The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) asks that every member have some food storage ready at home, but how much?
According to the LDS Church, you need to have at least a 3 month supply of food storage in your home at all times. You should have a 3 month supply of grains, legumes, fats, dairy products, sugars, salts, water, and whatever other additional items you may need.
The reason the LDS Church strongly suggests its members have a certain amount of food storage at home is so that they are ready for anything when an emergency strikes. Whether we like it or not, emergencies do happen and, unfortunately, they can often happen when we least expect them. This is why being prepared with an ample supply of food storage is the perfect way for coping with these unforeseen events, but you want to make sure that you have stored the right types of food items. To understand more about the amount of food storage the LDS says you need to have, we are going to take a closer look at each item.
After working firsthand with the LDS in cooperation with emergency management advisors, we have concluded that having several months of vital preparations in your food storage can help you avoid logistical issues during disaster situations.
LDS Food Storage
The LDS has always put an emphasis on its members taking part in food storage. This can be an extremely useful tactic for emergency situations that limit or eliminate the possibility of going out and getting food from the grocery store. While no one looks forward to these sorts of emergency situations, they can happen - and when they do, it is best to be prepared for the worst.
As we watch climate change become more of an issue with natural disasters happening more frequently and with more intensity, we can see how food storage is not just a good idea, but a necessity. Having a lack of preparation for situations like this can be a disaster in itself, as you may be potentially stranded in an emergency with no supplies or food to support yourself or your family. While food storage does not solve the impact of a natural disaster, it can mean all the difference between life and death - or at the very least, keeping yourself and your family supplied with the essentials.
In addition, there are various situations outside of natural disasters that can be remedied with an ample supply of food storage. It seems like whenever there is a nationwide panic or worry that most people drive down to the grocery store and by all that they can, which leaves many stores empty and out of stock of a lot of essential items. This is certainly not a situation that you want to find yourself in, which is why the LDS Church asks that you have at least a few months of food storage.
With that being said, food storage is not always just about saving and supporting yourself and your family. If you are like any good Mormon, you should understand the importance of helping those around you - and when better than in an emergency. While you may be fully stocked with your food storage, your next-door neighbor and community may be ill-prepared for such an event and may not have any food storage at all. In this situation, you will be able to lend a helping hand to your neighbors by sharing some of your food storage with them, which is why the LDS Church recommends having plenty of food storage - the more the better! Here’s what you should store:
When you are in an emergency situation, you are really going to want to prioritize storing the right food items, which in this case should primarily be essential food items. The essential food items you store should be things that have quality nutrients and calories so that you are giving your body everything that it needs to survive - with the most important being grains.
As you begin to prepare your grains, you should also reflect on who you are storing them for. If you are living on your own, then the number of grains that you end up storing will be relatively straightforward and much easier to plan. However, if you have a large family, then you want to take into account each member so that you are prepared to feed each person that will be with you.
The amount of grains that you need for an average adult will be roughly 90 lbs to last a survival period of 3 months. If you have children, you should be storing roughly 60 lbs of grains for a child that is under the age of 12. For children that are aged 12 -18, you should add at least 10 to 20% more grains into your food storage. While this is a rough estimate for the grains you should store, you should ultimately make a calculated decision and consider having some extra.
As you select your grains, you should also keep in mind that some grains are going to be better than others. Grains can vary in their flavor but more than anything they can vary in nutritional value. Grains that have simple carbohydrates, such as white rice, are more affordable and straightforward but they are not the best option, - given that they are mainly empty calories. If you are choosing rice, going with brown rice or another alternative will be much better for you and your family, as you will be getting enriched complex carbohydrates.
In addition, you may also want to consider grain alternatives other than rice. There are plenty of options when selecting grains. Here are some options worthy of consideration:
When you go out and shop for these items you will likely see that there are several different options at the grocery store. Try to pick options for these that are complex. For example, instead of taking plain white pasta, choose a wheat option. Furthermore, you can add grains into your food storage such as quinoa and buckwheat, which are not only a great source of complex carbohydrates but also plant-based protein. The most important thing you need to remember is that you still need to hit your weight target when calculating whatever grains you end up choosing - 90 lbs per adult and 60 lbs per child.
There is no better way to get guaranteed healthy plant-based protein in an emergency situation than to have a substantial amount of dried legumes in your food storage. Legumes are healthy, delicious, and last for ages, which is why they are an essential item to have ready to go.
You can buy an assortment of different legumes for your food storage or focus on a single one. It is up to you, but the LDS Church does recommend that you have a variety of legumes so that you get dynamic nutrients in your diet, but also different flavors for your palette. At the end of the day, if you are going to potentially be eating the same things for 3 months, you might as well get some variety where you can.
The LDS Church recommends that you have at least 14 lbs of legumes for an average adult and 9 lbs of legumes for a child under the age of 12. For children that are older than this, you will want to pack at least 10 - 12 lbs of legumes per child. In addition, if you or your family members have a Body Mass Index that may require that you eat more than what is recommended by the church, you should make alterations to our rough estimates as you see fit.
The great thing about legumes is that you have quite a few options to choose from. In addition, you will find that legumes will go great with other food items - in particular your grains. Let’s take a look at some legume options that you should consider for your food storage.
- Kidney Beans
- Black Eyed Peas
- Black Beans
- Garbanzo Beans
- Split Peas
These are some fantastic choices to choose from and if you can, give your legumes some variety. Having a bunch of different beans will be great for meals like dinner and lunch, but having some nuts in the mix is also a great idea, as you can have something to snack on throughout the day.
