How Much Food Storage Do I Need | Build a Stash

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

Food storage can be intimidating at first because the assumption is you need to stockpile right away. But this is not necessarily true at first.

Instead, focus on building small first. You will need to build an emergency supply of food for one week with key staple foods that last long. This ensures you have a backup plan during an emergency. After this, you can focus on building more food storage long-term for one year or more.

Food storage inventory should be purchased in bulk or by finding sales at local stores. It is best when you can buy more at once because the prices tend to be cheaper too. By building up your store quickly, you can start rotating foods and maximizing the shelf-life of all the foods you purchased too.

Our food storage recommendations are based on the calculations of a family household with four members who are all above seven years old. Our research tells us that this is the most common type of household too, so this information can help many people. Keep reading to learn exactly how much food storage you need.

Table of contents


How Much Food Storage Do I Need?

There are several factors that need to be taken into consideration when selecting an appropriate amount of food that you need for food storage. Some of these considerations include the size of your family, dietary preferences, storage space available, and the length of time you plan to store food.

The most common strategy in a household that we recommend is to build a one-week supply as soon as possible. This will serve as a safety net for your family in the event of an emergency that could happen at any moment.

Once you have these first seven days of food, you can focus on building a long-term food storage plan of at least one year. We consider this the best strategy because it is difficult for most people to simply buy one year’s worth of food right away due to budget and storage space capacity.

The reason why you should take the time to plan for food storage is that there can be a lapse in supply and high costs associated with it. It is also important to consider the amount of land and access to water that you have, as well as your dietary needs.

We will break down exactly what you need for food storage. When making these calculations, we are assuming this is for a family of four with two children above the ages of seven. Children under seven will require even less food or specially purchased baby food products.

One Week

We recommend starting with your grains. These staple foods are in storage and they also last the longest so they are one of the most important items you need to get. Each person in your house needs approximately 7-8 pounds of grains per week for consumption.

You will need to accumulate between 1-2 pounds of dairy per week. Added together for the family of four equals between 4-8 pounds of dairy per week for an entire family.

You should have a variety of canned foods in your home too. But because they are more filling meals, you will only need about 1 pound of canned food items per week for each household member. This is primarily for canned meats or fish and the quantity does not include fruits or vegetables.

For fruits and vegetables, you can either store them with canned items or dried items. We recommend the latter because of taste and nutrition. You can store another 1 pound per week of these foods for each household member.

Lastly, you will need to include water in your food storage plan too. It is best to try and keep at least one gallon of water per day for each member of your household. This means you will need about 28 gallons per week for your entire family.

Other items you can include in your food storage are beans, legumes, sugar, fats, oils, and salt. We suggest including beans and legumes because they are nutritious with a long shelf life. The other items listed are kitchen essentials that can be used with many meals and in cooking preparation.

One Year

Now that you have your one week of emergency storage done, we can focus on building that full year of food storage so you can become a powerhouse survival expert. Not only will you never shop the same again, but you are safe if anything happens that puts your family at risk.

The calculations remain similar to the one-week plan, but at scale. For grains, you should stockpile about 1,6000-1,700 pounds total for the entire year. This will be enough for all four members of the household assuming everybody consumes about 8 pounds per week.

For beans and legumes, you will need around 250 pounds for the year. This gives each member of the house a little over 1.0 pounds per week and provides you with plenty of food to last for a long time because of the shelf-life.

Your dairy storage should include about 200 pounds for the year. This puts you on pace to stockpile at least one pound per week for each member in the house. You can even aim a bit higher if you want to keep close to the 2 pounds per week benchmark instead.

The amount of canned meats and fish you need to store is about 100 pounds. For the long term, you will not need to keep as many canned meats because you have plenty of other options to supplement them too.

Aim to stockpile between 350-400 pounds of dried fruits and vegetables in your home too. By doing so, you give your family plenty of nutritionally valuable foods because the items in long-term food storage tend to get bland and high in sodium.

Lastly, water should be rotated every few months if possible. We like to buy water on a monthly basis because it is a commonly used item in the house and tends to last less than some of these dry foods.

Types Of Food Needed For Food Storage

In the modern world, the average person is always trying to find ways of being more effective and increasing productivity. One of those ways is food storage.

There are many different types of food that can be stored for a long period of time without going bad, but some foods are better suited to certain types of storage. For example, you should not store potatoes in a cool dark place because they will start to sprout and spoil quickly.

Food stored for long periods of time can be lost potency. Below are some of the best food options to consider when putting together your plan for food storage. It is best to determine how long you intend to store food for and use our portions plan to buy the right amount needed.


  • Rolled oats
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice
  • Dried pasta
  • Flour
  • Wheat


  • Instant dry milk
  • Powdered eggs
  • Butter powder

Canned Foods

  • Wild tuna
  • Jerky
  • Bacon
  • Spam

Fruits & Vegetables

  • Dehydrated fruit
  • Dehydrated vegtebakes

Fats & Oils

  • Peanut butter
  • Vegetable oil

What Is A Food Storage Calculator?

A food storage calculator is a tool that helps you calculate how long you need to keep food in your pantry, refrigerator, or freezer.

A food storage calculator will help you plan for the future. It can be used before an emergency occurs to make sure you are prepared. You might also use it if you are preparing for moving or traveling somewhere else.

A typical food storage calculator will have a list of foods with their estimated shelf-life and how much of them can be consumed before they expire.

When planning for emergencies, it helps people calculate what they will need and it also helps them avoid the risk of running out of supplies before help arrives.

These tools offer information such as how many calories per day you need and how long you would last without any food.