Getting Prepared: How Much Food Do You Need?

Gaye Levy, Contributing Writer
Activist Post

You have probably asked yourself:  Just how much food should I store for my family’s long-term storage needs?  There is no single best answer to that question, since everyone’s personal situation is different.  Still, it is nice to have a set of guidelines from which to start.

Today I would like to introduce you to The LDS Online Food Storage Calculator.   Using this calculator, you can determine the amount of food your family will need to store away for a given period.  All you need to do is enter the number of adults and children in your family.  Press “Calculate”, and like magic, the recommended amounts by category appear on the screen.
The amounts you will be presented with are for a year — that is a lot of food to purchase if you are just starting out.  My suggestion is that you take that amount and divide it by 12 to get a monthly amount, or by 52 to get a weekly amount.  Why?  I don’t know about you, but for most people, putting together a monthly supply of provisions is far more manageable than looking at the requirements for one year.
So how much food would 2 adults need for 30 days?  Here are results, organized in broad categories:

Year Month
Grains – wheat, flour cornmeal, oats, rice, pasta 600 50 lbs
Legumes -dried beans, lima beans, soy beans, split peas, lentils, dry soup mix 120 10 lbs
Dairy – dry milk, evaporated milk, other 150 13 lbs
Sugars – honey, sugar, brown sugar, molasses, corn syrup jams, powdered fruit drinks, Jell-O 120 10 lbs
Cooking Essentials – Baking powder, baking soda, yeast 5 .42 lbs
Salt – table salt, sea salt, soy sauce, bouillon 10 1 lbs
Fats & Oils -shortening, vegetable oil, mayonnaise, salad dressing, peanut butter 26 2 lbs

What should a prepper do?

Someone just getting started on their family preparedness journey should go to the LDS Online Food Calculator, get the annual total, then, as I suggest, divide the individual totals by 52 or 12, or some lesser period such as a month (4.33 weeks).  A spreadsheet will work great for this purpose.

When you are done, save and print out the list and start working toward storing the recommended amounts for that limited period.  You will find the amounts are manageable and achievable and, because you are not trying to do it all at once, more affordable than looking at the survival food requirements for a one-year period or longer.
What about the experienced prepper who has already stored a large quantity of food for long-term survival purposes?  Use the results of the calculator to assess your inventory and fill in the gaps as needed.  If the inventory looks good, extend the period out a bit and once again begin to fill in the gaps.
The goal – whether you are a newbie prepper or an old hand – is to reduce the daunting task of determining your food storage needs and to give you a flexible, mix and match checklist of what you need along with amounts specific to of your family and the specified period of time.
Tips for using the Online Food Storage Calculator
Here are some tips to keep in mind as you analyze the results of the Food Storage Calculator.
  • There is lots of room for flexibility and substitutions. Be sure to store only those items that you like to eat and know how to use.
  • Make sure you store your precious food in packaging suitable for long term storage. Remember the three enemies: heat, moisture and insects.
  • Rotate your stock. When using food in your daily meal planning, use the oldest products first.
  • In addition to the items listed, be sure to include condiments and comfort foods.

Also, as you review the results, keep in mind the the calculation for water is for a two-week supply only and not the annual period used for the other products.  After all, storing enough water for a year would require your own personal well or a reservoir.  Instead, invest in a decent 55-gallon water barrel, a quality water filter, and some water purification supplies.

And last, be sure read about Common Food Storage Mistakes to learn from my mistakes and food storage mistakes of others.

Gaye Levy, the SurvivalWoman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable, self-reliant and stylish lifestyle through emergency preparation and disaster planning through her website at SurvivalWoman speaks her mind and delivers her message with optimism and grace, regardless of mayhem swirling around us. 

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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