Feeling unconvinced that you need food storage?

Let’s play out a few scenarios:

It’s the middle of the month, a week before your next payday, and you haven’t been grocery shopping in a week. You decided you could subsist from the food in your house until you get paid again. What you didn’t realize, was that because of all the natural disasters in the beginning of this year, we are now in a food crisis. Big government has stepped in, so food is being rationed, and you’re only allowed to shop once a month. So now you must survive off the food stored in your home until your number is called to be able to go shopping for your family. How long will you be able to last before you are forced to start skipping meals or thinning out the rations? 

Do you consider this an unlikely scenario? Well let’s bring up another:

You move to a new state, and you had a job lined up, but as soon as you get there, things fall through, the company goes under and you no longer have a job. New in town, you begin your search for a job. Though try as you might, no one is calling you for an interview. You keep searching but you’re coming up on a month with no income, you’ve run through your savings after moving expenses and a new place, and you’ve run out of food. What’s a person to do?

In both scenarios, the basic necessities of life are threatened. You can last 3 weeks with no food before you starve, but what a miserable existence! Imagine trying to explain to your children why they can’t eat, even though they are hungry.

Now imagine this third scenario:

Last year, you had a friend introduce you to the concept of having a year supply of food on hand. At first you thought they were a little misguided, but then you took a look at the events of the world and started to change your tune. You realized that we live in a very fragile system, where one catastrophe, even if it’s localized, could have a domino effect with far-reaching consequences

So, your thinking changed, and you began gathering food a little bit at a time. Each time you visited the grocery store, you’d buy double of what you would normally need for the week. After a year, you had quite the store of food, and you found that as you gathered more, you felt greater peace knowing that your family would be secure if anything were to ever happen. 

There had been talk about the truckers going on strike, no one believed that could ever happen, until it did. The grocery stores were bare, there was no gas in the pumps because they weren’t being refilled, so people were having a hard time getting to work. If utility workers can’t get to work, brownouts occur causing hours without electricity.

People are beginning to panic after two weeks, and though you have concerns, your basic needs are met. You can think clearly because your stomach is full, and your family is safe. You decide that you feel comfortable enough to share some of your food with your close neighbor even though they didn’t heed the advice of your mutual friend. And you can do this without putting your family at risk because you gathered more than enough food for your family.

When Crap Hits the Fan, you’ll want food storage.

Unfortunately, many people have the opposite mindset as the people in this scenario. When the topic of a crap-hits-the-fan situation comes up, they’ll say “Well because of my background, I have the skills and the guns to just take the food I need, so I’ll be fine, no need to store food.” But when questioned further, there are many holes in their plan. They think they’ll be able to band together with a few of their like-minded buddies and take over a grocery store and control the food supply. Well, how will they know in time that crap has truly hit the fan and it’s not just a false alarm? What good will it do to take over a grocery store if there’s already been a run on the store and all the food is gone? The fact of the matter is in a true disaster situation your brain goes into fight or flight mode. Things you never thought you were capable of, quickly can become your terrifying reality. That old adage is certainly true: it’s always better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

And that’s where the art of food storage comes into play! 

Option One for Gathering Food Storage

As with anything, it’s important to have specific goals in place, with plans to achieve those goals. If you calculate the amount of food you need for your family for one year, it would probably feel overwhelming trying to gather that all at once. That is one way to accomplish this task, but there are much better ways to go about it. 

First set a goal

The approach that tends to be more manageable, and helps create habits, is to first set out to gather three months worth of the foods that your family eats on a regular basis. These will be shelf-stable items like canned and boxed foods and other dry goods.

Break the goal down

Then you’ll break that goal down into weekly or monthly goals. Determine what meals your family enjoys, and each time you go grocery shopping, get a few extra of each item for your storage.

Create rotation schedule

After a time, you will have your three months of food in place. That’s when you’ll go shopping in your own pantry and cycle through that food. Eat the food with the closest expiration date, and your weekly shopping will be to replace the items in your food storage. It really becomes a lifestyle change, because it’s so much more convenient to run to your pantry for an extra bag of spaghetti, than to have to run to the store!

Move onto long-term storage

After you have your three months in place, you should begin gathering your longer-term storage. Typically, a year is recommended, but if you feel inspired to gather more, by all means! Again, there are a few different approaches with long term storage, but you’ll want to get items that have a longer shelf life. Things like sugar, flour, oats, wheat, rice, and beans are great staples that have a long shelf life depending on how they’re packaged and where they’re stored. There are also freeze-dried foods, which tend to be more expensive, but do well being stored for long periods of time while holding their nutritional value. 

