How to Calculate Your Food Storage Needs

Online Food Storage Calculating Advice From the LDS Church

Over the shoulder view of woman slicing beetroot into preserves jar in kitchen
 Getty Images/Nat and Cody Gantz

The food storage calculating gimmicks that abound online offer a one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how much food to store. However, we know they can't be accurate because everyone -- and their needs -- are different. 

Even modifications based on age are not helpful because so many things could render it inaccurate such as diabetes or food allergies. A 16-year-old active boy is very likely going to eat more than a petite lady who is 86.

People live all over the world, and different foods are available according to region and climate. Thus, storage conditions vary all over the world as 

You must tailor food storage to your unique, individual needs and to those of your family. These calculating hacks may give you a false sense of security, as well as outdated and discredited information on food storage.

The first step is to figure out how much food you need every day and multiply it by the number of days you need food storage. That simple calculation is the best food storage calculator you can use.

There Are 3 Broad Categories of Food Storage

We tend to talk about food storage as if it is just one broad category when in reality it should be divided into three distinctly different groupings.

  1. 3 Days
  2. Weeks to 3 Months
  3. Long-Term Storage

Regardless of the type of emergency, you will probably have to take care of yourself for three full days before any rescue entity can help you. If you face the facts, it takes at least that long to organize and implement a rescue effort. This is why a 72 hour (or 3 days) kit is a necessity. You may also hear it referred to by the government as a disaster supplies kit.

Once the immediate emergency and accompanying danger have passed, food, fuel, and other supplies could be disrupted for several weeks or months. Long-term situations where survival is in question can include famine and warfare. These circumstances require different foods and different plans.

72 Hours (3 Days) is Considered Short Term Emergency Food Storage

The key here is food in a box, a can or a bag. Ideally, it should be food you are used to eating and should be portable. If you have to quickly evacuate, you can easily take your food with you.

Avoid storing salty foods for your 72-hour kit. Salty foods make you thirsty and will increase your water needs. This is not a good idea in an emergency situation. Water will be your biggest headache because it is difficult to carry.

Finally, most emergencies involve contaminated water. You need to have plenty of water stored. Buying bottled water is not necessary, or even desirable. Luckily, there are ways to make water storage straightforward and simple.

Extended Short-Term Food Storage

Most people will not have room to store more than two weeks of water per person. This includes drinking water and water needed for sanitation, like brushing your teeth. What you will need are containers you can fill up at a water truck or at a water station.

Here's a hint: Nobody can carry 50-gallon drums of water anywhere. Those big drums of water are fine if you have to stay put, but it's essential to have a variety of water container sizes and shapes. They will all be useful.

Just about any food you regularly eat can be stored for three months. So, simply store what you eat in the amounts you eat it.

Don't depend on dried food for your food storage needs. It is worthless without water and water is hard to store as previously mentioned. The liquid in cans or bottles of food can serve as water storage. Store that instead and make this liquid part of your water storage calculation.

Long Term Food Storage is Intended to Keep You Alive in Survival Conditions

Your long-term food storage is the only thing you will have to keep you from starving to death. So, when compiling it you need to ask yourself an important question. What is absolutely essential to prevent starvation?

The best food storage is food that can be stored for a long, long time and retain its nutrition and taste. These foods can be purchased online and shipped to you. Or, you can find a home storage center and buy it there.

What You Should NOT Store: Debunk the Bunk

So, what about the bad information out there -- what should you not store? The list is long, especially long-term. Here are a few items to give you an idea:

  • Brown sugar: It contains too much moisture to store long-term.
  • Commercially bottled water: It is not safer than tap water. It is expensive and the containers it comes in are often single-use containers and should not be reused.
  • Any milled grain except rolled oats: Grinding or milling exposes the insides of the grains to oxygen and can result in them going rancid. Store your grains whole.
  • Oily grains and nuts: They go rancid quickly and lose their nutrition.

How and Where to Store Food is Just As Important as What to Store

Being knowledgeable about what containers can and should be used for long-term food storage can get complex. The simplest solution is to find out what the Church offers.

Also, if you buy the food from the Church in its packaging, it will be in safe and suitable containers for long-term storage. This takes a lot of the guesswork and stress out of what can be a significant stressor.

Where Can You Find Good Information About Food Storage?

There are several good sources to find quality information about food storage. If you live outside the United States of America, access your country's equivalent of what follows:

There are tons of food storage sites online making recommendations on food storage. However, here is a dirty little secret. Most of the lists by commercial entities and individuals simply repackage government information from the above sources.

This is not illegal because the government does not usually copyright its work. The government wants people to repackage and distribute this critical information. Unfortunately, others often skew it to entice you to buy these supplies from them. What is more, they often represent their product as being ideal, even when it is not.

It makes sense to get good information from government sources. The government will probably have to step in and assist if you cannot help yourself. Therefore, it has a powerful incentive to provide you with accurate and timely information. Its motives are pure and its information is the most authoritative source. Use it.

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Your Citation
Cook, Krista. "How to Calculate Your Food Storage Needs." Learn Religions, Aug. 27, 2020, Cook, Krista. (2020, August 27). How to Calculate Your Food Storage Needs. Retrieved from Cook, Krista. "How to Calculate Your Food Storage Needs." Learn Religions. (accessed June 8, 2023).