In addition, legumes often come in dried form and in cans. By having them dried, you will be able to save a considerable amount of space in your food storage area, which can be especially important if space is limited. However, by having them dried, you will also have to use extra water to boil them, which can be problematic if you don’t have a substantial supply of water.
If you fear that this may be the case, having some or even all of your legumes in cans can be a solution to needing to use an excessive amount of water. This can also be a timesaver for when you are cooking your meals, as canned beans do not require to be soaked or overly cooked to be edible.
When you are stuck in an emergency situation, there are few things that compare to a nice glass of milk, which is why the LDS recommends that you have some dairy products in your food storage.
Dairy products that go into your food storage need to be 100% dry or canned so that you do not have to deal with expiration dates. This means that even milk cartons that are labeled ‘Long-Life’ should not be in your storage. The reason for this is that even if your dairy product has a long expiration date, you still run the risk of the container getting sabotaged during transport or even during storage.
With that being said, you are going to want to have approximately 7 lbs of dairy products for an average adult and roughly 4 lbs for a child under the age of 12. If your child is over the age of 12, you should account for at least 5 or 6 lbs of dairy products.
While dried dairy products are not nearly as satisfying as fresh ones, they are going to be your best bet for your food storage. Here are some dried dairy products which you should consider:
- Dry Milk
- Evaporated Milk
- Canned Cheese
These dairy products can be a great source of calories and even protein for when you are stuck in an emergency situation. If you happen to be in the grocery store and see some other dairy products that seem worthy of food storage, add them to your list - just be sure that they are dried and are guaranteed to last a long time.
If there is one thing that will add some much-needed flavor into your food storage it is sugars. While sugar items are not always the most nutritious, they may help you keep your sanity by giving you a taste of something sweet when you need it most.
When planning your food storage the LDS Church recommends that you should have at least 14 lbs of sugar for an average adult and 9 lbs of sugar for a child under the age of 12. For children older than 12 years of age, you should account for at least 10 to 12 lbs of sugar. This amount should get you through at least 3 months, but you may want to consider packing some more if you feel it might be necessary.
There are a lot of different sugar items you can choose from, but you may get much more out of certain items, which is why you should plan with consideration. Here are some options to consider:
- White Sugar
- Brown Sugar
While these are worthy sugars that could fit right into your food storage, you may want to consider adding some items with a little more substance. One of the best sugar items you should consider is having dried or canned fruits in your storage. Fruits are a much better source of sugar and will come with a lot of other nutritional benefits and vitamins.
Try to add both dried fruits and some canned fruits into your food storage. This will help give your palette some variety while you are in an emergency situation. With that being said, you do not want to completely replace all sugar with fruit. Ideally, try to have some raw sugar and add fruit into your storage as an addition.
Additional Food Items
We have just covered most of the essential food items that you will need to survive an emergency for at least 3 months. However, there are some items you need to add to your food storage that will make your supply of food more practical and more flavorful.
For starters, you are going to want to have a reasonable amount of things like baking powder and yeast. You should plan for at least 1 lb of this per adult and roughly half a pound for a child under the age of 12.
Next, you should have some fats stored in your supply. Have at least 7 lbs of fats for an average adult and about 4 or 5 lbs for a child under the age of 12. Here are some examples of things you can store:
- Vegetable Oil
- Canned Butter
If you want to get healthier fats into your diet you should consider using canola oil for cooking and extra virgin olive oil when seasoning.
You should also have some salts in your food storage. For an average adult and child, you should plan for at least 1 lbs per person in your family. Some regular table salt should do the job fine but it never hurts to have some variety. Here’s what you should consider:
- Soy Sauce
- Bouillon Cubes
Feel free to improvise these food items as you see fit, as they are essential but versatile enough to where you can store the items that are more suited for your cooking and taste.
Factors To Consider
If you have stocked your food storage with the above-listed items, you should be able to get through at least 3 months without experiencing issues. However, there are some things that you should be aware of that may affect your food storage and your survival.
The most important thing you want to have plenty of in an emergency is water. At the end of the day, all of the food in the world is not going to save you if you do not have an ample amount of drinking water ready to go.
For an average adult, you will need to have at least 45 gallons of water, if not more. For a child under the age of 12, you should have at least 30 gallons. The more water you have the better.
A problem with this is that you may have difficulties storing such a large amount of water - especially if you have a large family or live somewhere that is in a confined space such as an apartment.
Ideally, you should have a water tank with 2 or 3 hundred gallons of water somewhere on your property. This way, you know that water will not be an issue for your food storage.
While you should always prioritize yourself and your family, it is hard not to keep your pets in mind in an emergency.
If you have the space for dog food or cat food, you should try to store at least 30 lbs of dog food and 15 to 20 lbs of cat food per month of storage.
If you are considering storing cans as well, you should have 1 can per day of storage. With that being said, it may make more sense to primarily store dry dog food that is sealed.
A key aspect of maintaining your food storage is to be well organized and to know exactly what you are storing.
If an emergency situation occurs and you need to rely on your food storage, you do not want to open your food to find that things are past their expiration date and going bad. To avoid this, you should keep a log of everything that you are storing so that you can ensure that your food is edible.
Make a list of all your items and add expiration dates to each item. In addition, it is always wise to physically check up on your food storage items to ensure that nothing is contaminated. It can happen that there was some form of contamination that took place during transport or from a tear in packaging. Have a good look at your food items to guarantee that nothing has been damaged or tainted.
About THE AUTHOR
I have over a decade of experience in food and beverage management, including a ServSafe food safety qualification. As part of this qualification, I have been professionally trained in safe food storage.Read More About Mark Walker