Food Planning Math
Planning food for five months is challenging. We don’t want to be hungry, but we don’t to lug around a lot of extra food either. Because we’ll be mailing ourselves food, we need to calculate ahead of time exactly how much food to put in each box. This could make for a difficult shopping trip. Luckily, math is on our side.
In our post on Thru Hike Nutrition, we determined the duration and intensity of our hike would require each of us to consume about 4000 calories per day. However, grocery shopping and packing food boxes based on calorie counts would be excruciatingly time consuming. To speed up the process, we will pack food based on weight. On average, our food will have 120 calories/oz. That equates to roughly 2 pounds per person per day:
(4000 calories/person/day) ÷ (120 calories/oz) ÷ (16 oz/lb) = 2.08 lbs/person/day
Using the NOLS Cookery book and our personal preferences, we split our daily food allowance as follows:
- Breakfast = 15%
- Lunch and Snacks = 50%
- Flavored Drinks = 5%
- Dinner = 25%
- Desserts = 5%
Snacks are key because we will spend most of our time walking, and frequent snacking sustains energy. We will use these meal percentages to pack the right amount of each food in our boxes. For example,
(2 lbs of food/person/day) x (0.15 breakfast food) =0.3 lbs of breakfast food/person/day
Using this formula, each of us will eat 1 pound of lunch and snack food, 0.1 pounds of flavored drinks, 0.5 pounds of dinner food, and 0.1 pounds of dessert every day.
To determine how much food to buy, we multiply daily food weight by number of hiking days, then double that number since there are two of us. For example, when we are grocery shopping, we will multiply by 73 days because that is the number of hiking days we’ll eat shipped food (see Food: Mail or Buy?). This means we’ll need to buy 292 pounds of food!
Now everyone knows how much we love spreadsheets and math! :-)