Option Two for Gathering Food Storage

If that option seems too overwhelming still, or you consider it too much of a strain on the budget, here’s another option. To build up a fair amount of food storage to set aside a certain amount of money from each paycheck toward your three month or year supply. It could literally be any amount of money you are able to set aside to invest in your ‘self-sufficiency’ insurance. Even on a very tight budget you could set aside $5 – $10 to purchase a couple of canned meals or a few packages of bottled water. As you begin to see your supply grow, you will become more and more excited and willing to dedicate more time, energy, and money toward this honorable endeavor.

Option Three for Gathering Food Storage

Using resources from your own home can immensely help your ability to self-suffice. If you have a back yard or a front yard or even patio space, you can plant a small garden to help supplement some of the food items you and your family use regularly. Even in a scenario where you may not have said luxury, many shops and stores sell edible plants and herbs that are designed to grow inside your home.

If you’re one of the lucky ones who can claim a little bit of land, plan on designing a garden and consider raising animals as a step to being self-sufficient. Even on a quarter of an acre you can grow much of your family’s food through well planned gardening and keeping a few chickens for eggs. If your space allows, goats make great additions for milk or meat depending on your preference.

After harvest time, hopefully things go well, and you will have an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables and then you can learn to can as another great resource for storing food. You feel a sense of accomplishment when you can open a jar of peaches in the dead of winter and know that you grew and canned those yourself!

More on Long-Term Food Storage

Let’s delve a little deeper into long term foods, there are many benefits to having food set aside that could sustain you and your family for at least a year. At first, start with the basics, here is a list of basic foods for one year

One adult for one year:
  • TOTAL GRAINS: 300 pounds (Wheat, Flour, Corn Meal, Rice, Pasta, etc.)
  • TOTAL FATS &OILS: 13 pounds (Shortening, Veg. Oil, Peanut Butter, etc.)
  • TOTAL LEGUMES: 60 pounds (Dry Beans, Lima, Soy, Peas, Lentils, etc.)
  • TOTAL SUGARS: 60 pounds (Honey, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Molasses, Jams, etc.)
  • TOTAL DAIRY: 75 pounds (Dry Milk, etc.)
  • COOKING ESSENTIALS: (Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Yeast, Salt, Vinegar)
  • WATER: (at least 1-gallon per person per day)

Now keep in mind, these are the very basics to sustain life. You won’t be gaining weight off this food, but you also won’t starve. To gather a long-term supply, just work it the same way you did with the 3-month supply, a little bit at a time. Set goals. Determine how quickly you’d like to gather this amount of basic foods and then decide if you want to buy a bag here and a box there, or if you want to tackle it by categories. You could decide that this month, you’ll purchase all the legumes, because they’re on sale and then next month you’ll start on the sugars. Just take it piece by piece and make adjustments where you’d like, to fit the needs of your family. 

Speaking of family, smaller children may not need as much food as an adult, and they may need slightly different foods. But, if you’d like to make things simpler, you could just use the same numbers for each family member and that way they will “grow into” their food storage.

Adding variety to your food storage

Once you have these basic foods, you can determine what you’d like to add to incorporate some variety. This would be a good point to add in some freeze dried or dehydrated items. Getting the basics is a good start, but you will learn (hopefully through study and not through personal experience) that food fatigue is a rough psychological effect. This condition can have very real physical consequences, especially amid an already traumatic disaster situation. Food fatigue occurs when your body gets tired of eating the same meal and convinces your brain that you would rather starve than eat rice and beans again. It becomes crucial to be able to mix things up a bit. Being able to add a tablespoon of sugar to your oatmeal or seasoning your beans with salt and pepper can have a huge impact on your health and the quality of your psychological state.


The great thing about food storage, is that it is so versatile. You can read articles like this and glean some good ideas on how you want to start your journey, but then it’s all in your hands. You have the liberty to add in your family’s favorites. You can research and get other ideas and opinions and formulate your own tailored plan for your unique family. Or, you can choose to keep it simple and decide not to reinvent the wheel. Either way, food storage is a necessity because it provides safety and self-reliance. Though it’s not a bad thing to ask for help when you need it, it is a much better feeling to be able to take care of yourself and your family. 

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Briana Patch lived with her husband in Idaho where they started a small farm with milk goats and chickens and practiced self sufficiency. There she learned to can extra produce, care for animals and assist them in birth, became CERT certified, and furthered her interest in self reliance and preparing for emergencies. Now they live in Missouri and she volunteers her time at her church as an Emergency Preparedness Specialist, to help her church family along their path to preparedness.