up an emergency stockpile, with careful calculations on how much food you should need for a period of time. You should prepare for the worst and hope for the best, this way if things go from bad to worse you will still have plenty of food. You should set up a prepper’s pantry with 2-3 weeks’ worth of emergency food, for more information check out my recent articles Preppers pantry ( In 15 Easy Steps ).

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Before rationing food take inventory

It is extremely important to take inventory when rationing food, without it rationing food will be rather hard. Just grab a pen and a piece of paper and start writing down what and how much of every item you have. When you are taking the inventory you should also include the number of servings for every food item and how many calories they actually have. If you have a fairly large pantry then you should have an up-to-date inventory already.

Keep in mind that even during an emergency situation you should still take inventory once a couple of days. Ideally in an emergency situation where you are rationing food, you should take inventory every day. Food will go bad, and some will be unedible, this is why you have to take inventory every day during an emergency and ration your food accordingly. In survival situations some people survived by eating moss, for more information check out my recent article Can you eat moss? ( Top 8 Edible Mosses ).

Calculate for how long you have to ration food

Most people will take inventory and divide the food between the number of people they are rationing food for. While this is not a bad idea, but this will be a massive issue if you do not actually know when the government’s aid will arrive or when you will be able to resupply. Your main goal with rationing out food is to stretch your food stocks for as long as possible. Generally speaking, the government will be able to send aid in a couple of days or weeks in case of an emergency.

Ideally, you should ration food for around 2-3 weeks, although just to be on the safe side than you should ration for 3 weeks. It is extremely rare no matter in which country you live in for the government not to be able to send aid within a couple of weeks, although there are some exceptions like conflict zones. If you do not have space to make a food pantry then you can still use your fridge to store some long shelf-life food, for more information check out my recent article Foods that last a long time in the fridge ( Top 14 ).

Make a meal plan with the food rations

Now that you know how much food you have you can start making a meal plan with rationed food. When making a meal plan with food rations you have to know how much food every person needs. According to, the average male between 19-50 years will need around 2600 calories per day, and the average female between 19-50 years needs around 2000 calories per day.

Do note that these are just averages and they do not take into consideration several factors, like overall health condition, climate, and stress levels. In colder climates, people need a lot more calories, as their body will use a lot of calories to keep their vital organs warm and functioning properly. In addition to this, there are some people who respond to stressful situations with eating, and these people can easily eat more than triple what they need.

The meal plans should be as simple as possible, the human body needs carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals. This is why it is extremely important not to eat just one type of food for longer periods of time. Instead what you should do is combine several food items. The simplest way of making a meal plan with rationed food is to have a base food like corn, rice, pasta, potatoes, and so on.

These base foods will have the necessary carbohydrates which your body needs. Now combine these with vegetables, fruits, or sauces, these will have the necessary vitamins and minerals. Combine the two with some kind of meat for protein and fat. Now you have pasta with vegetables and meat, or rice with sauce and meat, and so on. Do note that while you are rationing food it is not a good time to be a picky eater.

Most people will cut down the fatty parts of the meat and throw it out, do not do this, the human body needs fat in order to work properly. Ideally, you should not throw anything away, if you do not like the taste of some food items then just try to combine them with other foods.

Ration food for a set number of people

When you are rationing food it is extremely important to know for how many people you are rationing the food for. If your family has 4 members then ration food for 4 people, not less, and not more. Some people will add one more person just in case they need to help out somebody, although this might sound selfish, but you shouldn’t probably do this. If things got so bad that you have to ration food then the last thing you would want is to be generous with other people.

Make sure to take into consideration the needs of the individuals for whom you are rationing food for. As you saw above males and females need different numbers of calories, but not all males and females have the same body composition. This means that some males or females will either eat more or less than the average person. In addition to this, people who are doing manual labor outdoors will need a lot more calories than a person who is sedentary.

Decide who will get more rations

The problem with rationing food and dividing it between different people is that some people need more food than others due to several factors. In addition to this, a lot of people do not react so well to a rationed diet. Ideally, you should focus on giving the needed number of calories to people who are the most sensitive to calorie restrictions, which are children the sick, and the elderly. People who are around 20-40 years old without any pre-existing health conditions will be able to survive on less food for a longer period of time than the sick, elderly, and children.

Now that you also have a meal plan you have to divide it up a bit, you can simply not give the same amount of food to a person who doesn’t do anything all day long and to a person who is working all day long. People who have an active lifestyle tend to need a lot more calories, as they burn a lot more than the average person.

Ration food before it is too late

A lot of people start rationing food when they have little to no food, this way they will try to stretch out the little food they have for as long as possible. The problem with this approach is that it can get extremely dangerous, the less food you have to stricter the rations will be. During emergency situations people get stressed out, now add on top of that stress another factor which is the lack of food and you will have a recipe for a disaster.

Now I am not saying that you should ration your everyday food, instead take notice when people are starting to panic buy, and while you still have plenty of food stocks come up with a food rationing plan. Most importantly let your family members also know what the food rationing plan is, as most people are not used to having their food rationed.

In conclusion

As you can see, rationing food is not that difficult, although there are a couple of steps to do it correctly. Most importantly, you should have an emergency food stockpile before an emergency situation, this way you will most likely not even have to ration food.