Many shoppers are throwing extra cans of food in their grocery carts as coronavirus spreads around the globe in case they must stay home for an extended period of time or food shortages hit.
Google searches for the term “prepping” were the highest they’ve ever been in the U.S. during the last week of February, something that may have to do with the virus.
But how much food does one person need to last for 14 days, the isolation period recommended for someone who may have the virus?
Texas resident and economic analyst Jesse Colombo has been stockpiling supplies since the 2008 financial crisis and estimates he has enough food to last for years.
“Most people underestimate how much [food] they’d really need,” Colombo said. “It frustrates me when people say they want to prep and just buy an extra bag of rice.”
Colombo started prepping by stockpiling rice and beans and today has diversified to freeze-dried foods and canned meats.
“SPAM and Vienna sausages last a very long time,” Colombo said. “The idea is they last indefinitely, and there are very few other fat sources that have as long of a shelf life. … You need fats in your diet.”
The average man under 50 should consume at least 2,200 to 2,400 calories a day, according to WebMD. Since SPAM is 180 calories per serving, and contains 6 servings per can, eating SPAM at every meal means 7 cans could last a grown man for two weeks if supplemented with rice or beans.
That calorie requirement also breaks down to eating roughly 11 cans of Campbell’s Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup a day. That adds up to 154 cans of soup for two weeks.
But if SPAM and canned soup isn’t your style, there are 14-day food supply kits geared toward survivalists and campers. Colombo is partial to Mountain House’s two-week emergency food supply. The company says the product, which will set you back $328.99, is sold out amid “increased demand.”
The meals, which include beef stroganoff and breakfast skillet packs, have a shelf life of 30 years. It takes 60 cups of water to rehydrate all the packs. The kit is formulated to provide 1,436 daily calories.
A 14-day period is short enough that fresh food like eggs and cheese can last for the entire time, but Colombo has ensured he has enough food to last him much longer than that. He says he began sounding the alarm about the impending 2008 financial crisis years ahead and says he views coronavirus as a major trigger for another economic crash.
Colombo said he thinks of prepping as an “insurance policy.”
“You don’t have to be preparing for any doomsday event,” Colombo said. “It’s a philosophy of being self-reliant.”