9. The Food Supply Problem

13 Jun
maths with zombies

…because everything’s better with zombies!

The zombie apocalypse has come and you find yourself all alone and barricaded into an old house. You don’t know who lived there before but they kept their cupboards well stocked. You count everything that’s in them and find you’ve got 56 cans of food. Unfortunately, they’re all spam but it’s better than nothing. You read the label and find that each can weighs 200g and contains 621 calories. You know you need eat 2,500 calories each day to stay healthy. How many days can you survive on your spam before you have to go outside, where the zombies are, in search of food?

A: 13 days.

B: 15 days.

C: 17 days.

D: 19 days.

Scroll down to see the right answer…

What answer did you get?

A: Spot on, but I’m betting that after almost two weeks, you’ll never want to taste another piece of spam as long as you live!

B: You’re a bit over there and you’ll run out of food a couple of days before you think you will.

C: It might be spam, but it’s not going to last that long.

D: You’re out by almost a quarter. If a zombie apocalypse ever comes maybe you’d better leave someone else in charge of the food supplies!

How to work it out: Firstly, don’t get confused by the information about the weight of each can, you don’t need to know this to work out the answer. Instead, you only need to know the number of calories each can has in it (621). You have a total of 56 cans, and each can contains 621 calories. If you multiply these two numbers together (so that’s 56 * 621), you get the total number of calories contained in all the cans (in this case it’s 34,776). You then divide this number by the number of calories you need to each day (so that’s 34,776 divided by 2,500) and this gives you the number of days the food will last for. In this case it’s 13.9, so sometime on the evening of the 13th day, you’re going to finally run out of food. After that, you’ll have no choice but to go outside to look for more.

Note: While the problems provided here are copyright of Maths With Zombies, if you are a teacher, you can use any of these problems for free in your classes – but please credit Maths With Zombies as the original source (e.g. Downloaded from MathsWithZombies.wordpress.com). You can download a PDF handout of this problem from here. If you do use this problem in a class, please post a comment here to let me know how you used it and how it was received by your students. These problems cannot be used for any commercial purpose without express written permission.


From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.


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