How Much Food Storage Should You Have Per Person? | Build a Stash

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Whether you are preparing for a zombie apocalypse or simply like the idea of being prepared, having an adequate supply of food storage is a great reassurance.

The amount of food storage you should have to sustain an average adult for 1 year is 390lbs of grains, 70lbs of beans/legumes, 25lbs of dried meats, 90lbs of dry dairy, 25lbs of fats and oils, 60lbs of sugars, 90lbs of dried fruits, and an assortment of other goods.  

At the end of the day, the amount of food you will need per person will be largely dependent on a person’s Body Mass Index, which will be reflected by the individual’s height, weight, and age.  It goes without saying that adults will need more and children will need slightly less, but ultimately, it never hurts to be extra prepared by planning ahead and stocking up more than you need.  In addition, there are some factors you should be well aware of when determining how much food storage to have, as well as ensuring that your food is stored properly.  Let’s explore food storage further so that you are ready for anything right at home.

Food storage should be calculated and determined based on the physical needs of each household, which should be factored in on top of rough estimates made by food storage estimates.  

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Per Person Food Storage

These days, having a reasonable amount of food storage at home is becoming more and more common.  It never hurts to be prepared and, for many people, it can be an absolute necessity.  Whether you have experienced a food shortage or natural disaster that has put you in a life-threatening situation or not, you may get a better night’s sleep knowing that you are prepared with a stockpile of food.

In recent times, we have seen how people can react to the slightest amount of panic.  When people catch wind of a potential risk that might limit a good, service, or food item, there tends to be a stampede of people rushing to supermarkets to buy all they can grab.  While this is often irrational behavior, it’s certainly not a situation you want to find yourself in.

To avoid being part of an angry mob fighting over a loaf of bread, you should take the initiative to be prepared for the best and worst situations in life by having the essentials ready to go, in case things hit the fan - with one of the most important things being food.  Regardless of whether you end up needing to use your food storage or not, you can take comfort in knowing that you and your family will be safe.

With that being said, food storage can be estimated by calculating the essential food items that will be necessary for survival, but you should also reflect on some personal preferences you and your family may have - in addition to the basics.  To help you understand this better, we are going to help you calculate what you should have in your food storage per person.


The most fundamental type of food you should have stored is grains.  At the end of the day, if you are in a position where you need to utilize your food storage, your favorite fast food chain will likely be closed and you should be prepared for eating what is most essential for your survival.

Grains are a fantastic food item to keep in your food storage, as they are full of nutrients, last for ages, and are relatively easy to cook.  However, the amount of grains you end up putting into your food storage will largely be determined by the size of your household - in addition, to your Body Mass Index (weight, height, age).  For an average household of 5 people, you will need to store a total of roughly 1,400lbs of grains.

For an average adult, you should have stored a total of approximately 390lbs of grains.  Let’s break down the types of grains you should store for an adult and how much.

  • 200lbs of Wheat - by having a stockpile of wheat you are able to ensure that you have plenty of carbohydrates that are complex and have nutritional quality.  You can then use wheat in a number of different ways such as turning it into flour for bread making.
  • 70lbs of Rice - rice is an excellent grain to incorporate into your food storage, as it is very easy to cook, store, and preserve.  To ensure that you get more nutrients out of your rice, you should opt for brown rice, as it will have more calories, protein, and complex carbs (instead of simple carbs).
  • 30lbs of Flour - having an adequate amount of flour can offer a lot of versatility to your food storage supply.  Flour can be used in a lot of different ways and can be a dynamic grain if used properly.  You can make bread, muffins, or - if an oven is not available - flatbreads.  Try to use wheat flour to get more calories and nutrients out of whatever you make.
  • 30lbs of Oats - when you are utilizing your food storage for survival, it is nice to have something for every meal and some oats are perfect for making oatmeal for breakfast.  Oats are rich in complex carbs, as well as fiber, and can be incorporated into other parts of your cooking like flour dishes.
  • 30lbs of Pasta - you can’t go wrong with adding some pasta into your food storage stockpile.  You should also try to utilize whole grain pasta for your food storage for extra calories and nutrients.
  • 30lbs of Cornmeal - having some cornmeal in your food storage will help your stockpile of grains be more dynamic, as you can make everything from cornbread to other creative recipes.

