How Much Food Should You Have Stored | Build a Stash

This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

Food is something that we need access to, at all times, which is why a lot of people think, ‘how much food should you have stored’.

Storing food can help you get through short-term emergencies, such as briefly-lasting natural disasters (like floods, hurricanes and tornadoes) and personal emergencies (like an illness or job loss). Similarly, having adequate food storage can see you through longer-term emergencies like long-lasting natural disasters or family emergencies.

If you are planning on storing food for a natural disaster or an emergency, you should store at least a gallon of water and 2000 calories of food for each day for a single person, according to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).

There are various other factors to consider when storing food, such as the number of people you will be feeding, the expected length of the emergency, and the cooking methods.

Based on extensive research, we will be covering, in great detail, the amount of food that you need to store in case of emergencies, as well as answer a number of other questions on this subject.

Table of contents


How Much Food Should You Have Stored?

A 1-month food and water supply:

Assuming that you live by yourself, you will need at least 30 gallons of water and 60,000 calories of food in case of a natural disaster or any other emergency.

If you are a family of four people, you will, therefore, need 120 gallons of water and 240,000 calories of food in order to survive through a 30-day period.

A 3-month food and water supply:

For a 90-day emergency, a single person would require at least 90 gallons of water and 180,000 calories of food.

A family comprising four people will, therefore, need 360 gallons of water and 720,000 gallons of food to survive through a 90-day period.

Stockpiling Food – One Person; One Year Supply:

Below is a list of the most common foods that will cover the caloric requirements for one person, over a period of a year:

This list is based on #10 cans that have been hermetically sealed, as well as on certain ingredients according to weight. Although these cans are not the sole way of storing food, they can help you understand your food requirements over a one-year period:

Long-term items (having a shelf-life of thirty years, unless mentioned otherwise)

Short-Term Food Items Required As Part of a Long-term Food Supply:

Alongside the long-term items discussed above, you also need to store ingredients with shorter shelf-lives. This way, you will be able to make these ingredients a part of your regular diet, so that you are never out of stock.

Short-term items Approximate shelf-life in years(unopened) Amount required per year for one person
Oils and fats (you can interchange the types based on preference; having multiple kinds of fats allows for greater rotation) - -
Cooking/Salad oil (such as olive and soy) 1+ 2 gallons
Frying or shortening oil 1+ 3 lbs or 3 cans
Margarine or butter (freezer-stored) 1 6 lbs
Salad dressings/mayonnaise 1 3 quarts
Peanut butter (or butter from any other nut) 1+ 6 lbs
Fruit drink mix 2 3 #10 cans
Spice/condiments/Bouillon 2+ -
Dried eggs (used in baking) 3+ 2 #10 cans
Yeast 5+ 2 lbs
Other sweeteners (such as molasses, honey, syrups, jams, jellies, and brown sugar) - -

To calculate the amount of food that you will need for more than one person, simply multiply the quantity of cans of each ingredient, by the quantity of people in question. The same applies for foods that are mentioned in pounds.

Stockpiling Food – Four People; One Year:

Non-Food Items that You Need to Have:

  • A can opener
  • Grain mill or grain grinder
  • Meal plan
  • An easy way to prepare a meal plan is to create one for two weeks, and include every meal, as well as treats and snacks. You can keep using the same menu throughout the year, or alter it according to changes in food supplies.
  • Although this approach might seem tiresome at first, you can always find ways to make your meal plan more interesting once you get the hang of it.
  • Recipes

Stockpiled Food – Conversion Chart for #10 cans:

If the plan is to store food in bulk, it is important to be able to make appropriate measurement conversions for recipes. Below is a chart that shows the amount of cups present in #10 cans of each ingredient:

How to Decide if Foods are Good for Storage

If you are wondering if a certain food is good for storage, there are certain factors that you can consider in order to ascertain this. As examples, let us use Lentils and White Rice:

Number of calories provided by White Rice and Lentils:

White Rice:

  • One pound of cooked rice contains 591 calories.
  • A 50 lb rice bag contains 29,550 calories.


  • 1 lb boiled lentils contain 516 calories.
  • 50 lb cooked lentils contain 25,800 calories.

