Food calculator guide

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Food calculator guide

Food calculator guide

Factors to bear in mind

Please bear in mind that, when calculating food needs, you also need to learn how long each type of food could be stored. Different types, namely cereals (eg. Wheat, Maize, Barley, Sorghum, oats), legumes/pulses, oils, canned foods, fruits and vegetables, meat, sugar, tea, etc by their nature, have different capabilities of staying in storage. Some are perishable; some are durable and can be stored for long period even years, some my only last few months. This also depends on the storage type and conditions surrounding the storage, as we shall see below. Therefore, some food products have short food storage life and we can only build stock until when they are fit for human consumption. This also implies that we need to consider rotating stock in the right time before they expire.


Depending on the type of storage type to use, allowance should also be given when using the food calculator. There are many factors that could affect or spoil the food that we store. This aspect is of special importance if you are planning and managing emergency food storage. Most makeshift storage structures (Rub halls, Tarpaulins) are erected in hostile environments that are most likely affected by flooding, torrential rains, and subsequent manifestations of food infestation. A high percentage or proportion of stored food could be unfit for human consumption as a result; hence your food calculator needs to take this into account.

Generally the guide should be used with the above considerations and other personal life style considerations in mind.

How much food to stock!

There are a number of nutritional guides available. For example, the United Nations Humanitarian Organisations (WHO, UNHCR, UNICEF, FAO, WFP) have their own guides that are applied in emergencies as well as post-emergency situations. Each country may also have its own nutritional guides to reflect its broad nutritional policies and targets. The geographical differences, traditions, feeding habits of populations, and their availability in the market, determine the nutritional rations to apply.

The total food need is measured in terms of Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats, that are needed by the person. These are very vital elements of human body, and the optimum intake is dependent on the activity levels and special needs of the person. Note, however, a person would also have to eat all other Vitamins and Minerals in order to be healthy.

The foods that a person eats provide Energy that is measured in Calories. Proteins, Carbohydrates and Fats provide different levels of Calories. Generally, Proteins give low levels of calories whereas Carbohydrates and Fats provide the high levels of calories (see below).

• Eating One Gram of Protein provides 4 Calories/Energy
• Eating One Gram of Carbohydrates provides 4 Calories/Energy
• Eating One Gram of Fat provides 9 Calories/Energy
• Click here for more tips on Foods and their Nutrient contents

As most Nutritionists agree, total Energy that a person takes a day should come from:

• 10% - 12%    from Proteins (e.g. cereals and pulses/legumes)
• 50%        from Carbohydrates (e.g. complex carbohydrates)
• 20%        from Fats. For children this may reach 30-40%. It is good to bear in mind that Fats are classified as Saturates and unsaturates.

The table below provides quick example how to plan daily energy sources from daily diet.:

Calorie calculator

The 2000 figure represents, for example, the overall Kcal energy consumed per day. Of this, 12% comes from the 60 grams of Protein intake of the day, whereas the 22.5% comes from 50 grams of Fat consumed. The remaining amount of energy of course comes from complex carbohydrates we eat during the day. This is also good guide when planning food stock needs. The advantage of following the example on table above is that, one can plan the amount of food stock needs depending on his/her preferences of food types. Most food stuff in shopping markets is labelled with the amount of their nutritional content that you can use to calculate as on table above.


The issue that arises from here is that, 'How much kcal of energy do I need per day?' Total calorie requirement per person is measured by a Body-Mass-Index (BMI). It is calculated as:

Person's body weight in Kilograms ÷ square of body height (tallness) in metres, e.g.:


72 Kg of body weight ÷ (1.75 m X 1.75 m of height)

Then based on the calculated BMI result, the nutritional status is determined as follows:

• If BMI is between 19 - 25 the person is said to be generally in acceptable range of nutritional status. • If less than 19, this is indication of malnutrition. • If it is above 25, this indicates there is risk of being overweight. The highest the figure it may lead to obesity.

These ranges may, however, slightly differ from country to country.

This procedure of calculating BMI, above, is a bit complicated though not difficult. Another easy guide for estimated daily calorie intake levels is provided here below (Collins Gem Calorie Counter, 2000):

•  Sedentary persons: Weight in Kilograms X  31  =  Estimated calorie intake
•  Moderately active persons: Weight in Kilograms X  37  =  Estimated calorie intake
•  Active persons: Weight in Kilograms X  44  =  Estimated calorie intake
•  Children (1-5 years):  half of adult needs
•  Children (6-9 years):  Two Thirds of adult needs
•  Children (10+ years):  same as adult needs or more

Taking 'Active person', for example, if his/her body weight is 75 kilograms, then the acceptable calorie intake would be: 75 X 44 = 3,300 calories per day.

Therefore, by understanding the amount of calories needed per person per day, and having determined the acceptable energy  sources, as detailed above, you will find it easy to make a food stock plan.

The above tip is being given with the intention to help you plan your food stock needs. I preferred to present it that way instead of providing a chain of list of products which I found it rather confusing. With the above example, you may be able to understand what factors need to be considered and accordingly make more personalised food stock strategies. The information provided is not perfect or complete, and is only meant for informational use, hence is not subject to any liabilities. I encourage you to use it along with other sources of information you may be able to find.

SEE ALSO Emergency food meals.

Updated: 24 Nov 2013
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By: Yohannes Berhe

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