When it comes to food storage for an average adult, you are going to want to be sure you have plenty to live off of.  Having these basic grains is a must for any well-prepared survivalist.  However, you also want to have an adequate amount of grains for your child, which should be calculated slightly differently depending on their age.  Here is how many grains you should store for an average 7-year old child.

  • Total Grains - 190lbs
  • 100lbs of Wheat
  • 35lbs of Rice
  • 27lbs of Flour
  • 27lbs of Oats
  • 27lbs of Pasta
  • 27lbs of Cornmeal

While this is a great baseline for your food storage, you should try to reflect on what additional grains your family may need on top of this list.  In addition, you may prefer to customize this list to add more or less of some grains that better suit your diet.  

This can also be achieved by incorporating grains that are not on this list at all.  If you are digging into your food storage, you are likely in some form of an emergency and want to be ready for anything, which means staying healthy.  As mentioned above, there is always a healthier option for grains that you can use such as wheat options instead of simple carbs.

However, you can also add grains to this list that are even more nutrient-dense.  For example instead of having only rice, you can replace some of this portion (or all of it) by adding quinoa, which is much healthier and has complete proteins, as well as complex carbs.  Also, instead of having cornmeal or oats, you can try throwing some dried mash potatoes in the mix, if that is a food item you would prefer for your stockpile.

Beans & Legumes

You should definitely have a substantial amount of beans and legumes ready in your food storage.  Much like grains, beans and legumes last for ages and are incredibly easy to store - and are also very nutritious.

In addition, beans and legumes are versatile food items that can be combined with so many other foods - including your large stockpile for grains.  The amount of beans and legumes, that you end up needing will also be dependant on the size of your household, but we will give you a rough estimate of what you should have prepped in your food storage.

For an average family of 5 people, you should have roughly 250lbs of beans and legumes.  For an average adult, you should plan for approximately 70lbs of beans and legumes.  Let’s take a closer look at how much you should prepare for each specific type for an average adult.

  • 140lbs of Dried Beans - you can get creative with the type of dried beans that you choose and cater to your own tastes.  Regardless, these beans will last a long time so long as they are properly stored.  A great go-to would be kidney beans or black beans, as they are rich in nutrients.
  • 35lbs of Soybeans - having an ample amount of soybeans is a great item to incorporate into your food storage, as these beans are a great source of plant protein that can be difficult to find in other food items.
  • 18lbs of Lima Beans - lima beans are a fantastic source of fiber for your food storage stockpile.  In addition, they are great for people with diabetes, in case a member of your household has this.
  • 18lbs of Split Peas - you should have some split peas in your food mix, as these also are great for fiber and can be used in a number of different dishes.
  • 18lbs of Lentils - lentils will be great to use with so many other food items and are excellent for digestion.
  • 18lbs of Dry Soup Mix - regardless of the brand of dried soup mix you choose, it is a highly useful item for your food storage.  It can be used in a number of versatile ways, but you should try to choose a soup mix that is as nutrient-dense as possible.

Much like with grains, you can get creative with the list and customize beans and legumes to your personal preferences.

The most important thing you should try to review as you compile your list is to have beans and legumes that have an equal or higher amount of calories and nutrients per serving.  The last thing you want to do is lack nutrients if you are in it for the long haul.  Now, let’s cover the basic beans and legumes that you should pack for your 7-year old child:

  • Total Grains - 35lbs
  • 20lbs of Dried Beans
  • 5lbs of Soy Beans
  • 3lbs of Lima Beans
  • 3lbs of Split Peas
  • 3lbs of Lentils
  • 3lbs of Dry Soup Mix

When it comes to beans and legumes for your food storage stockpile, these are the basics you should consider adding to your essentials list.


Having dairy in your food storage stockpile is a great way to get a variety of nutrients into your diet but it also offers the luxury of having some variation in flavor to your daily meals.

At the end of the day, if you are digging into your food storage, it is great to know that you have all of your essentials, but even better to know you have a little extra to keep your pallet happy.  Milk and dairy products should always be stored which are 100% dry and easy to preserve.  

This means no long-life milk under any circumstance - no matter what the expiration date is.  The reason for this is that dry dairy products will not only last longer but will also be less susceptible to damage in case your food storage receives any physical impact such as from an earthquake, which could result in your entire dairy stockpile being damaged.

