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You are here: Home > Emergency Preparedness Information > Food Storage Info > What Foods Should I Store?
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What Foods Should I Store?

If you are new to food storage, the two big questions you may have are “What foods should I store?” and “How much should I store?”. The answers to both of these depend upon what your purpose for storing food is, the ages and numbers of people you are storing food for, and the typical diet and nutritional needs of these people.


What Types of Food Should I Store?


Many people start their food storage plan by just buying extra groceries at the store, and keeping a few weeks’ worth on hand. This is a good start, and many people start their food storage by stocking up on extra canned goods, baking mixes, flour, rice, beans, peanut butter, and other pantry staples. This is great for a few weeks’, or even a month or two’s supply, but there are better options for long-term food storage.


When planning food storage for long-term survival, it is best to go with freeze-dried food, meals ready to eat (MRE), dehydrated food, and other basics that have been packaged for storage. We sell all of these, including a variety of food storage units that combine a variety of foods to give you a tasty and nutritionally balanced emergency food supply. One huge advantage of buying food that is intended for emergency food storage is the much longer shelf life. While most packaged convenience foods and commercially canned goods go bad in just a few years, most of our emergency food storage items are good for 25 years, when stored unopened and at temperatures below 75 °.


The basic categories of storage foods are grains like wheat, oat, corn, pasta, and flour; legumes like beans, peas, and lentils; sweeteners such as sugar, honey, molasses, and corn syrup; fats & oils like shortening, vegetable and/or olive oil, mayonnaise, salad dressing, and peanut butter; dry & evaporated milk, and other dairy like canned or powdered butter and cheese; and cooking staples such as salt, yeast, baking powder & soda, and vinegar. For variety and nutritional balance, most people also include dehydrated or freeze-dried fruits and vegetables and meats, TVP, or other protein sources. Flavored drink mixes and dehydrated baking mixes for treats brownies and other desserts are also great for disguising the taste or stored or purified water and for adding variety and interest to meals and keeping people from feeling deprived of sweets or comfort foods.


How Much Should I Store?


There are many ways of calculating your food storage needs.


For a short-term supply, you can write down everything you cook and eat for 2 weeks, break it into ingredients, then plan from there. This works well if you cook and eat at home most of the time, and do a lot of cooking “from scratch” or using basics from the pantry, but not so well if you eat out often or rely on a lot of deli, refrigerated, or frozen convenience foods.


For long-term food storage needs, the simplest way to plan is to use our
food storage calculator or to buy one of our packaged food units. Keep in mind that both are calculated based on a 2000-calorie daily diet, so you may want to plan for more if you typically consume more than that, or are a larger person who will expend more energy in a survival situation.

A “rule of thumb” that some people use for survival rations is one gallon of water plus one pound of “dry” foods like grains, beans, legumes, powered milk, and dehydrated foods per day. In reality, this only provides about 1600 calories per day, and food that required added water will use up that water ration pretty quickly, so a better guideline might be 2 gallons of water and one-and-a-half to two pounds of other foods per day. Read more about water storage.