Add Variety to Your Food Stockpile… Just Like Our Presidents Did

In the past, we’ve discussed the importance of eating a variety of foods on a regular basis. 

Food variety helps us avoid food fatigue. But it also helps keep us healthier. Especially as we consume different vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. 

A variety of healthy foods is good for us now. But just think how crucial that variety will be when we enter survival mode. We’ll need to be at the top of our game, physically, mentally, and emotionally, and food variety will be a big help with that. 

Today I want to talk about how essential it is to have plenty of variety packed into our survival stockpile. And today is Presidents’ Day. So, I’ll add some fun facts about the unusual food preferences of five of our presidents. 

Navy SEAL recommends preparation

Former Navy SEAL Cade Courtley says caloric intake is important in a survival situation.

“If you’re in this situation, it will not be easy,” he said. “And the daily physical demands will be very taxing. To maintain the energy required, you are going to need to ‘feed the furnace.’

“That means not only consuming the appropriate number of calories. But also sufficient variety.” He added that, generally speaking, this is the ideal combination:

  • 30% protein
  • 20-30% fat
  • 40-50% carbohydrates 

He strongly suggests spending time now to consider the type of food variety you might need later. Both for nutrition and morale.

Time to upgrade your supplies

Cade and others recommend adding foods with a variety of nutrients to your stockpile. Upgrade your survival supplies now to increase variety, taste, and nutrients. 

For example, a cache of freeze-dried berries adds welcome nutrition, and a versatile way to “change it up” if access to fresh fruit is impossible. 

Oatmeal and pancakes are filling. But a punch of berry nutrition adds flavor and much-needed variety. Cade added that “preparation is 90% of surviving any situation.”

He suggests taking the time now, from the comfort of your home, to prepare. “Take stock of your supplies on hand. Add to those to give yourself more than a fighting chance. And to support your health, add welcome variety, and reduce your discomfort.”

Let’s get specific  

Among the foods recommended for stockpiling to provide necessary variety are:

  • Freeze-dried & dehydrated foods — think fruits, veggies, and meat.
  • Grains & legumes — like rice, pasta, and beans.
  • Protein sources — peanut butter, nuts and seeds, canned tuna, and beef jerky.

Of course, always keep all stored food in a dry, cool, and dark place to extend its shelf life. 

And make sure containers are airtight and waterproof. Use foods when they are approaching expiration dates and rotate new food in. 

5 presidential food quirks 

These days, U.S. presidents are fed well by top-notch cooks and serving staff in the White House. But some of them had some “out-there” palates.

As promised, here are some of the unusual foods that five of our presidents enjoyed. As well as some of their eccentric eating habits. 

  • 40th President Ronald Wilson Reagan was a big fan of jelly beans. He found them an enjoyable (if not healthier) substitute for the pipe smoking he was trying to quit. He received large, monthly shipments of jelly beans to stay well stocked. Reagan handed them out to guests during government meetings. And even provided some to astronauts on the Challenger space shuttle in 1983. Artist Peter Rocha used about 10,000 jelly beans to create a Reagan portrait.
  • 34th President Dwight David Eisenhower’s favorite dessert was prune whip. He considered it a good palate cleanser. Ingredients included prunes, prune juice, and gelatin. Plus lemons, sugar, egg whites, whipped cream and nuts. Prunes provide plenty of fiber and antioxidants. Some folks today might prefer Eisenhower’s prune whip over plain prunes.      
  • 28th President Thomas Woodrow Wilson liked to put raw eggs in his juice. Maybe that’s where the boxer Rocky got the idea of downing raw eggs while preparing for a fight. Wilson used this strategy to help put on weight, per his doctor’s suggestion. Today, nutritionists tell us that cooked eggs are much healthier (and safer) for us than raw eggs.
  • 27th President William Howard Taft couldn’t get enough of turtle soup. It’s rumored his decision on which White House chef to hire was based on an ability to make a tasty turtle soup. The snapping turtle was the reptile of choice in most cases. Turtle soup is not as popular today as it once was. But some Louisiana restaurants still serve snapping turtle soup. 
  • 20th President James Abram Garfield was known for consumption of squirrel stew. It’s likely he hunted squirrels on the farm where he grew up. And learned to love the taste of squirrel stew early in life. It’s said he developed his own recipe. It involved simmering squirrel meat with vegetables. Then removing the bones and adding butter and herbs.

Perhaps your food-eating habits are not as quirky as those of former U.S. presidents. But I’m sure you have your favorites. Just make sure your stockpile contains those favorites. As well as a nice variety of other healthy foods.


  • Ann Barton - February 20, 2024

    Hi Frank…

    Whew. Those are some different tastes from the past Presidents.

    I think if a disaster comes we will need food that doesn’t take too long to cook, but I am gluten free and it is sometimes
    difficult to find.


  • Pat DeLang - February 20, 2024

    Prune Whip is a yummy dessert; my Mom used to make it. Kinda like a soft meringue (hence the “whip”). Verry tasty. I have her recipe. Prunes also go well in some stews! So what is weird about that? Many Murricans are absolute babies when it comes to eating. Check out a medieval cookbook sometime!

    Turtle soup would mostly be a no go now for ethical reasons; but I understand it was also very good. And I bet that tongue was on the menu at the White House! Rich taste, fine grained, I grew up on tongue sandwiches made with a braised tongue done with a small amount of pickling spice in the braising water, served on homemade bread with homemade butter. One of the best sandwiches in the world!

    And did you ever see the the documentary “Fannie’s Last Supper” on public TV? I think it was about 12 years ago, give or take. WGBH Boston I think. A dinner party for 12, 12 courses, cooked in a late Victorian kitchen with period recipes, appliances and ingredients, like calf’s foot jelly made from actual calves’ feet, and other jellies made with homemade gelatin. Period garb as well. Well worth watching if you can. There is a book as well. Christopher Kimball, of Milk Street and formerly of America’s Test Kitchen was involved in it.

    Pat DeLang

  • Vicki Holland Emfinger - February 20, 2024

    My husband is a hunter/gatherer and makes a squirrel sauce piquant that people stand in line for…he once had a guy tell him he would eat a tennis shoe if he could get it tender in that gravy.

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