For an average household of 5 people, you should expect to have roughly 300lbs of dry dairy products in your food storage.  However, for the average adult, you should plan for about 90lbs.

Here is a breakdown of your dry dairy products:

  • 75lbs of Dry Milk
  • 15 can of Evaporated Milk

Having some basic dry dairy goods ready to go can be consumed directly by turning your powdered milk product into liquid - or alternatively, you can try adding milk to some of your other items in your food storage.  Let’s take a look at what you should store for your 7-year old:

  • Total Dry Dairy - 50lbs
  • 45lbs of Dry Milk
  • 10 can of Evaporated Milk

Keep in mind that you can always mix and match your dry milk with your evaporated milk if you happen to prefer one over the other.  Just ensure that whatever brand you go with has an equal or greater amount of nutrition in it.


To keep your sanity and ensure that you do not get bored too quickly with eating the same foods over and over again, having some sugar in your food storage is a great way to keep some flavor in your life.

While most sugar items are by no means essential for nutrition, they are a great way of keeping calories in your body in extreme conditions.  For an average family of 5 people, you should have roughly 210lbs of sugar ready to go.  For an average adult, you should plan for 60lbs of sugar for your food storage.  Here is a breakdown of the type of sugars you should incorporate for an adult:

  • 40lbs of White Sugar
  • 3lbs of Brown Sugar
  • 3lbs of Honey
  • 3lbs of Jam
  • 1lb of  Corn Syrup
  • 1lb of Molasses
  • 7lbs of Dry Juice Mix

All of these sugar items can be used in a number of different ways.  If you want to keep healthier sugar options in your food storage, try to add more honey into your stockpile instead of another sugar item.  However, you should make sure that the honey is factory sealed, has a pro-longed expiration date, and has some sort of preservative in it. With that being said, here is what you should plan for your 7-year-old:

  • Total Sugar - 30lbs
  • 20lbs of White Sugar
  • 2lbs of Brown Sugar
  • 2lbs of Honey
  • 2lbs of Jams
  • 1lb of Corn Syrup
  • 1lb of Molasses
  • 4lbs of Dry Juice Mix

If your 7-year-old child prefers to have a different type of sugar item, you shouldn’t have an issue swapping any of the items out.

Dried/Canned Meats

As much as we would all love to have a nice steak waiting for us in our food storage, it’s not always an option.  If that’s the case, you are going to want to have a nice supply of dried or canned meats to hold you over until then.

Dried and canned meats are a great food item to incorporate into your food storage supply, as this is going to be a vital source of your protein.  While you can get plenty of protein by combining various plant-based food items, working out all of the nutritional facts during an emergency situation is not always ideal.

Having dried and canned meats will ensure that you have a variety of food in your storage so that you can get the nutrition you need through thick and thin.  Since there are quite a bit of options for dried and canned meats to choose from, a lot of what ends up in your food storage will really be up to your personal preference.

Before you begin breaking down how much meat you should get for your dry storage, you should consider that 1lb of fresh meat is equal to 1/3lb of freeze-dried meat.  For an average household of 5, you should have roughly 70lbs of storage-friendly meat.  Here is what you should prepare for an average adult and 7-year old child.

Adult - 25lbs of Freeze-Dried Meat

Child - 15lbs of Freeze-Dried Meat

This number can be quite flexible but it should be looked at as a minimum.  At the end of the day, if you have a little extra storage space for more food, you can always increase the recommended number by at least 25 - 50%.

Some of the most common meat items to include in your stockpile would be various kinds of jerky, Spam, corned beef, and canned tuna.  However, you can really choose based on your personal preference.  A key thing to keep in mind would be to have a variety of different products that have an ample amount of calories and nutrients.

Additional Food Items

When planning your food storage, there can be quite a lot to cover, which is why you want to take care of your shopping for these situations before you are in an emergency.

The majority of what you end up storing in your stockpile should be food items that are absolutely essential for survival and less catered to your taste preferences.  

