How To Estimate Food Storage | Build a Stash

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

Food storage estimation is an excellent way to know what food items to buy and stock so that nothing goes to waste. Use these tips to get started today.

Food storage estimation requires patience and precision. First, you must calculate the number of items you need to get an exact amount for a given period. The ways to do so include tracking your meals, using a food storage calculator, and choosing the right foods. The perfect plan creates accurate results.

Knowing how much food to keep for your long-term needs is important for a few reasons. It's a great way to avoid waste, and it helps you save money by lowering your costs. Food storage estimation eliminates the need for you to calculate how much food you need every day actively. It only takes a few steps, and you can learn how to do it in this guide.

We use specific, well-tested strategies to calculate accurate food storage estimates. This guide explains each technique and why they are effective. In addition, our team has spent plenty of time trying new strategies and using data-backed research to provide high-level recommendations.

Table of contents


How to Estimate Your Food Storage

Estimating your food storage allows you to know just how much food to keep for your long-term needs. You can do this in several ways, depending on what works best for you. It may take a bit of your time, but it pays off in the long run.

Check out these two primary food storage estimation methods.

Track Your Meals

You already know the types of food you and your family eat so this should be easy.

This technique involves tracking those foods and breaking down all their ingredients. You will need to track over the number of months for which you intend to stock up. This can be done in a way that suits your specific needs.

Don’t be in a rush to use this method. It’s better to take it one step at a time. You will find it to be easy, especially if you have ever been a once-a-month freezer cook.

Take your family's favorite meal.

You can use the meal tracker estimation method by following the steps below:

Step 1: Multiply the recipe by twelve (if you eat the meal only once a month, you just calculated one year worth of the meal)

Step 2: Purchase more than your calculated amount of that stock to last for one year and store them in your pantry.

Step 3: Do this for all other meals

The meal tracker method is tailored to fit your family’s specific needs best, but it may not be the perfect choice for long-term food storage.

This is because it tends to limit your options. For instance, when you do it for one month, you will still need to make decisions actively throughout the year to ensure that you have variety.

It also leaves much work to do in terms of preparation. The goal is to have multiple options, including some foods that can be prepped quickly.

How to Calculate Food Storage

You can use a food storage calculator to determine the exact amount of food you will need over the year. So how do you calculate what to store? Start by multiplying the ingredients used to make a specific meal by the number of people in your family.

What you need to store = Ingredients used for making most meals × number of people in your family. 

There are many different food storage calculators out there. You can get one from food storage blogs, self-reliant groups, or long-term food storage companies. They are pretty easy to use and work for a lot of meals. However, it may not be suitable for people with special dietary needs.

People who don't cook from scratch will have to learn. It's better not to follow all the instructions from your food storage calculator. It may contain items that have never been used and will never use. So, you should see it as a guide instead of a strict set of rules.

You may need to reduce or increase some items in the calculator. You may also need to remove some ingredients entirely. If you need to substitute any items, be sure to use something similar for calories as a replacement.

How to Use Food Storage Calculator

Long-term food storage and uncooked ingredients can overwhelm you if you do not have expertise in the kitchen. In addition, it assumes you are preparing all meals from scratch, which can be uncomfortable for some people.

We always recommend including variety in your food storage plans. However, the type of emergency can change, and only relying on uncooked ingredients could leave you without any options if the wrong disaster occurred.

Include items that can be prepped quickly for meals as well. They may not calculate as soon with a food storage calculator, but it will provide a general estimate of what you need.  

These tips steps will help to simplify the process even more.

Tip 1:

You need to get specific about all the ingredients you want and store enough for your entire household. An excellent way to do that is by using the Track Your Meals technique mentioned earlier.

For those who don't know how to make food from scratch, you can improvise. For instance, include ingredients in your preparation process to cook up some simple meals like noodles, meatballs, or spaghetti sauce.

When you calculate the ingredients needed, multiply them by the number of weeks, months, or years for which you intend to stock them up.

All these pre-packaged ingredients require additional storage space, but it is essential to include these options in your pantry. And in the event of a power outage, you'll have other creative possibilities at your disposal.

Tip 2:

Include healthy options in your storage too. While some pre-packaged foods can be helpful due to easier preparation and storage, they can be a lousy option for overall dietary reasons. It’s not easy to move entirely to an ingredient-only lifestyle, but it can be done with the proper preparation.

Prepackaged foods tend to be more pricey too. The name brand items charge a premium, and bulking buying these types of food will significantly increase your costs for long-term storage building.

To get some new ideas for recipes, consider investing in a set of cookbooks as a source of inspiration. Not only will you learn new meal ideas, but they are also designed to teach people how to cook from scratch more efficiently.

How to use the LDS Food Storage Calculator

The following tips will help you get started on using the LDS food storage calculator.

If your family dislikes a particular food item, don't purchase it. Instead, try to buy more familiar ingredients or substitute them with something similar.

  • Try to adjust if any household member is allergic to any ingredients. In addition, you should plan early around food allergies to avoid issues in the event of an emergency in the future.
  • Build your pantry with foundation ingredients. Many meals use the same type of ingredients, and by doing a little research, you can buy one ingredient that can make multiple meals for your household.
  • Since the LDS food storage calculator is for people who cook from scratch, it works best when you have cooking expertise. There are many easy recipes that you can start with. Try to find 5 to 7 ingredients and become a master in the kitchen with them and grow from there.

What to Avoid in Your Food Storage

It’s a reasonable estimate and stores the food you need for a given period. But there are many food items that you should not store. For different reasons, these food items are a few examples of what you should not store long term:

  • Nuts
  • Granola
  • Brown sugar
  • Raisins

In the short term, all of these foods are completely fine and recommended if your household enjoys them. However, when packaging items away for long-term storage, these should be avoided.

Foods with high fat or oil contents will not last very long in storage. Also, refind, or milled grains will struggle too. So consider avoiding these ingredients in your food storage picks.

How to Store My Food

Keep in mind that where and how you store your food is just as important as what you store. So you should know the type of containers best suited for storing food items over long periods.

Short-term food storage is not too complicated. Use your pantry for immediate needs and quick ingredients. This is an excellent place to store those items with a shorter shelf-life to allow your household to consume them before it’s too late.

Long-term storage requires a little more effort and creativity. Often, families look to build shelving units in the basement or other areas in their home for canned goods and other similar items.

Avoid storing your food in places that get too hot or humid at any time during the year. This can accelerate the decay of just about any food. Instead, we recommend the basement because it stays dark and damp most of the time.