How Much Food Storage Do I Need?

Written by Brandon Garrett

You know that food storage is important. But where do you begin? You might be asking yourself, “How do I start? And how much do I need?”

Like most worthwhile endeavors there is a learning curve when it comes to food storage, but don’t let that keep you from starting! Too often the perceived confusion and uncertainty of starting keeps individuals and families from being prepared. This post will take some of the pressure off of starting your food storage and help you understand how much you need.

Food Storage Baby Steps
Right off the bat, one important factor to realize is that you don’t need it all right away. You can start small by purchasing a few extra food items you buy during your regular shopping trips to build a few days and weeks worth of storage. Take your time as you expand your food storage to first include the more basic and fundamental staples that will expand your storage to last several months to the ultimate goal of a year’s worth of food. This helps spread out the cost and work over a longer period of time, offsetting any buyer’s remorse that could come from impulsive, massive purchases.

As your food storage begins to grow, it becomes more important to finalize an end goal. The amount of food storage you need depends entirely on how many people you are storing food for. The numbers below represent the basic needs of a single person for a year supply. These items are going to be the first step of your food storage goal.

150 lbs
25 lbs
Corn Meal
25 lbs
25 lbs
50 lbs
25 lbs
300 lbs

Grains are your foundation for a wide variety of foods you can make and are high in nutritional value. Rice and noodles act as the base for countless dishes, and there are numerous breads, cakes, tortillas and deserts that require wheat and flour. Be sure the recipes you are gathering include grains and acclimate your family to eating these dishes.

Fats & Oils
4 lbs
Vegetable Oil
2 gal
2 qts
Salad Dressing
1 qt
Peanut Butter
4 lbs
13 lbs

Fats and Oils – Don’t let the word fat scare you away, because fat is an essential part of a healthy diet and a fantastic source of calories (which are in great demand in emergency situations). It is important to note fats and oils don’t store as long and need to be rotated out with greater frequency.

Beans, Dry
30 lbs
Lima Beans
5 lbs
Soy Beans
10 lbs
Split Peas
5 lbs
5 lbs
Dry Soup Mixes
5 lbs
60 lbs

Legumes – If meat is scarce (as it often is in emergency situations), legumes are a great stand-in offering high doses of protein, fiber and iron. Not all legumes share the same nutrient profile, but a healthy combination of these recommended legumes in your diet will do the trick.

3 lbs
40 lbs
Brown Sugar
3 lbs
Fruit Drink Powder
6 lbs
8 lbs
60 lbs

Whether in dry or liquid form, sugars are simple carbohydrates that add a recognizably sweet taste to anything they are added to. Luckily, commercially-available sugars have an indefinite shelf life thanks to their strong resistance to microbial growth. Even when sugars harden or grow lumpy, they are still safe to use.

Dry Milk
60 lbs
13 lbs
75 lbs

Many people are surprised to find out powered milk is made from pasteurized, fresh milk (usually skim). When milk is concentrated and heated, the water and dry milk particles separate, leaving a substance perfect for long term storage. Be sure the milk you are purchasing for your storage is real milk and not a milk alternative.

Cooking Basics
Baking Powder
1 lb
Baking Soda
1 lb
1/2 lb
5 lbs
1/2 lbs
75 lbs

These are the key ingredients that turn your wheat into bread or flour into dough. Your stored grains will be nearly useless if you don’t have these necessary essentials – that’s why they call them essentials!

The Next Steps
You may have noticed a few important food groups absent from the list — fruits, vegetables and meats. These foods can all be easily purchased and stored as freeze dried items. Not only do these items add flavor and much-needed variety to your meals, they provide certain nutrients that simply aren’t found in the simple grains and cooking essentials.

As you can see there is a lot to keep track of and once you start expanding your food storage to include these bulk items, be sure to keep an up-to-date inventory of everything you have. Careful record keeping is crucial in gathering the necessary amount of food storage for your family.

Additionally, it is vitally important to know how to use the food you are storing. Cooking and experimenting with your food storage long before you need it ensures the food’s usability in emergency situations.

One last tip: if you know there is something your family doesn’t like, replace it with something else or make up for it by storing extra foods you know your family will enjoy. Knowing how much you have and how to use your food storage transforms it from just storage to actual food.

Updated September 14, 2013


  1. Name Edwina wrote:

    What frightens me is the idea that after taking time and money to make sure my family is prepared, is it true the military can legally come and wipe out all I have stored? Does anyone know if this has ever happened in a disaster in recent times? Also I take into account that I may not have a way of cooling food in an emergency(saving for a generator)so I purchase small(expensive)containers of items like mayo. We would have to open and use the whole jar at once.Any way around this?

    November 20th, 2013 at 12:30 am
  2. Name ew wrote:

    We began our food storage about a year ago thinking enough for a few months til we found the ready store then starting order on a regular basis and started using some food storage to try to see what we really liked and now have replaced going to the store less and using food storage at least half of the month maybe more and we are on Social Security so not a lot of money but cont. to purchase each month and enjoy saving gas and get great products not at the mercy of gro store prices so we have expanded food storage and live in a double wide mobile home and you can always find space maybe all over the house but either covered up or in closets and in large tubs in extra shower that never used or never been used. I hope this helps someone.

    November 22nd, 2013 at 7:58 am
  3. karl wrote:

    These are great tips. I have tried many items I never want to try alone again. Sometimes try mixing them or adding them into regular dishes to get used to them. water storage is terribly important and I like small containers but also like the bathtub storage tank. Military will not come into your house unless martial law and you are breaking it. martial law will not happen in this country, (I have my fingurs crossed). Remember food stores should be portable. sometimes your house will not be where you want to be at.

    November 29th, 2013 at 1:51 pm
  4. debbie e wrote:

    I am working my food storage into my everyday meals, and being pretty open about the convenience of using freeze dried and dehydrated products, having stuff on the shelf etc. This provides a level of “cover” as I live in a very small town and even mail order will be noticed. So I plan on having a decoy pantry with the real stash creatively hidden. Thus neighbors turned enemies or government raiders would hopefully not get it all as I would reasonably have eaten it as I went along

    March 19th, 2014 at 4:56 pm
  5. Mary wrote:

    Was told quite awhile ago, that white is right. White Flour & rice, Brown Goes bad quickly. Now I cannot find anything about it on the net

    April 27th, 2014 at 11:09 pm
  6. kirk wrote:

    mary- white rice does last longer as Brown rice has oils in it that will turn rancid.

    as for the government taking what you have stored. look in to this executive otder from 2012 singed by obama.
    National Defense Resources Preparedness executive order I don’t have the url for it but it should be easy to look up.

    April 28th, 2014 at 2:00 pm

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