However, there are always alternatives that fit the bill just as well that may be suited more to your pallet, which is why it is always advisable to look into your food storage a bit further and do some personal research on nutrition facts, in case you want to substitute items.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the additional food items you will need to incorporate into your food storage list, which will be essential.  For the average 5 person household, you should have these items in these quantities:

  • Fats and Oils - 89lbs
  • Dried Fruit - 320lbs
  • Salt - 18lbs
  • Baking Powder & Soda - 4lbs (each)
  • Vinegar - Gallons
  • Yeast - 4lbs

Now for an average adult, you should prepare for this much of the following food items:

  • Fats and Oils - 25lbs
  • Dried Fruit - 90lbs
  • Salt - 5lbs
  • Baking Powder & Soda  - 1lb (each)
  • Vinegar - 1 Gallon
  • Yeast - 1lb

This is a rough estimate of essential food items that are calculated for an average adult’s needs.  However, you should make additions to the quantity of this list if you feel you are likely to need more.  Let’s take a look at what an average 7-year-old child would need:

  • Fats and Oils - 15lbs
  • Dried Fruit - 50lbs
  • Salt -3lbs
  • Baking Powder & Soda 1lb (each)
  • Vinegar -1 Gallon
  • Yeast - 1lb

To ensure that you are getting plenty of vitamins when digging into your food storage, it never hurts to have some extra dried fruit in your stockpile.  In addition, opting for healthy fats and oils is a great way to ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs.  You can do this by choosing oil items that are healthier such as swapping regular cooking oil for canola oil or extra virgin olive oil.

Water Storage

The most important thing you should always have an abundance of is plenty of water available to you.  You can have all of the food in the world but without an adequate supply of water, you will not make it very long.  Given that the average person can barely make it several days without water, this should be at the top of your list.

  • The amount of water that you will need for a 5 person household is 650 gallons.
  • The amount of water you need for an average adult is 200 gallons.
  • The amount of water you will need for a 7-year-old child is 100 gallons.

One of the trickiest things about adding water to your food storage stockpile is that physically storing it can be a huge pain and often even impossible.  The best way to have plenty of water is to have a well on your property.  However, this is not something that most households have available to them (especially in urban areas).  

With that being said, the best way to have the amount of water you need for your food storage is to have an outdoor water tank that can be used for emergencies.

Factors To Consider

The above-mentioned items for your food storage stockpile will get you through just about any disaster situation and will ensure that you have adequate food for at least a year.

There is plenty you can do to be ready for unpleasant situations and have a safety net for your basic survival needs is the ultimate way to feel assured that you (and your family) are going to be safe and prepared for the worst situations.

However, there are some additional factors you should consider when planning your food storage stockpile.  To help you understand this further, let’s explore some scenarios and circumstances that may require you to revamp your food storage.


If you are like many homeowners, you may have some pets running around the house.  While you should always prioritize your family in an emergency situation, it is hard not to want to factor in our beloved pets when disaster strikes.

If you are experiencing an emergency that can be safely managed, having some pet food in your food storage may be wise to ensure that your animals are okay as well.  This can be challenging to calculate, as the amount of pet food you need to store in your stockpile will depend on the type of pet you have but also its size.

If you have an average-sized dog, you should account for roughly 30 to 40lbs of dog food per month.  With that being said, you may want to not overthink having a 1 year supply of pet food in your storage and focus on a 1 to 3 months supply.


The location you live in can play a huge role in not only what to pack in your food storage but also how much of it you may need.

This can be determined in a number of different ways, but firstly, you should consider what kind of emergencies you might be prone to, which may require you to utilize your food storage.  If you are living somewhere that is prone to flooding, you should try to organize your food storage and its contents in a way so that it is not sabotaged by flood damage.

If you are living in a rural area that is far away from cities or even towns, you may also want to reflect on what food items you will have difficulty accessing in case you are stranded for a long period of time.

Expiration Dates

The last thing you want to find when you dive into your well-prepared food storage goods is to see that the bulk of your food is expired.  Even the most storage-friendly food items have an expiration date and will either become lower in quality or be completely inedible after a while.

To avoid this from happening, it is best to keep a log of what kind of food items you are storing in detail.  This means keeping a list of all items with their expiration dates marked for your reference.  You should check this list on a 6 month or annual basis to ensure that you are on top of what is in your food storage stockpile.

If you have planned well ahead, your food storage will likely reach its expiration dates.  When this occurs, check your list regularly and utilize some of your stored food items in your daily meals.  Once you have utilized some portions of your storage, simply go out and buy a fresh load of whatever you used up and replace the items.

In addition, you should do physical checks on your food storage to ensure that no items expired before their listed dates.  This can sometimes happen if the packaging of items were in any way damaged during transport or through some other contamination such as a water leak in your home.