The shelf-lives of White Rice and Lentils:


  • Lentils, when stored in plastic grocery bags, will last around a year.
  • Lentils, when stored in #10 cans will last for more than 10 years.

White Rice:

  • When in store packaging, it can last for around 5 to 6 years.
  • When in 10 cans, it can last for more than 30 years.

The storing methods for White Rice and Lentils:

  • Moisture-free
  • Dark and cool location
  • Hermetically sealed

Requirements for preparing lentils and rice:

  •  A cup of rice will require approximately 2-3 cups of water.
  • A pound of lentils will require approximately 6 cups of water.
  • Both rice and lentils will need fuel, be it in the form of electricity, wood, or gas.

Are lentils and rice staples?

  • Both the foods can serve as a firm base for pretty much every meal. You can use lentils and rice to incorporate many other foods (depending on availability) and come up with a meal that is well-rounded. Some incorporable foods include:
  • Eggs
  • Garden produce
  • Foraged items
  • Nuts
  • Meat
  • Flavoring
  • Berries and fruits

Even though things can vary according to the situation, in most cases, white rice and lentils seem like excellent additions to any stockpile of food.

Tips for Food Storage:

1) Focus on foods liked by your family:

Storing such foods helps minimize waste, and will also keep the family’s morale up. You do not want to purchase 60 lbs of quinoa, only to find out that nobody in your family wants to eat it.

2) Store foods that can be rotated into regular diets:

If your family members are not fans of white rice right now, they will not be fans when you are faced with an emergency. Hence, you should consider alternatives such as dried pasta and bulk wheat.

3) Make sure that you never run out of food canisters:

If you are reliant upon a backpacker’s stove or propane grill, make sure that you always have some extra fuel at hand.

4) Do not depend fully on electricity for cooking:

While it is okay to use electricity while you have it, an absence of electricity should not leave you high and dry. A lot of people, for instance, love to set up outdoor kitchens (provided that the weather is right).

5) Avoid using stoves in indoor spaces unless they have been cleared for indoor use:

This will help you avoid Carbon Dioxide and Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

6) Pay attention to the number of calories present in every food:

Generally, staple foods contain higher amounts of calories, and are also simpler to prepare. Hence, such foods should be the foundations of your emergency food supplies.

7) Store foods for both the short and long terms:

Even though we have stressed this multiple times already, we feel that it is not enough. When storing foods, consider a number of different scenarios, and decide accordingly.

8) Plan for calorie combinations that contain the key nutrients – fats, protein, and carbohydrates:

Although this will require you to conduct greater research, make sure to opt for foods that offer particular nutrients and that you will be willing to consume as part of your regular diet.

9) Opt for foods that have longer shelf lives:

Rotating and incorporating foods as part of your diet can open up food storage options for you. This is because such an approach will enable you to opt for foods that last for a year or two instead of 20 or 30 years. If you do not consume food A, there is no need to get rid of it.

10) Choose a variety of options:

There is only so long that you can survive on rice and beans. When survival is in question, you need to maintain positivity and hope – and a variety of foods helps achieve that. Having your favorite and most enjoyable meals to look forward to is an excellent morale booster.

11) Sprout seeds:

Sprouting seeds can help you get extra nutrients. In addition, since you can grow seeds in pretty much every season, they are an excellent weapon to have in your armory of survival foods. Even though sprouts do not offer much by way of calories, they are rich in minerals and vitamins.

12) Use staples as your base for long-term storage:

Staples such as wheat, dried beans, and white rice should serve as the daily calorie requirement bulk. These foods can make it significantly easier for you to fulfill your calorie and nutrient requirement.

Factors to Consider When Storing Food for Emergency:

  • The number of people you will be feeding.
  • The expected length of the emergency.
  • The amount of calories that every person will require (based on sex, age, and the level of physical activity).
  • Fat, protein, and carbohydrate requirements.
  • Shelf-life of the foods.
  • Water requirements (minimum of one gallon per day, for each person).
  • Food preparation methods (will you require extra water?)
  • Cooking methods (the methods that you will use in case of emergencies).
  • The current and upcoming seasons (if it is the winter season, you will not have the option of cooking outside in case there is a power loss).