Saturday, May 1, 2010

How much food storage do I need?

How much food storage do I need?

The answer to that question will vary quite a bit. It depends on the number of people you are storing for, their ages, appetites and circumstances.

For most of us, what we need to survive is much less than what we are accustomed to eating, both in variety and quantity. It would be overwhelming to try and store enough food to duplicate a normal year of eating, but trying to store food to sustain life and basic health is very do-able, especially if you start small. Begin by storing enough for one week, then two or three months, then for a full year.

President Harold B. Lee said:
"Perhaps if we think not in terms of a year’s supply of what we ordinarily would use, and think more in terms of what it would take to keep us alive in case we didn’t have anything else to eat, that last would be very easy to put in storage for a year … just enough to keep us alive if we didn’t have anything else to eat. We wouldn’t get fat on it, but we would live; and if you think in terms of that kind of annual storage rather than a whole year’s supply of everything that you are accustomed to eat which, in most cases, is utterly impossible for the average family..."
Click here for the entire article.

Is there an easy way to figure out how much I, personally, would need to store?

Yes. When I was first beginning a food storage plan, I taped a paper to my kitchen cupboard. Then, for one month, I kept a record of what we ate. I listed each ingredient as I used it. Each successive time that I used it, I placed a tally mark beside it. At the end of one month, I multiplied the ingredients and the amounts by 12. I figured that was a good estimate for what I would need in a year's supply.

Wheat flour (5 pound bag) = 3 tally marks
Shortening (48 ounce canister) = listed, but no tally marks (meaning, I opened it, but used less than one canister)
Peanut butter (18 ounce container) = 2 tally marks
Canned tomato sauce (16 ounce container) = 8 tally marks
Fresh produce--apples = 18 tally marks (to compensate for fresh produce in my food storage, I converted this to jars of applesauce and dried apples. I store both applesauce and dried apples to compensate for the amount of fresh apples that I eat)
Milk (1 gallon) = 6 tally marks (to compensate for perishable milk in my food storage, I store both dry, powdered milk and boxed, shelf stable milk. More on milk storage in a future post)

Are there any "food storage calculators" available to help me?

Yes, the LDS church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) has a food storage calculator for calculating how many pounds of basic, dry ingredients (such as wheat, rice, corn, grains and beans) a family would need. Click here for the link. I calculated for my family, but the numbers seemed a little high (perhaps because I was including so many children whose appetites are still small).

Are there any other food calculators that will calculate a wider variety of foods?
Yes, but I list them here with some hesitation. These can be useful, but only to an extent. These are good for listing basic ingredients and a guideline for quantities, but please read my perspective on them before you click on the links.

The first link is from This site is NOT an official site of the LDS church, but I think the food storage calculator is patterned after the calculator that used to be on the LDS church provident living website. ( However, the church no longer publishes this calculator, probably because the church now recommends that each family customize their food storage to reflect what they ordinarily eat.
One more note about this calculator. I found it useful as a checklist for what I should store for variety and nutrition and cooking. However, there are many listed ingredients that my family doesn't eat, such as lima beans and soy beans. We do eat a lot of wheat, but, I thought some of the numbers seemed high (although they probably accurately reflect what you might use if that was all you had to eat). Anyway, if you'd like, take a look, but don't feel overwhelmed by the numbers you see, and don't feel bound to store those exact ingredients or in those quantities. Store what you eat, and then eat what you have stored.
One more note: This website ( is a good source for a lot of helpful information about food storage.
Click here for the food calculator on

The second link is from the Preparedness Pantry blog of the Emergency Essentials store. It is a free food storage analyzer and I found it very interesting. It will analyze the nutritional content of what you have in your food storage and make recommendations for what you can purchase to fill the gaps. It can be useful for informative purposes, but please don't feel overwhelmed by what they recommend. They will be recommending that you purchase items from their line of products, which is fine, afterall they are providing a free analyzer for you to use. I will say that in my experience, Emergency Essentials is a quality company, and they have quality products, but I use them very sparingly because they are so expensive. They are also not a practical way to acquire food storage in my budget. I use my food storage for daily living, as well as for an emergency reserve. It isn't practical for me to store expensive products, especially in such large quantities. But, the food analyzer can be very helpful, and, if you do want to purchase some of the recommended ingredients, I think this is a good place to purchase them.
Click here for the link to the free food storage analyzer.

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